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Wednesday, August 11, 2004 

Don't Forget Your Glove on the Way Out

When Edgar Martinez completed his 6th straight 20 HR/.320 AVG season in 2000, only 5 other players in history had equal or longer streaks. Their names? Gehrig (8), Williams (8), Ruth (7), Musial (7), and DiMaggio (6). A seven time All-Star, Martinez brings some pretty impressive season totals to the Hall of Fame debate. But is that enough?

If Eddie can overlook his own misfortune from The Curse of Edgar and join his campaign support, then surely there must be something to it. And, there's no denying this conversation should be taking place, as opposed to say one in favor of enshrining Mike Pagliarulo. That said, I think Edgar comes up just short of immortality.

Now, I have no problem with him being a full time DH. However, I don't feel he should be rewarded for it either. Being the best designated hitter doesn't carry the same weight as being the best shortstop or catcher. Edgar Martinez was, according to his job description, a hitter and, as such, that is how he should be judged. While his lack of defensive contributions should not held against him, they shouldn't be factored into the equation either. So, he doesn't have the secondary numbers to bolster his case, like Ozzie Smith or Bill Mazeroski. It all rides on his bat.

Again, there can be no denying Martinez's accomplishments. He was an amazing hitter who only got better with age. The problem is that he had no other choice because he didn't start contributing in the majors until he was 27. His career wasn't cut short, it began late, which amounts to the same thing: he just didn't have the time to accumulate Hall of Fame statistics. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the most similar player to Edgar is Will Clark. That sounds about right. Two great players who fall just short of being all-time great. It's not that Edgar wasn't good enough, it's that he wasn't good enough for long enough.