Few among us would argue against Edgar Martinez's Hall of Fame credentials. We're biased, of course, but there are plenty of very smart people out there, including a fair number of BBWAA voters, who agree. Edgar has received votes in the 30% range over his first three years of eligibility, safely above the 5% needed to remain on the ballot but a long way from the 75% needed for Cooperstown.
Assuming he remains above that 5% mark, Edgar's campaign figures to require several years. He didn't become an everyday player until he was 27 years old and lost significant time during his physical prime to injury which kept him from accruing counting stats comparable to other baseball elite. He served primarily as a designated hitter throughout his career, making him a non-candidate for many voters. He was overshadowed on his teams by multiple players, including Ken Griffey, Randy Johnson and Alex Rodriguez. He gets the same black marks as all the other Steroids Era hitters despite never getting busted.
But while Edgar's hitting prowess was undoubtedly elite and deserves to be spotlighted in Cooperstown, even staunch supporters could have a hard time voting for him this year.
One one hand, Edgar could benefit from voters passing on statistically qualified steroids users (or suspected users) given that the only ding on his record is a sweeping comment made by former Mariner scrub Shane Monahan back in 2007. Perhaps guys like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa now make Edgar look a little more attractive to a few previously unconvinced voters.
But on the other hand -- and much more importantly in my mind -- the people that were already voting for Edgar despite his lack of counting stats and time as a DH seem to be a lot of the same people who are less likely to allow steroids to influence their votes. And when steroids are taken out of the equation, our beloved Edgar doesn't stack up as well as he did in his first three seasons of eligibility.
Voters are only allowed to vote for 10 players. The top of this year's ballot by career FanGraphs WAR:
Barry Bonds - 168.0
Roger Clemens - 145.5
Curt Schilling - 86.1
Jeff Bagwell - 83.9
Rafael Palmeiro - 74.3
Larry Walker - 73.2
Tim Raines - 70.6
Mark McGwire - 70.6
Craig Biggio - 70.5
Edgar Martinez - 69.9
Alan Trammell - 69.5
Mike Piazza - 66.8
Kenny Lofton - 66.2
Sammy Sosa - 64.1
David Wells - 61.2
Fred McGriff - 61.0
WAR isn't definitive but it gives us a good starting point. Edgar ranks 10th as he struggles to impress on perhaps the most stacked ballot ever (controversy aside). Three players below him in career WAR received more votes last year in Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, and Lee Smith. Meanwhile, there are players below Edgar on the WAR rankings that could be reasonably deemed more deserving, most notably Mike Piazza, the best offensive catcher in baseball history.
Edgar could have a hard time getting votes from people advocating for his enshrinement, never mind anyone on the fence. I love Edgar and believe he's deserving, but even I might have trouble picking him as one of my ten. It's a silly rule.
Results will be announced on Wednesday.
Related: Edgar Martinez and the Career He Deserved