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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Edgar Martinez: not MVP, not Hall of Fame.

Edgar Martinez was a good but not great hitter.  He was a player who essentially played the field only about 25% of the time, almost all at the beginning of his career.  So, most of his value is derived from what he did in the batter's box.  For me that means for such a player to be a Hall of Famer the player must hit like Ted Williams.  That may seem like an impossibly high standard but being one of the best players statistically means that.  It does not mean being good and being added to the bottom of the list of current members of the Hall of Fame.

Common sense things to consider for post WWII players:
- If a player did not win an MVP or Cy Young award, why not?
- If a player won a MVP or Cy Young award, ask why not put him into the Hall of Fame, especially if he won more than one; see Dale Murphy and Bret Saberhagen but not Roger Maris who had only one more good season but needed about eight more. 

Career OPS+


Edgar Martinez has a second fundamental problem.  He did not play that much.  Excluding Sam Thompson who played in the 1800s, Edgar Martinez had many fewer plate appearances (PA) than the other four players with whom he is tied.  We'll also compare Edgar Martinez to Albert Belle who is next on the list and had fewer PA than Edgar Martinez.

PA, MVP top ten:
Edgar Martinez: 8,674    3,6
Willie McCovey: 9,692    1,3,9,10
Mike Schmidt: 10,062    1,1,1,3,3,6,6,7,10
Willie Stargell: 9,027    1,2,2,3,7,9,10
Jim Thome: 10,313   4,6,7,7

Albert Belle: 6,672    2,3,3,7,8

Since OPS+ is an average, the longer one plays, the lower it is likely to be.  Edgar Martinez played the least among this group, so he has that advantage.  The opinion of the baseball writers when they were playing was that the others were viewed as more valuable.  This tends to be skewed in favor of players who played when there were fewer teams but none of these played before 1959 (McCovey).

Albert Belle was a contemporary of Edgar Martinez.  In fact each had his best season in 1995.  1995 MVP votes:


RankNameTmVote Pts1st PlaceShareWARGABRHHRRBISBBBBAOBPSLGOPSWLERAWHIPGGSSVIPHHRBBSO
1Mo VaughnBOS308.012.079%4.314055098165391261168.300.388.575.963
2Albert BelleCLE300.011.077%6.914354612117350126573.317.401.6901.091
3Edgar MartinezSEA244.04.062%7.0145511121182291134116.356.479.6281.107
Belle beat Martinez for second place, including first place votes 11 to 4.  If Belle had not been disliked, he probably would have been voted MVP over Mo Vaughn, who barely beat Belle on points 308 to 300.  Here are the 1995 numbers for Belle and Martinez:

Belle:
1995 ★28CLEAL14363154612117352150126527380.317.401.6901.091177377246045*7/DAS,MVP-2,S
Martinez:
1995 ★32SEAAL145639511121182520291134311687.356.479.6281.1071853211180419*D/53AS,MVP
Belle and Martinez tied for the American League lead in Runs (121) and Doubles (52).  Each also led in:
Belle: HR, RBI, SLG, TB
Martinez: BA, OBP, OPS, OPS+

So when you hear people groaning on the MLB Network about how much Edgar Martinez deserves to have been elected to the Hall of Fame and how smart they are for realizing that, consider these common sense facts.  Please.

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