August 09, 2004

Mariners DH Edgar Martinez is retiring.: In last place in the AL West, with several teammates being released Edgar has decided to walk away.
More inside...

posted by lilnemo to baseball at 03:51 PM - 42 comments

So far the only thing on record is that he is set to announce the retirement @ 5:30 pm EST. Some might say that it sucks that he's leaving the team before the season ends, though he's probably earned that much over his career. I find it interesting that he's opting to retire instead of asking to the Mariners to let him join another squad. I would think that there would be several AL clubs who would gladly take his services into the stretch run. Guess he really wanted to go out a Mariner.

posted by lilnemo at 03:56 PM on August 09

Let the Hall of Fame arguments begin. Edgar has had an outstanding career, and if he is choosing to end it as a Mariner, more power to him. That said, something in me resists enshrining him in the hall since he spent his career as DH (perhaps that's just traditionalist sour grapes though).

posted by trox at 04:34 PM on August 09

he's leaving at the end of the season, not right now.

posted by goddam at 05:12 PM on August 09

Let the Hall of Fame arguments begin. I dunno. One on hand there's plenty of black ink on that page and you have the two nice quotations from Mike Sciosa and Dusty Baker. Flip side is he's #17 among "active" players in total bases behind people like Ellis Burks and Juan Gonzalez, neither of whom is a HoF'er (though each might have been if not for injuries I suppose).

posted by yerfatma at 05:47 PM on August 09

HoF? No way. Being just DH wouldn't disqualify him necessarily, but if all you had to do your whole career was hit, at least get some numbers. Hit some big milestones, be top 50 for career in a few stats. His numbers are nice, but not so different from a ton of players not in the Hall, who actually played a position. With his stats, if he played a position, I would consider him a bubble HoF'er (but I wouldn't vote for him, personally). As a DH, not even under consideration.

posted by pivo at 05:53 PM on August 09

HOF'er. He was the best at his position for nearly a decade. Only Harold Baines is in the same category. And the DH is a fact of life, so it ought to be represented in the Hall. I don't particularly like kickers in the NFL, but as long as they're a reality, the best ones ought to be enshrined.

posted by vito90 at 07:00 PM on August 09

But they haved kickers in the AFC and NFC. DH is a fact of life in the AL only, and only for the last 30 years. It's not the AL Baseball Hall of Fame, it's the MLB Hall. I submit he was not among the best at his position, as DH is not a position. Even if we allow for the fact he was among the best at his "position", I would still demand better than average numbers as the norm from that "position". If you are gonna eat a roster spot with a "1-tool" player, he better be good at it. The numbers still don't merit induction. 3000 hits, 400 HR, 5 batting tittles, gimme something!

posted by pivo at 07:09 PM on August 09

If you are gonna eat a roster spot with a "1-tool" player, he better be good at it. Edgar was good at it. What DH was better? And if you were a GM, would you eschew lefty set-up men on your roster? Or a closer? They're one-tool players as well. Today's game demands certain specialists.

posted by vito90 at 07:26 PM on August 09

3000 hits, 400 HR, 5 batting tittles, gimme something! All right, I'll bite. How is a DH going to accrue these numbers? Should players be penalized for only being able to hit? I would think you would have to establish what a milestone is for a DH to establish some basis for comparison. Anyone got a line on most hits by a DH? Baines came up short of 3000, and he (along with Edgar) is considered one of the very best.

posted by lilnemo at 07:28 PM on August 09

Anyone got a line on most hits by a DH? haven't been able to find a breakdown yet of how many hits he had as a DH as opposed to a position player, but Molitor is listed as #1 here. Edgar would currently rank 4th on the list.

posted by goddam at 07:59 PM on August 09

Edgar was good at it. What DH was better? My point there was I would expect a DH, in general, to be the #1 or #2 hitter on the team, and as a group to have better than average stats. This is far from the case, though, as DH is often the last refuge of an aging vetran, a spot to temporarily rehab a star, a place to get a young guy some AB's, or daily changing 3 headed monster for matchups. Being the best among DH's really isn't saying much, as outside of Baines, Molitor and Martinez, who really was a DH for the best part of their career? (I can't think of any off the top of my head). So to answer what DH was better, I'll say Baines and Molitor, making Edgar 3rd out of three. How is a DH going to accrue these numbers? AB's would do it. Hell, they are DH's, longevity should be a bit better for them, right? Anyone got a line on most hits by a DH? Molitor's 3319 would be my guess. I would think you would have to establish what a milestone is for a DH to establish some basis for comparison. This goes back to the first point here, not enough career DH's to say he was among the best. Why should any of the established criteria and milestones for HoF entry be changed for DH's? DH's are good compared to who? Gotta go with what you know, and say if Edgar is a 1B or 3B (his once in a great while position) with these stats, does he get in? I say no.

posted by pivo at 08:22 PM on August 09

but isn't the criteria for the HoF different between position players? an outfielder would need more power numbers than say a SS or 2B, right? seems like the DH debate is similar to the relief/closer debate. and with Eck and Molitor getting nods this year i think they'll start opening the door to both in the future. with the DH not going away any time soon why not set the bar with Edgar?

posted by goddam at 08:46 PM on August 09

Molitor had the magic number: 3000. Eck was a solid starter and a damn fine reliever for a long, long time. These two were exceptions. When the Bruce Suter, Goose Gossage, Rollie Fingers get in THEN they are letting in relievers. I am all for that as relievers are important, present in both leagues, and a sample set larger than three to pick and compare from. For DH comparisons, compare them to people at the posiition the broke in at, if you need one. Compare them to corner infielders (as that's what the NL equivalent would be) if you like, but against other DH's does not work. Not until the NL get's a DH and/or kids start breaking into the majors as a DH (neither of which will happen anytime soon).

posted by pivo at 09:09 PM on August 09

Looking at the Baseball Reference similarity scores for Martinez through last season, four of 10 players whose batting numbers are most similar to him are in the Hall of Fame: Johnny Mize, Enos Slaughter, Willie Stargell, and Tony Perez. According to another Bill James metric, the Hall of Fame monitor, Martinez is almost a "virtual cinch" for induction into the Hall.

posted by rcade at 10:38 PM on August 09

For the record vito, there's one kicker and 0 punters in the football Hall of Fame.

posted by yerfatma at 06:24 AM on August 10

Why should any of the established criteria and milestones for HoF entry be changed for DH's? DH's are good compared to who? Gotta go with what you know, and say if Edgar is a 1B or 3B (his once in a great while position) with these stats, does he get in? I say no. Well said. I don't care if he played a position or not - to me, his hitting numbers are very good, but not great. I wouldn't vote for him. goddam, I don't think that they necessarily change the criteria for the different positions, but people definitely will hype those things up if they think it helps the case - like a power hitting SS or 2B, for instance. Maybe I'm wrong, but if I'm on the hall committee I still judge that player more against all his contemporaries than I do against players at the same position. Maybe that's taken into effect to some degree but it's not the defining statistic. Saying Edgar is the greatest DH ever doesn't mean that much to me anyway because there haven't been that many full time DHs yet, and we shouldn't lower the bar so that we can get someone in a new position in.

posted by Bernreuther at 08:05 AM on August 10

Well, you also have to take into account the fact the game changes over time. We're not comparing offensive stats of today's players to those of the dead ball era and deciding everyone hitting over .250 with 15 HRs are superstars. So there has to be some criteria for DHs-- if he's better than all of them, you have to consider his canidacy.

posted by yerfatma at 09:12 AM on August 10

rcade, I'm not sure that the age similarity scores help Martinez' case all that much. They serve better as a testament to his longevity, as the pool of players who played through their age 40 season is overweighted with HoF members. I think that playing to age 41 is a weak argument when 70% of your playing time was spent at DH. None of his age 40 comps even make the top ten of his regular batting comps. Martinez is at 302 Win Shares right now (297 plus 5 so far this year), which puts him firmly in consideration. I personally wouldn't put him in. Here's the Baseball Think Factory thread on Edgar.

posted by mbd1 at 10:03 AM on August 10

Yerfatma, oh I have considered it. I'm not saying people should dismiss him out of hand. But after looking it over I place him just on the outside. Which it appears Rob Neyer does too. I hate that he's on Insider now, I miss his columns.

posted by Bernreuther at 10:31 AM on August 10

Here is another sabermetric statistical point of view: (from Lee Sinins [lee@baseball-encyclopedia.com] and his Around the Major's daily newsletter) Martinez ranks 12th in career OBA vs. the league average (7500+ PA, since 1900) --

 OBA                             DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE 1    Ted Williams               .134     .482     .348 2    Babe Ruth                  .118     .474     .356 3    Barry Bonds                .103     .439     .336 4    Ty Cobb                    .093     .433     .340 5    Rogers Hornsby             .091     .434     .342 6    Frank Thomas               .089     .429     .339 7    Mickey Mantle              .087     .421     .333 8    Lou Gehrig                 .086     .447     .361 9    Tris Speaker               .084     .428     .344 10   Eddie Collins              .082     .424     .342 11   Wade Boggs                 .082     .415     .333 12   Edgar Martinez             .081     .420     .338 13   Stan Musial                .079     .417     .338 14   Mel Ott                    .071     .414     .343 15   Jimmie Foxx                .070     .428     .358 
He's 12th on the AL career RCAA list-- (RCAA is Runs Created Above Average, a league/era neutral stat that Lee Sinins invented and is used by many people for comparisons as it involves longevity AND ability, so simply hanging on like Fred McGriff has done will actually HURT your RCAA total)
 RCAA 1    Babe Ruth                  1795 2    Ted Williams               1475 3    Ty Cobb                    1369 4    Lou Gehrig                 1247 5    Mickey Mantle              1099 6    Tris Speaker               1053 7    Jimmie Foxx                 996 8    Frank Thomas                796 9    Eddie Collins               747 10   Joe DiMaggio                708 11   Rickey Henderson            706 12   Edgar Martinez              651 13   Harry Heilmann              624 14   Nap Lajoie                  617 15   George Brett                593 
P.S. I highly recommend signing up for his newsletter as it is chock-full of stats, transactions reports, injury information, and milestones. Side note: When the time comes to debate Frank Thomas' place in the HOF, I think it's pretty much a no-brainer that he gets in, right?

posted by grum@work at 11:02 AM on August 10

A no-brainer that Frank Thomas belongs, sure. A no-brainer that he gets in, I don't know. I think you'll hear a lot of "if he wasn't hurt so much."

posted by yerfatma at 11:51 AM on August 10

Frank Thomas dominated for how many years? I honestly can't remember. It's been quite some time since he was a force, though last year and this one he returned to form. Those #s with Edgar are quite surprising. And impressive.

posted by Bernreuther at 04:13 PM on August 10

What Pivo said, Martinez's numbers are so-so at best when it comes to the Hall of Fame. No 3,000 hits, no 500 HRs, and no 1,500 RBIs. The mere fact that he's got the best DH stats is not sufficent in my mind because those stats are not that great anyway and there is no DH in the NL. He was a greated player, but not a HOF player.

posted by Bag Man at 05:21 PM on August 10

Martinez ranks 12th in career OBA vs. the league average (7500+ PA, since 1900)...He's 12th on the AL career RCAA list So what?

posted by Bag Man at 05:22 PM on August 10

I don't see how there's even a comparison. Stick guys like Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, and Ken Griffey Jr. in the DH spot for their careers and they make Edgar's numbers look like nothing. Why shouldn't we compare his numbers just because he's a DH? God forbid all these other guys make an effort during the other half of the game. Ellis Burks has similar numbers (plus or minus a few here and there), and he likely won't make the HOF. Should he be penalized because he made an extra effort in the outfield?

posted by charlatan at 05:37 PM on August 10

Please don't take this the wrong way, but . . . Bag Man, are you trolling? You point out a lack of incremental stats (3000/500/1500) that are a product of talent and time in the league. The numbers you dismiss with a casual "So what?" are metrics that try to look at real production during a career instead of just what someone accumulated by hanging around. I realize that sounds like I'm dismissing 500 HRs; I'm not. What I'm saying is measures of things that only increase aren't as useful. It's impossible to say exactly what I mean

posted by yerfatma at 07:01 PM on August 10

According to another Bill James metric, the Hall of Fame monitor, Martinez is almost a "virtual cinch" for induction into the Hall. What a faulty system, at least for hitters. A guy like Ozzie Smith would be eons away from making the Hall under a system like this. It rewards fielding at something like a 1:60 ratio to hitting.

posted by charlatan at 07:31 PM on August 10

I think it's wrong to dismiss a pure DH simply because the NL is smart enough to use a better system. There's already a built-in disparity in the Hall among pitchers -- a lifetime NL pitcher will have better numbers than a lifetime AL pitcher because he doesn't throw to DHs. If you can handle that inconsistency, you should be able to cope with the presence of a deserving DH like Edgar in the hall.

posted by rcade at 07:49 PM on August 10

The numbers you dismiss with a casual "So what?" are metrics that try to look at real production during a career instead of just what someone accumulated by hanging around. I don't mean to speak for Bag Man, but I agree with him, at least on my own level. Again, so what? These "metrics" are applaudable because of the surrounding cast of HOF players, but then you can play with numbers all you want until they agree with you by rewarding certain facets and disregarding others (example: QB rating - Michael Vick is richly underrated--I know, apples & oranges, but still, metrics are often skewed in one way or another). This is my main argument: despite these good stats, why do people feel absence from the field as a DH should be rewarded rather than penalized? Relievers are relievers for a reason. They don't have the endurance to be a starter or power to be a closer, so they have to "settle" for relief (a couple innings of "solid", not extraordinary pitching). It works the same way with the DH: there's 8 other players on the roster who can field better than a player, so he has to "settle" for the DH position. I don't think it's glamorous, if not insulting. Martinez is a very good hitter, but that's all he had. Let's get Torii Hunter in the Hall if 1 tool is all you need in your arsenal.

posted by charlatan at 07:49 PM on August 10

What a faulty system, at least for hitters. A guy like Ozzie Smith would be eons away from making the Hall under a system like this. It rewards fielding at something like a 1:60 ratio to hitting. Actually, the Wizard has a score of 142.5 (100 is considered "likely" to make the HOF). It's the only "Hall of Fame Stat" that actually has him as a potential HOF'er. But maybe that's how it should be. How many players are in the Hall of Fame almost exclusively for their fielding ability? 5, maybe 10 tops? Of the top of my head: Bill Mazeroski, Ozzie Smith, Brooks Robinson, Phil Rizzuto But how many players are in the HOF as fantastic hitters but average (or terrible) fielders? Many, including the some of the very best. Martinez is a very good hitter, but that's all he had. Let's think of it this way: If Edgar Martinez came up through the minors with the Pittsburgh Pirates and put up those numbers for the NL team, don't you think they'd have found a place for him to play? He'd just be a lousy fielding, great hitting 3B. Let's get Torii Hunter in the Hall if 1 tool is all you need in your arsenal. You know what? They've already put in all-field/no-hit players in the HOF. Look at the ones I listed above: except for Brooks Robinson (a slightly-above average hitter), the rest of them were WELL below average as batters but are excellent fielders. For the record, Martinez had 2 tools: hitting for average (7 times in the top 10 for batting average) and hitting for power (6 times in the top 10 for slugging).

posted by grum@work at 08:57 PM on August 10

A guy like Ozzie Smith would be eons away from making the Hall under a system like this. As a DH, Ozzie Smith was/ is "eons away" from the Hall of Fame. Your argument would be, he made up for it with his glove. Why can't a DH make up for their defensive short-comings with their bat? [Relievers] don't have the endurance to be a starter or power to be a closer, so they have to "settle" for relief (a couple innings of "solid", not extraordinary pitching) . . . there's 8 other players on the roster who can field better than a player, so he has to "settle" for the DH position. First off, the relievers become relievers for any number of reasons, but it's not always because they suck at starting. You think Eric Gagne wouldn't be better than most #5 starters in the NL? Second, guys don't get stuck with a DH position. This isn't gym class. They prove themselves to be such valuable hitters in the minors they make it to the bigs in spite of the fact they can't really help the team with their defense. These "metrics" are applaudable because of the surrounding cast of HOF players, but then you can play with numbers all you want until they agree with you by rewarding certain facets and disregarding others Give it up. If Edgar were between Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth on a list of home run hitters, would we need to massage the numbers to make you see why that's A Good Thing? I get the feeling this is just another community you're having one over on. (on preview: grum does it better than I can)

posted by yerfatma at 08:59 PM on August 10

You guys bring up good points. I didn't realize there were several strict fielding phenoms aboard. However.... First off, the relievers become relievers for any number of reasons, but it's not always because they suck at starting. You think Eric Gagne wouldn't be better than most #5 starters in the NL? Can you think of someone who doesn't prove my point (i.e., not a starter or closer)? Let's think of it this way: If Edgar Martinez came up through the minors with the Pittsburgh Pirates and put up those numbers for the NL team, don't you think they'd have found a place for him to play? He'd just be a lousy fielding, great hitting 3B. And given if he were a subpar 3B his career, do his numbers still make a HOF player, in your opinion? Give it up. If Edgar were between Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth on a list of home run hitters, would we need to massage the numbers to make you see why that's A Good Thing? There's a reason guys like Canseco and McGriff probably won't make it. It's not all about the numbers; to even get to Ruth numbers in the first place, a guy would have to do more than just hit home runs to make his himself worthwhile enough to reach that milestone. Obviously I don't know all my material too well, but I'm just not seeing his candidacy. (Someone please tackle the Ellis Burks thing.) I get the feeling this is just another community you're having one over on. Thanks for taking a vested interest. But that's not a very sharp inference you've drawn.

posted by charlatan at 11:21 PM on August 10

This conversation started great, but now it's going down that saberdude vs. traditionman path, which is well-beaten.

posted by dusted at 11:38 PM on August 10

He has to get some consideration. Measured against his peers (especially right-handed hitters) he's done a remarkable job of maintaining a high average, good power (not really homer power, but high slugging) and driving in runs. I've heard arguements about him being the best right-handed hitter of his generation.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:38 AM on August 11

going down that saberdude vs. traditionman path I agree, but how can we failt to rise to such tempting bait? But that's not a very sharp inference you've drawn. It's this damned round head of mine.

posted by yerfatma at 06:23 AM on August 11

What charlatan said.

posted by Bag Man at 02:15 PM on August 12

Can you think of someone who doesn't prove my point (i.e., not a starter or closer)? Felix Rodriguez until two years ago (I think Dusty killed him), Guillermo Mota, Mike Remlinger in his heyday in Atlanta. Middle relievers like these guys are crucial parts of any team. If they suck, your closer is a moot point. In this era of pitch counts and specialization, the complete game is an increasingly rare beast. The middle reliever who can make the game over in the 7th inning is just as important as a 9th inning closer. The importance of the setup man is increasing every year, and I really don't see a change anytime soon. At least not until baseball people realize the save is a stupid stat and it is asinine to sit your best reliever in the bullpen at a crucial point in a game because you are down one run instead of up 2.

posted by pivo at 02:46 PM on August 12

What Bill James said.

posted by yerfatma at 03:28 PM on August 12

saberdude vs. traditionman I think I have that comic... oh, and the new green lantern is a pansy.

posted by lilnemo at 04:07 PM on August 12

Who's the new Green Lantern? Is this number 1,000 (I know there's a whole Corps an everything, but I mean the focus of the book)? I grabbed a portion of Kevin Smith's run on Green Arrow last night and there was this whole thing about Hal Jordan being God or an Arch-Angel or I don't know what. Kinda thing that makes me glad I gravitated to Marvel as a kid (not to start another Holy War in this thread).

posted by yerfatma at 05:15 PM on August 12

Who's the new Green Lantern? Kyle Rayner. Apparently Hal Jordan went all loopy and decided to cream Coast City. Long story short, Hal comes back to his senses, saves the city and kills himself in the process. If its any consolation Hal is the new Spectre. Which is what Kevin Smith was referring to on his run in Green Arrow. Kevin Smith had a cameo in Scream 3, which starred Neve Campbell, who co-starred in Wild Things with Kevin Bacon. And the new Green Lantern get-up blows.

posted by lilnemo at 05:20 PM on August 12

Kinda thing that makes me glad I gravitated to Marvel as a kid... Totally understand where you're coming from. Miller, Perez, Ross, Lee, Bolland, Gaiman, Moore and on occasion Jurgens get me to peer over the fence.

posted by lilnemo at 05:28 PM on August 12

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