SEATTLE — Edgar Martinez may not have gotten into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. However, the nature of the results have the Seattle Mariners legend hopeful about getting in next year.
The Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) announced the results of its 2018 Hall of Fame voting Wednesday afternoon, and Martinez fell just short of the 75 percent required for election.
Martinez was named on 297 of the 422 ballots, good for 70.4 percent of the vote, meaning he was 20 votes shy of election. He received the fifth-most votes of the 33 players on the ballot, with the four who finished ahead of him — Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman — all being elected.
This was Martinez’s ninth year on the ballot, meaning next year will be his last shot at being voted into the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA. But the trends are positive for Martinez. His vote total increased significantly each of the past three years, going from 27.0 percent in 2015 to 43.3 percent in 2016 to 58.6 percent last year to 70.4 percent this year. And every player since 1988 who received at least 70 percent of the vote and wasn’t elected — and who had eligibility remaining — was voted in the following year.
“I think even tough I didn’t make it this year, getting 70.4 percent is a big improvement,” Martinez said in a conference call with media. “All I can think right now is that it’s looking good for next year. It would have been great to get in this year, but it just looks good for next year.”
Martinez sat above the 75-percent threshold among ballots that were made public prior to Wednesday’s announcement, but the final 40 percent of ballots that weren’t made public pushed Martinez below the bar.
“I think the last time we checked it was about 77 percent on the tracker,” Martinez said. “But I knew that usually it tends to go down when they make the final count.
“I thought there was a chance, but for some reason I didn’t think it was going to happen this year,” Martinez added. “Especially looking at the tracker the last week or so. I was fine with it, I didn’t have high expectations.”
Martinez is perhaps the most beloved player in Mariners history. He spent his entire professional playing career in Seattle’s organization, including 17 seasons (1987-2004) in the majors. He was named to seven All-Star teams, received five Silver Slugger awards, and won the American League batting title in 1992 and 1995. He finished with a career .312 batting average, 309 home runs, 1,261 RBI and a .933 OPS. The American League’s award for the year’s best designated hitter is the Edgar Martinez Award.
Martinez’s connection with Seattle has only grown since his playing days. He currently serves as the team’s hitting coach, and the street where Safeco Field is located is named after him.
“I just want to say, ‘Thank you,’ to all the fans who supported my candidacy,” Martinez said. “The positive is that’s trending up and there’s still a good chance for next year. I also want to thank the Mariners, who have done an amazing job with the campaign the last few years.”
Another former Mariner on the ballot, shortstop Omar Vizquel, had an encouraging start to his Hall of Fame campaign. Vizquel, who played for Seattle from 1989-93, received 37.0 percent of the vote, which is a promising total for a player’s first year on the ballot. Vizquel is a three-time All-Star who won 11 Gold Glove Awards at shortstop.
“I think Omar belongs in the Hall of Fame,” Martinez said. “I think he got about 2,800 hits, about 11 Gold Gloves. To me it doesn’t get better than that. He’s a great player who played the game for a long time, and he was consistent on both sides of the field. He belongs.”
Pitcher Jamie Moyer, who spent 1996-2006 with Seattle and finished with 269 career wins, and pitcher Kevin Millwood, who finished his major-league career with the Mariners in 2012, both fell short of the 5 percent required to remain on the ballot.