Saturday, January 19, 2008

DH = Doubtlessly Historic...

As you will recall, last Monday we discussed Looking ahead to future BBWAA snafus.... There I wrote:

“The class of 2010 will have two slam-dunks and two with decent cases--I’m predicting all four fall short. They are Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Fred McGriff and Edgar Martinez (we’ll deal with the Crime Dog and Edgrr at a later date). Alomar and Larkin should be no-brainers--both were superb defensive middle infielders with terrific bats.”

Admittedly, I was selling Edgar Martinez a little short in that my personal assessment is much higher. I do think the BBWAA will swing and miss on Edgrr but I feel he has a rock solid case for induction into the Hall of Fame.

To begin with, the greatest first, second and third baseman, shortstop, left, right and centerfielder, the greatest pitcher and catcher are all in the Hall-of-Fame. So doesn’t it stand to reason that the greatest DH should be there as well? It may be tempting to ask whether this applies to setup men, LOOGY’s, pinch hitters etc. but it should be remembered that a DH sometimes plays every game of the season--the same cannot be said of the aforementioned role players.

How does he stack up against his peers? First, let’s look at his totals strictly as a DH (at least 6000 PA).

Stat Tot Rank
AVG .313 1
OBP .428 1
SLG .537 1
XBH 627 1
R 877 1
H 1593 4
2B 370 2
HR 251 2
RBI 1006 2
BB 995 1
RCAA 519 1
RCAP 422 1
TOB 2653 1
TB 2728 2

I think we can safely say he was best in the business. Now let’s see how his hitting stacks up historically (min 8500 PA):

Stat Tot Rank
AVG .313 30
OBP .428 12
SLG .537 22
XBH 839 72
R 1219 ++
H 2247 ++
2B 514 T35
HR 309 ++
RBI 1261 ++
BB 1283 38
RCAA 647 34
BR* 565.9 26
OPS+ 147 T41
TOB 3619 71
TB 3718 ++

*Adjusted Batting Runs
++Not in top 100

Now let’s see how he stacks up in his own era; we’ll define it as being since the season was extended to 162 games in 1961 until 2006--two years after his retirement.

Stat Tot Rank
AVG .313 4
OBP .428 3
SLG .537 11
XBH 839 44
R 1219 62
H 2247 71
2B 514 17
HR 309 84
RBI 1261 66
BB 1283 22
RCAA 647 10
BR* 565.9 12
OPS+ 147 T14
TOB 3619 32
TB 3718 62

*Adjusted Batting Runs
++Not in top 100

Due to his relatively short career his counting numbers don’t jump out at you, but his level of production has him among the elite. The thing is though, his particular set of counting numbers are actually very solid. One of the worst ways to argue about HOFers is using the “He’s in the group” where you set a number of standards where our candidate resides among some of the game’s greats. However, when you examine the group you see that the one you’ve included is a distant last in most of the categories.

Nevertheless, I’m going to do just that here. I’m not claiming that he’s in this group, but it will demonstrate the high level Martinez played at because it does take a special talent to be in this group--even if they’re away off from the rest.

Here’s the ‘group’--players with careers of at least 2000 hits, 500 doubles, 300 HR, 1000 runs/RBI/BB and batted better than .300/.400/.500 lifetime. The following are those who qualify: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial, Mel Ott and Edgar Martinez.

What makes Martinez’s career special is he had to be able to hit for average, for power, have a keen batting eye and sustaining it for a significant period of time to join the group. That’s why only seven players have accomplished the feat in major league history, it takes a tremendous hitter to accomplish it.

Some forgettable (in a HOF sense) players have high batting averages (Riggs Stephenson .336), OBP (Ferris Fain .424), SLG (Albert Belle .564), tons of hits (Harold Baines 2866), HR totals (Jose Canseco 462), doubles (Al Oliver with 529), RBI (Baines again 1628), walks (Eddie Yost 1614 BB), runs scored (Tom Brown 1521), but to excel in all the aforementioned categories is reserved for the truly great.

My point?

Edgar Martinez’s strength lay in his level of offensive production however, if you look at his counting stats as a set rather than in separate groups, it becomes obvious that there really isn’t anything wrong with those numbers.

The elephant in the room is Martinez’s time at DH. While he’s the greatest among that group, many feel that DH’s require an incredibly high standard to be considered for Cooperstown. Let’s address this: I’m going to resort to the “lowest common denominator” argument. We’ve already established that Martinez is a Hall-of-Fame hitter, but what about his lack of time in the field? Well, going to the opposite extreme, we need look no further than Bill Mazeroski; a Hall-of-Fame defender? There’s little doubt about that. What about his hitting?

Yes, he had over 2000 hits but that’s it. Did you know he never had a single season where he was league average or better? Not once. Every year, a league average hitter at second base would’ve been a better asset in the lineup than Maz. Yes, second base is a key defensive position, but how did Mazeroski fare against his contemporary second sackers? Over the course of his career, an average 2B created 834 runs. Maz created only 821 runs. In short, not only was he an offensive liability, he was an offensive liability for a second baseman!

Bad example? Fair enough--how about Ozzie Smith? All-time great glove, decent offensive player; what about defensive disasters such as Harmon Killebrew? Had he played today he’d likely be a DH--were that the case, is he no longer Hall-worthy? It’s good to remember that Killer isn’t in the Hall because he played in the field, it’s in spite of his defensive deficiencies.

I feel that Edgar Martinez’s career is deserving of a plaque in spite of his defensive deficiencies--in this case, his time at DH. Either way, he strikes me as worthy--the greatest DH in history or a player whose hitting was so amazing that he could be elected even though he spent most of his career as a designated hitter.

There's been a change...

I wanted to give the gang at Drunk Jays Fans a proper sig at the end of this but something came up.

The bubblegum pop-stars' guild (the Association of Immorally Retarded Ho’s Eagerly Awaiting Dough Songstresses) have requested that after the Hillary Duff fiasco back on January 16th (Miss Duff is worried that--and I quote--"it'll be a day that will live when I'm phlegmy"), that I allow another of their membership an opportunity to handle the sign-off. Reluctantly I have agreed and Britney Spears will be along shortly to do the honours.

There’s a knock on the door--that must be her now.

(gets up to answer door)

Um … hi guys.

(Geez, it’s the freakin’ Minnesota Vikings with a 20 gallon barrel.)

There’s seems to be some mistake gentlemen, I was led to believe Britney Spe… oh, she is here? So, did she hire you guys for security or something?

You’re. Her. Date.

I see… (shakes head).

(I don’t know and I don’t want to know.)

There she is now--holy flurping snit! I don’t believe this (rubs eyes) … I can’t believe this--honest to God folks, I’m not lying to you and I swear I’m telling the truth (rubs eyes). Britney Spears is fully clothed!

Whoa, somebody must have opened the seventh seal--the apocalypse is nigh. However, it will have to wait until we're done here.

Guys, that barrel looks awfully heavy, why don’t you set it down over… wow, I didn’t know Haagen Dazs sold Heavenly Hash in 20 gallon barrels. Well, there is a lot of you so I can see why… what? she doesn’t share?


Let’s just get this over with so you can get back to … whatever it is you're planning for tonight. Ready Ms. Spears? O.K. go…

(Are my ears clogged? I don’t hear anything.)

Uhh … Brit, a little louder please I don’t think that did it.

(quickly digs out ear with pinky) Nope, still nothing. Did you guys hear anything? Does she have laryngitis? She’s trying to say something but … what’s this? A tape recorder … O.K. what’s this for? Count backwards from three and hit play? Errrr … alright.

3 … 2 … 1 … (hits play button)

[britney’s voice] Best Regards

John [/britney’s voice]

xcdfzs qdfx mdsjk jlkuoi ,nmjkh \zAEW

(Sorry, I was banging my head on the keyboard.)

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