Edgar Martinez named to Hall of Fame in final year of eligibility

Los Angeles Dodgers v Seattle Mariners

It took all 10 years of eligibility to finally become a reality but former Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez is headed to the Hall of Fame.

In his final year on the ballot, Martinez received the necessary 75 percent of votes from eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America to be elected to the Hall. Martinez joins Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Mike Mussina, Lee Smith and Harold Baines as members of the 2019 Hall of Fame class. 

Smith and Baines were voted in by the Eras Committee of the Hall of Fame in December after failing to receive the required 75 percent in their 10 years on the ballot.

Martinez needed 319 votes out of the 425 ballots cast to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Ultimately, Martinez was named on 363 ballots for 85.4 percent of the total vote.

"I tried to distract myself pretty much most of the day," Martinez said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday evening. "Getting the call, which I didn't know exactly how it was going to feel, the feeling is an amazing feeling when you get that call that finally you are going to be elected to the Hall of Fame. It's just a special moment."

Meanwhile, Rivera became the first player ever to be elected to the Hall of Fame with 100 percent of the vote. Mariners legend Ken Griffey Jr. had come the closest when he was elected coming just three votes shy of being unanimously selected in 2016.

Over 18 Major League seasons, Martinez compiled a .312 career batting average with a lifetime .418 on-base percentage and a .515 slugging percentage while amassing 1,219 runs, 2,247 hits, 514 doubles, 309 home runs, 1,261 RBI and 1,283 walks in 2,055 career games. 

Martinez made seven appearances in the All-Star Game, earned two batting titles, won five Silver Sluggers and garnered five Outstanding Designated Hitter Awards. Upon his retirement, Major League Baseball renamed the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award the Edgar Martinez Award. He is one of 10 right-handed batters to win multiple American League batting titles.

Five years ago, Martinez looked like a long shot to be included. In his fifth year on the ballot, Martinez received his lowest vote total ever. He was named on just 25.2 percent of all ballots that year. Since then, Martinez began to make significant strides each year. He received 27 percent of the vote in 2015, 43.4 percent in 2016, 58.6 percent in 2017.

The Mariners have campaigned on Martinez's behalf for years. The team's public relations department has done their best to make a case for Martinez to be elected by presenting information packets to voters across the country that have included his statistics and quotes from teammates and competitors about playing with or against him. Martinez credited that effort as being one of the big reasons why he finally made the Hall of Fame.

"I think it was really a big part of why I've been elected," Martinez said. "They have done an amazing job sharing information about my career for the last seven years or so and the effort and the work they have done definitely is one of the big reasons why I am talking to you today. They have done an amazing job."

A year ago, Martinez earned 70.4 percent of the votes, being named on 297 of 422 ballots cast. He fell 20 votes shy of induction in 2018 as 317 votes were needed to reach 75 percent. According to Hall of Fame ballot tracker Ryan Thibodaux, Martinez was named on 89.7 percent (208 of 227) of all publicly released ballots entering Tuesday's announcement. In 2018, Martinez was on 178 of the 231 publicly known ballots (70.4 percent) at the time of announcement.

Martinez had picked up a net of 25 new affirmative votes from the returning electorate entering Tuesday. Given that he missed induction by just 20 votes a year ago, fortunes appeared extremely favorable for Martinez. 

Martinez joins Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson as players that spent a sizable portion of their career with the franchise to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Griffey spent 13 of his 22 seasons with the Mariners while Johnson spent parts of 10 seasons with the franchise. Rickey Henderson (2000), Goose Gossage (1994), Gaylord Perry (1982-83) and manager Dick Williams (1986-88) are also Hall of Fame members that spent time with the franchise.

This year’s induction will take place on Sunday, July 21 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 08: Former Seattle Mariners great Edgar Martinez waves to the crowd as he heads to the mound to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Safeco Field on June 8, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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