Edgar “Gar” Martinez

He waited a long time. In his tenth year on the ballot he finally cracked through. He was arguably the greatest DH ever and one of the more beloved figures to play in the last 30 years. Similar to his struggles to be elected to the Hall of Fame, Edgar Martinez struggled to make an impact in the league. Unlike the other three Hall members who were voted in this year, Edgar began his career in the ’80s. In 1982, Edgar signed a contract with the Seattle Mariners, but stayed in the minors for a few years. He finally got his chance as a 24 year old in 1987. Over 13 games he had a line of .372/.413/.581. In ’88, he played 14 games, but got even fewer at bats. He hit .281/.351/.406. Edgar began 1989 as the Opening Day third baseman, but he struggled and was sent down. Through 65 games and almost 200 plate appearances, Edgar hit .240/.314/.304. He hit his first home run in May. It was 1990 when Edgar began to figure it out. He stuck around for 144 games that year and hit .302/.397/.433. He hit 11 home runs and drove in 49. It wasn’t a career year, but it showed he at least belonged in the show. In ’91, Edgar played in 150 games and hit .307/.405/.452. He hit 14 home runs and drove in 52. 1992 was the first year he began to pick up awards. He played in 135 games and mashed a league leading 46 doubles. He picked up 181 hits and 18 homers with 73 RBIs. He even stole 14 bases. Overall, he hit a .343/.404/.544. Due to leading the league in doubles and batting average he was named the Silver Slugger winner for third basemen. He also made his first all-star game and finished 12th in MVP voting. Injuries hurt his next two years. In ’93, he only played in 42 games and hit a .237/.366/.378, with 4 home runs. In ’94, the injuries and the strike kept his season at 89 games. He hit .285/.387/.482, with 13 home runs and 51 RBIs. He was turning 32 and had only one good season under his belt, and yet he will be enshrined this year just like any other Hall of Famer. Maybe the lesson from Edgar is perseverance and to never settle. 1995 Is when Edgar became the DH. He lead the league in average, doubles, and runs. He slashed .356/.479/.628 with an OPS of 1.107. He hit 29 homers with 113 RBIs and hit 52 doubles. He was third in MVP voting and won another Silver Slugger. For the first time in his career the Mariners made the playoffs. Edgar continued his hot hitting into the playoffs against the Yankees. It’s hard to come up with individual postseason series that were as great as this performance. He hit .571/.667/1.000, with 2 homers and 10 RBIs. The stats don’t even tell half the story. Already down 2-1 in the series, the Yankees jumped out to a 5-0 lead seemingly ending the Mariners year. Martinez hit a three-run homer and then later broke a 6-6 tie in extras with a grand slam. In Game 5, the Mariners were down to their final out in the bottom of the 11th behind by one run. Edgar laced a game-winning double to send the Mariners to the ALCS. The Mariners pushed the Indians to six games, but fell short. Edgar struggled mightily, picking up only 2 hits and no RBIs. Martinez continued mashing in ’96. He hit .327/.464/.595 with 26 homers and 103 RBIs. He again hit 52 doubles and was voted to the all-star game. The Mariners failed to make the playoffs. Edgar kept those numbers up for the ’97 season, hitting .330/.456/.554 with 28 home runs and 108 RBIs. The Mariners faced the Orioles in the postseason and lost in 4 games. Edgar hit two home runs, but both were solo shots. The Mariners slipped over the next two seasons, but it didn’t seem to conflict with Edgar’s stats. In ’98, he hit .322/.429/.565 with 29 home runs and 102 RBIs. In ’99, he hit .337/.447/.554 with 24 homers and 86 RBIs. The Mariners returned to winning ways in 2000 and Edgar hit .324/.423/.579 with 37 homers and a league-leading 145 RBIs. He finished sixth in MVP voting. Martinez hit .364 as the Mariners swept the White Sox in three games. They lost to the Yankees in six games and Edgar had a line of .238/.333/.429. The 2001 Mariners are one of the greatest teams ever and they have the wins to prove it. They tied the 1906 Cubs with 116 wins. For his part, Edgar hit .306/.423/.543 with 23 homers and 116 RBIs. Edgar continued his theme of crushing in the first round and then diminishing in the second. The Mariners beat the Indians in 5 and Edgar hit 2 home runs and batted .316, but the Yankees knocked them out in 5. Edgar managed a measly 3 hits. Despite winning 93 games in each of the next two seasons the Mariners didn’t reach the playoffs. In fact, they are still trying to get back. 2002 was a year of injuries as Martinez played less than 100 games for the first time since ’94. He hit 15 homers with 59 RBIs, but his average dropped to .277. In 2003, Edgar collected his 2000th hit and won another Silver Slugger, at the age of 40. He still had 24 homers and 98 RBIs and hit just below .300. 2004 was his last year. He still played 141 games, but it was clear that injuries and age had caught up. Edgar Martinez finished his career with 2247 hits, 309 home runs, and 1,261 RBIs. He played in over 2000 games and hit .312/.418/.515 over 18 seasons. He won the Silver Slugger award 5 times and the batting title twice, in addition to being a 7 time all star. Edgar Martinez didn’t fully break through until he was 32, maybe its only fitting that it took him a little bit to reach the Hall. But he got there, and much like the Majors, he isn’t leaving anytime soon.

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