Baseball Digest Birthdays: Edgar Martinez

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On January 2nd, 2011 Edgar Martinez turns 47 years old. On January 5th, 2011 Edgar Martinez will be featured for the second time in the results for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Though it’s inclear how much support Martinez will receive on a heavily stacked ballot, there is no doubt that he was one of the greatest Designated Hitters of his era, and possibly the greatest ever full time DH.

Edgar Martinez was signed by the Seattle Mariners as an amateur free agent in December of 1982. Despite being a career .300 hitter in the minor leagues, he did not become an every day player in the majors until 1990, his fourth season with Seattle and first full season at the top level. Taking over third base duties, Martinez proved to be an offensive force by hitting .302 and slugging 11 home runs in 144 games. His sophomore season in 1991 was nearly identical with a slight increase in most offensive categories. It was 1992, however, that showcased the future of Edgar Martinez against the pitching in the American League.

Martinez received his first of seven All-Star nods in 1992, thanks to a AL leading .343 batting average and 46 doubles. His homer totals jumped to 18, and his OPS+ was a then career best 164. His career was threatened following his breakout season due to a torn hamstring in 1993 that subsequently shorted the 1993 and 1994 seasons and pushed him permanently to the Designated Hitter role by 1995.

“Papi” flourished as the Designated Hitter for the Seattle Mariners, winning the AL batting title in 1995 with a .356 average to go along with 29 home runs and a league leading 52 doubles. Fittingly enough, Martinez’s penchant for hitting doubles may be his greatest contribution, if you were to ask fans in Seattle. In addition to hitting .571 in the 1995 American League Division Series against the New York Yankees, he knocked a two run double in the 11th inning of Game 5, winning the game and series to send the Mariners to the American League Championship Series for the first time in franchise history.

Though the team could not overcome the Cleveland Indians in the ’95 ALCS, Edgar Martinez established himself as a key component to Seattle’s future. Over the next seven seasons as Seattle’s DH, Martinez averaged 28 home runs, 42 doubles, 110 RBI and an OPS+ of 163.

In a December 1992 issue of Baseball Digest, Bill Tuthill wrote an article about the impact of the AL leading hitter with the Seattle Mariners heading into 1993. Click here to check it out!

Martinez slowed slightly as his career began to wind down following seven straight seasons hitting .300 or better. Though he failed to hit .300 in the final three years of his career, he still averaged 17 home runs and 24 doubles.

By the end of his career in 2004, he had accumulated 514 doubles, 309 home runs, a slugging percentage of over .500 and a career on base percentage of .418 which ranks him 22nd all time. Only eight players in history have matched or exceeded each of these totals. Of them, Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby, and Lou Gehrig are members of the Hall of Fame.

Edgar Martinez spent his entire career with the Seattle Mariners, and his number 11 has not been issued since his retirement. He was inducted into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame in 2007, and has had the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award named in his honor.

Also Celebrating A Birthday Today:

David Cone, born on January 2 1963, spent 17 seasons in the big leagues with the New York Mets, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Kansas City Royals and Boston Red Sox. He may be best remember for throwing the 16th perfect game in history and as a member of the 1992 World Champion Toronto Blue Jays along with winning four titles as a member of the New York Yankees.

Bill Madlock, born in 1951, played 15 seasons with six teams. He won five batting titles to go along with a career .305 batting average. He was a member of the 1979 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

Jeff Suppan, born in 1975, has played for six teams in 16 seasons. He was a member of the 2006 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals and was selected Most Valuable Player of the 2006 National League Championship Series after posting a 0.60 ERA in 15 innings.

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