I saw a comment in one of Jim Callis’ ESPN chats from last week that said that Don Mattingly and Edgar Martinez were both very good hitters but that neither deserved to be in the Hall of Fame. That didn’t seem correct to me, so I looked into the issue over at MLB Notebook. An excerpt’s below; click through for the full version.
“Donnie Baseball: .307/.358/.471 career hitter, 222 HR, 127 OPS+, career high OBP of .394
Edgar: .312/.418/.515 career hitter (OBP is 22nd highest of all-time – one spot ahead of Stan Musial), 309 HR, 147 OPS+, career low OBP (min 400 PA) of .397
Mattingly was a good hitter; Edgar was a great hitter. Different time periods, but a 60 point edge in OBP? That’s pretty significant. And another 34 points of SLG on top of that.
Martinez was twice the hitter Mattingly was: looking at Rally’s Historical Wins Above Replacement Database, ” Edgar was at 559 batting runs above average for his career – or 39 runs per 600 PA – and Mattingly was at 240 batting runs (19 per 600 PA). Even when you add in baserunning, grounding into double plays, and reaching on errors – areas in which Edgar trailed – he still has a huge edge, +37 runs per 600 PA to (still) +19 runs per 600 PA.
As an offensive force, there really is no comparison…
Mattingly: 39.8 WAR
Total Zone has him as a good but not great fielder (about 2.5 runs better than average per season, including double plays and outfield throwing). That really hurts his case, since the positional adjustment for being a first-baseman is severe. Even if you think he was a +10 defender every year, it still only gets him to about 50 WAR – that’s Fred McGriff territory (50.5). At best – at best! – he’s a borderline candidate.
Edgar: 67.2 WAR…
For comparison – based on career WAR – Mattingly is between Gil McDonald and Boog Powell, and below Carlos Delgado, Mike Cameron, Lance Berkman, Miguel Tejada, JR Drew, Devon White, Chuck Knoblauch, Julio Franco, Steve Finley, and even Jim Rice (who is in the Tejada/Drew area).
Edgar is surrounded by Tony Gwynn (HOFamer), Jesse Burkett (HOFamer), Bobby Grich, Carlton Fisk (HOFamer), Duke Snider (HOFamer) – Martinez here – Larry Walker, Alan Trammell, and Eddie Murray (HOFamer)…
I’m not going to make the full case for Edgar’s enshrinement, but I will say that if you’re a medium-to-big Hall person then he probably deserves to get in