Athletics

Why Joe Stiglich gave Edgar Martinez a Hall of Fame vote this year

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AP

Why Joe Stiglich gave Edgar Martinez a Hall of Fame vote this year

When I began doing the homework for my 2018 Hall of Fame ballot, some of the decisions were easy.

There were five players I voted for last winter — my first time eligible to vote for the Hall — who didn’t receive induction into the 2017 class. Those five, without question, found their way back on my ballot for this year. But while it’s easy to simply carry over players you voted for the previous year, it’s a trickier proposition deciding which players to re-consider if you’ve passed them over previously.

Edgar Martinez’s Hall of Fame case is a complicated one. He didn’t play his first full major league season until he was 27, so he didn’t stockpile some of the gaudy cumulative numbers that often pave the way to Cooperstown. He also spent the majority of his career as a designated hitter, and Frank Thomas is the only player inducted who spent most of his career as a DH.

But the career-long Mariner’s candidacy was worth revisiting in my mind. After passing on him last year, I checked the box next to Martinez’s name this time around. That’s the most newsworthy feature of my 2018 ballot, which includes votes for two first-time eligible candidates. I voted for eight players total on a ballot that allows a max of 10.

Here’s a glance at those I gave the thumbs-up:

Edgar Martinez: He’s on his ninth year of eligibility, meaning he’s got one year left after this to reach the 75 percent of votes needed for induction or else he falls off the ballot. There’s an aggressive P.R. push to get Martinez to Cooperstown, but that’s not my motivation for putting him in. Martinez has the body of work. Consider he’s one of just nine players in Major League history with 300 homers, 500 doubles, a career batting average above .300, an on-base percentage higher than .400 and a career slugging percentage higher than .500. Martinez claimed two batting titles, and though his 309 home runs don’t jump off the page, Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez called him the toughest hitter he ever faced. That’s quite the endorsement.

Chipper Jones: An eight-time All-Star and 1999 NL MVP, Jones hit .303 for his career and his 468 homers are the most by a switch hitter in National League history. And it didn’t matter which side the Atlanta Braves’ third baseman/outfielder was hitting from. Jones batted .303 left-handed and .304 right-handed. Like Edgar Martinez, Jones spent his entire career with one team, and that’s something fewer and fewer Hall of Famers will be able to boast.

Jim Thome: One of just nine players in the 600-homer club, the first baseman/DH played in the heart of the steroid era but was never connected to performance-enhancing drugs. That makes his 612 home runs, eighth most all-time, even more impressive. Thome’s a no-brainer. Like Jones, he should be a first-ballot inductee.

And here’s the five that return from my ballot last year, in alphabetical order:

Barry Bonds: As I detailed in my Hall of Fame story last winter, Bonds was dominating with his all-around skills long before he was linked to PEDs. In the 13-year period from 1986-98, Bonds won three MVP awards and averaged a 30-30 season. There’s no debate for me here.

Roger Clemens: The same PED cloud hovers over Clemens as Bonds, but I take the same stance with him. The dominant numbers were there before he was ever thought to have taken performance-enhancers. From 1984-97, Clemens claimed four Cy Young awards, won 213 games and struck out 2,882. That strikeout total alone would rank 15th among Hall of Fame pitchers.

Vladimir Guerrero: In his first year of eligibility last year, Guerrero earned an impressive 71.7 percent of votes, making it a strong possibility his ticket gets punched this year. It’s easy to see why. The outfielder with the rocket arm hit .318 for his career with 449 homers and was the 2004 AL MVP with the Angels.

Trevor Hoffman: The longtime Padres closer scored even higher than Guerrero last season, grabbing 74 percent of the vote. So his plaque in Cooperstown is inevitable. Hoffman’s 601 saves rank second all-time behind Mariano Rivera’s 652.

Curt Schilling: He’s created the wrong kind of headlines in recent years with his social media rants, but Schilling deserves the nod to me based on his outstanding postseason resume. That includes an 11-2 record, 2.23 ERA and two shutouts in the playoffs. He also won 216 games in the regular season and topped 3,100 strikeouts.

A's notes: Khris Davis continues to own Astros ace Justin Verlander

A's notes: Khris Davis continues to own Astros ace Justin Verlander

OAKLAND — Justin Verlander has made a lot of good hitters look silly over the years. Khris Davis is not one of them.

The A's slugger belted two home runs off Verlander, followed by a single, improving to 6-for-11 with four home runs in his career against the former MVP.

This was Davis' 21st career multi-homer game, and his sixth this season, tied for third most in Oakland history behind Reggie Jackson (eight), Jose Canseco (seven), and Mark McGwire (seven). Davis also set a career high with his eighth three-hit game of the season.

--- Despite allowing four earned runs, Verlander earned his 200th career win. He joins Bartolo Colon and CC Sabathia as the only active pitchers with at least 200 wins and 2,500 strikeouts.

--- The five home runs allowed by the A's tied a season high. Oakland also gave up five home runs June 5 at Texas.

--- The nine runs allowed by the A's were their most in a game since July 24 at Texas, a 13-10 win in 10 innings.

--- Sean Manaea allowed six runs, tying his season high. He gave up nine hits, also tying a season high.

--- Matt Olson went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to seven games, tying a career high.

--- Mark Canha is 0 for his last 11 at the plate. He is batting .125 (5-for-40) in the month of August.

--- Jonathan Lucroy snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a base hit in the seventh inning. He is batting .189 (7-for-37) in August.

What the A's proved after taking four of six from Astros and Mariners

What the A's proved after taking four of six from Astros and Mariners

OAKLAND — Take notice, Major League Baseball. The A's have declared themselves here to stay.

Despite Sunday's loss, Oakland finished off an impressive 4-2 week with series victories against both the Astros and Mariners, their top two competitors in the AL West.

Now with 38 games remaining, the A's sit at 74-50, just a game behind Houston for first place, and 3 1/2 games ahead of Seattle in the Wild Card race. It has become clear that Oakland will be in this division race until the very end.

“We've believed in ourselves since Spring Training, even when not a lot of people thought we should,” reliever Emilio Pagan said. “I think we made a statement coming out and taking the series against them, and Seattle, two really good teams. We feel good going forward.”

“Other teams know that we're good and we're a legit team,” added catcher Jonathan Lucroy. “They know that they have to have their best stuff to beat us.”

The A's have been the hottest team in baseball for more than two months now. Oakland is 40-14 in the last 54 games, a pretty significant sample size, signifying that this is not a fluke. The A's have proven they are one of the elite teams in the sport.

“I would definitely say we're very confident,” reliever Lou Trivino said. “Obviously it would have been nice to get the win here today, but as long as you can continue to win every series, that's really all you need to do. If we can continue to play like we're playing, we're definitely very confident.”

“I think it shows what kind of team we've got, the depth we've got, and how we play,” outfielder Nick Martini added.

The A's have also shown they can beat the league's other top teams. Oakland is 5-4 against the Red Sox and Yankees, who own the two best records in MLB. After losing eight in a row to the Astros, the A's have taken five of the last seven meetings.

“We're just a better team now,” said manager Bob Melvin. “Before, maybe we go out and hope to win those games against them, and now I think we go out and expect to win the games.”

And why shouldn't they? The A's have only lost one of their last 18 series. That type of consistency builds incredible confidence, even for a team lacking experience. This group knows they can compete with anyone in the league, even the defending World Series champions, and they won't settle for anything less than a division title.

It's now a 38-game sprint to the finish. Game on.