Edgar Martinez is a bonafide Mariners Hall of Fame player for his impact on and off the field in his 18 year career. The greatest Designated Hitter anyone would ever see, Edgar came in at #2 on our list of all-time Mariners. But his transition to DH from third base was less of a choice and more of it being the only option to continuing his playing career. Today we continue our What If Wednesday series by looking at a less common hypothetical.
What If Edgar Martinez Could Have Been The Everyday Third Baseman?
Ken Rosenthal, then with SFGATE, wrote in 2001 about how Edgar suffered from strabismus, an abnormality that prevents his eyes from working in tandem. The condition causes his right eye to drift out intermittently, forcing him to use only his left. This is the major obstacle that Edgar faced throughout his playing career and was one that caused him to fully transition to DH. But what if the strabismus didn’t occur to him when he was in the minor leagues?
Honestly, I was not alive until the year after the big 1995 season so I wasn’t able to experience Edgar as an infielder. But all reports I have read showed that Edgar was a field-first, soft hitting player coming up in the minors.
With this, it makes me wonder: What If this field-first player combined with the hitting ability he eventually showed from 1987 in the minors all the way through his career? Seeing Edgar at third base in his final home game (Check the video below) before entering into retirement always makes me wonder what could have been.
If Edgar continued to play third base instead of transitioning to DH after the 1994 season, the Mariners infield would have looked a lot different. Baseball Reference shows that Edgar played at third base in at least 2/3 of the games prior to 1994. In fact, Edgar batted .343 to lead the majors and win the first of his two American League batting titles in 1992. If he was able to continue that pace while also playing third base, the Mariners would have constructed their infield a lot differently.
What Would Have Been The Ripple Effects?
Well to state the obvious, Edgar Martinez would not have become the greatest DH of all time. Without the physical limitations, Edgar would have been more likely to have been a quality hitting third baseman as he showed in 1992.
While it may not be realistic to project that he would have continued to hit the way he did, I think it is fair based on how his career actually went that he would have at least been a .300 hitter. Additionally, we are not operating in reality whatsoever during this exercise so I do believe Edgar could have continued to be a dominant fielder and hitter.
Secondly, the Mariners would not have had Mike Blowers play 117 games at third the following season. As much as we enjoy Mike Blowers on Root Sports, we would have been deprived from so many of his interesting stories from his playing days with the Mariners if Edgar would have been the primary third baseman all those years.
Blowers as a third baseman had a .951 fielding percentage in the 1993 season, which was outstanding. The following season, Blowers and Edgar split third base responsibilities.
Edgar’s Legacy Lives And Dies With Him Being A DH.
As much as I hate to say it, I truly believe Edgar’s career was bolstered by his move to permanent DH. While his health was a limitation, I believe that Edgar maximized the gifts he was given and made a lasting impact in a way that only he could. I am grateful that Edgar persevered through his eye condition and was part of many significant events in Mariners history (as seen below).
I am so grateful for Edgar Martinez and what he did for the Seattle Mariners franchise! Come back next week for our next installment of What If Wednesday! Enjoy the highlights as you depart!