We all know the Designated Hitter award is named after Edgar (which...how? How do you not have THE GUY THE AWARD IS NAMED AFTER in the Hall?!), but there’s another award named after Edgar within the Mariners organization: a minor league award, the Edgar Martinez Productive Team Plate Appearance (PTPA) Award. The award is given to the player who best embodies the C the Z philosophy and finds a way to maximize the possibility of his team scoring a run, focusing on the overall offensive health of the team rather than his own stats. This year, the first inaugural EMPTPA Award was won by LumberKings’ infielder Dalton Kelly. At A-level Clinton, the tall (6’3”!), lanky first baseman reached base safely in 86% of the games he played in, slashing .293/.384/.416 over his first season in Clinton for a wRC+ of a robust 137. Kelly’s 11.2% BB rate is impressive, but so is his league-leading 5 IBBs, showing how much of a headache he was for opposing pitchers. Things didn’t get any easier once he was on the bases, where he swiped 21 bags (T-12th best in the league).
So how does Kelly’s year at A-ball stack up to Edgar’s A-ball season? In 1984, a 21-year-old Edgar Martinez was playing in Wausau, Wisconsin for the Wausau Timbers (since 1990, the Kane County Cougars after the team was purchased for one dollar). He didn’t have nearly as many stolen bases (11!), but posted a slightly healthier slash line of .303/.414/.490. That slugging percentage is informed by Edgar’s 15 home runs that year, versus Kelly’s 7, but Kelly actually out-hit Edgar, collecting ten more hits, albeit in four more games. They also hit almost the same number of doubles (32 for Kelly, 30 for Edgar). Where Edgar has a clear edge is in his K-BB ratio. While Kelly’s 11.2% BB against 20.2% K rate is respectable, Edgar collected 84 walks against 57 strikeouts, or 15.8% against 11%. That is bananas good, even for A-ball.
How did Edgar fare over the rest of his minors career in C-ing the Z?
Looking at the chart, one might wonder why the Mariners would leave a prospect putting up double-digit walk rates against single-digit K rates in the mid-minors for seemingly eternity. The answer: Edgar’s batting average, which hovered around a middling .260/.270 in ‘85-’86. Back in the era of batting average and RBIs, Edgar’s on-base skills weren’t valued as they would be today. Edgar had a slow start to his career thanks to the Mariners’ inability (which was really a failing across baseball at that time) to recognize the potential of the player hiding behind these quiet numbers, and the hard truth of the matter is that may cost him a shot at the Hall of Fame among those who value flashy stats and longevity. At age 24, when a prospect putting up the OBP numbers Edgar had would have been long since promoted in today’s game, Edgar was still plodding through the PCL. Imagine what we could have seen from him if he’d only been given a chance earlier. Edgar’s abilities as a hitter are recognized in two awards that bear his name; it’s time the BBWAA voters accord him that final form of recognition.