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Katherine is the Managing Editor at The Hudsucker. She has been working in libraries for the past 10 years and holds a B.A. in American Studies & Ethnicity from the University of Southern California. In her free time, the Seattleite enjoys writing fiction, going to brunch, taking long walks with her roommate, and playing Dungeons & Dragons with her friends. Katherine is a huge fan of the Seattle Mariners and has probably seen every Marvel movie at least five times. She loves classic rock and can quote even the most obscure lines from The Simpsons. Follow Katherine on Twitter: @thethingiskat.

Why the Mariners Need Edgar Martinez to Be Their Next Great Hitting Coach

Edgar Martinez

Image Credit: @Mariners on Twitter

On Saturday, the Seattle Mariners named Edgar Martinez their new hitting coach. Martinez, arguably the greatest player in Mariners history and a potential future selection to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, was hired to improve an offense that ranks last or near the bottom in all major offensive categories. This hiring is practically a no-brainer. Martinez’s career numbers speak for themselves, and the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award was renamed the Edgar Martinez Award upon his retirement. With fans across the Northwest excited about Martinez’s hire, the Mariners organization needs this to work in more ways than one.

Based on what Martinez means to the organization, this is a smart hire. Though Alvin Davis owns the nickname “Mr. Mariner” Edgar Martinez is the heart and soul of the franchise. He began his career as a third baseman and blossomed late, but he turned himself into one of the most fear hitters in the game. His hit that sent the Mariners to their first American League Championship series in 1995, known to Mariners fans simply as “The Double”, is part of Seattle sports lore. Former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez, who is entering the Hall of Fame this year, remarked that Edgar was the hitter he most feared facing. Of all the great former Mariners players, if he is able to impart his abilities and wisdom to the team, this could end up being one of the greatest moves the franchise has ever made.

Edgar Martinez is arguably the best designated hitter to ever play the game. At his retirement ceremony in 2004 during an impromptu speech, then-Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced that the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award was going to be renamed after Martinez. He is in good company with the handful of other players who have awards named after them, showing that he is not only a legend in the Mariners organization but also in Major League Baseball. His importance to the Mariners organization and the game of baseball cannot be understated. Having someone of his calibre coming in to coach the hitters could be the jumpstart the offense needs to turn the season around.

Image Credit: The Seattle Times

There’s no denying Edgar’s career numbers: a career batting average of over .300, 2000+ hits, 300+ home runs and 500+ RBI’s. A seven-time All Star, he was the catalyst for many of the Mariners best seasons, including 1995 and 2001, where the team made the American League Championship series both seasons. He was one of the leaders of the team during his career with the Mariners, and his contributions on and off the field make him a beloved figure in the city of Seattle. Based on his career numbers alone, he seems like the perfect fit.

In comparison, the Mariners are at the bottom of most offensive categories in all of baseball. For a team that was expected to compete for the American League Championship before the season started, their season has turned into one big disappointment. Though Felix Hernandez and the pitching staff are doing fairly well, the offense continues to struggle as it has over the past few seasons. They have the lowest combined batting average in the majors, and are near the bottom in most other offensive categories, including hits, runs scored, and on base percentage. With the exception of Nelson Cruz, who leads the team in practically every offensive category, no one on the team is living up to their offensive potential. Though players like Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager definitely have the potential to put up Martinez-type numbers, neither have found a consistent groove this season. If Martinez can get them going, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the offense follows suit.

Hiring Edgar Martinez comes with loads of potential. In theory, hiring a possible Hall of Fame player and one of the team’s greats is a smart move. But there are still concerns about bringing on Martinez as the hitting coach mid-season. Though he has been a special instructor during spring training, he has never been a coach before in the minor or major leagues. Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik has faith that hiring Martinez is the correct move, but bringing in a brand new coach who also happens to be one of the most beloved players in team history comes with some risks.

Though there will undoubtedly be a learning curve and he’ll have many opportunities to prove he’s the right man for the job, there is always the potential that one day the Mariners might have to fire Martinez. This is, of course, a worst-case scenario that likely won’t play out for many years, if ever, but it is a possibility. The team has gone through many hitting coaches over the years, including Hall of Fame player Paul Molitor, and none of them found much success in the role. Since Martinez has never been a formal coach before, it’s unknown whether he’ll be able to translate his success as a player to coaching. Though some players make good coaches, that is definitely the exception rather than the rule. If he doesn’t thrive in the role, the organization will be forced to take action, and it would be difficult and look terrible to fire the man who has a street named after him outside Safeco Field. If Martinez does poorly in his job, he also runs the risk of losing some of the good will he’s built up over the years with the fans, which also wouldn’t be good. Obviously that’s a scenario no one wants.

The Mariners won their first game with Martinez as their hitting coach on Saturday against the first place Houston Astros, so the move appears to already be paying off. Fans are excited to see Martinez at the ballpark every day, and after a few years out of baseball he seems excited to take up the challenge of coaching and guiding the offense. If all goes well, the short-term and long-term payoff for both the team and Martinez could be great. For a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2001 season, something drastic needed to be done, and hopefully someday Martinez will be able to say he was part of the success of the Seattle Mariners both as a player and a coach.

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