Pedro Martinez

August 20, 2009 · 0 comments

in MLB

Pedro Martinez never shies away from a challenge. Whether it's the best hitters the American League has to offer, a journalist with a recorder or a very old bench coach, Martinez is a fearless pitcher who refuses to relinquish the inner part of the plate to anyone. Considered one of the best pitchers to take the mound in the last twenty years, he's earned three Cy Young Awards and a Championship ring. Does Pedro stack up against the best of all-time? Is he Hall or no Hall?

Career Statistics (through 2008)
G IP H R HR BB SO W L SV WHIP BAA ERA
467 8348 2173 988 232 752 3117 214 99 3 1.05 .218 2.91
Awards
  • 1 AS MVP (1999)
  • 3 Cy Youngs (1997, 1999, 2000)
  • 1 Triple Crown (1999)
  • 3 TSN Pitcher of the Years (1999, 2000, 1997)
  • 8 All-Star Selections (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006)

Hall

by Jonathan Brown

Whether it's the physical toll of taking the ball every five days or the mental chess game, pitchers are a strange bunch.  Pedro Martinez is no exception.  From outrageous quotes (beaming Babe in the ass, Yankees my daddy) to bizarre mini-me celebrations, the uber confident Martinez has an off-the-mound highlight reel that rivals that of Terrell Owens.  And we can't go without mentioning the pile-driving of Popeye.  That was just wrong.

Shenanigans aside, when it comes to pitchers and the Hall of Fame, I think you have to read deeper into a subset of seasons rather than looking at career totals to determine how well a pitcher stacks up against his peers.  Let's start with the accolades.  Pedro is a 3-time Cy Young Award winner (1997, 1999, 2000) and 1999 AL Triple Crown winner (leader in ERA, W, K).  He also has 8 All-Star selections to boot.

For all of those accolades pinned on Pedro Martinez, you'd think that he was the most dominant pitcher from the mid 1990's to mid 2000's.  Let's take a look at the top pitchers from 1997, Pedro's break-out year with the Montreal Expos, through 2005 before injuries caught up with him.

Pitcher W L PCT ERA SO WHIP CY
Johnson 159 73 .688 2.81 2663 1.069 4
Maddux 153 85 .643 3.19 1409 1.126 0
Martinez 149 53 .738 2.47 2196 0.969 3
Clemens 149 61 .710 3.22 1912 1.194 4

You can't dispute the impressiveness of that list.  They won 11 Cy Young Awards during that stretch.  It's pretty clear we've found the best pitchers in the league.  While Pedro is tied with Clemens for 3rd in wins over that 8-year stretch, he leads the list in winning percentage, ERA and WHIP.  In my opinion, Randy Johnson was the most dominant pitcher during this period, and even though Clemens has one more Cy Young than Pedro, statistically, Martinez is the better pitcher.

As I started searching for comparable Hall of Fame pitchers, it became pretty clear that Martinez was matching up well.  Truth be told, there are so many pitchers with similar numbers, it was tough deciding which I should use to justify my case for Pedro.  Let's take a look at Whitey Ford, Catfish Hunter and Don Drysdale—a literal pantheon of championship pitchers—and compare their career totals to Martinez's totals through the end of the 2008 season.

Pitcher W L PCT ERA SO WHIP CY
Ford 236 106 0.690 2.745 1956 1.215 1
Hunter 224 166 0.574 3.256 2012 1.134 1
Martinez 214 99 0.684 2.914 3117 1.051 3
Drysdale 209 166 0.557 2.948 2486 1.148 1

As you can see, very similar W, ERA and WHIP totals, with Martinez barely trailing Ford in winning percentage.  What this story doesn't completely tell is how Pedro thoroughly dominates batters compared to the other guys.  Pedro, in only 400 starts (the fewest of the list by 38 starts) managed to accrue 3,117 strikeouts, 631 more Ks than Don Drysdale had in 65 more games!  That is an amazing statistic for a starting pitcher in the 5-man rotation/relief era of baseball!

What Pedro will be remembered for the most is winning...and his wrestling skills...and his ridiculous mouth...and, oh, did I mention his uncanny ability to beam hitters?  It's a footnote in his story, but we have to mention Pedro's unusually high hit batsmen numbers for innings pitched.  I'm sure his Papa is proud.  His career .684 win percentage makes him 6th on the all-time list of pitchers with a minimum of 150 starts.  I don't think Pedro will have any problem getting into the Hall of Fame.

Hall

by Matt Thompson

And we are off now with our first pitcher. When we were deciding on who to select for the next player on Hall or No Hall, Pedro Martinez was pitching AAA ball for the Phillies.  Jon even asked, "Isn't he retired?" Martinez has only pitched 48 games since 2005 so his question was understandable.

When I think of Pedro Marinez, I think of Sandy Koufax. Okay, I am only 32 years old, but I love baseball history and Koufax was amazing. Koufax started 314 games (397 total) with a .655 winning percentage (165 wins and 87 losses), a 2.76 ERA, 137 complete games, 806 runs, 40 shutouts, 2,324 innings pitched, 2,396 Ks and gave up 1,754 hits. That is a crapload of stats but here is what sticks out to me:

  • .655 winning percentage
  • 40 shutouts (almost 10% of his starts)
  • one strikeout per inning pitched

There are certain things I do not buy when deciding whether a pitcher belongs in the Hall of Fame. One is volume of wins. Wins are such a crapshoot because baseball is a team sport.  Now, you could argue that a great pitcher overcomes a team's flaws, but if 25 hits are the difference between hitting .291 and hitting .333 (600 AB)—and that could mean a ground ball here or there—then wins have a ton more variables.  Errors, runs scored, opposing pitcher all play a crucial role in a pitcher getting a win.

Pedro Martinez has started 400 games (467 total), has a 2.91 ERA, a .684 wining percentage (214 wins to 99 losses), 17 shutouts, 46 complete games, 3,117 strikeouts in 2,782 innings pitched, 2,173 hits and 988 runs.  Okay, throw out complete games because in the current era of baseball a pitcher has seven innings each game to make a career (although Pedro had 13 complete games in 1997).

Since Pedro pitched in the steroid era this fact is astounding—from 1997-2003 he had an ERA of 2.21.  That means while players were juicing up, the little 170 pound (soaking wet) Pedro Martinez was at his strongest.  In fact, he led the league five of those seven years in ERA and one of those years he was hurt (2001).

What sticks out to me most is his winning percentage of .684 and the fact that over 18 years he still has not lost 100 games. I know, I know if I said wins mean nothing then I can't buy losses either.  But only 99 losses is amazing!  Pedro has also given up 121 hits per year versus Koufax's 147 per year.  If the goal of a pitcher is to pitch the ball and not allow the batter to get a hit, then Martinez certainly is one hell of a pitcher.

Digging one step deeper, Koufax gave up 67 runs a year in his career.  Martinez has only given up 55.  So the next goal of a pitcher is if he gives up a hit, to not let the runner score regardless of the situation.  This is why I throw out earned runs and go with runs. Once again, Martinez shines.

Pedro Martinez is no doubt a first ballot Hall of Famer.  If you don't believe it, he will probably hit you with a baseball. I forgot to mention, Pedro has plugged 137 batters. DOH!

 

Pedro Martinez: Hall or No Hall?

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