Pedro Martinez: The Splash 11

0
555
MIAMI, : This 26 June 1998 file photo shows Boston Red Sox ace pitcher Pedro Martinez winding up for a pitch during a game against the Florida Marlins in Miami, FL. The 28-year-old Dominican right-hander won the 1999 American League Cy Young Award 16 November 1999 to become the third pitcher in Major League history to win a Cy Young in both American and National Leagues. Martinez, who had won the prestigious award in 1997 with the Montreal Expos, led the American League this year in wins(23-4), ERA(2.07) and strikeouts(311). AFP PHOTO/FILES (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP via Getty Images)

Pedro Martinez dominated baseball for nearly two decades. From coast to coast, Martinez racked up strikeout after strikeout and win after win. He was a key cog in ending Boston’s lengthy curse, and he wowed baseball through the heart of the Steroid Era. Let’s take a look at Pedro Martinez: The Splash 11.

One lens to understanding the stellar career of Martinez is ERA+. The stat ERA+ is one of the most useful stats when comparing pitchers across different eras. It is adjusted based on the run environment of the current season (the league-average is always 100). Seasons above 100 are above average, and seasons below 100 are below average. 

El Grande, Pedro Martinez

After 115 strong innings over two seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers flipped Martinez to the Montreal Expos for Delino DeShields.

DeShields spent three seasons in Los Angeles, posting an OPS+ of 79. On the other hand, Martinez blossomed into a superstar by the end of his stay in Montreal. In four seasons in Canada, Pedro Martinez rocked a 3.06 ERA, a 139 ERA+, and a 3.17 FIP. His WHIP was under 1.090, and he limited home runs (0.8 per nine innings).

Martinez’s 1997 season was his coming out party. He led the National League in ERA, complete games, ERA+, FIP, WHIP, hits per nine, and strikeouts per nine. He struck out over 300 batters, and he won his first Cy Young Award.

He could even strike out Mike Trout.

Well, Trout will have to wait for his edition of Pedro Martinez: The Splash 11.

Boston:

The Red Sox have existed for 120 seasons. They have had countless Hall of Famers suit up, but no pitcher came close to what Pedro Martinez was able to accomplish in his seven seasons. 

Over those seven seasons, Martinez had a 2.52 ERA with over 1,600 strikeouts, an ERA+ of 190, and a WHIP below 1.000. He won back-to-back Cy Youngs and finished in the top-five four other times. While baseball was enjoying a power surge, Martinez was plowing through AL East batters as no pitcher had ever done.

The Peak:

The middle five seasons of Pedro Martinez’s stint in Boston are mythically good. There have been 37 instances of a pitcher throwing 185 innings in a season and recording an ERA+ over 202. After doing it in 1997 with the Expos, Pedro Martinez did it four times in five seasons from 1999 to 2003, breaking Walter Johnson’s nearly 100-year record of four such seasons in the process. 

After a 1998 season that would be a career year for 99.9 percent of pitchers (250 strikeouts, 163 ERA+, Cy Young runner-up), Martinez one-upped it.

1999:

Among seasons with 210 innings pitched, Pedro Martinez’s 1999 was the sixth-best by ERA+ (243). He led the AL in wins, ERA, strikeouts, ERA+, FIP, WHIP, hits per nine, home runs per nine, strikeouts per nine, and strikeouts per walk. He was sensational and was a deserving unanimous Cy Young. He finished second in MVP voting to Ivan Rodriguez.

Pedro Martinez had the highest strikeout rate of any pitcher ever to log 200 innings (since passed by 2019 Gerrit Cole), and he posted the lowest FIP of any 200-inning pitcher since 1910. 

His dominance carried into October. Across 17 innings, Martinez struck out 23 and only allowed five hits and six walks. He allowed zero runs. His six innings of hitless relief in Game-5 of the ALDS is a story so perfect, that even Hollywood would think it was cliche. The Indians had eight runs and seven hits through three frames. They finished with the same eight runs and seven hits as the Red Sox won the series.

1999 would be the best pitching season for just about every pitcher in baseball history. Even the most dominant pitchers of all-time fail to measure up to Martinez’s 1999 campaign. 

However, 1999 is not even the best season by Martinez.

2000: The Best Pitching Season Ever

Martinez led the AL in strikeouts again. He paced the Majors in ERA+, FIP, WHIP, hits per nine, and strikeouts per walk. He won his third Cy Young, winning unanimously for the second-straight season.

It Got Better:

There have been 5,898 instances of a pitcher throwing 200 or more innings in a season. Out of those seasons, 2000 Martinez has the lowest WHIP and the highest ERA+ of all time. 

A WHIP under 1.000 is spectacular (205 such occurrences). A WHIP under 0.900 almost guarantees that you lead the league. Until 2000 Martinez, only 1913 Walter Johnson had posted a WHIP below 0.800, a sterling 0.780. 

Martinez had a 0.737.

Martinez took an 87-year-old record and lopped off 0.043. The difference between Martinez and Johnson is nearly as large as the gap between second-place Johnson and eighth-place 1908 Christy Mathewson.

It is a similar story with ERA+. Dutch Leonard set the ERA+ record in 1914. Pitching with the Red Sox, he posted an ERA of 0.96, the modern record. His 279 ERA+ is 179 percent better at run prevention than the average MLB pitcher.

Pedro Martinez casually posted an absurd 291 ERA+, adding over four percentage points (279 to 291) to a record that had stood for 86 years.

His 2000 season is the reason Pedro Martinez: The Splash 11 came to be.

Martinez had a knack for ending 86-year records, and he proved to have a knack for ending 86-year curses.

2004:

While his regular season did not live up to traditional Martinez standards (3.90 ERA, 124 ERA+, 1.171 WHIP), he finished fourth in Cy Young voting. He was far from perfect in the playoffs, but he pitched a gem in Game 3 of the World Series. He threw seven scoreless innings, scattering three hits and two walks.

The next night, Martinez and the Red Sox snapped their 86-year title drought.

Post 2004:

In the 2004 off-season, Martinez signed with the New York Mets. He was an All-Star in 2005 and 2006, but he only made 79 starts across four seasons in Queens.

In 2009, Martinez joined the Philadelphia Phillies. He made nine starts, posting a 3.63 ERA. In Game-2 of the NLCS, his first playoff appearance since the 2004 World Series, Martinez struck out three and allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings. Almost tragically, the final two starts of Martinez’s career came in the 2009 World Series. He lost both, allowing seven runs across 10 innings.

Six years later, Martinez was inducted into the Hall of Fame, securing 91.1 percent of the vote on his first time on the ballot.

Martinez ended his career as a member of the 3,000-strikeout club. He is currently in the top 10 in Cy Young shares, WHIP, strikeouts per nine, and ERA+. 

Pedro Martinez: the Splash 11

Boiled down to one season, Martinez’s 2000 campaign can be compared to any season by any other pitcher in MLB history. He has a realistic argument for being the best starting pitcher of all time.


For the hub of the Splash 11, go here.

Be sure to follow me @MrSplashMan19 on Twitter for MLB content, future “The Splash 11” articles, and other sports content. Follow us on Twitter @OT_Heroics for more great content!

Join our OT Heroics MLB Facebook group, as well! We’ll see ya there!

Also, be sure to check out the Overtime Heroics Forums page to join me and many others in some good discussion We’ve now also started an Instagram. Join us at @overtimeheroics_MLB.

main image credit

Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’Ldxmr_oLQBtHD-yB_GswQA’,sig:’zlAQYgHW-xmN81joI1D-WbD89RdnUT2xWDfipO4_kQg=’,w:’594px’,h:’439px’,items:’51533743′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })});//embed-cdn.gettyimages.com/widgets.js

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here