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Pedro Martínez
Pedro Martínez
Martinez playing for the New York Mets.
Pitcher
Born October 5, 1971 (1971-10-05) (age 42)
Manoguayabo, Dominican Republic
Bats Right Throws Right
MLB debut
September 24, 1992 for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Last MLB appearance
September 30, 2009 for the Philadelphia Phillies
Career information
High school: Santo Domingo
(Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)
MLB Draft: Undrafted
Teams
Career highlights and awards
  • 8× All-Star (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006)
  • World Series champion (2004)
  • 3× Cy Young Award winner (1997, 1999, 2000)
  • 1999 Triple Crown
  • 1999 MLB All-Star Game MVP
MLB Profile at mlb.com

Pedro Jaime Martínez (born October 25, 1971 in Manoguayabo, Dominican Republic) is a Dominican former Major League pitcher. He has won three Cy Young Awards and is considered to be one of the top pitchers in the history of baseball. In April 2006, Martínez gained his 200th career win (against 84 losses, the highest winning percentage for any 200-game winner).

Martínez is unusual for a power pitcher as he is listed as 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) and 170 pounds (77 kg), small by modern-day standards. Whitey Ford is currently the only post-World War II era pitcher in the Baseball Hall of Fame to have stood under 6 feet tall.

Martinez is also atypical in that he has many "out" pitches upon which he can rely. His fastball, breaking curveball and circle changeup are all well above average; combined with his historically excellent control, they proved to be an overpowering package. Martínez throws from a low three-quarter position that hides the ball very well from batters, who have remarked on the difficulty of picking up Martínez's delivery. Throughout his career, his arm angle has dropped increasingly lower; he presently throws from the "low 3/4" slot.

Earlier in his career, his fastball was consistently clocked in the 95 mph (153 km/h) range; used in combination with his devastating changeup and occasionally mixing in his excellent curveball, he was as dominant a pitcher as the game has ever seen. In recent years, as injuries have taken their toll, Martinez has made the adjustment to rely more on guile than power. His fastball now is usually in the 88-89 mph (142-144 km/h) range, although he is still able to throw a mid-90s fastball when the need arises. He now uses his curveball, circle-changeup, and an occasional slider, along with his fastball. With his command of the strike zone, he continues to be a top strikeout pitcher even though he does not throw as hard as he once did. Baseball historian Bill James describes Martinez as being exponentially more effective than his pitching peers due to his variety of pitches, arm angles, pitch speeds, pinpoint control, and numerous modes of deception.

Early YearsEdit

Martínez's career started with Los Angeles Dodgers in 1992 as a relief pitcher. Although Pedro's brother Ramón Martínez, then a star pitcher for the Dodgers, declared that Pedro was even better, manager Tommy Lasorda stated that Pedro Martinez was too small to ever be a good starting pitcher at the Major League level. With the Dodgers in need of a second baseman after a contract dispute with Jody Reed, Martinez was traded to the Montreal Expos for Delino DeShields before the 1994 season.

It was with the Expos that he developed into one of the top pitchers in baseball. In 1997 Martinez posted a 17-8 record for the Expos, and led the league in half a dozen pitching categories, including a 1.90 ERA, 305 strikeouts and 13 complete games pitched, and won the National League Cy Young Award. Pedro Martinez was also the first right-handed pitcher to reach 300 strikeouts with an ERA under 2.00 since Walter Johnson in 1912.

The 13 complete games were tied for the second-highest single-season total in all of baseball since Martinez's own career began (Curt Schilling had 15 in 1998; Chuck Finley and Jack McDowell also reached 13 in a year). However, this 1997 total is by far the highest in Martinez's career, as he has only compiled more than 5 complete games in one other season (7, in 2000).

Red Sox YearsEdit

Approaching free agency, Martínez was traded to the Boston Red Sox in November 1997 for Carl Pavano and Tony Armas, Jr., and was soon signed to a six-year, $75,000,000 contract (with an option for a seventh at $17 million) by the Sox general manager Dan Duquette, at the time the largest ever awarded to a pitcher. In 1999 he enjoyed one of the greatest pitching seasons of all time, finishing 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts (earning the pitching Triple Crown), unanimously winning his second Cy Young Award (this time in the American League), and coming in second in the Most Valuable Player ballot.

The MVP vote was controversial, as Martínez received the most first-place votes (8 of 28), but was totally omitted from the ballot of two sportswriters who believed pitchers were not sufficiently all-around players to be considered. Pedro Martínez finished second to Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez, 252 points to 239. Rodríguez had been included on all 28 ballots.

In 1999, Martinez became just the 8th modern pitcher to have two 300-strikeout seasons, along with Nolan Ryan (6 times), Randy Johnson (third time in 1999, three more times since), Sandy Koufax (3 times), Rube Waddell, Walter Johnson, Sam McDowell, and J.R. Richard. (Curt Schilling achieved the feat in 2002.) An anomaly in power pitching annals, Martinez is the only 20th-century pitcher to notch 300 strikeouts in a season without being at least six feet tall.

Martínez was named the AL Pitcher of the Month in April, May, June, and September of 1999, an unprecedented feat for a single season. Martinez punctuated his dominance in the 1999 All-Star Game start at Fenway Park, when he struck out Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Jeff Bagwell in two electrifying innings, earning the All-Star Game MVP award.

Martinez was a focal point of the 1999 playoffs against the Cleveland Indians. Starting the series opener, he was forced out of the game after 4 shutout innings due to a strained back with the Red Sox up 2-0. The Red Sox, however, lost the game 3-2. When the Indians also won the second game, it appeared that Martinez had thrown the last pitch of his wondrous 1999 season. Boston won the next two games to tie the series, but Martinez was still too injured to start the fifth and final game. However, neither team's starters were effective, and the game became a slugfest, tied at 8-8 at the end of 3 innings. Martinez entered the game as an emergency relief option. Unexpectedly, Martinez neutralized the Cleveland lineup with six no-hit innings for the win. He struck out eight and walked three, despite not being able to throw either his fastball or changeup with any command. Relying totally on his curve, Martinez and the Red Sox won the deciding game 12-8. Other than his 9 perfect innings in 1995 [see Memorable Games], this performance is often cited as Martinez's greatest.

In the American League Championship Series, Martinez pitched seven shutout innings to beat Red Sox nemesis Roger Clemens and the New York Yankees in Game 3, handing the World Champions their only loss of the 1999 postseason.

Following up 1999, Martinez had perhaps his best year in 2000. Martínez posted an exceptional 1.74 ERA, the AL's lowest since 1978, while winning his third Cy Young award. His ERA was about a third of the park-adjusted league ERA (4.97). No other single season by a starting pitcher has had such a large differential. Roger Clemens was the AL's runnerup in the category, with a 3.70 ERA, more than double that of Martinez. Martinez's record was 18-6, but could have been even better. In his 6 losses, Martinez had a 2.44 ERA and an 0.79 WHIP, while averaging 8 innings per start. Martinez's ERA in his losing games was less than the leading ERA total in the lower-scoring National League (Kevin Brown's 2.58). Martinez also set a record in the lesser known sabermetric statistic of Weighted Runs allowed per 9 innings pitched (Wtd. RA/9). Martinez posted a remarkably low 1.55 Wtd. RA/9. The Yankees' Andy Pettitte outdueled the league's best pitcher twice; Martinez's other four losses were each by one run. Martinez's first loss of the year was a 1-0 complete game in which he had 17 strikeouts and 1 walk. In his six losses, Martinez had 60 strikeouts, 8 walks, and 30 hits allowed in 48 innings.

Martinez's WHIP in 2000 was 0.74, breaking a 77-year-old record set by Walter Johnson. The American League slugged just .259 against him. They also had a .167 batting average and .213 on base percentage both establishing Major League Baseball records in the modern era. Martinez became the only starting pitcher in history to have more than twice as many strikeouts in a season (284) as hits allowed (128).

In the span of 1999 and 2000, Martinez allowed 288 hits, 597 strikeouts, 69 walks, a 1.90 ERA, and a 0.83 WHIP in 430 innings. Some statisticians believe that in the circumstances—with lefty-friendly Fenway Park as his home field, in a league with a designated hitter, during the highest offensive period in baseball history—this performance represents the peak for any pitcher in baseball history.

Though he continued his dominance when healthy, carrying a sub-2.00 ERA to the midpoint of the season, Martínez spent much of 2001 on the disabled list with a rotator cuff injury as the Red Sox slumped to a poor finish. Martinez finished with a 7-3 record, a 2.39 ERA, and 163 strikeouts, but only threw 116 innings.

Healthy in 2002, he rebounded to lead the league with a 2.26 ERA and 239 strikeouts, while going 20-4. However, that season's American League Cy Young Award narrowly went to 23-game winner Barry Zito of the Oakland A's, despite Zito's higher ERA, fewer strikeouts, and lower winning percentage. Martínez became the first pitcher since the introduction of the Cy Young Award to lead his league in each of those three statistics, yet not win the award.

Martinez's record was 14-4 in 2003 with a league-leading 2.22 ERA. He went 16-9 in 2004. Despite an uncharacteristic 3.90 ERA, Pedro helped the Red Sox win the American League Wild Card and pitched effectively in the playoffs, leading to the team's first World Series win in 86 years. Martinez finished second in AL strikeouts both seasons. The seven-year contract he received from the Red Sox had been considered a huge risk in the 1997 offseason, but Martinez had rewarded the team's hopes with two Cy Young Awards, and six Top-4 finishes.

Martinez finished his Red Sox career with a 117-37 record, the highest winning percentage any pitcher has had with any team in baseball history.

Mets YearsEdit

After Boston's World Series triumph in 2004, Martínez again became a free agent and signed a 4-year, $53 million contract with the New York Mets. In 2005, his first season as a Met, Martinez posted a 15-8 record with a 2.82 ERA, 208 strikeouts, and a league-leading 0.95 WHIP. Opponents batted .204 against him. As in 2002, he was again shut down before the end of the season because of nagging injury.

Martinez started the 2006 season at the top of his game. At the end of May, he was 5-1 with a 2.50 ERA, with 88 strikeouts and 17 walks and 44 hits allowed in 76 innings; Martinez's record was worse than it could have been, with the bullpen blowing leads for him, and with one of the games being a 0-0 matchup with Arizona's Brandon Webb. However, in his May 26 start against the Florida Marlins, Martinez was instructed by the umpires to change his undershirt. He slipped in the corridor, injuring his hip, and his promising season curdled. Beginning on June 6, Martinez went 4-7 with a 7.10 ERA in a series of spotty starts interrupted twice by stays on the disabled list. A right calf injury plagued him for the last two months of the season. After an unsatisfactory late season comeback, the Mets announced on September 27 that an MRI exam revealed a torn muscle in Martinez's left calf. Three days later, the team announced that Martinez also had a torn rotator cuff. Martinez underwent surgery which is expected to sideline him for the first half of the 2007 season.[1]

On November 3, 2006, Martinez stated that if he does not return to full strength, he may end up retiring after the 2007 season. "It's getting better, and progress is above all what is hoped for," Martinez told the Associated Press. "To go back, I have to recover, I have to be healthy. But if God doesn't want that, then I would have to think about giving it all up." Martinez added, "It's going to be a bitter winter because I am going to have to do a lot of work. The pain I feel was one of the worst I have felt with any injury in my career." Martinez's injuries have jeopardized his chances of reaching certain milestones; currently, he has 2,998 strikeouts.

By December 30, 2006, Martinez was more optimistic: "The progress has been excellent. I don't have problems anymore with my reach or flexibility, and so far everything is going very well. The problem has to do with the calcification of the bone that was broken with the tear, and that had to be operated on. You have to let it run its course. So we're aiming for July or August as the return date." Martinez also reports bulking up as part of his recuperative regimen: "I've put on about 10 pounds of muscle, because that's one of our strategies."[2]Both Martinez and the Mets remain hopeful that he will return to major league action during the second half of the 2007 season.

Martinez was able to return to the mound for the Mets in September 2007, starting five games and finishing 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA. He collected his 3000th career strikeout during his first start back. His return was not enough to stop the Mets' slide out of the playoffs.

Memorable gamesEdit

Martínez has come about as close to throwing a perfect game as possible without actually getting credit for it. On June 3, 1995, while pitching for Montreal, he retired the first 27 Padres hitters he faced. However, the score was still tied 0-0 at that point and the game went into extra innings. The Expos scored a run in the top of the 10th, but Martínez surrendered a double to the 28th batter he faced, Bip Roberts. Expos manager Felipe Alou then removed Martínez from the game, bringing in reliever Mel Rojas, who retired the next three batters; this made Martínez the winning pitcher in a 1-0 victory.[3]However, Martínez accomplished neither a perfect game nor a no-hitter. (Until 1993, the rules would have adjudged it differently; however, a rule clarification specified that perfect games, regardless of their perfect-ness through nine, must remain perfect until the game is completed for them to be considered perfect. This retroactively decertified many no-hit games, including Ernie Shore's perfect relief stint in 1917 and Harvey Haddix's legendary 12 perfect innings from 1959 (lost in the 13th).

Martínez also came close to the feat on September 10, 1999, when he beat the New York Yankees 3-1. He faced just 28 batters while striking out 17 and walking none (Martinez hit the game's first batter, Chuck Knoblauch, but he was then caught stealing). Only a solo home run by Chili Davis separated Martínez from a no-hitter. The Davis home run came in the second inning, eliminating any suspense, but this may have been Martinez's most dominant day on the mound.[4] Thomas Boswell has referred to it as the best game ever pitched at Yankee Stadium.[5]

On April 13, 1994, in his second start as a Montreal Expo, Martinez lost a perfect game with one out in the eighth inning when he hit Cincinnati's Reggie Sanders with a pitch. An angered Sanders charged the mound, and was later ridiculed in the press for assuming that a pitcher would abandon a perfect game in order to hit a batter intentionally. Martinez allowed a leadoff single in the ninth inning, breaking up his no-hitter, and was removed for the reliever John Wetteland (who loaded the bases, then allowed two sacrifice flies, thus giving Martinez a no-decision).[6]Three years later, in 1997, Martínez had another one-hitter against the Reds; that hit came in the 5th inning.[7]

On August 29, 2000, Martinez took a no-hitter into the 9th against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, losing it on a leadoff single by John Flaherty. Martinez had begun the night by hitting the leadoff batter, Gerald Williams, in the hand. Williams charged the mound, managing to punch Martinez in the face before being tackled by the catcher, Jason Varitek. Martinez then retired the next 24 hitters in a row, and after Flaherty's single, finished with a one-hitter. He had 13 strikeouts and no walks in the game; the Flaherty single would have broken up a perfect game, if not for the leadoff hit batsman.[8] Pedro Martinez has never thrown an official no-hitter. He has professed disinterest in the matter: "I think my career is more interesting than one game."

Martinez was selected as the starting pitcher for the American League All-Star team in 1999. The game, on July 11, 1999, was at Fenway Park, Martinez's home field. Martinez struck out Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, and Sammy Sosa consecutively in the first inning. He then struck out Mark McGwire leading off the 2nd, becoming the first pitcher to begin an All-Star game by striking out the first four batters. (The National League's Brad Penny matched the feat in 2006.)

On October 11, 1999, Martinez threw six hitless innings in relief to win the final game of the ALDS, a performance detailed above.[9]

On May 28, 2000, Martinez and Roger Clemens had a dramatic duel on ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball" telecast. The two pitchers both shone, combining to allow only 9 hits and 1 walk while striking out 22. A 0-0 game was finally broken up in the 9th inning by Trot Nixon's home run off Clemens. In the bottom of the ninth, the Yankees loaded the bases against a tiring Martinez, but New York could not score, as Pedro completed the shutout.[10]

In the testy Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, after allowing single runs in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th innings, Martinez hit Yankees right fielder Karim Garcia near the shoulders with a pitch, sparking a shouting match between Martinez and the New York bench. Directing his attention at Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, Martinez jabbed a finger into the side of his own head, which some interpreted as a threatened beanball, including an enraged Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer. Emotions remained high in the bottom of the inning, which was led off by Boston slugger Manny Ramirez. Ramirez became irate over a high strike from Roger Clemens, and both benches cleared. During the ensuing commotion, the 72-year-old Zimmer charged towards Martínez. Martínez, grabbing Zimmer's head, tossed the irate coach to the ground (it could also be said that Martínez simply sidestepped Zimmer, and Zimmer's own momentum toppled him to the ground). Later, Martinez claimed that he was not indicating that he would hit Posada in the head, but that he would remember what Posada was saying to him.[11]

Martínez was also on the mound for Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS versus the Yankees. With the Red Sox ahead 5-2 at the start of the 8th inning, a tiring Martinez pitched his way into trouble. He was visited on the mound by manager Grady Little, but was left in to pitch, in a controversial non-move. The Yankees tied the score against Martinez in that inning on four successive hits, leading to a dramatic extra-inning, series-ending victory for New York.[12]

After a comparatively lackluster season in 2004 (though still a solid season by general standards), Pedro Martinez pitched one of his most memorable games in Game 3 of the World Series. He shut out the St. Louis Cardinals through seven innings, recording his final 14 outs consecutively.[13]

With the Mets on August 14, 2005, against the Dodgers, Pedro pitched 7⅓ hitless innings, but ended up losing the no-hitter and the game.[14]

In June 2006, the Mets played an interleague series against the Red Sox, which was Martinez's first appearance at Fenway Park since leaving the team. The Red Sox gave their former ace a two minute video tribute on June 27, but showed no courtesies to Martinez the following night. In his June 28, 2006 start, Martinez lasted only 3 innings, and was rocked for 8 runs (6 earned) on 7 hits, losing his worst game as a Met just before going onto the disabled list.[15] The Red Sox are the only major league team against which Martinez does not have a victory.

Quotes and controversyEdit

Martínez is a very controversial pitcher, both on and off the field. He refuses to yield the inside part of the plate, and has a high number of batters hit as a result. His career rate for hitting batters is historically high, particularly for a pitcher otherwise noted for his exceptional control.[16]

When asked about the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, he responded: "I'm starting to hate talking about the Yankees. The questions are so stupid. They're wasting my time. It's getting kind of old ... I don't believe in damn curses. Wake up the damn Bambino and have me face him. Maybe I'll drill him in the ass, pardon me the word."

After a Red Sox loss to the Yankees late in the 2004 season, Martínez remarked in a press conference, "They beat me. They're that good right now. They're that hot. I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy". The New York media publicized the quote heavily, and whenever Martínez pitched at Yankee Stadium in the 2004 American League Championship Series, fans chanted "who's your daddy?"

FactsEdit

References Edit

  1. Marty Noble (2006-09-30). Martinez shelved until next summer. MLB.com.
  2. Marty Noble (2006-12-31). Bulked up Pedro aiming for midseason. MLB.com.
  3. Box Score. Baseball-Reference.com.
  4. Box Score. Baseball-Reference.com.
  5. Thomas Boswell (1999-10-17). In Boston, Martinez Exhibits a Mound of Courage. Washington Post.
  6. http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MON/MON199404130.shtml
  7. http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CIN/CIN199707130.shtml
  8. http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/TBA/TBA200008290.shtml
  9. Box Score. Retrosheet.org.
  10. http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA200005280.shtml
  11. http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/B10110BOS2003.htm
  12. http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/B10160NYA2003.htm
  13. http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/B10260SLN2004.htm
  14. http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/LAN/LAN200508140.shtml
  15. http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BOS/BOS200606280.shtml
  16. Career Leaders for Hit Batsmen. Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on 2006-08-10.
  17. Adam Rubin (2007-01-12). Who's his daddy? Pedro. New York Daily News.
  18. Minor League Baseball Stats. MiLB.com. Retrieved on 2007-01-12.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

Preceded by:
John Smoltz
National League Cy Young Award
1997
Succeeded by:
Tom Glavine
Preceded by:
Roberto Alomar
Major League Baseball All-Star Game
Most Valuable Player

1999
Succeeded by:
Derek Jeter
Preceded by:
Roger Clemens
American League Cy Young Award
1999, 2000
Succeeded by:
Roger Clemens
Major League Baseball | MLB Latino Legends Team

Iván Rodríguez | Albert Pujols | Rod Carew | Edgar Martinez | Alex Rodriguez | Roberto Clemente | Manny Ramírez
Vladimir Guerrero | Pedro Martínez | Juan Marichal | Fernando Valenzuela | Mariano Rivera

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