Pedro Martínez : biography
In the American League Championship Series, Martínez 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, Martínez 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’ 3.70 was the second-lowest ERA in the AL, but was still more than double that of Martínez. Martínez also set a record in the lesser known sabermetric statistic of Weighted Runs allowed per 9 innings pitched (Wtd. RA/9), posting a remarkably low 1.55 Wtd. RA/9. He gave up only 128 hits in 217 innings, for an average of just 5.31 hits allowed per 9 innings pitched: the third lowest mark on record.
Martínez’s record was 18–6, but could have been even better. In his six losses, Martínez had 60 strikeouts, 8 walks, and 30 hits allowed in 48 innings, with a 2.44 ERA and an 0.79 WHIP, while averaging 8 innings per start. Martínez’s ERA in his losing games was less than the leading ERA total in the lower-scoring National League (Kevin Brown’s 2.58). The Yankees’ Andy Pettitte outdueled Martinez twice; Martínez’s other four losses were each by one run. Martínez’s first loss of the year was a 1–0 complete game in which he had 17 strikeouts and 1 walk. All of Martinez’s losses were quality starts, and he pitched 8 or more innings in all but one of his losses. Martínez received 2 runs or fewer of run support in 10 of his starts (over one third of his starts), in which his ERA was a minuscule 1.25 with 4 complete games and 2 shutouts, but his win-loss record was 4-5.
Martínez’s WHIP in 2000 was 0.74, breaking both the 87-year-old modern Major League record set by Walter Johnson, as well as Guy Hecker’s mark of 0.77 in 1882. The American League slugged just .259 against him. Hitters also had a .167 batting average and .213 on base percentage, setting two more modern era records. Martínez became the only starting pitcher in history to have more than twice as many strikeouts in a season (284) as hits allowed (128). Martínez also set an American League record in K/BB, with a ratio of 8.88, surpassing the previous record set by Martínez in 1999 of 8.46.
On May 6 of that 2000 season, Martínez struck out 17 Tampa Bay Devil Rays in a 1-0 loss. In his next start six days later, he struck out 15 Baltimore Orioles in a 9-0, two-hit victory. The 32 strikeouts tied Luis Tiant’s 32-year American League record for most strikeouts over two games.
In the span of 1999 and 2000, Martínez allowed 288 hits and 69 walks in 430 innings, with 597 strikeouts, an 0.83 WHIP, and a 1.90 ERA. 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 following season, Martínez spent much of on the disabled list with a rotator cuff injury as the Red Sox slumped to a poor finish. Martínez finished with a 7–3 record, a 2.39 ERA, and 163 strikeouts, but only threw 116 innings.
Healthy in , he rebounded to lead the league with a 2.26 ERA, 0.923 WHIP 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, higher WHIP, 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 four statistics, yet not win the award.
Martínez’s record was 14–4 in 2003. He led the league in ERA for the fifth time with 2.22, also led in WHIP for the fifth time at 1.04, and finished second to league leader Esteban Loaiza by a single strikeout. Martínez came in third for the 2003 Cy Young Award, which went to Toronto’s Roy Halladay.