As Bryan alluded to, Pedro Martinez has some great numbers, but maybe none more eye-popping than his 2000 American League E.R.A. crown.
Martinez’s E.R.A. that season, while he was pitching for the Boston Red Sox, was 1.74, an impressive feat on its own considering he faces a designated hitter instead of a pitcher about three times a game. What is really amazing, though, is that Roger Clemens, while pitching for the New York Yankees, finished in second place with an E.R.A. of 3.70.
After our last player comparison sparked some interesting debate, I ran into another good one. I got to talking with our newest contributor and I asked him if he thought the newly retired Greg Maddux was the best pitcher of our age. After getting some other opinions, we decided it came down to two pitchers: Greg Maddux and Pedro Martinez. Roger Clemens got left out because of his general steroid suspicion, which is another debate for another time. Anyway, on to the facts.
Maddux pitched for 23 years with the Cubs, Braves, Padres, and Dodgers. Over his career he went 355-227 good enough for 8th all-time (one ahead of Clemens). He finished with 3371 strikeouts, which places him 10th all-time. Maddux also posted a 3.16 career ERA. From 1992-1995, Maddux won 4 straight Cy Young Awards, the only ones he won in his career. Maddux was an 8 time All-Star and won an eye-popping record 18 Gold Gloves, including one every year from 1990 except 2003 when Mike Hampton won it.
Perhaps Maddux’s greatest individual season came in 1995, when the Braves won the Word Series. He went 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA and 181 strikeouts. All told, Maddux had 8 seasons of sub-3 ERA and two sub-2 seasons. Maddux was also able to avoid the Disabled List throughout his career. Clearly, Mad Dog is one of the greatest pitchers in Major League Baseball history.
But was he the best of the generation?
Pedro Martinez hasn’t quite retired just yet, but he’s a few years past his prime. In his 17 year career, Martinez has compiled a 214-99 record with a 2.91 ERA and 3117 strikeouts. Pedro is an 8 time All-Star and three time Cy Young Award winner. One of Pedro’s most memorable moments was when he started the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park by striking out Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire to start the game (and Jeff Bagwell following an error). You may also remember his antics in a brawl against the New York Yankees when he grabbed Don Zimmer and “just let him go.” He also claimed he would drill Babe Ruth in the ass at one point.
Pedro had some incredible single seasons but perhaps his best came in that same 1999 season when he went 23-4 with 313 strikeouts and a 2.07 ERA, winning the pitching version of the Triple Crown. In 2000, Pedro broke the record for the lowest WHIP when he posted the outrageous mark of .74. I believe Jet’s Stat of the Day is going to revolve around one of Pedro’s crazy seasons, so I’ll stop to make sure I don’t steal his thunder.
Later in his career, Pedro has had some durability issues starting with a rotator cuff injury in 2001. Since then, he’s been on and off the DL with various ailments.
The last thing I’ll mention before I stop gushing over these two is that they are two of the four pitchers in history who have 3000 strikeouts and under 1000 walks. The other two are Curt Schilling and Ferguson Jenkins.
Now, I ask you, dear readers, who is the best pitcher of our generation? Right now, I’m giving the slight edge to Maddux simply on durability, but you can easily change my mind in the comments.