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Pedro Martínez

From BR Bullpen

Note: This page links to Pedro Martinez, the Hall of Fame pitcher. For the pitcher who played in 1993 to 1997, click here.


Pedro Jaime Martínez

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 195 lb.

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2015

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Pedro Jaime Martínez won three Cy Young Awards and was one of the best starting pitchers of all time. If one goes by ERA+, he ranks above every other starting pitcher, and only behind Mariano Rivera among all pitchers. He also has the highest winning percentage among pitchers active since World War II.

Martínez was signed by Los Angeles Dodgers scout Eleodoro Arias. His major league career started with the Dodgers in 1992 as a relief pitcher. Before the 1994 season, he was traded to the Montreal Expos for Delino DeShields, and became one of the top starters in baseball. After emerging as a solid starter for the Expos in 1994, the year the strike denied the team a shot at the postseason, he emerged as a superstar when he posted a 17-8 record for the Expos in 1997, and led the league in half a dozen pitching categories, including a 1.90 ERA, 305 strikeouts and 13 complete games pitched; he won the 1997 National League Cy Young Award. Pedro Martinez was also the first righthanded 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, while Chuck Finley and Jack McDowell also reached 13 in a year). However, this 1997 total marks an anomaly in Martinez's career, as he compiled as many as 5 complete games in a season on only two other occasions. In the later years of his career, Martinez got a reputation as a starting pitcher who could not finish what he started. This reputation was not backed up by the statistics, but gained currency because of Martinez's comparatively frail and slight build, his emotional and sometimes prickly personality, and a series of high-profile no-decisions (mostly versus the New York Yankees).

After making his debut in 1992 and spending 1993 as a reliever with the Dodgers, going 10-5, 2.61 in 65 games, he was acquired by the Expos in return for second baseman DeShields before the 1994 season. The trade was not particularly well-received in Montreal at first: DeShields was a very popular young player, and there was serious doubt that Martínez would be successful. Even manager Felipe Alou made it clear he regretted DeShields' departure. But Pedro got fans on his side quickly with his highly combative attitude. In only his second start on April 13th, against the Cincinnati Reds, he started the game by retiring the first 22 batters he faced, then plucked Reggie Sanders with one out in the 8th. Sanders rushed the mound, but Martínez held his ground and Sanders was ejected. He earned his first win of the year that night. Then, on June 1st, he volunteered to help out in the bullpen with the Expos' top two relievers, John Wetteland and Mel Rojas, both unavailable. He came in to save the game against the same Reds in his only relief outing of the year, and by then had the undying support of Montreal's fans for the remainder of his stay in Montreal. He was a big factor in Montreal having the best record in all of major league baseball when the 1994 strike ended the season, as he was 11-5, 3.42 in 24 games. He then went 14-10, 3.51 in 1995, even though the depleted Expos finished last in the NL East, and in 1996 made the All-Star team for the first time when he went 13-10, 3.70 and the Expos fell just shy of reaching the postseason. Those first years in Montreal set the stage for his great 1997 season, whose start was delayed by a few days as he was sitting out a suspension for throwing at a batter during a spring training game.

Martinez speaks at a charity event in the DR.

With free agency looming in a year's time and the Expos knowing they would never be able to afford keeping him on board, Martínez was traded to the Boston Red Sox in November 1997 for Carl Pavano and Tony Armas, Jr., two of the best pitching prospects in the minor leagues at the time, and was soon signed to a six-year, $75,000,000 contract by the Sox, 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, 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, but was totally omitted from the ballot of two sportswriters who believed pitchers were not sufficiently all-around players to be considered. Martínez was named the AL Pitcher of the Month in April, May, June, and September of 1999, an unprecedented feat for a single season. During the season, he also became the first pitcher in history to record 10 or more strikeouts in 10 straight starts; Chris Sale matched the feat in 2015. He also had three consecutive starts with 14 or more strikeouts, something unseen since 1908 and not matched until Gerrit Cole in 2019.

In the 1999 playoffs against the Cleveland Indians, though hampered by an injury, Martínez dominated the final game of the series. Entering the game in relief with an 8-8 score, Martínez pitched six no-hit innings for the win. In the American League Championship Series, he pitched seven shutout innings to beat the New York Yankees in Game 3, handing them their only loss of the postseason.

Martínez's strikeouts and win count were slightly down in 2000, but he posted an exceptional 1.74 ERA, the AL's lowest since 1978, winning his third Cy Young Award. This is believed by some to be the greatest year ever by a pitcher, as 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 gigantic differential. Even more amazing about his 2000 season was his all-time record in one of the lesser known sabermetric statistics, Weighted Runs allowed per 9 innings pitched (Wtd. RA/9). It is considered by many to be the most accurate way to compare baseball players from different seasons and eras. To calculate the ratio, one takes the RA/9 by a player and multiplies this number by the ratio of the historical average for RA/9 divided by the league average RA/9 for that season. Martinez posted a remarkably low 1.55 Wtd. RA/9, a mind-boggling statistic.

In 2000, Pedro Martinez's WHIP (the number of hits and walks allowed per inning) was 0.74, breaking a 77-year-old record set by Walter Johnson. The American League slugged just .259 against him. Martinez became the only starting pitcher to have more than twice as many strikeouts in a season (284) than hits allowed (128).

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

Though he pitched brilliantly while healthy, carrying a sub-2.00 ERA to the midpoint of the season, Martínez was injured for much of 2001 with a rotator cuff injury as the Red Sox slumped to a poor finish. He rebounded in 2002 to lead the league with a 2.26 ERA and 237 strikeouts, going 20-4. However, that season's American League Cy Young Award went to Barry Zito of the Oakland A's who had three more wins, despite a higher ERA, fewer strikeouts, and a lower winning percentage. Martínez became the first pitcher in history to lead his respective league in these categories and not win the Cy Young Award. Pedro had skipped his last start in 2002, after the Red Sox had been eliminated from the postseason; some have suggested that this hurt him in the Cy Young voting.

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 to sail through nine innings of perfect pitching. However, the score was still tied 0-0 at that point and the game went into extra innings; after the Expos had scored in the top of the 10th, Martínez surrendered a double to the 28th batter, Bip Roberts. Mel Rojas then relieved him to get the final three outs. According to Major League Baseball rules, that meant that Martínez accomplished neither a perfect game nor a no-hitter. His was actually the second time this happened in Major League history, as Harvey Haddix accomplished a similar feat - taking a perfect game into extra innings - in 1959. Rich Hill would be next pitcher to take a no-hitter into extra innings, in 2017, but no one has done so with a perfect game since him.

Martínez may have been more overpowering 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; only a solo home run by Chili Davis separated Martínez from a no-hitter (He had also hit leadoff hitter Chuck Knoblauch with a pitch, but he was then erased on a double play). Martínez had previously thrown a one-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in 1997.

Martínez was unusual for a power pitcher as he was 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) and 195 pounds (88 kg), small by modern-day standards. Martínez's pitches included a tailing fastball, an outstanding changeup that moved away from left-handed hitters, and a hard curveball. His fastball and curveball are considered to be among the premier pitches of their type, and his changeup is believed to be among the very best of all-time. Martínez also threw from a low three-quarter position that hid the ball very well from batters, who remarked on the difficulty of picking up Martínez's delivery. Throughout his career, his arm angle dropped increasingly lower; he threw from the "low 3/4" slot at the end of his career. Earlier in his career, his fastball was consistently clocked in the 95 mph (153 km/h) range, but in later years, his fastball slowed. In many games, his fastball topped out in the 88-89 mph (142-144 km/h) range, although he was still occasionally able to throw a mid-90s fastball. As the speed of his fastball slowed, he came to rely more on his changeup as his "out" pitch.

Martínez was also a very controversial pitcher, both on and off the field. He refused to yield the inside part of the plate, and had a high number of hit batsmen as a result. His career rate for hitting batters is historically high. Some people believed he was a headhunter, similar to Bob Gibson. On the Red Sox - Yankees rivalry, he was quoted as saying: "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." In Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, Martinez pointed to his head, which Yankee catcher Jorge Posada interpreted as "I'll hit you in the head", angering 72-year-old Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer. Zimmer lunged at Martínez during a bench-clearing incident and Martinez threw the coach to the ground.

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 ALCS, fans chanted "Who's Your Daddy?" The 2004 season ended happily for Pedro Martinez and the Boston Red Sox, though, who won their first World Series title in 86 years. Martinez pitched Game 3 of the sweep, permitting the opposing St. Louis Cardinals just 3 hits in 7 scoreless innings. After the 2004 season, Martínez became a free agent and signed a 4-year, $53 million contract with the New York Mets.

His first season in New York was excellent, as he went 15-8, 2.82 in 31 starts in 2005. However, he pulled out of the 2005 All-Star Game because of short rest, having pitched on Sunday, July 10th; this was not the first time Martínez had pulled out of an All-Star Game. He fell back in 2006, to 9-8, 4.48 in only 23 starts. Martinez then underwent major shoulder surgery which caused him to miss almost all of 2007. He did not pitch in a professional game until August. That month, he allowed 3 runs in 4 innings for the GCL Mets and had a 1-1, 3.21 record in three outings with the St. Lucie Mets. He returned to New York on September 3rd and quickly became the 15th pitcher in MLB history with 3,000 strikeouts, ringing up Aaron Harang in his second inning back. He was quite sharp overall, with a 3-1 record and a 2.57 ERA that gave hope his ailments were behind him, but it wasn't the case. He was then injured in his first game of 2008, straining his left hamstring. He only made 20 starts and had poor results when he could take the mound, going 5-6, 5.61 in 20 games.

In the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Pedro allowed one hit and no runs in six shutout innings, fanning six. The only hit he gave up was a bunt single to Gene Kingsale. Despite his success, the Dominican squad dropped two of three games and was quickly eliminated. Not receiving any interesting offers, he decided to sit out the first half of the 2009 season, then on July 15th inked a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. Once he got himself back into shape, he stepped into the Phils' starting rotation and pitched quite well. He was 5-1, 3.63 in 9 starts and remained in the starting roration for the postseason. He pitched 7 scoreless innings in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but lost both of his starts in the 2009 World Series. His loss to the Yankees in Game 6 on October 28th would turn out to be his last major league appearance. He had not completely closed the door on making a comeback in 2010 or 2011, if the right circumstances had come along, but they did not. In December of 2011, he officially announced that he was retiring.

In January of 2013, Martinez rejoined the Red Sox organization as a special assistant to General Manager Ben Cherington.

Martinez was elected to the Hall of Fame on his first try, being named on 500 of 549 ballots in the 2015 Hall of Fame Election. He received fewer votes that Randy Johnson, who had one of the highest percentages of votes ever, but was ahead of John Smoltz and Craig Biggio, who were also elected that year. He was only the second player from the Dominican Republic to be elected, following Juan Marichal. He was welcomed as a national hero, with huge crowds lining the highway to the airport, when he visited his native country shortly after being voted into Cooperstown. He was inducted on July 26, 2015 and was at his entertaining best in front of the large crowd, including thousands of Dominicans who had gathered for the ceremony, dancing on stage, inviting Marichal to join him, but also stating that he wanted to be a role model for young people, not just on the field but in life. Two days later, the Red Sox honored him by retiring his uniform number, 45. He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in the 2018 class with Lloyd Moseby and William Humber.

Martínez's brother Ramón Martínez was also a Major League pitcher and the brothers were twice teammates, with the Dodgers (1992-1993) and Red Sox (1999-2000). Their younger brother, Jesus Martinez, also pitched in the Dodgers farm system for several years. Jesus reached the major leagues as a September call-up for the Dodgers but never got into a game. Martínez's first cousin, Denny Bautista, was also a Major League pitcher. In September 2017, Pedro's son, infielder Pedro Martinez, Jr. signed his first professional contract with the Detroit Tigers at age 17.

Martinez once said of the hostile reception he received at Yankee Stadium: "It actually made me feel really, really good. I actually realized that I felt like somebody important, because I caught the attention of 60,000, plus you guys, plus the whole world, watching a guy that is, you reverse the time back 15 years ago, I was sitting under a mango tree without 50 cents to pay for a bus. And I was the center of attention of the whole city of New York. I thank God for that, and you know what? I don't regret one bit what they do out there."

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 1991 The Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year, Albuquerque Dukes, Pacific Coast League
  • 8-time All-Star (1996-2000, 2002, 2005 & 2006)
  • 3-time League Cy Young Award Winner (1997/NL, 1999/AL & 2000/AL)
  • AL Pitcher's Triple Crown (1999)
  • 1999 All-Star Game MVP
  • 5-time League ERA Leader (1997/NL, 1999/AL, 2000/AL, 2002/AL & 2003/AL)
  • AL Wins Leader (1999)
  • 2-time AL Winning Percentage Leader (1999 & 2002)
  • 3-time AL Strikeouts Leader (1999, 2000 & 2002)
  • NL Complete Games Leader (1997)
  • AL Shutouts Leader (2000)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 7 (1997-2000, 2002, 2004 & 2005)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 2 (1999 & 2002)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 7 (1996-2000, 2004 & 2005)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 9 (1996-2000 & 2002-2005)
  • 300 Strikeouts Seasons: 2 (1997 & 1999)
  • Won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2004
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 2015

NL Cy Young Award
1996 1997 1998
John Smoltz Pedro Martinez Tom Glavine
AL Cy Young Award
1998 1999 2000
Roger Clemens Pedro Martinez Pedro Martinez
1999 2000 2001
Pedro Martinez Pedro Martinez Roger Clemens

Records Held[edit]

  • Strikeouts per 9 innings, right-hander, career (minimum 1500 innings), 10.20
  • Fewest baserunners per 9 innings, season, 7.22, 2000
  • Fewest baserunners per 9 innings, right-hander, season, 7.22, 2000
  • Most wins in first 100 decisions for a team, 78-22 for Red Sox; in second place is Bill Hoffer, 76-24 for the 1890s Orioles.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Associated Press: "Pedro Martinez gets hero's welcome in Dominican", USA Today, January 11, 2015. [1]
  • Ian Browne: "Pedro elected as first-ballot Hall of Famer: Right-hander's dominant years in Boston help him garner 91.1 percent of vote",, January 6, 2015. [2]
  • Ian Browne: "Pedro thrilled to deliver another pitch in Montreal: Former Expos great, Hall of Famer hoping city gets another team",, April 1, 2016. [3]
  • Anthony DiComo: "How the Mets lured Pedro to Queens",, December 16, 2021. [4]
  • Danny Gallagher: "Pedro's (Nearly) Perfect Game; June 3, 1995: Montreal Expos 1, San Diego Padres 0 At Jack Murphy Stadium", in Norm King, ed.: Au jeu/Play Ball: The 50 Greatest Games in the History of the Montreal Expos, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2016, pp. 104-105. ISBN 978-1-943816-15-6
  • Pedro Martinez and Michael Silverman: Pedro, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, NY, 2015. ISBN 978-0544279339
  • Matt Monagan: "25 years ago, Pedro struck out 5 of 6 in the ASG ... but one guy got on base: 'You're up there fighting for your life'",, July 17, 2024. [5]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Pedro Martinez wows crowd as he, Smoltz, Biggio, Johnson enter Hall of Fame", USA Today Sports, July 26, 2015. [6]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "Hall of Fame case: Pedro Martinez's sterling credentials", USA Today, December 30, 2014. [7]

Related Sites[edit]