By: Scott RossPublished: October 25, 2022

Pedro Jaime Martínez

Let us raise a toast to Pedro Jaime Martínez, who was born October 25, 1971, in Manoguayabo, Dominican Republic, and went on to enjoy during his Hall-of-Fame career one of the greatest seven-year runs in baseball history.

Generously listed at 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, Martinez was whippet thin but threw a four-seam fastball with laser-like precision, a pitch made all the more deadly by his knee-buckling circle change, the two pitches thrown with identical deliveries and a seemingly impossible disparity in speed. Mix in a two-seamer that broke right and a cutter that bored left, along with a nasty curve... he was really, really good.

From 1997 through 2003, Pedro led all pitchers in winning percentage (.766), earned run average (his 2.20 ERA was a half-run better than Randy Johnson, who was #2 on the list, a chasm made even more impressive by the fact that Johnson spent most of the time in the National League when pitchers were still hitting), walks plus hits per inning (.940), strikeout to walk ratio (5.59) and wins above replacement (57.3), despite being twelfth in innings pitched during that span. He also won three Cy Young Awards, finished second twice and third once.

In 2004, his final season with Boston, he helped the team win their first title in 86 years. In his final appearance with the team, just a day after his thirty-third birthday, he pitched seven scoreless innings in Game 3 of the World Series against the St Louis Cardinals, en route to a win and a series sweep.

But, like slender men blessed with powerful arms before him (see: Koufax, Sandy), Pedro was breaking down. His ERA in 2004 was a up-to-then career high 3.90 and his contract with Boston was up. The club made the painful but prudent decision to let him walk.

Though he enjoyed a bounce-back in 2005, by 2006 he was cooked, as the last four years of his career raised his ERA from 2.72 to 2.93 and his ERA+ plummeted from 166 to 154, which at the time was still good enough for the record during baseball's modern era (minimum 2000 innings pitched). Clayton Kershaw has since inched ahead of Pedro with a 157 ERA+.

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