This article is about the multiple all-star/Cy Young right-handed pitcher. For the left-handed reliever, see Pedro A. Martínez.
Pedro Jaime Martínez (born October 25, 1971 in Manoguayabo, Dominican Republic) is a baseball pitcher who plays for the New York Mets. He has won three Cy Young Awards and has been considered one of the top pitchers in baseball since the late 1990s.
Martínez is unusual for a power pitcher as he is 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) and 170 pounds (77 kg), small by modern-day standards. Martínez's pitches include a tailing fastball, an outstanding changeup, and a hard curveball. 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, but in recent years, his fastball has slowed. In many games, his fastball now tops out in the 88-89 mph (142-144 km/h) range, although he is still occasionally able to throw a mid-90s fastball. As the speed of his fastball has slowed, he has come to rely more on his changeup as his "out" pitch.
Martínez's career started with the Los Angeles 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. In 1997 he 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 as many as 5 complete games in any other season on two other occasions.
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 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.
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 with his ERA 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. He 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.
In 2000, Pedro Martinez's WHIP 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 in the circumstances—with lefty-friendly Fenway Park as his home field, in a league with a DH, during the highest offensive period in baseball history—this performance represents the peak for any pitcher in baseball history.
Though he pitched well 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. despite a higher ERA, fewer strikeouts, and a lower winning percentage. Martínez became the first pitcher in history to lead his respective league in ERA, strikeouts, and winning percentage, but not win the Cy Young Award.
After the 2004 season, Martínez 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. He was also shut down for his last two starts because of injury. Victor Zambrano took his spot in the rotation. His won-loss totals were dented by the erratic New York bullpen, which blew several leads including one of 8-0. Opponents batted .204 against him.
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 accumulate nine innings of perfect pitching. However, the score was still tied 0-0 at that point and the game went into extra innings, and Martínez surrendered a double to the 28th batter. According to Major League Baseball rules, that meant that Martínez accomplished neither a perfect game nor a no-hitter.
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; only a solo home run by Chili Davis separated Martínez from a no-hitter. Martínez had previously thrown a 1-hitter against the Reds in 1997.
Martínez was also on the mound for Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS versus the Yankees. He was left in by manager Grady Little in the 8th inning and proceeded to allow the Yankees to tie the score, and his team eventually lost.
On August 14, 2005, making his first start against the Dodgers in exactly 8 years, Pedro came 5 outs away from completing a no-hitter. After striking out Ricky Ledee to start off the top of the 8th Inning, Martinez surrendered a long fly-ball to Antonio Perez. Some may argue the ball might have been catchable, but Gerald Williams, then filling in for an injured Carlos Beltran, took his eyes off the ball and proceeded to crash into the wall. Perez ended up with a Triple. The next batter Pedro faced was Jayson Werth, who sent one of his pitches deep into the stands for a 2 run homer. The Mets 1-0 lead was now 2-1 and in favor of the Dodgers, who went on to win the game.
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. 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." In Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, some believe that Martinez threatened to hit Yankee catcher Jorge Posada in the head, angering 72-year-old Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer. Zimmer ran towards Martínez during a bench-clearing incident and Martínez, grabbing Zimmer's head, violently threw the coach to the ground (it could also be said that Martínez simply sidestepped Zimmer and his own momentum toppled him to the ground). Later, Martinez stated that he did not say that he would hit Posada in the head, but that he would remember what Posada was saying to him. 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?"
- Martínez is one of ten Red Sox pitchers with 100 or more wins (117). Cy Young (193), Roger Clemens (192), Tim Wakefield (130), Mel Parnell (123), Luis Tiant (122), Smokey Joe Wood (116), Bob Stanley (115), Joe Dobson (106), and Lefty Grove (105), are the others.
- Martínez's brother Ramón Martínez was also a Major League pitcher and the brothers have twice been teammates, with the Dodgers (1992-93) and Red Sox (1999-2000). Their younger brother, Jesús, also pitched in the Dodgers farm system for several years.
- Martínez's first cousin, Denny Bautista, is a Major League pitcher for the Kansas City Royals.
- Pedro pulled out of the 2005 All Star Game because of short rest, pitching Sunday July 10th. This was not the first time Martínez had pulled out of an All-Star Game.
- Pedro Martinez also 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 that year, when he finished second to Oakland's Barry Zito.
- Pedro has a friend from the Dominican Republic named Nelson de la Rosa who is only 2 feet tall, and was believed to be the Red Sox good luck charm during the 2004 season.
- Is one of three starting pitchers on Major League Baseball's Latino Legends Team