Monday, April 27, 2009

The Top 100 Red Sox: No. 2

For the complete rundown of the Top 100 Red Sox, click here.

10. Smoky Joe Wood, P
9. Babe Ruth, P
8. Tris Speaker, OF
7. Lefty Grove, P
6. Manny Ramirez, OF
5. Roger Clemens, P
4. Jimmie Foxx, 1B
3. Cy Young, P

You can see where we're going with this.

2. Pedro Martinez, P
There's no question Pedro Martinez was one of the most dominant pitchers of the Steroid Era. You can argue that, with his 1999 and 2000 seasons, he pitched two of the top three seasons in the last 20 years, with only Greg Maddux's ridiculous 1995 season (19-2, 1.63 ERA) also in the discussion.

But there's an interesting little surprise that awaits those who check out Martinez's adjusted ERA+ numbers. His ERA+ in 1999, the season in which he probably should have won the American League's Most Valuable Player award, was 243. ("It may well be another century before another pitcher manages to do what Martinez did in 1999," writes Glenn Stout in the book "Red Sox Century.")

That ERA+ of 243, though, isn't the best in franchise history. It isn't even the best in Martinez's career. The best ERA+ in Martinez's career, the best ERA+ in Red Sox history and the best ERA+ in baseball history is 291 -- the ERA+ he turned in during the 2000 season.

Which season was better? Let's take a look:

* 23-4, 2.07 ERA, 313 K's and 37 BB's;
* Opponents hit .205/.248/.288;
* Five complete games, including a three-hit shutout of the Blue Jays on Sept. 21;
* Struck out 17 in a 3-1 win at Yankee Stadium in which he retired 22 in a row after Chili Davis' home run in the second inning;
* Struck out at least 10 hitters 19 times;
* Struck out at least 15 hitters six times;
* Struck out five of the six hitters he faced in the All-Star Game, including Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa -- Matt Williams reached on an error but was caught stealing;
* Bonus: Threw six no-hit innings out of the bullpen in Game 5 of the American League Division Series, the most dramatic playoff game the Red Sox had ever won;
* Adjusted ERA+ of 243.

* 18-6, 1.74 ERA, 284 K's and 32 BB's;
* Not once -- not once -- did his ERA creep above 2.00;
* Opponents hit .167/.213/.259;
* Seven complete games, including a two-hit shutout of the Orioles on May 12, a six-hit shutout of the White Sox on July 23 and a one-hit shutout of the Devil Rays on Aug. 29;
* Allowed just four hits (three singles and a double) in a four-hit shutout at Yankee Stadium, outdueling Roger Clemens to win by a 2-0 score;
* Struck out at least 10 hitters 15 times;
* Struck out at least 15 hitters three times;
* Two words: Gerald Williams;
* In case you're tempted to hold that 18-6 record against him: Held opponents to a .175 batting average, a .215 on-base percentage and a .281 slugging percentage in his six losses;
* Adjusted ERA+ of 291.

Pedro's 1999 gets most of the hype. Pedro's 1999 earned him more MVP votes (eight first-place votes; he received zero in 2000). Pedro's 1999 has gone down as the gold standard of pitching performances for an entire season -- up there with Bob Gibson's 1968, Ron Guidry's 1978, Dwight Gooden's 1985 and pretty much Walter Johnson's entire career.

But Pedro's 2000 was better.

Pedro's 2000, in fact, was the greatest single season for any pitcher in the history of baseball.

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