Who is the greatest pitcher in Boston Red Sox history? Without a doubt, it’s the great Hall of Famer, the changeup master, Pedro Martinez.
Pedro Martinez came over to the Boston Red Sox after winning a Cy Young Award with the Montreal Expos. His first season in Boston, 1998, was great. Somehow though, Pedro would only get better.
In 1998 Martinez went 19-7 with a 2.89 ERA and 251 strikeouts. He was an AL All-Star and finished 2nd in Cy Young voting. Next, came his legendary 1999 campaign. That season, Pedro Martinez won the Cy Young with 23 wins, a 2.07 ERA, and 313 K’s. He finished 2nd in the MVP voting behind only Texas catcher Ivan Rodriguez. The Cy Young voting was unanimous though as he beat pitchers like Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera, and Bartolo Colon.
How did Pedro follow up his 1999 season? With another Cy Young Award in 2000. That year, Martinez improved his ERA to just 1.74! The Red Sox couldn’t put enough talent around Pedro to make a real deep postseason run.
Of course, Pedro Martinez was also a huge part of the 2004 Red Sox team that rallied back from down 0-3 to the New York Yankees in the ALCS before winning the World Series.
In Game 2 of the ALCS, he tossed a scoreless 6+ innings. In the World Series, he was flawless though. In his one start, he went 7 innings and allowed no runs on just 3 hits.
Pedro Martinez had a 2.52 ERA and 0.978 WHIP over his 7 seasons with Boston, and he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015 with 91.1% of the vote. That same July his #45 was retired by the Red Sox alongside players like Ted Williams, Jim Rice, and Carlton Fisk.
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Kershaw and Martines in their prime
In 2017, baseball fans know just how dominant Clayton Kershaw has been. For younger fans who may not have seen Pedro pitch live or in a Red Sox uniform, he’s a great comparison. The two put up similar numbers over a 7-year stretch, all with one team.
Clayton Kershaw, 2011-17: 118-41, 2.10 ERA, 0.913 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, 1.8 BB/9
Pedro Martinez, 1998-04: 117-37, 2.52 ERA, 0.978 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, 2.0 BB/9
What we need to remember when we look at these numbers is the era in which both these pitchers played. Pedro was putting up those dominant numbers in the MLB’s steroid era. Tons of players were juiced up, hitting home runs, and flat out mashing balls, but not against Martinez. He was one of the very few pitchers that could still shut down hitters across the league.
Pedro is my all-time favorite Red Sox player, and when I randomly met him on the streets of Boston in 2012, he was the nicest guy. I got a picture with him that I’ll treasure forever, as I remember taking the train from Salem to Boston with my mom to watch him pitch inside Fenway Park. Some of my earliest sports memories involve the Red Sox and Pedro Martinez, and when I saw him win the World Series in 2004 when I was just 11 years old, I was ecstatic. Pedro is a Boston and MLB legend, and no Red Sox fan will ever forget just how dominant he was in his prime.