Sometimes, it is hard to carve out your own legacy in the shadow of an older brother. It doesn’t help matters either when you are generally undersized and developmental staff can’t see past it. Such was the case for Pedro Martinez and his time in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
Signed as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic on June 18, 1988, Martinez would join the Dodgers four years after his older brother Ramon Martinez was signed to a similar deal. His signing came just a month prior to Ramon making his own MLB debut with the Dodgers. Two years later, Ramon would finish second in the Cy Young race after going 20-6 with a 2.92 ERA, a 3.03 FIP, 12 complete games, and an 8.6 K/9 ratio for the 1990 Dodgers.
Meanwhile, Pedro would make his own MLB debut in 1992, making two appearances (one start) in eight innings of work during his September call-up. He would follow that up with 65 appearances in 1993. Pitching primarily in relief (just two starts), Martinez showed some serious potential, striking out 119 batters over 107 innings of work and posting a 2.61 ERA.
This is where things went sideways for the Dodgers.
Thinking Martinez’s size would ultimately hold him back from being a starter and wanting to get some help at second base, the Dodgers flipped what they thought was an electric reliever to the Montreal Expos for Delino DeShields.
DeShields would ultimately spend three years in Dodger Blue, he would never be more than a footnote in Dodgers’ history. He would hit a combined .241/.326/.327 with 15 home runs, 114 stolen bases, and 192 runs scored for Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Pedro Martinez finally received his opportunity to be a starting pitcher. In four seasons in Montreal, Martinez would blossom into a front-line starter, going a combined 55-33 with a 3.06 ERA, a 3.17 FIP, and a 9.5 K/9 mark. Included in that run was a Cy Young award for his efforts in 1997 when Pedro went 17-8 with a 1.90 ERA, a 2.39 FIP, 11.4 K/9, and 13 complete games for the Expos.
Martinez would spend seven years in Boston, putting his stamp on a Hall of Fame career with six top-five finishes and two Cy Young wins during his tenure. He would also be a part of Boston’s curse-breaking World Series run in 2004.
|18 Y||18 Y||219||100||2.93||2827.1||3154||154||2.91||1.054||10.0|
|NL (||NL (||102||63||3.32||1443.2||1471||127||3.36||1.128||9.2|
|AL (||AL (||117||37||2.52||1383.2||1683||190||2.45||0.978||10.9|
As you can see, it is hard to pinpoint just one season from Pedro Martinez’s Red Sox tenure, as all were otherworldly. If you had to choose one though, his 1999 campaign where he went 23-4 with a 1.74 ERA, a 1.39 FIP, and a 13.2 K/9 ratio is easily one of the best pitching seasons of all-time. In fact, his 1.39 FIP ranks as the third-lowest ever, behind only Christy Mathewson (1.287 – 1908) and Walter Johnson (1.379 – 1910), and is the only mark in the top 13 that comes after 1910.
Martinez would depart Boston for the New York Mets after the 2004 season and spend five more years in the Majors before retiring as a member of the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies. He would finish his career with a 219-100 record, a 2.93 ERA, a 2.91 FIP, and a lifetime K/9 of 10.0.
Martinez would go into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a first-ballot inductee in 2015. But instead of a Dodgers cap, Martinez would go in as a member of the Boston Red Sox and remains one of their biggest ambassadors to this day.