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Friday, November 11, 2011

BPP: Any player/Any era: Pedro Martinez

Era he might have thrived in: We’re putting Martinez on the last great team Connie Mack managed before the Great Depression forced him to scuttle his dynasty. The ’31 A’s boasted the likes of Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, and Mickey Cochrane, went 107-45 in the regular season, and then took the Gashouse Gang St. Louis Cardinals to seven games in the World Series. I don’t know if Martinez could have filled in for Grove’s 31 wins, given that he pitched more than 200 innings just seven times in his career. In most other departments, though, Martinez would be a dominant force in 1931.

Why: First off, I ran Martinez’s 2000 numbers through the stat converter on Baseball-Reference.com. With the A’s in 1931, his stats convert to a 19-3 record with a 1.83 ERA and 264 strikeouts. I’ll admit I don’t always trust the B-R converter for pitching stats, and in this case, it has Martinez throwing just 202 innings in a year that Grove had to throw 288 (which later contributed to him blowing out his arm and becoming a junkballer his last several seasons.) That being said, a lot of things still seem to favor Martinez thriving in 1931, assuming of course we suspend disbelief about his dark skin keeping him from playing in the majors prior to 1947.

Yeah, but this might have bumped my ol’ scouting buddy, Lew Krausse Sr. off the team! Can’t had that!

Repoz Posted: November 11, 2011 at 12:29 PM | 23 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

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   1. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: November 11, 2011 at 04:42 PM (#3991186)
I'd like to see Pedro pitch in 1931 if for no other reason than to see him drill Babe Ruth in the ass.
   2. AndrewJ Posted: November 11, 2011 at 04:48 PM (#3991190)
I'd like to see Pedro pitch in 1968.
   3. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: November 11, 2011 at 04:56 PM (#3991194)
it has Martinez throwing just 202 innings in a year that Grove had to throw 288 (which later contributed to him blowing out his arm and becoming a junkballer his last several seasons.)

Junkballer Lefty led the league in Ks and ERA four times each, averaging 204 innings and a 14-8 record from ages 35-41... as a lefty, in Fenway. Not exactly Jamie Moyer.

Pedro's "career" with the 1908 Cubs: 181-126, 2.02 ERA, one 300-K season (1999; just misses with 298 in 1997).
Anybody know enough about the conversions to know why Pedro would have a worse record there?
   4. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 11, 2011 at 04:56 PM (#3991195)
I'd like to have seen the 1999 or 2000 Pedro in 2010 and 2011 Yankee pinstripes.
   5. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 11, 2011 at 04:58 PM (#3991197)
Pedro's "career" with the 1908 Cubs: 181-126, 2.02 ERA, one 300-K year (1999; just misses with 298 in 1997).
Anybody know enough about the conversions to know why Pedro would have a worse record there?


Er, maybe because those conversion formulae are less than perfect?
   6. Darren Posted: November 11, 2011 at 05:13 PM (#3991207)
My guess is that if Pedro comes up any time before the 80s, he's either a) disregarded as too small to hold up, or b) blown out pretty early by trying to throw 300 innings. He really came up in the perfect environment for him.
   7. NJ in NJ Posted: November 11, 2011 at 05:20 PM (#3991213)
I didn't RTFA but did Pedro drill the damn Bambino in the ass?
   8. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: November 11, 2011 at 05:36 PM (#3991222)
He did in the first post of this thread.
   9. Famous Original Joe C Posted: November 11, 2011 at 05:37 PM (#3991224)
Anybody know enough about the conversions to know why Pedro would have a worse record there?

Er, maybe because those conversion formulae are less than perfect?


Could also just be that Pedro outperformed his expectation over his career. I don't know his support neutral or whatever numbers offhand, but his records with the Sox (19-7, 23-4, 18-6, 20-4, 14-4, 16-9) are pretty gaudy even for someone who allowed as few runs as him. As for the specifics, though, I'd have to do some math.
   10. Lest we forget Posted: November 11, 2011 at 05:48 PM (#3991232)
"Grove had to throw 288 (which later contributed to him blowing out his arm and becoming a junkballer his last several seasons.) "

Is that the conventional wisdom or a 'you read it hear first' statement?
   11. OCF Posted: November 11, 2011 at 09:20 PM (#3991393)
Could also just be that Pedro outperformed his expectation over his career. I don't know his support neutral or whatever numbers offhand, but his records with the Sox (19-7, 23-4, 18-6, 20-4, 14-4, 16-9) are pretty gaudy even for someone who allowed as few runs as him. As for the specifics, though, I'd have to do some math.

I've done that math - in the form of RA+ equivalent records (I've been using those in Hall of Merit arguments for a long time.) No, he didn't outperform his expectations. He matched them. His actual W-L record was 219-100 and his RA+ PythPat equivalent record was 218-96. I have his equivalent records for his Red Sox years as 21-5, 19-4, 21-3, 10-3, 16-6, 16-5, 15-9. That 218-96 would work with an RA+ of 151, which is very close to his career ERA+ of 154.

I should add that I have this for everyone with enough of a career to be discussed as a possible HoM candidate, and that 151 is the absolute record. Second place is Grove at 143, followed by Clemens and Nichols at 138 (and I don't trust the method before 1893, which is at least a sliver of Nichols' career), Walter Johnson at 136, Pete Alexander at 133.
   12. Steve Treder Posted: November 11, 2011 at 09:39 PM (#3991413)
"Grove had to throw 288 (which later contributed to him blowing out his arm and becoming a junkballer his last several seasons.) "


Is that the conventional wisdom or a 'you read it hear first' statement?

Let's consider this:

Lefty Grove Year Age IP
1920 20 182
1921 21 313
1922 22 209
1923 23 303
1924 24 236
1925 25 197
1926 26 258
1927 27 262
1928 28 262
1929 29 275
1930 30 291
1931 31 289
1932 32 292
1933 33 275
1934 34 109
1935 35 273
1936 36 253
1937 37 262
1938 38 164
1939 39 191
1940 40 153
1941 41 134

Quite obviously, that innings load in 1931 was crucially devastating.
   13. OCF Posted: November 11, 2011 at 09:58 PM (#3991434)
The extremes of Martinez's ERA+ (or RA+) dominance were in part enabled by the era he pitched in - the post-1990 era in which starters pitched fewer (and more predictable) innings. If you were to transplant him to any other era at all, he'd have to give back some of that ERA+ as his innings increased.

Looking at Steve's post and Grove's record: one change that happened after his hurt year in 1934 is that he stopped pitching so much in relief. In the four years 1930-33, he had 18, 11, 14, and 17 relief appearances, nearly all of them resulting in a GF, and most of them resulting in a decision or a save. (The saves being a re-calculation, as they were not tracked at the time.) In the early 30's, Grove was the best relief pitcher in the game (which is, of course related to being the best pitcher, period.) In Boston, he relieved far less often.

That might be something to consider for Martinez, if you were to transport him to the early 30's: how would he do in relief?

As for Martinez on the 1908 Cubs: those Cubs were not overworking their pitchers, and he would have the benefit of a great defense behind him.
   14. eric Posted: November 12, 2011 at 09:59 AM (#3991726)
Pedro Martinez career: 2827.1 IP 154 ERA+
Roger Clemens 1985-1998: 3141.1 IP 154 ERA+
Greg Maddux 1990 - 2002: 3076.1 IP 160 ERA+
Randy Johnson 1992 - 2005: 2986 IP 156 ERA+

Pedro was a spectacular pitcher, but I've always viewed his lower season-by-season IP totals than his direct contemporaries and his almost complete lack of a decline phase as what makes him stand apart. He had three guys who pitched as well or better than him for as long, and then added some high-quality 1300 to 2200 innings on top of that.
   15. thetailor (Brian) Posted: November 12, 2011 at 10:29 AM (#3991731)
Martinez would have been a dominant force in any year he pitched. #articledone
   16. Lest we forget Posted: November 12, 2011 at 11:19 AM (#3991732)
"Quite obviously, that innings load in 1931 was crucially devastating."

: )

kinda what i thought
   17. bobm Posted: November 12, 2011 at 05:31 PM (#3991867)
[13,15]

FTFA:
On the surface, Pedro Martinez’s 2000 season is impressive enough... But Martinez did his thing at the height of the Steroid Era when offense reigned supreme. His ERA+ was an almost-comical 291, courtesy of an AL average ERA of 4.91.

In 1931, Lefty Grove dominated in similar circumstances, overcoming one of the greatest offensive years in baseball history. ... If he’d been in a pitcher’s era, there’s no telling what Grove might have done. And given the similarities between Grove and Martinez, both men temperamental, brilliant flamethrowers, it makes me wonder how Martinez might have fared in his place.


Grove's 1931 ERA+ was 220, according to B-R. It's an interesting comparison, but [13] hits the nail on the head WRT to fit between Pedro's ideal usage and the 1990s-2000s usage of SPs.

This part of TFA makes no sense to me:

But it might be enough to secure a Hall of Fame plaque for Martinez who in his own era doesn’t quite seem a lock for Cooperstown


How is Pedro not quite a lock for Cooperstown?
   18. Darren Posted: November 12, 2011 at 05:47 PM (#3991878)
Yeah, I don't get that. He's in unless there's some steroid or other scandal.
   19. bobm Posted: November 12, 2011 at 06:10 PM (#3991887)
Bill James' HoF stats, from B-R:


Rickey Henderson

Player rank in (·)
Black Ink Batting - 50 (26), Average HOFer ? 27
Gray Ink Batting - 143 (105), Average HOFer ? 144
Hall of Fame Monitor Batting - 178 (55), Likely HOFer ? 100
Hall of Fame Standards Batting - 53 (70), Average HOFer ? 50



Pedro Martinez

Player rank in (·)
Black Ink Pitching - 58 (19), Average HOFer ? 40
Gray Ink Pitching - 215 (31), Average HOFer ? 185
Hall of Fame Monitor Pitching - 206 (21), Likely HOFer ? 100
Hall of Fame Standards Pitching - 60 (16), Average HOFer ? 50
   20. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: November 12, 2011 at 06:30 PM (#3991903)
Pedro's "career" with the 1908 Cubs: 181-126, 2.02 ERA, one 300-K season (1999; just misses with 298 in 1997).


For comparison, Grove's "career" with the '08 Cubs: 290-169, 1.81 ERA (12 seasons below 2).
The conversion has Grove pitching about 300 more innings for his career than he really did.
And great defense or no, you have to factor in that, eventually, Lefty would have tried to break Johnny Evers in half.
   21. Graham Womack Posted: November 13, 2011 at 01:44 AM (#3992318)
How is Pedro not quite a lock for Cooperstown?


I should probably clarify. I personally think Pedro Martinez is a surefire Hall of Famer. I'd vote for him first ballot. For what he did in the late '90s and early '00s, he might be the most dominant pitcher in the last 20 years or more. And the Bill James-ian Hall of Fame metrics are compelling. That being said, I still think Martinez will lose some votes with the BBWAA for three reasons:

1. I don't know how much the BBWAA utilizes Bill James metrics for HOF voting. I do not see voting members like Murray Chass relying on them. I also doubt these guys make much adjustment for historical context or even really understand it, given I've read columnists trumpeting that Jim Edmonds had a higher lifetime OPS than Willie McCovey or Harmon Killebrew. So what? Edmonds played in a far better era for hitters.
2. I'm guessing some of these same writers will ding Martinez for his relatively low career wins total, 219, compared to other HOFers.
3. I have a hunch some people will whisper steroid rumors about Martinez, even if there's no evidence to support them and it's essentially completely unfounded. If Jeff Bagwell and Larry Walker can lose votes this way, so can Martinez.

If I had to guess, I'd say Martinez gets in but not as a first ballot pick. I think he'll get in somewhere in the three to five year range like Don Drysdale or Juan Marichal, though I could be wrong.
   22. bobm Posted: November 13, 2011 at 02:22 AM (#3992335)
[21] If I had to guess, I'd say Martinez gets in but not as a first ballot pick. I think he'll get in somewhere in the three to five year range like Don Drysdale or Juan Marichal, though I could be wrong.

I personally would be quite surprised if it took Pedro more than two ballots to be elected.

From http://www.baseball-reference.com/about/leader_glossary.shtml
Hall of Fame Monitor ... This is another Jamesian creation. It attempts to assess how likely (not how deserving) an active player is to make the Hall of Fame. It's rough scale is 100 means a good possibility and 130 is a virtual cinch. It isn't hard and fast, but it does a pretty good job.


From http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/hof_monitor.shtml:

Don Drysdale's HoF monitor score is 134. Juan Marichal's is 159.

1. Of the 20 pitchers with HoF monitor scores greater than Pedro, everyone is in the Hall of Fame except Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, and Mariano Rivera. Of the post-1955 BBWAA inductees, 1st ballot electees were Carlton, Spahn (post-retirement), Ryan, Seaver, Koufax, and Gibson; Ford was elected on his 2nd ballot

2. Of the next 20 pitchers below Pedro on the HoF monitor, 12 are in the Hall of Fame and the other 8 are comprised of Tom Glavine, Trevor Hoffman, Curt Schilling and John Smoltz and 4 19th century pitchers. Of the post-1955 BBWAA inductees, 1st ballot electees were Palmer, Feller and Eckersley. Gaylord Perry was elected on the 3rd ballot (as was Juan Marichal-the 21st pitcher below Pedro on the HoF monitor).

I make the distinction here of 1st ballot electees only for the sake of prediction, and not as some special honor over and above being a Hall of Famer.
   23. MM1f Posted: November 13, 2011 at 04:19 AM (#3992370)
I should probably clarify. I personally think Pedro Martinez is a surefire Hall of Famer. I'd vote for him first ballot. For what he did in the late '90s and early '00s, he might be the most dominant pitcher in the last 20 years or more. And the Bill James-ian Hall of Fame metrics are compelling. That being said, I still think Martinez will lose some votes with the BBWAA for three reasons:

1. I don't know how much the BBWAA utilizes Bill James metrics for HOF voting. I do not see voting members like Murray Chass relying on them. I also doubt these guys make much adjustment for historical context or even really understand it, given I've read columnists trumpeting that Jim Edmonds had a higher lifetime OPS than Willie McCovey or Harmon Killebrew. So what? Edmonds played in a far better era for hitters.
2. I'm guessing some of these same writers will ding Martinez for his relatively low career wins total, 219, compared to other HOFers.
3. I have a hunch some people will whisper steroid rumors about Martinez, even if there's no evidence to support them and it's essentially completely unfounded. If Jeff Bagwell and Larry Walker can lose votes this way, so can Martinez.

If I had to guess, I'd say Martinez gets in but not as a first ballot pick. I think he'll get in somewhere in the three to five year range like Don Drysdale or Juan Marichal, though I could be wrong.


This is my favorite stathead thing. And by favorite I mean... least favorite. The "mainstream media isn't smart enough to understand how great this obviously great player is because I know his WAR!" routine.

You don't need "James" metrics to understand how great Pedro was. He was a five time ERA leader, a three time Cy Winner and three time strikeout leader with seven top-5 Cy finishes, two top-5 MVP finishes, a .687 career winning percentage and 3,154 career strikeouts who had individual seasons in which he:
- threw 13 complete games
- went 23-4
- struck out 313 batters and walked only 37 in 213 innings
- had a 1.87 ERA

Those are all mainstream statistics.

C'mon, don't act like Pedro's dominance is something only the elect can understand.

As for steroids? Whatever, you're making that up. I've never heard any BBWAA writer tar Pedro with the steroids tag and I doubt anyone will. He doesn't fit the type that folks assume take roids. He was 5'11 with skinny arms, the only weight he gained was in his stomach as he aged. Bagwell and Walker were burly sluggers, with Walker being dinged even more because of Coors Field. None of that applies to Pedro.

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