Pedro Martinez: Most Talented Pitcher of All Time?

Randy RatliffContributor IApril 28, 2008

In my personal opinion, Pedro Martinez is the most talented pitcher ever to play Major League Baseball.

I know some people may think that statement a little naive, ignorant even, because obviously I have not seen every pitcher who has ever played. 

I have, however, had the chance to research some of the great pitchers from the past. An important stat to take into consideration is how good teams were offensively, and how many runs per game were scored on average while a certain pitcher played.

That is one of the main reasons I think Pedro holds an edge over some of the great pitchers in history—Pedro pitched in the highest offensive period in league history. And, he still put up numbers that would have been considered great in any pitcher's generation.

In 2000 Pedro's E.R.A was 1.74. Another stat to take into consideration is that Roger Clemens had the second best E.R.A in the league that year at 3.70. Pedro's E.R.A was less than half that of Roger Clemens. That might be the most dominating stat I have ever seen.

Let's compare that kind of domination, and put it into a different context. The best power hitter in the league over the last few years has probably been Alex Rodriguez.

For him to dominate in the same manner as Pedro did, he would have to double the amount of home runs hit by the second place hitter.  Home Run leaders usually hit about 50 home runs per season. A Rod would have to hit over 100 home runs in a season to dominate like Pedro—which I don't think will ever happen.

Pedro's numbers become that much more impressive when you consider how much Major League Baseball has improved offensively over the last six to seven decades. It's like Bud Selig forgot to give Pedro the memo that this is supposed to be a hitters' league.

If Pedro would have pitched in the dead ball era, I don't think you would be able to calculate his E.R.A.—because he probably would not have allowed a run.

Another reason I consider Pedro to be the most talented pitcher of all time is his variety of pitches.

Early in his career, his fastball was clocked at 95-99 mph. Most pitchers who throw heat like that can only throw heat. Pedro was different. His fastball, change-up, curve-ball, and circle change-up were as good or better than anyone's in the league.

I couple that with his extraordinary killer instinct, and will to win. A strong indication of his tenacious desire to win came in the 1999 playoffs against the Cleveland Indians.

He was forced out of game one after four shutout innings due to a strained back. The Red Sox ended up losing the game 3-2.

The series ended up tied at two games apiece going into the fifth and final game of the series. Through three innings of game five the score was tied at eight runs apiece, as neither team's starting pitching was effective.

The Red Sox put Pedro in as an emergency relief option to stabilize the game. He pitched six innings, struck out eight batters, and didn't allow a rundespite not being able to throw his fastball or his change-up due to his back and relying completely on his curve-ball.

As the Red Sox won the game 12-8, I can't think of any baseball player with more pure killer instincthe would not let his team lose.

Pedro is easily the one pitcher I would want to pitch one game if I could take anyone.

There are a lot of people who would choose to take quantity over qualityas is the case with Roger Clemens. I'm not saying that Roger Clemens was not a great pitcher. It is just that his numbers are inflated due to the amount of time he spent in the league.

If you take Pedro's average numbers and multiply them by the number of years that Roger Clemens played. Pedro's numbers would dwarf Roger Clemens.

Also Pedro has never once been accused of taking steroidsyou can tell by looking at a picture of him in his rookie year and comparing it to a picture of him this year. When you do the same with Roger Clemens, you can tell the difference in body shape and body mass.

Watching Pedro pitch recently is like watching Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine. A complete finesse pitcher.

Due to injuries he has lost most of the heat on his fastballit usually tops out in the high 80s.

But his numbers are still comparable to the numbers he put up in his prime.

Even though he's had to completely change his game, relying now on his intelligence and variety of pitches to strike batters out. He has proved he can throw heat like Roger Clemens, and he can also strike you out without even topping 90 on the radar gun. Take away Clemens' fastball, and he would be mediocre at best.

Pedro had no weaknesses pitching-wise. When I compare him to other pitchers in their primes, he is the only one in my mind that does not have a single weakness on the mound.

He has all the intangibles, and has gotten everything out of them that he possibly could. In my mind, that is what determines true greatness.