It is hard to imagine free agent pitcher Pedro Martinez, a man of intense pride, signing a minor league deal and competing for a job this spring. There is nothing left for him to prove, and he certainly doesn't need the money. At this point, however, that might be his only option if he wants to spend one more summer on the mound.
Red Sox fans saw Martinez at his best, a dominant pitcher in an era when hitters were juiced more than baseballs. Mets fans saw him at his worst, a shell of his former self who was pitching on fumes and his reputation.
At this point, the best offer he can expect would be an incentive-laden one-year deal from a team with young pitchers whom Martinez, 37, could share his wisdom with them. But if he has indeed thrown his last pitch, there is no debate whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Considering the era he pitched in, one can argue he is the greatest pitcher of all-time.
Martinez has a 214-99 career record, translating to a .684 winning percentage, which is the second highest among pitchers with at least 400 starts. Hall of Famer Whitey Ford (236-106) is the only pitcher with a better won-lost percentage (.690).
Martinez is one of eight pitchers with at least three Cy Young awards. Four are Hall of Famers (Steve Carlton, Sandy Koufax, Jim Palmer, Tom Seaver), two will be once they're eligible (Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson) and one would be a lock if not for alleged steroid use (Roger Clemens).
Martinez's 2.91 career ERA is 1.59 runs lower than the league average (4.50) during his 17-year career. That ERA differential is lower than Johnson (1.37), Clemens (1.34), Maddux (1.00), Koufax (0.86), Seaver (0.78), Palmer (0.73) and Carlton (0.48).
Martinez also has a lower mark than pitchers with two Cy Youngs: Johan Santana (1.38), Bret Saberhagen (0.86), Bob Gibson (0.80), Tom Glavine (0.62), Gaylord Perry (0.53) and Denny McLain (0.04).
Martinez has the lowest WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) of any starting pitcher since 1917 (1.051) and the fifth lowest of all-time, according to baseball-reference.com. Only Yankees closer Mariano Rivera (1.02) has a lower WHIP among active players.
When he won his third Cy Young award in 2000, Martinez had perhaps the greatest season ever by a pitcher. His 1.74 ERA was 3.33 runs lower than the American League average (5.07) and nearly two runs lower than the pitcher with the second lowest ERA (Clemens 3.70). Pedro's 8.88 strikeout-to-walk ratio was 3.33 better than the next highest mark. He had more than twice as many strikeouts (284) than hits allowed (128) and held opposing batters to a .167 average, the lowest in major league history.
In 1999, Martinez averaged 13.205 strikeouts per nine innings, the highest ever by an AL pitcher and the second highest overall behind Johnson (13.41 with Arizona in 2001). Of the 14 pitchers with multiple Cy Young awards, only Johnson has higher career mark (10.67) than Martinez (10.08).
Is Pedro the greatest?