I’ve had a long, and somewhat complicated history with Pedro. Some of my most joyous baseball memories are the result of his brilliance. (I’ve already gone on too many times about his 17-K performance at Yankee Stadium in September 99…the game that got me escorted out of the ballpark for my own safety.) His 2006 return to Fenway was chill (and tear) inducing. On the other hand, his continued obfuscation during same return was childish, and I’m very happy the Sox aren’t on the hook for his salary. (Among other reasons is this Sunday’s starter.)
My strongest memory, however, won’t be a single memory, but an enduring appreciation of his awesome, impish, love of the game–his childlike enthusiasm, one all the more infectious because it was married to the best right-handed pitcher ever to play the game. That’s what makes his recent injury–and the last several years–so sad. He can still pitch; he’s too smart and too innately talented to completely fall off the table. But he’s frail. And when he’s on the mound he looks, well, old. I want to remember this guy, the one who dominated the 1999 All-Star Game, the guy who looked like a teenager when he got to Boston…not the one being helped off the field for what feels like the 100th time in the past three years.
In that spirit, I give you this full-throated appreciation of Pedro’s majestic 2000 season…which was recently rated as the best single season performance in Red Sox history. Here’s the key graf: “Let me state this unequivocally: Not only did Pedro Martinez in 2000 post the best season by any player in Red Sox history, he posted the best pitching season ever in the history of baseball. His 1.74 ERA, stripped of all context, is still in the top 100. When considering the league-average ERA in 2000 was 5.07, the mind boggles. No hitter has ever bested the league-average OPS by 190 percent â€šÃ„Ã¬ no oneâ€šÃ„Ã´s really ever come close.”
That write up is part of a larger project: the ranking of the top-50 best individual Sox seasons of all time. (Rounding out the top five: Williams ’41, Pedro ’99, Yaz ’67, Cy Young ’01.) The whole thing is worth checking out, and will undoubtedly case plenty of debate. (Like, for instance, the fact that D-Lowe, whose ’02 season comes in at 29, is higher than Papi, whose top season (2006) is ranked 30th.) Enjoy. It should help you keep your mind of what’s been going on with #45 for the last several years.