Boston Red Sox: Ranking the top 10 players from the 2000s
Pedro Martinez has already been included up on the list of best trades in Red Sox history, most important players in Red Sox history, and top ten Red Sox players of the 1990s. He’s included in this list covering the 2000s because his Red Sox career neatly straddled the two decades and because he was a vital member of the 2004 World Series championship team.
Pedro’s incredible exploits with the Red Sox in the late 1990s have already been discussed, but he was also very, very good in the early 2000s as well. While he didn’t approach the lofty heights he reached in the 1990s (especially his superb 1999 and 2000 seasons), Martinez was still one of the top pitchers in the league during his final Red Sox seasons of 2001-2004.
After his superb 2000 season, Pedro battled a shoulder injury in 2001 and only made eighteen starts, going 7-3 with a 2.39 ERA and 163 strikeouts. He bounced back during his final three seasons in Boston, though, putting up the following numbers:
2002: 20-4 W-L, 2.26 ERA, 239 K, 40 BB, 199.1 IP, 0.923 WHIP (30 starts)
2003: 14-4 W-L, 2.22 ERA, 206 K, 47 BB, 186.2 IP, 1.039 WHIP (29 starts)
2004: 16-9 W-L, 3.90 ERA, 227 K, 61 BB, 217.0 IP, 1.171 WHIP (33 starts)
Pedro’s ERA and WHIP in 2002 and 2003 led all of MLB while he led the American League in strikeouts in 2002. His postseason numbers were a bit more uneven although in the end he was crucial in helping them win it all in 2004. He won a game in both the 2003 and 2004 ALDS and won his start in Game Three of the 2004 World Series when he held the St. Louis Cardinals scoreless for seven innings.
The only blemishes on his postseason career during these years were in the 2003 and 2004 ALCS. In 2003, Pedro took the loss in Game Three when he was matched up against Roger Clemens, but will forever be remembered for hitting Karim Garcia and then throwing down Yankees coach (and former Red Sox manager) Don Zimmer during the bench clearing brawl that erupted later in the game.
Later in the series in Game Seven, Martinez was cruising and looked to be in line to pick up the win and help the Red Sox clinch the pennant, but manager Grady Little infamously left him in to begin the eighth inning with a 5-2 lead. As everyone knows, Pedro gave up three runs to the Yankees, allowing them to tie the game before they eventually won it in the eleventh inning.
Martinez also lost Game Two and got a no decision in Game Five of the 2004 ALCS. Pedro’s stuff in 2004 has lost a lot of its movement and speed and he relied more on his pinpoint location and guile to outwit hitters. That was never more apparent than his masterful performance in the 2004 World Series when they needed him most.
Pedro Martinez was one of the greatest pitchers in Red Sox history and did it in both the 1990s and 2000s. Perhaps he wasn’t as dominant in the 2000s as he was in the 1990s, but he was still one of Boston’s best and deserves to be on this list as much as he did the previous one.