Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez – No. 11
There hasn’t been a more dominant pitcher in the modern era than Pedro Martinez. The right-hander rose to prominence with the Montreal Expos, winning his first Cy Young award in 1997 when he led the league with a 1.90 ERA, 0.932 WHIP and 11.4 K/9.
The Red Sox traded for Martinez the following year in one of the all-time greatest heists. Pedro was the runner-up for the AL Cy Young during his first season in Boston and followed that by capturing the award in consecutive seasons.
Those two seasons are arguably the best back-to-back years by a pitcher in baseball history. Martinez won 23 games with a 2.07 ERA while setting the single-season franchise record with 313 strikeouts in 1999. For an encore, Martinez posted a 1.74 ERA with a record-setting 0.737 WHIP. His 291 ERA+ in that 2000 season is the best by any pitcher in the modern era.
In addition to his three Cy Young trophies, Pedro was an eight-time All-Star who won five ERA titles and a pitching Triple Crown.
During his final season with the Red Sox, Martinez was a core member of the pitching staff on a team that ended the franchise’s 86-year title drought. He tossed seven shutout innings to earn the win in Game 3 of the World Series, which put Boston one step away from a championship.
Only Walter Johnson, who pitched nearly a century before him, ranks higher on ESPN’s list among pitchers. At least those who spent their entire career as a pitcher… but we’ll get to that soon enough.