Thursday, October 13, 2005

Pedro Martinez

One of my long-term projects is mapping out the major league career of all the significant players in the major leagues. I've currently worked my way through 2 teams (Braves and Marlins) and am about halfway through the Mets. I'll post some summaries and excerpts of this work (which I hope to have published) as I see fit. Here is an extract from my discussion on Pedro Martinez concerning Pedro's reputation as "injury-prone" and a "short-timer," or a pitcher who doesn't go deep into games:

From 2002-2004, Pedro earned the reputation as a pitcher who couldn’t go deep into games. His constant injury troubles and sometimes prickly personality made some fans turn against him. And while it’s possible that Pedro didn’t push as hard as he could have, he was still quite possibly the best American League pitcher in that particular 3-year period. He made 30, 29, and 33 starts during that period, all of them perfectly reasonable numbers for a starter. He averaged 201 innings per year during that span, which isn’t amazing, but only 7 AL starters pitched more innings during that stretch. The truth of the matter is that Pedro’s reputation grew far out of proportion to what he was actually doing on the field. People perceived that Pedro’s injuries and attitude made him a “short-timer,” when he was in fact one of the more durable pitchers in the game at the time. It’s actually entirely legitimate for someone who pitched so much at such a young age to take it just a bit easy as he gets older; keeping him out of situations that might have been abusive to his arm might have kept him from missing even more time to injury. The fact is that Pedro has, since 1995, started at least 29 games every single year (with the exception of his injury-shortened 2001). Pedro’s reputation is, in fact, a complete hoax. People made up their minds based on limited information without looking to see whether their conclusions held true over the long run. Pedro may not be a “gamer,” who stays in games long after he is effective, but this attitude, while not exactly endearing to teammates or reporters, has made him an abnormally durable starting pitcher. And anyone who still holds onto the theory of Pedro as a “short-timer” or injury-prone player is doing so in spite of all the available evidence.

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