November 9, 2012
The Good Old Days: Pedro Martinez
The greatest pitchers of the previous generation were dominant on a historical level, and the peak performance of Pedro Martinez might have been the greatest spectacle that the game has ever witnessed. He may have lacked the longevity of Roger Clemens, the consistency of Greg Maddux, or the biological advantages of Randy Johnson, but Pedro introduced the world to an unrivaled combination of intensity, precision, and power that baffled major-league hitters for over a decade.
Martinez lacked the size of his legendary counterparts, but efficient mechanics and incredible athleticism allowed him to get more out of his sub-six-foot frame than pitchers half a foot taller. His effectiveness was enabled by exceptional command of an explosive array of pitches, and he required ideal efficiency to maximize the impact of his pitching career. One need look no further than Pedro's brother, Ramon Martinez, to conceptualize the difference between raw genetic gifts and athletically-trained ability.
Pedro was signed by the Dodgers as a 16-year-old in June of 1988, with visions that the young Dominican would one day join his older brother at Chavez Ravine. Ramon was a 20-year-old rookie at the time, and he would spend the next 10 years playing in front of thousands of traffic-beating fans in Los Angeles, though he lacked the consistency to keep runners off the bases. Ramon won 20 games in his first full season in the rotation, but heavy workloads taxed his developing arm throughout his 20s, which combined with inefficient mechanics to set the stage for future arm problems. At 6' 4”, Ramon had the prototypical height that baseball men seek on the mound, but the 160-pounder's lack of balance and functional strength foreshadowed a career that was cut short by injuries.
The Dodgers would trade Pedro following the 1993 season, flipping him to the Montreal Expos for second baseman Delino DeShields in November.