By Jeff Louderback
After a tumultuous 2012 campaign marked by dysfunction attributed to manager Bobby Valentine’s inability to get along with his coaches and players, the Boston Red Sox have stocked the on-field and front office staff with respected and likable baseball men. The most recent addition is former Red Sox great Pedro Martinez, who was named Special Assistant to the General Manager by executive vice president and general manager Ben Cherington.
“We are very excited to have Pedro onboard with us and back in the Red Sox organization,” said Cherington. “He was one of the game’s most dominant pitchers and without a doubt a beloved figure in Red Sox history. Similar to former teammate Jason Varitek, who joined the baseball operations staff in September, Pedro will be involved in several areas, including the evaluation, mentorship, and instruction of young players in Spring Training and throughout the season.”
In addition to adding Martinez and Varitek to the front office, the Red Sox also named former pitching coach John Farrell manager. Farrell brought in former Pawtucket manager and Blue Jays coach Torey Lovullo as bench coach, well-respected Chicago White Sox bullpen coach Juan Nieves as pitching coach, longtime Red Sox minor league manager Arnie Beyeler as first base coach and affable New England native and former Blue Jays third base coach Brian Butterfield in the same role. Also, Greg Colbrunn was hired as the new hitting coach while veteran Red Sox minor league hitting coordinator Victor Rodriguez was added as assistant hitting coach.
The Red Sox have improved the culture around the organization with the aforementioned additions, as well as the myriad of free agent moves they have made.
A three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star, Martinez spent seven seasons with the Red Sox (beginning in 1998) and was a key part of the 2004 team that brought a World Series title to Boston for the first time since 1918.
“I am thrilled to be returning to this organization and to the city I love,” Martinez said. “Ben Cherington’s meetings this week have been outstanding. It is an honor to be back with the Red Sox and help in any way I can. I am grateful to our leaders; I believe in them, and I thank them for allowing me to return to the field and help us win again. My heart will always live in Boston.”
During his 18-year major league career, the Dominican Republic native was 219-100 with a 2.93 ERA and 3,154 strikeouts in 2,827.1 innings. His career .687 winning percentage ranks second among modern Major Leaguers (since 1900) behind Whitey Ford’s .690 mark (minimum 250 decisions). Among pitchers with at least 2,500 career innings in the majors, only Nolan Ryan (.204) has a lower opponent batting average than Martinez (.214).
With the Red Sox, he recorded a 117-37 record with a 2.52 ERA. He has the best winning percentage in franchise history (.760, min. 15 decisions). He also tops club records (min. 1,000 innings) with an average of 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings and a .206 opponent batting average. Among Red Sox all-time leaders, he ranks third in strikeouts (1,683), sixth in wins (117), and seventh in ERA.
In his tenure with Boston, Martinez was the major league leader in winning percentage, ERA, opponent batting average, opponent on-base percentage (.261), opponent slugging percentage (.317), opponent OPS (.578), and WHIP (0.98). He also led all Major Leaguers in strikeouts per nine innings, the only American Leaguer to average at least a strikeout per inning during that stretch.
In his career, Martinez led the Major Leagues in ERA on five occasions, including 1997 with the Expos (1.90) and four times during his first five years as a member of the Red Sox: 1999 (2.07), 2000 (1.74), 2002 (2.26), and 2003 (2.22). He won the AL’s strikeout title in 1999 (313), 2000 (284), and 2002 (239).
Martinez was the unanimous winner of the American League’s Cy Young Award in consecutive seasons–1999 and 2000. Winning the AL pitching Triple Crown in 1999, he fanned a Red Sox-record 313 batters in 213.1 innings, and set a league record that still stands with an average of 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings. That year, he also set a big league record striking out at least 10 batters in eight consecutive games.
His 1.74 ERA in 2000 is the best single-season mark by an American League pitcher over the last 44 seasons (starting in 1969). In 2000, he established modern major league records for lowest opponent average (.167), lowest opponent on-base percentage (.213), and WHIP (0.74).
Among all Dominican-born pitchers, Martinez has the highest winning percentage, most strikeouts, and ranks second only to Hall of Famer Juan Marichal in both wins and ERA.