July 22, 2014

Just How Good is Pedro Martinez?

July 21, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

It does appear at this point that Pedro Martinez is probably retired so this may be a good time to ask: Just how good was Pedro and does he have the numbers to justify induction into the Hall of Fame?

Of course, this question is related to the broader question of whether there is an objective method (based on a pitcher’s numbers) by which to judge whether he really has HOF credentials.  With pitchers like Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson, it is fairly easy to establish their HOF credentials because of their considerable body of work during their careers.  A much more difficult question is how to assess the value of a starting pitcher who had a shorter career.

For my own part, I consider Pedro’s career to more closely resemble that of Sandy Koufax than any of the three pitchers mentioned above.  That is, both Pedro and Sandy shone brilliantly for a period of time but did not accumulate the innings pitched by some of their talented contemporaries.

But that does not mean that such pitchers cannot be evaluated in a strictly objective fashion.  The CAWS Career Gauge has come up with a way to do this.

Bill James’ Win Shares system is the most comprehensive tool available to understand how good a season a player had.  It includes offensive and defensive contributions and adjusts for all relevant factors.  The CAWS Career Gauge (Career Assessment/Win Shares) uses win shares to measure how good a career a player has had.  The CAWS Gauge is based on a player’s core value (his ten best seasons) plus additional credit for his other seasons.  It is an objective tool which attempts to assess career value.

According to the CAWS Gauge, a starting pitcher would normally need a CAWS score of 235 to be considered to have obvious Hall of Fame numbers.  Outstanding pitchers like Clemens (303), Maddux (284) and Johnson (254) mentioned above do satisfy this criterion.  Of course, trying to figure out how to judge a pitcher who pitched “fewer” innings (for whatever reason) presents special problems.

In examining the career numbers for all the outstanding pitchers since 1901, I began to see certain patterns emerging.  That is, I began to see that only the best pitchers achieved a certain CAWS score in relation to the number of innings pitched.  And this has enabled me to create certain other benchmarks for a pitcher to achieve to determine if he has Hall of Fame numbers.

Consider the following.  I have found only six pitchers since 1901 who during their entire careers achieved a CAWS score of 180 with fewer than 2400 innings pitched.  Here are those pitchers.   IP is innings pitched, CWS is career win shares, CV is core value (the win shares for the ten best seasons) and CAWS is the career score [CAWS = CV + .25(CWS – CV)].

Player IP CWS CV CAWS
Addie Joss 2327 191 191 191
Sandy Koufax 2324 194 190 191
Hoyt Wilhelm 2254 256 168 190
Mariano Rivera
1090 227 175 188
Goose Gossage 1809 223 173 186
Dizzy Dean 1967 181 180 180

You will note that five of these players (bold print) are in the Hall of Fame and Mariano Rivera appears to be a lock to join them.  (The numbers for Mo are through the 2009 season.)

So, the CAWS Career Gauge suggests that any pitcher who has done this has HOF numbers.  That is, any pitcher who achieves a CAWS score of 180 with fewer than 2400 innings pitched has established Hall of Fame credentials.

Of course, for these six pitchers these numbers represent their career totals.  But what if a pitcher had achieved this benchmark at some earlier point in his career?  Logic would dictate that the pitcher in question had accumulated Hall of Fame numbers at that point in his career irrespective of what happened subsequently.  And, of course, this would be correct.

OK, so what about Pedro Martinez?  Would his career up to a certain point reflect these sort of numbers?  Well, if you examine Pedro’s career through 2004 (through thirteen seasons), you will find the following.

Player IP CWS CV CAWS
Pedro Martinez 2297 224 200 206

These numbers, in fact, would put him on the top of the list of the six pitchers above.  Which means that he belongs in this very select company.  I have examined the numbers for other pitchers who I thought might qualify under this same standard but I have not found any others to date.  Of course, I am not talking here about those pitchers who have established HOF numbers by a different career benchmark such as Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson mentioned earlier.

Therefore, the CAWS Career Gauge suggests that when examined in this completely objective manner Pedro Martinez does indeed have Hall of Fame credentials according to the 180/2400 benchmark for pitchers.

If anyone would like to get a free e-copy of Professor Hoban’s 100-page monograph: A HOF HANDBOOK: Who Belongs and Who Does Not,  just drop a note to mike_hoban@msn.com.

Comments

One Response to “Just How Good is Pedro Martinez?”
  1. stratobill says:

    I appreciate your thoughtful analysis but come on, is there
    any knowledgable baseball fan who doesn’t already believe
    Pedro is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame?

    Despite pitching in an era dominated by hitters, Pedro put
    together a string of incredible seasons. Great K/IP ratios.
    Unbelievable WHIPS. Sustained high win percentages. Dead-ball
    era ERA’s.

    Pedro is no marginal candidate who needs to have his case bolstered
    by serious statistical analysis. His innings total may be a little
    lower but that was largely a product of pitching in the era of 5 man
    rotations and managers going to the bullpens much earlier than in the
    past.

    Mariano Rivera deserves to be in the Hall, but the fact is he
    has pitched less than 1200 innings and rarely does he ever half
    to pitch to the same batter more than once in the same game. That
    is a huge advantage compared to a starter like Martinez who batters
    get to face 3 or 4 times a game.

    Martinez and Rivera both deserve to be in the Hall, but if I could only pick
    one of them, it would have to be Martinez and it would be an easy choice.

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