Just How Good is Pedro Martinez?
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 pitcherâ€™s numbers) by which to judge whether he really has HOF credentials.Â 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.Â 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 Pedroâ€™s career to more closely resemble that of Sandy Koufax than any of the three pitchers mentioned above.Â 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.Â The CAWS Career Gauge has come up with a way to do this.
Bill Jamesâ€™ Win Shares system is the most comprehensive tool available to understand how good a season a player had. Â It includes offensive and defensive contributions and adjusts for all relevant factors.Â The CAWS Career Gauge (Career Assessment/Win Shares) uses win shares to measure how good a career a player has had.Â The CAWS Gauge is based on a playerâ€™s core value (his ten best seasons) plus additional credit for his other seasons.Â 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.Â Outstanding pitchers like Clemens (303), Maddux (284) and Johnson (254) mentioned above do satisfy this criterion.Â Of course, trying to figure out how to judge a pitcher who pitched â€œfewerâ€ 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.Â That is, I began to see that only the best pitchers achieved a certain CAWS score in relation to the number of innings pitched.Â 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.Â 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.Â Here are those pitchers. Â Â 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 â€“ CV)].
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.Â (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.Â 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.Â But what if a pitcher had achieved this benchmark at some earlier point in his career?Â 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.Â And, of course, this would be correct.
OK, so what about Pedro Martinez?Â Would his career up to a certain point reflect these sort of numbers?Â Well, if you examine Pedroâ€™s career through 2004 (through thirteen seasons), you will find the following.
These numbers, in fact, would put him on the top of the list of the six pitchers above.Â Which means that he belongs in this very select company.Â 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.Â 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 Hobanâ€™s 100-page monograph: A HOF HANDBOOK: Who Belongs and Who Does Not,Â just drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.