1999 Pedro

With a win over the Red Sox last night, Zack Greinke should have just about locked up the AL Cy Young award. Other pitchers are having good years, but no one has dominated like Greinke has. He’s been the best pitcher in the league by a pretty good margin. His 2.34 FIP looks like something right out of Pedro Martinez’s prime. But that thought process led me to look up Pedro’s page, and as always, that led to my eyes popping out of my head when I saw his 1999 line. It’s just not possible to look at his numbers from a decade ago and not be utterly amazed.

213 innings. 160 hits. 9 home runs. 37 walks. 313 strikeouts. 1.39 FIP.

1.39 FIP in a season where league average was 4.71. Pedro was 3.3 runs per nine innings better than a league average pitcher. Over 213 innings, thats 80 runs better than average, or about 100 runs better than replacement. A hundred runs. Pedro was worth something like +10 wins over the 1999 season. If it’s not the greatest pitcher season of all time, it’s in the discussion.

Or, if we want to get back to discussing Greinke, the 1999 version of Pedro was nearly a full run per game better than the guy who has been hands down the best pitcher in the American League this year. That’s not a knock against Greinke – Pedro’s 1999 season was just so remarkably good that we could go the rest of our lives without anyone ever touching it.

He’s obviously not the same guy now that he was in his prime, but it’s still worth remembering how amazing he was a decade ago.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


172 Responses to “1999 Pedro”

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  1. Rory says:

    Pedro’s BABIP was also .343 which makes his season even more remarkable.

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    • big baby says:

      well, that wouldn’t factor into his FIP. but duly noted for the more traditional measures.

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      • K-dro says:

        My guess is that all the K’s had something to do with it. Think about it, he fanned 313 and barely ever gave up home runs. Balls in play were relatively few compared to your average pitcher. Your only hope against Pedro then was to try to put the ball in play and hope for the best. People were lucky and he still man-handled them most of the time.

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  2. DavidCEisen says:

    I was in a used bookstore near Union Square a couple of days ago and heard the following conversation between the sales clerk and his friend:

    SC: “That Grienke guy is pretty good this year, he might win the Cy Young”
    F: “I don’t see how a guy with only 13 wins can get the Cy Young”
    SC: “Yeah, but he plays for the Royals and his ERA is near 2″
    F: “But he only has 13 wins, no way he should get it over CC”

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    • Brendon says:

      I’m just surprised that they were talking sports at the Strand, if that was indeed the used bookstore to which you’re referring.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        nah, close though. There’s a small used bookstore on the corner of 3rd and 12th Street, which I can never remember the name of.

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    • Joe R says:

      I’d’ve jumped in and asked if it was CC’s magical clutchness that carried his team in those wins and if the Yankees would’ve all forgotten how to hit if Greinke was the pitcher.

      I can’t believe W-L record futility is still a novel concept to anyone.

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    • Pete says:

      Greinke sucks because he can’t will Billy Butler to hit like Teixeira, Betancourt to be as good as Jeter, Teahen/Gordon/or Bloomquist to be as good as A-Rod, and so on…

      You can’t reward someone for NOT having these great skills that CC has. You just can’t. Greinke clearly doesn’t have the necessary skill of winny-winningness.

      Something like that, right?

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      • Joe R says:

        Butler through age 23 actually compares relatively well to Keith Hernandez (and in their 23 year old years, their OPS+’s were very similar). Obviously he’ll never be the fielder Hernandez is, but he does project out to have a nice career IMO.

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  3. Diaz says:

    And despite how great Greinke has been this year, Pedro had 4 more years in which he posted a lower FIP over a full season. 1997,2000,2002, and 2003. There is also the injury shortened 2001 season.

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  4. James says:

    In 99, Pedro’s ERA+ was 243. In 2000, it was 291, a year in which he also posted a .74 WHIP (due to a 5.3 H/9 and a 1.3 BB/9). 8.88 K/BB. Absolutely, unbelievably, ridiculous.

    The Ks weren’t quite there in the way that they were in 99, which I believe leads to the higher FIP, but 2000 was almost as, if not just as, dominant a year.

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  5. Adam B says:

    Based on the era he played in, Pedro’s 1999 season might just be the greatest of all-time.

    The game against the Yankees in September, where he struck out 17 was perhaps the most dominating performances I have ever seen.

    Good article Dave

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    • Rob in CT says:

      That was the single best pitcher performance I’ve ever seen live. I didn’t even MIND that he was carving up my Yankees. It was so freaking amazingly beautiful that I just didn’t care.

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  6. Mike B. says:

    It’s worth comparing Pedro’s best season (1999) against what’s arguably Randy Johnson’s best season (1995), which featured almost the same number of innings pitched:

    RJ (1995): 214.1 IP, 159 H, 12 HR, 65 BB, 294 K, 12.35 K/9, 2.73 BB/9, 4.52 K/BB, 2.08 FIP
    PM (1999): 213.1 IP, 160 H, 9 HR, 37 BB, 313 K, 13.20 K/9, 1.56 BB/9, 8.46 K/BB, 1.39 FIP

    Most notable is the BB discrepancy. That was around the time Randy finally found his control, and 65 BB over 214 innings for a power pitcher is pretty good. That Pedro was able to pitch with such dominance and control is just astounding, however–and that 8.46 K/BB wasn’t even his best over a full season. That came in 2000, when he had this line: 11.78 K/9, 1.33 BB/9, 8.88 K/BB. Zoinks.

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    • mymrbig says:

      Actually, if you want to compare peak Pedro to peak RJ, I’d go with RJ circa 2001. Career high K/9 (13.41), close to career low BB/9 (2.56). FIP of 2.13. And the fact that he threw 249.2 IP certainly bumps his value above 1994 RJ and maybe even above 1999 Pedro. Pedro was certainly better on an per IP basis, but RJ’s 2001 was worth 9.9 WAR and there is something to be said about having an ace on the field for an extra 30 IP instead of relievers.

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      • mymrbig says:

        Sorry, that 9.9 WAR was actually for RJ’s 2004, when he had 4 fewer IP, 2.8 fewer K/IP, but also 0.95 fewer BB/9. So 2001 would have been marginally better than 2004.

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      • Mike B. says:

        I can see your argument for RJ’s 2001 season; I went with ’95 instead of ’01 due to the nearly identical IP. Also, I happened to see RJ pitch in person a couple times during ’95, which also made me lean that way (Mariners fan and all).

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    • Felonius_Monk says:

      Ha ha ha. 9K/BB. That is…. absurd.

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  7. B says:

    There are a few players throughout history that I just love going back and looking at their statlines. I know how unreal they are, but every single time I look it still amazes me. Pedro is definitely one of them, his peak is probably unmatched by any other pitcher in history. Randy Johnson didn’t peak quite as high, but is still impressive and arguably the greatest strikeout pitcher in history. 13.41 K/9 in 2001! Koufax. For the hitting side it’s Ruth, Williams and Bonds. Looking at their statlines never ceases to amaze me. As great as Pujols numbers are, he’s still not even close to those three at their peaks.

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  8. Joe R says:

    The funny part? Many Bostonians still found a way to bitch about his performance.

    Partly due to, well, it’s Boston, partly due to the self-loathing that was a result of being a Red Sox fan during the Yankee dynasty run, pre-Epstein.

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    • James says:

      Also, Pedro never got any run support because the other pitcher would always “step up his game.” That was my favorite.

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      • Joe R says:

        I was 13 in ’99, I didn’t know better.

        But the Red Sox made the ALCS with effin Brian Daubach and Troy O’Leary as the “heart of the order”, mainly due to Pedro. The joys of ignorance.

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    • Ray says:

      As a Sox fan and someone who was in college when Pedro put up those remarkable numbers I have to disagree with you…Sox fans bitched about the team, about the run support, about Duquette, about everything under the sun. But every fifth day it was nothing but jubilation and sunshine because Pedro was on the hill, and anything–from a CG shutout to 20 K’s to a perfect game was possible.

      Nothing rivals the feeling of the WS run in 2004, but watching Pedro every 5th day is a close second in my book. That 17 K game against the Yankees, as someone else mentioned, was the best pitched game I’ve ever witnessed, and that includes perfect games and no hitters. He gave up one hit–a HR–and just made everyone else look completely foolish. Dominance.

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      • Joe R says:

        Maybe it was my younger demographic; either way, I did enjoy how people caused me to grow up thinking winning a baseball game had more to do with moral superiority than the right amount of skill and luck coming together.

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    • Diaz says:

      As a lifelong red sox fan, I have to say that I feel the Boston’s media dislike for Pedro came not from any inferiority complex resulting from the Yankees success, but rather because the Boston media has a propensity to throw most of their high profile minority players under the bus. Mo Vaughn, Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro, and Manny are all examples of this. With Manny being the only player who did much of anything to deserve his criticism, although even with him, it must be said that he did not do that much to gain the medias negative attention until his last year and a half with the Sox. I must admit that I do not live in the city, and as a minority I could possibly be oversensitive the the issue, but when one considers the city’s past and its sports writers affection for the Trot Noxion esque “dirt dog” player, all of whom were white christian anglo saxons, while making Manny, Pedro, Nomar out to be clubhouse parasites suspicions do rise.

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      • Joe R says:

        And now they’re doing it with David Ortiz because God forbid he tested positive for an unknown substance that no one will ever know during an age where there was no reprecussions to those actions.

        To be fair, though, I notice JD Drew gets a lot of the same treatment. Even though that may be because he’s an anti-Trot Nixon (you know, good at baseball and takes showers).

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      • MikeS says:

        Same thing happens in Chicago. I don’t think it has anything to do with race because I’ve seen it happen to white players as well. The public goes for it in a big way. I think it is sports writers pandering to a populace with a blue collar self image. They would rather see guys with limited talent who do well through hard work than see super-talented guys succeed. They love guys who get their uniform dirty, but have no patience for a superstar who goes 0-4. Michael Jordan was the exception, but he had the reputation of a guy who worked really hard. I think they feel that they could’ve been that guy if they got a few breaks and put their mind to it. Since they feel they can identify with the high-energy guys, they like them more.

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      • ineedanap says:

        Well, give it a couple years and you won’t have to worry about it because there won’t be anymore “minority players” (sans Asians) left on the team.

        I hope I’m kidding.

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      • Joe R says:

        Bring in Carlos Delgado to scream at the media when the inevitable shitshow begins because of that.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Aw hell, the Boston media took shots and hated Ted Williams for the first 10 years of his career.

        IMO, for much of their history, Boston fans weren’t happy unless there was something to complain about.

        Then after they won in 2004, they had to stop pissing in their own oatmeal.

        When your NBA, NFL, and MLB teams are all successful, you can’t whine.

        For years, Boston was a bitter bitter bitter sports town.

        Heck, even Philly fans have to smile once in a while these days.

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  9. Diaz says:

    I have never understood why people hate JD Drew. I mean he just posts an OBP over .400 a slugging of about. .450 and above average defense. But I guess that is all undermined because he is a sissy.

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    • Joe R says:

      If you want to look over at baseball prospectus, compare JD Drew’s DT card to Ichiro’s; Ichiro isn’t much better. Drew is a good player, end of story.

      Of course, most people want passionate fire from their athletes, which Drew doesn’t give. So of course, he gets piled on if anything ever goes wrong, like a 3 game slump or needing days off for an injury, because God forbid a player allows himself to heal up in a nearly pure-skill sport while playing on a team with a replacement corner OF with a highly serviceable .772 OPS. Nah, I’d much rather him play through, Soriano style and have him stink up the joint. And of course God forbid he takes smart routes on fly balls. I’d much rather a Jacoby Ellsbury, Wide Receiver Hitch ‘n’ Go style route resulting in a spectacular diving catch.

      Does Drew deserve to be the highest paid player on the Sox? Probably not. But $14,000,000 a year for constant borderline all star production, for a team w/ the Red Sox bankroll, really isn’t that bad.

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      • Mike says:

        The Boston media, like most sports media over the country, are ignorant hacks. There are exceptions, of course, but “JD Drew hates baseball and shouldn’t be making 14 million for hitting .260″ is a simple, easy concept for the average fan to accept and comprehend. Truth is, a .390 OBP with that fielding is worth well more than $14M in the current market, and if you look at his value section you’ll see he’s been consistently outperforming his salary.

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      • Joe R says:

        I know, I’m a JD Drew fan (obviously). Francona had him hitting 8th (8th!) last night, with righty Hochevar on the mound. Remember the shitfit on here about batting Kemp 8th? This is probably even worse, as Drew is not only one of the more consistent hitters on the team, but he’s killed it in the last 7 weeks. His OPS from the trade deadline on has been 1.030. For simpletons, he’s hitting .310. Sometimes I wish I was just a regular old fan who called into radio stations and bitched about clean uniforms and no heart.

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  10. David A says:

    As a lifelong Braves fan I gotta throw Greg Maddux’s name into this discussion. His run of dominance from 92-95 (when he won 4 straight Cy Youngs) is pretty much unmatched, in my memory. There probably wasn’t a single season where Mad Dog was quite ‘as good’ as Pedro’s 1999 season, but Maddux’s 1995 comes close. 1.63 ERA with ridiculous 181/23 K to BB ratio. Yes, I know his FIP was a good bit higher (2.26) but I honestly don’t trust FIP when it comes to GB pitchers. Maddux pitched to contact, had supreme command of the zone, and got guys out by letting his defense do much of the work. I might be more willing to accept the 1995 ERA as a fluke, except he did it the year before too, when his ERA was even better, at 1.56. Pretty awesome streak. Like the Sox fans talking about their joy watching Pedro pitch every fifth day, I can say that for Braves fans it was pretty much the same with Maddux.

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    • mymrbig says:

      My favorite thing about Maddux during this era is that Sportscenter / Baseball Tonight (can’t remember if it existed yet) would occasionally show every pitch he threw in a complete game (total about 90 pitches). I swear the catcher could close his eyes on most pitches becasue the ball would hit his glove every time.

      Pedro was fun to watch because just about every pitch he threw had the ability to make any hitter look stupide. Upper 90’s cheddar, nasty breaking stuff, filthy change. Ridiculous.

      RJ was fun because he was just such a freak of nature. 6’10” lefty throwing from 3/4 arm slot? With his closer release point, it probably looked like his fastballs were going well over 100.

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    • Travis L says:

      I actually like Maddux more (as a “favorite”) than Pedro, but Pedro was way more dominant. Look at how many guys he struck out! Now, I think I’d prefer to have Maddux on my team (I love me some durability!), I still can’t say that he was very close to Pedro in any of those seasons. Pedro just struck out a million guys, walked nobody, gave up no homers and no hits. Terrifying.

      BTW, anybody else remember the ultimate RJ moment? I think it was spring training, he threw a pitch that hit a bird flying by the plate. The bird EXPLODED. You can find video of it somewhere on teh interweb.

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    • B says:

      I love me some Greg Maddux (even though all he ever did in his career was hurt the Giants), and definitely enjoyed watching him pitch as much as anyone, but he just didn’t peak as high as the other guys. Looking back on his statline you don’t see the same sort of utter dominating run guys like Pedro, Koufax or Johnson had. That said, if I could take the career of any one of them, it’d be Maddux in a heartbeat.

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  11. Jason J says:

    I think it’s safe to say that the 1990-2005 time frame have probably been some of the best for pitchers. Maddux, Pedro, Johnson, etc. Lots of just amazingly great seasons.

    The fact that the impressionable youth phase of my life coincided with it was also great.

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  12. Steve says:

    yup. Prime era Pedro was the best pitcher ever.

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  13. Eric M. Van says:

    I have friends who are complete non-baseball fans, but big-time math-science geeks, i.e., they’re folks who understand the normal distribution of natural phenomena and can appreciate exceptions. I have entertained them greatly by reading the leader boards from those two years in descending order. Especially 2000, where the 2-5 finisher in most stat categories were tightly clustered.

    Let’s play “what’s the next term in this sequence?”!

    ERA: 4.17, 4.14, 4.13, 4.12, 4.11, 3.88, 3.79, 3.79, 3.70 . . .

    How many people had 1.74?

    WHIP: 11.52, 11.48, 11.18, 10.79 …. 7.22

    Opposition OBP: .306, .303, .298, .291 … .213.

    Opposition SLG: .392, .384, .374, .371 … .259.

    This (as well as 1999, of course) is an essentially superhuman performance. If there had been a league as much better than MLB as MLB was to AAA, and then another league with the same performance differential, Pedro would have still been the best pitcher of that league.

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  14. Andrew says:

    Best I’ve ever seen (with nods towards RJ and Maddux).

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  15. Wrighteous says:

    Hmmmm, let’s seee…”superhuman performance….1999…hmmm, i wonder what might have caused this?

    STERRRROIIIIDSSSSSSSSSSS

    DUH

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  16. Wrighteous says:

    No pitcher in the history of baseball put up 11.5+ K/9 until the steroid era. not even close. to think that pedro in 1999 could have so drastically outperformed a field that included both juicers and non-juicers while himself not juicing is absolutley absurd.

    also, he has ties to angel presinal, Arod’s trainer who was caught with a bag of roids in 2001.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/otl/news/story?id=3942011

    also, he is dominican.

    ’nuff said.

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    • Joe R says:

      And is listed generously at 170 lbs. If he did use the stuff, he didn’t get the good stuff.

      And hey, that’s not racist at all. All of them must be roiders. That damn Julio Manon.

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    • Joe R says:

      And Nolan Ryan had 11.48 K/9 in 1987. Dwight Gooden had 11.4 in 1984. So yeah, sweet cherry pick

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    • Wrighteous says:

      ok, but pedro and co. blew those two performances out of the water. not to mention the fact that there is reason to suspect ryan of steroid use late in his career.

      bottom line, if pedro outperformed all other players by so much during a period of rampant steroid use, is it more reasonalbe to call him a freak of nature or a juicer? i know my choice

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      • Joe R says:

        In 1997, the league struck out 29,937 times
        In 1999, the league struck out 31,119 times

        In two years, the league strikeout total increased 4%. That’s significant. It’s gone up since, as well (32,884 in 2008, or 17.53%). Compare to, say, 1961, where the percentage was 13.64%. Was Martinez still an outlier? Of course he was. But when you have thousands upon thousands of pitchers enter the majors, sooner or later, you get an outlier. Not to mention we saw a similar K/9 jump in the 1960’s, when K/9 leads went from mostly 6-7’s to mostly 8-9’s with 10’s thrown in occasionally.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        total K’s have increased even more since then, and yet we do not see the same standout K/9 performances that we did in the late 90’s/early2Ks.

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      • Joe R says:

        So we cherry pick the league leader (read: Randy Johnson or Pedro Martinez most of the time), see their extraordinary K/9, and conclude: steroids.

        Compare Bartolo Colon in 2000 to Justin Verlander in 2009. Colon, btw, finished 2nd in the AL in K/9.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        Wrighteous is a concern troll. Its a silly argument that he makes for a number of reasons, most obviously because Pedro was 170 pounds and threw in the mid-90s. I’m not sure how steroids help a pitcher with command.

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      • Joe R says:

        To be fair (if he does believe what he’s actually saying), a lot of random guys have tested positive.

        That being said, Pedro struck out over 10 per 9 innings his first year as a starter. What was so outlandish in thinking his 7th full year in the majors, he could do real damage to lineups?

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    • James says:

      Ok. If he did do steroids, would you not still be impressed by his peak? Because I would. Besides, he had to face all those roided-out monsters in the batter’s box.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        of course im still impressed, but im also impressed by bonds hitting 73 HRs in 470 ABs…just not as much as i would be if he had hit 73 as a 185 pound 25 year old.

        also, everyone seems to discredit a player like bonds or mac or sosa, like their performances mean little given the fact that they were roid-aided, and then we look back and say “oh man pedro had the most dominant seasons of all time” without even questioning it. its a ludicrous double sstandard, because its not like the evidence isnt there.

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      • Joe R says:

        The evidence? He was a stick. He was pitching against teams that liked to strikeout a lot. Is Lincecum a steroider?

        And no I’m not saying he definitely didn’t do steroids, but this is a stupid causual relationship.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        like i said, i did not mean to say that the 11.5 or 12+ k/9 year was a sure indicator of roid use. i just meant to say that given how considerably pedro outperformed the field during the steroid era, I believe he had to be a steroid user.

        either he is a once in a lifetime, freak of nature, or he took steroids. which do you want to believe? which is a more reasonable conclusion?

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    • B says:

      Maybe Pedro did ‘roids, maybe he didn’t. Who cares. You’re arbitrarily drawing a line, theorizing like you know what the impact of pitchers using steroids is on their strikeout numbers, and ignoring the fact that there may be other trends at play here. Thanks for your insight. I’d recommend you try appreciating a good thing when you see it, especially one that may never happen again. You’ll enjoy watching baseball a lot more.

      (Only 3 different pitchers have ever gone over 11.5 K/9, and they were all during the supposed steroids era, ignoring the fact that steroids have been in baseball since at least the early ’70’s, that’s hardly enough to conclude steroids are needed to break that mark.)

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      • Wrighteous says:

        of all pitching stats though, you would expect strikeouts to be correlated with steroid use, would you not? same way that power numbers were correlated. i am not saying that every pitcher who injected immediatley saw a jump in k/9, just that in the aggregate steroid use had a measurable effect on k/9 numbers.

        I sorta just threw the 11.5 number out there, and, even though it is 100 percent correct that no pitcher ever put up 11.5 k/9 before the roids era, i did not mean for this to be an arbitray indicator of steroid use. i was simply saying that no pitcher had ever surpassed it until the mid 90’s, when it was repeatedly eclipsed by numerous pitchers in a perfect storm of standout k/9 perfromances. it is completely reasonable, imo, to suggest that steroid use had something to do with this, especially considering the way k/9 numbers have dropped since testing. it is simply more than a coincidence.

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      • Joe R says:

        Numerous pitchers?
        If by numerous you mean Martinez, Randy Johnson, and Kerry Wood once, then yes, numerous.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        SEVEN 12+ K/9 seasons in a 10 year period during the steroid era, ZERO 12+ k/9 seasons before or after

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      • Joe R says:

        AND THEY WERE THE SAME 3 FRIGGIN GUYS.
        In fact, it was mostly Randy Johnson, whose K/9 decline is obviously due to getting off steroids. Nope, not aging, steroids.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        whether the number we agree on is 3 or 7, it is still infinitely larger than zero

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      • Joe R says:

        Except infinite implies never ending.
        One 6’10” freak of nature who did it 6 times
        One with a Gibson-esque period of dominance
        and One young phenom who pitched himself into the ground.

        Herb Score struck out 9.7/9 innings in 1955. Mathematically, it was about the exact same level outlier as Martinez in 1999. The leap Martinez made wasn’t even unprecedented in pitching.

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      • B says:

        Honestly, Pedro playing when steroids were prevalent in baseball makes me more suspicious of him than the simple fact that his numbers were amazing.

        “especially considering the way k/9 numbers have dropped since testing”

        K/9 has actually gone up since testing. This year actually has the highest K rate in history. It’s only the leaders that have dropped, and that’s because the guys that were putting up those numbers we’re talking about have gotten old (Johnson, Pedro) or hurt (Wood, Johnson, Pedro). Lincecum last year put up the 32nd highest single season K/9 total in history, and this year (assuming he maintains it) is putting up the 31st highest. That’s pretty good considering there’s only been 12 (if I counted right) total pitchers that have done better (and one of them was Erik Bedard 2007).

        Again, maybe Pedro did ‘roids, maybe he didn’t, but we shouldn’t really be concerned. The media has made this issue so ridiculous, I think we’re best off if we all just ignore it until it goes away (and at that point we can have some rational debates about how it affects historical perspective).

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      • Wrighteous says:

        One 6’10 freak did it six times while peaking in his late 30’s….suspicious? i am.

        you make a good point about herb score. however, like i said below, the modern talent pool is such that over time we should expect fewer and fewer standout performances to occur in the game of baseball. in the very long run (barring team expansion), we could expect to see a league comprised of 700 roughly equal players.

        so, when we compare the modern statistical leaders, or even statistial leaders from the steroid era, to those of the past, we should generally expect to see fewer standout performers, not more.

        pedro’s 1999 year is so vastly better than the mean performer from that year that it is more than reasonable to suggest steroid use.

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      • Joe R says:

        I believe it’d be better to reward who didn’t than punish who did. Assuming we’ve all been right about Jim Thome’s cleanness, for example, doesn’t he suddenly look like a possible all-timer hitter? If he wasn’t MVP in 2002, he should’ve been at least top 2-3.

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      • B says:

        Maybe I’m just not familiar enough with Thome, but what about him makes people think he was clean (other than being American and white, of course)?

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      • Joe R says:

        Probably that he’s fat, and is a big time TTO guy. Basically why the rumblings on players like Howard, Dunn, and Pena are minimal, versus someone like Pujols whose skill set is so spectacular and unusual, it can cast doubt.

        (and maybe a little because he’s white, because, well, some people suck like that).

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      • joser says:

        of all pitching stats though, you would expect strikeouts to be correlated with steroid use, would you not?

        No, I would not. Can you point to a study that demonstrates this correlation? Life, and baseball, are full of “intuitively obvious” correlations that turn out to be completely false or simply non-existent.

        From what I know based on what admitted juicers have said about the effect of steroids, I would expect innings pitched to be correlated, and perhaps velocity (which does not necessarily correlate to strike outs).

        As others have pointed out, K rates have increased during this period of increased testing. Might there be an inverse correlation? Perhaps steroids were somehow helping the hitters avoid striking out (cf Bonds, Barry)? In which case, Pedro’s 1999 in a era of steroid abuse among hitters is all the more remarkable?

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    • neuter_your_dogma says:

      Wow, using this logic Ruth clearly was on the juice.

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      • Joe R says:

        The logic that any outlier must be cheating somehow?

        B-R says 16,631 men have played baseball, we’ll say 40% are pitchers, or about 6,500. In that grouping, there’s going to be outliers. Awesome ones, crappy ones. I mean Neifi Perez tested positive for amphs, so anyone COULD have supped up. The words “look at the stats” isn’t enough proof, though.

        And hey, there’s a reason why people look at Pedro’s 1999 season with amazement but don’t do likewise for Sosa’s seasons. Because Sosa got caught. And because it was obvious the steroids helped Sosa a lot. This is a huge difference.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        not neccesarily, it was a completely different era. given the expanded talent pool for baseball since the 1920’s, it is reasonable to expect fewer standout performances in the game today than it was in ruth’s day. that is to say, there is far less of a difference between a player of median-level talent and a player of exceptional talentin today’s game , than there was between the same two types in the 20’s, thus we should expect less of a difference between the the median/mean of a given statistical and the peak performer in that given category

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      • Joe R says:

        Yeah, except little chart:

        Pedro improved on Ryan’s K/9 by 15% in his 1999 year. Which is a lot…

        Before Ruth, the single season record holder in the WS era was Gavvy Cravath with 24. In 1920, Ruth his 54 home runs, a 125% increase.

        talent gap…8.33x the performance increase.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        that is an apples to oranges comparison. also, it somewhat proves what i had just said, that there was more variation in earlier years of baseball due to a more diluted talent pool.

        there are other reasonable explanations as to why ruth was such a standout hitter, like for instance the newer wooden bats that were used in ruths era and the movement away from the deadball.

        there is no such external explanation for pedro’s standout performance, other than that he is either a once in a lifetime talent, or used roids. i know what my choice is

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      • neuter_your_dogma says:

        “there are other reasonable explanations as to why ruth was such a standout hitter, like for instance the newer wooden bats that were used in ruths era and the movement away from the deadball” If Ruth were the only one using newer wooden bats and hitting livelier balls, I see your point.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        the many successful HR hitters during ruth’s career and after point to the fact that his performances were not as unusual as they might seem at first glance

        also, if those players who set records before ruth had the opportunity to bat with such advantages, perhaps the previous record would have been greater than 29.

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    • Wally says:

      Well batters strike out more now. I guess that’s because they are all juiced up too?

      This doesn’t make a lot of sense. Besides, who cares. Steroids is so old hat now.

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    • mymrbig says:

      Funny thing is that Wrighteousness doesn’t even consider the more likely possibility – that no one achieved 11.5+ K/9 before the steroid era because hitters in previous eras emphasized contact significantly more than they do today.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        This is wrong. A few posts ago I acknowledged how as a whole strikeouts had been trending upward throughout baseball history, particularly starting in the mid 80’s and through the 90’s into the present year.

        I also went further to point out that since steroid testing, overall k/9 in baseball have continued to increase, while standout k/9 performances have actually decreased.

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  17. neuter_your_dogma says:

    No love for the 67-70 Bob Gibson?

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  18. Matt B. says:

    Ahh, 1999 Pedro, my sim league started in 1999 and I had the first overall pick to start a franchise, just guess who I picked??

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  19. Diaz says:

    Please give us all a rational explanation on how steriod use could lead to an increase in strikeouts. Yes there is a level of arm strength and velocity needed to be a dominant strikeout starter, however that is only a small piece of what is required. If that was not the case then we would be discussing how Daniel Cabrera was the greatest starter of all time. Pedro was not great because he could throw a upper 90s fastball, a skill which he lost after his shoulder injury in 2001, but because of his control, the movement of his pitches, and the fact that his arm motion for his FB and his circle change was exactly the same. So Wrighteous please tell me how steriods facilitated those skills. Your argument is this: He was great during the steriods era, therefore he must have done steriods. That is pathetic, please present some actual evidence before you claim that a man has cheated and broken the law.

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    • Wrighteous says:

      results will vary on a case by case basis, but generally speaking, if you throw a baseball harder than i do, you should have an easier time striking people out. i never once said that MPH or arm strength was the key to striking peopel out, i just suggested that they were correllated, which, i believe, has been proven on this very site.

      also:

      “Your argument is this: He was great during the steriods era, therefore he: must have done steriods.”

      way to grossly oversimplify what i have said so far.

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    • B says:

      First of all, there is a rational explanation why steroids could increase strikeouts. An increase in velocity could potentially increase strikeouts (harder fastball, better overall FB/CU combo), as well as allow a pitcher to improve their breaking ball (see Zito this year – higher velocity = better curveball). Also, the healing properties of steroids could possibly prevent pitchers from wearing down as much over the course of a season. Of course this is all theoretical, and as far as I’m aware, there’s no real research as to what effect it has, so I think it’s a bit outlandish to make bold assertions on what it did or did not do. The truth is we don’t know.

      Also, someone could have taken steroids without breaking the law (and it’s arguable that it’s even cheating from a baseball standpoint)…

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      • Wrighteous says:

        i never said explicitly that pedro’s k/9 numbers were due solely to steroids. what i said was that he outperformed the field (a field that included at least some roiders) so considerably that he must have been a user

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      • neuter_your_dogma says:

        Again, using this logic, Ruth did the cream and the clear.

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  20. Joe R says:

    I just want to know if everyone was on steroids, why did only Pedro see such a peak?

    Rest of the league was pretty much K/9’ing like they do now.

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  21. B says:

    Maybe steroids really are as bad as the media’s been telilng me. We should be reflecting on a great performance and thinking about just how ridiculous it was and instead our conversation is ruined by a debate about steroids. I guess they do suck the enjoyment out of the game…

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  22. Diaz says:

    I brought up the fact that velocity is a fundamental ingredient to a pitchers ability to strike out batters as it is the only possible counter agrument that can be made. However correlation does not equal causation. In order to succesfully strike out major league batters with regularity a pitcher must posses other skills other than velocity that are in no way connected or related to arm strength and velocity. Secondly, I mentioned that Pedro continued to dominate after shoulder surgery from the years 2002-2004, in which his velocity was no more than above average. Can you explain that? Can you explain how steriods facilitated his secondary pitches, command, and the movement of his pitches.

    Lastly, despite that my last sentence was a simplification of your arguments, it did in fact summize the central theme of your last several posts, that K ratios of Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson were so much higher than that of other pitchers, that they must have in fact used steriods. Using this logic why dont we investigate Michael Jordon, Wayne Gretzky, Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, and Cristiano Ronaldo. They must be roiding up as well, because they are performing so well compared to their peers from an extended talent pool. The simplist answer is sometimes the most correct. Maybe Pedro and Randy Johnson were just anomalies.

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    • Wrighteous says:

      pedro may have continued to “dominate” from 02-04, but he was a far far far far far far far far, emphasis on FAR less dominant pitcher than he was in 1999. in fact, the drop off in dominance may very well have been commensurate with the drop off in velocity you mentioned.

      look, i dont want to go any further because i dont want to get trapped into claiming that steroids have a measurable effect on things like velocity or breaking pitch movement. i will just say that on average, they are likely to improve a pitchers performance, perhaps in some of the ways you have mentioned. i dont see how i am supposed to definitively prove how steroids would affect a pitcher, and i dont see how the plausibility of my argument hinges on me proving it, since it is generally accepted that steroids improve athletic performance.

      you also bring up other sports, which really have nothing to do with the discussion at hand, because the how unusual a standout performance is will vary from sport to sport, depending on how competetive each sport’s talent pool is

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      • lincolndude says:

        “i dont see how the plausibility of my argument hinges on me proving it, since it is generally accepted that steroids improve athletic performance.”

        Generally accepted doesn’t make anything so. Countless things that we now look at as totally ridiculous were generally accepted for decades or centuries. There is absolutely no scientific evidence out there that shows taking steroids improves performance in professional sports. Even if one accepted that completely, utterly unproven claim — which PED-hawks casually bandy about as fact — the magnitude of the effect would also be totally unknown.

        This is what irritates me the most about people who complain about steroids. There’s just no basis in fact behind any of your claims. At best you can say: “I think so-and-so did steriods [note use of ‘think'; it has not been proven in most cases] and doing steroids is against the rules and thus is cheating.” You can say nothing about if or how it affected performance.

        Well, actually, you CAN say it, but that doesn’t make any of it remotely true, and mainly just makes you sound like an idiot.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        but you cannot discredit my argument based on the fact that i didnt prove that steroids improve athletic performance (which would be impossible for me to do) without completely nullifying any steroid argument ever made.

        thus, brady anderson never took steroids and neither did brett boone, and not only that, there is no way to definitively prove that barry bonds would not have hit 73 HRs at age 38(?) if he had not taken steroids.

        it is generally accepted, based on reasonable assumptions and anecdotal evidence, that steroids improve athletic performance.

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      • Diaz says:

        Tennis, golf, and hockey are popular in more countries than Baseball is. Granted their talent pool is largely based on economics (mainly golf and tennis). Soccer however is much, much more popular than baseball and their talent pool includes practically the entire world. So yeah my examples are related to your assertion that as the talent pool grows, that the likelyhood of standout performers dwindles. Perfect baseball example of this would be Sandy Koufax after integration, albeit not as impressive as Pedro.

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      • lincolndude says:

        That’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m discrediting your argument based on the fact that neither you nor anyone else has proven the underlying assumption. And that goes for all supposed steroid users. Prove that they used. Prove that using helps. Neither you nor anyone else can do either one, and since you can’t, stop trotting out your wild speculation as fact.

        And while we’re at it, what about all the pathetic soapboxing mainstream writers who have decided that they’re qualified to pass moral judgment on topics they know nothing about? Or the tyrannical testing boards for sports like cycling and the Olympics, which force every athlete to subject him or herself to tests of questionable scientific value and ruin people’s careers without giving them a chance to prove their innocence? It’s all a total load of crap. Just stop, all of you.

        One can show pretty much anything with anecdotal evidence. That’s why this and every other steroid argument is ridiculous.

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  23. Diaz says:

    There is also I guess the theoretical benefit that steriods allow players to heal faster from injuries and stay off the DL. Of course we all know Pedro’s biggest strength was durability, so yeah he must have been juiced. Come on, has any legitimate source ever linked Pedro to PEDS? Is there any real indicator out there that could prove that Pedro used PEDS?

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  24. Most Definitely says:

    Wrighteous – I just read about every one of your posts and responses to all of the criticism of your hypothesis. Naturally, afterward I read your critics’ responses. It appears there is a gross lack of common sense from a lot of those who posted.

    I commend you for not losing your temper, providing clear and concise analysis, and responding to just about everyone who attacked your theory. In the end, to any intellectual, there is no debate as to who better made their point.

    What you are claiming of Pedro (PED user) seems most likely. Is it that far-fetched that he used when his prominent teammates were juicing? Furthermore, people that look at Pedro and say he couldn’t have juiced because he was skinny has clearly never been exposed to steroid usage in their lifetime. And comparing his feats to anything Babe Ruth has done is just obnoxious.

    Thanks for providing legitimate, intelligent commentary. I appreciate your effort in this matter and enjoyed your comments. I just wanted to let you know that there are a lot of fans who support for your theory despite the lack thereof on this fan site.

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    • BIP says:

      I don’t see how it’s intelligent to baselessly discredit the accomplishments of the game’s greatest players.

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    • Diaz says:

      Except, he has done nothing to prove that steriods could have helped improve his performance in any drastic way. He has rightfully mentioned that steriod use could theoretically improve velocity, however has failed to address any of the other required skills needed by an effective pitcher. With that, he has also been building his theory around the false belief that Pedro was a flamethrower throughout most of his peak, of which he was not. But yeah besides that he has totally proven his point. Maybe those making comparisons to Babe Ruth and mentioning his small frame are not making the most legitimate of arguments. However of all the valid points made, he has made no attempt to address them.

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    • Teej says:

      In the end, to any intellectual, there is no debate as to who better made their point.

      If lazy, speculation and logical fallacies like this:

      “what i said was that he outperformed the field (a field that included at least some roiders) so considerably that he must have been a user”

      is intellectualism, then we’re all hosed. Drawing definitive conclusions with no evidence other than “he was even better than the steroid users so he must have taken steroids too because I can’t think of another explanation” is not an exercise in intellectualism. He’s ignoring all the other potential factors. He does this all the time.

      Pedro definitely could have been using. I wouldn’t put it past anyone in baseball. But accusing people of doing something I can’t prove has never been a hobby of mine. Sometimes players are just amazing.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        see i believe pedro’s numbers, because they are “so considerably” better than his contemporaries, do amount to proof–enough proof for me to conclude that he took steroids.

        my statement is NOT a logical fallacy. it is not meant to apply broadly to any player from any era. i never said that any player who outperforms the field took steroids, nor did i say that any player who outperformed the field to the same degree that pedro did took steroids. i just mean that in pedro’s case, given the era in which he performed and the nature of his dominance (his particularly high k-rate), i think his outstanding performance is indicative of steroid use.

        obviously i will never be able to prove anything, but i guess unlike you i do not think that is enough reason to not consider the possibility that pedro used, and at least make some judgment on the likelihood that he used based on his performance.

        also, i think it is unfair that this kind of speculation is so unpopular. i dont see why, for example, the court of public opinion has convicted a guy like brady anderson, but has left players like pedro unscathed.

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    • Wrighteous says:

      thank you for the support. i think a lot of people come in here already having decided that pedro is 100 percent clean. i hope at least a little debate will plant a seed of doubt in their minds.

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      • Diaz says:

        So you do admit that your argument is basically “Pedro Martinez played so well in a generation tainted by steriods, that he himself must have been a PED user”.

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    • Joe R says:

      Nice strawman, Most Definitely. “I can’t refute what the posters are saying, so I’ll say they’re calling Pedro definitely clean, say that’s wrong, and say Wrighteous is a genius.”

      Except none of us know if Pedro was clean. I can’t say anyone’s definitely clean. None of us can. The points were:

      1) Using his K/9 rate to determine roid usage is stupid. His jump was far from unprecidented historically, and far less unexpected than, say, Sandy Koufax’s.

      2) Steroids in general are a dumb topic that is brought up by mostly moralists, most of which were nowhere to be found in 98 when everyone was smiling while tree-arms McGwire was slugging 70 HR.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        1. i never attempted to “prove” pedro took steroids using k/9. i just simply looked at his overall level of dominance, and then looked at his level of dominance in a particular statistical category (k/9) that would likely be correlated with steroid usage, and said it was reasonable to suggest steroid use. the same thing is done with hitters all the time. i mentioned brady anderson and brett boone before.

        what if i said to you, that the confluence of high 30s to 40 hr-hitting catchers in the late 1990’s and 2000 could have been the result of steroid use. and what if i went further to say that i believed it was the result of steroid use. it is an analagous scenario; a statistal trend that popped up in the steroid era that reflects an unprecedented level of dominance (considering the position) in a statistical category that presumably would be correlated with steroid use, that no longer exists in today’s game. would there have been as much of a reaction?

        2. this does not apply to what i said. i never once tried to make the question of pedros steroid use a moral question. i do not mean to suggest he was a cheater, or he committed a crime and deserves to be punished, or worse, he was some sort of bad role model for kids or something. i just want to impartially bring up the possiblity of steroid use, given the unusual nature of his dominance. i think we are at the point in the post-steroid-era where we can consider these things without discussing nonsense moral questions.

        i believe the moral sensitivity is on your end, since you appear to think that is some sort of travesty that a player like pedro could have used steroids, and that we should defend him at all costs from such accusations because they are so morally damaging, even if the accusations are reasonable.

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  25. Juan says:

    What I find most troubling about Wrighteous comments was:”also, he is dominican.

    ’nuff said.

    Dude, what era are you living in?

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    • Wrighteous says:

      that was meant to be kind of a joke. there is no denying, however, the disproportionate number of dominicans who have tested positive so far.

      you have to remember that pedro was not some all-american schoolboy-star athlete from the suburbs who could have fallen back on an accounting job if the whole baseball thing didnt work out. it is not unreasonable to suggest that, given his background, he was more likely to have taken steroids than other players were.

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      • Diaz says:

        Yeah, racial humor is hillarious. And there is nothing bigoted about profiling people because of their nationality. I could see how this would make sense to someone who thinks accusing people of PED use on absolutely no shred of evidence.

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      • Diaz says:

        sorry for the incomplete sentence I meant to say …….
        Yeah, racial humor is hillarious. And there is nothing bigoted about profiling people because of their nationality. I could see how this would make sense to someone who thinks accusing people of PED use on absolutely no shred of evidence is acceptable.

        By the way smart guy, Pedro Martinez was studying to become a doctor before he got drafted and his family was already rich because of Ramon’s success.

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      • B says:

        There is definitely some amount of underlying racism in how players are viewed in public opinion. That much is true. Throwing out the fact that Pedro is Dominican, however, may not be any sort of discrimination. It is in fact a valid point. A disproportionately high number of Latin American players (including Dominicans) have tested positive for steroids compared to American players. Maybe it’s because some of their legal stuff is tainted without their knowledge, maybe it’s because it’s easier to get steroids in those areas, maybe it’s simply a socio-economic situation, I don’t know nor do I care to speculate. What I do know is the fact exists that they test positive in a higher proportion than they should.

        If someone’s building a case around circumstantial evidence (which he’s been doing), that’s certainly relevant circumstantial evidence. Was it motivated by racial aspects? Maybe, but maybe not. Denouncing the argument as racism without acknolwedging the possibility it’s not is just as unreasonable as a person being racist to begin with. It shows a complete lack of understanding and willingness to examine another point of view that might be contrary to your own.

        That said, this is still a stupid debate that’s ruining what could have been a great conversation on some of history’s great performances. Nobody knows if Pedro used or not, both sides are certainly possible, so why don’t we just acknowledge we don’t know and move on. Rediscover the things you love about baseball instead of focusing on the stupidity of how the steroids issue is viewed.

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      • Diaz says:

        B you are correct that there is a dispropotionate number of Dominicans who have tested positive for steriods and that could be the result of many factors. However just saying that “He is Dominican, nuff said” is in fact borderline racist. If someone said that “Carl Crawford may have been in a gang as a teenager because he is black nuff said” and defended that statement by claiming that there is a dispropotionate number of African American youths in gangs, he would be rightfully called a racist correct?

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  26. WilsonC says:

    Steroids don’t magically add to stats. Rather, they improve physical attributes that may help a player achieve those stats.

    In the case of pitchers, where might we expect to see this increase? Velocity? Durability? Young Pedro threw quite hard, but he was not unusual in his velocity. There are pitchers drafted every year who throw as hard. He was not an overly durable pitcher, that being the only real weakness in his pitching. Why should one assume that his performance is helped by steroid use when his physical attributes that might be aided by PED’s were not anything spectacular?

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    • Matt says:

      Because steroids help you throw a great changeup and breaking ball, duh.

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      • B says:

        Well, there’s definitely a reasonable argument that they may. If you buy that steroids increase velocity, the next step is the effect the velocity has on those pitches. A FB/CU combo with more velocity may be more effective than one with less. More velocity on a breaking ball also might let the player snap it off with more spin (and I recently did read an article that correlated higher velocity fastballs with more effective breaking balls, I believe it was a Fangraphs article), making it a more effective pitch. Do we know if steroids make this possible? Absolutely not. There’s enough reason to at least acknowledge the possibility, though.

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  27. dprat says:

    To spend your time denigrating players (Pedro is one of dozens Wrighteous has thrown under the bus) without any credible evidence is a sad, sad thing that suggests far more about the commenter than about those commented upon. One of the reasons many of us watch sports is precisely because you see things that defy expectations, that seem beyond human abilities. Mexico City, 1968 – Bob Beamon breaks the LJ record by 22 freakin’ inches! A 22 inch improvement on a “talent pool” that included the whole world! There was then and is now no explanation (studies say altitude might account for 4-5 inches of that, but 22!). Until I have real evidence to the contrary, I’ll revel in such accomplishments, whether single events or seasons or whole careers, perhaps because these are human triumphs, and of what they suggest about what any of us might be capable of.

    And, no, “he’s Dominican” doesn’t count as credible evidence. That’s plainly a racist argument, which Wrighteous then tries to pass off as “kind of a joke” but then repeats it in slightly altered form. Nice.

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    • Wrighteous says:

      if african american athletes had been allowed to compete in track and field events in the olympics before the 1960s, one could guess that the record previous to beamon’s would have been better. over time, more and more countries have started to compete in the olympics–started with 14 in 1896, now we have over 200 represented.

      i have said that over time a talent pool for a given sport should become larger and larger, and over time you should see a corresponding drop in outstanding performances for that sport, all things equal. using an example from the 1968 olympics does not in any way disprove that point.

      also, FACT: a disporoportiane number of dominicans have tested positive so far under baseballs steroid policy. i brought this up more to make a point about how the circumstances under which pedro was “raised” as a basball player–his environment–might make him more likely to try steroids. all things equal, his actual race has nothing to do with it, just the circumstances that his nationality imply. it was a nuture argument, not a nature argument.

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      • Joe R says:

        “if african american athletes had been allowed to compete in track and field events in the olympics before the 1960s…”

        Like how the USA prevented Jesse Owens from competing in Berlin, right?

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      • Wrighteous says:

        ok, i was wrong to say that, but there is no arguing that certain races and nationalities were restricted from performing in the olympics in the early 20th century.

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      • Joe R says:

        Of course not, but in many countries, it was an economic issue and being unable to field Olympic teams.

        BTW out of 141 medals in Track and Field at Beijing, 66 (almost half) were won by 4 countries (USA, Russia, Jamaica, Kenya). Just because there’s increased competition doesn’t eliminate the possibility of an outlier. Like, say, Usain Bolt.

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      • B says:

        It’s standard deviation people. Larger sample size decreases standard deviation, making everyones performance fall in a tighter band. This doesn’t eliminate the possibility of an outlier, just decrease the probability of it happening.

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      • Joe R says:

        Thank you.
        I just did an unbiased linear regression of his first 7 seasons (unbiased to minimize the influence of his big K/9 year) and got this:

        y = 7.966 + .523x (x – # of years).

        Standard Percent Error: 16.17%
        R-squared: 42.11% (so take it with a grain of salt but…)

        Y(7) = 11.63. Given Pedro’s career progression, he was well within a possible range of performance (His increase above the predicted value was 14%)

        Prefer plain ole additive error? Okay. About the same equation (y = 7.966 + .52x). R-squared of 42% again. Standard error of 1.62. Pedro’s year 7 difference from the predicted value? 1.59.

        So yes, it is very possible, given Pedro’s prior year performances, to have performed the way he did.

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      • dprat says:

        “over time a talent pool for a given sport should become larger and larger, and over time you should see a corresponding drop in outstanding performances for that sport”

        Beamon’s jump clearly illustrates what “should” happen doesn’t always, a point illustrated dramatically in the series of numbers here:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_jump_world_record_progression

        And, I’ll note that someone wishing to make the claim, whether true or not, that you are racist would actually have something direct to offer, i.e., your own words, which is a far, far higher standard of evidence than you have for your claims of steroid usage by Pedro and others.

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      • Joe R says:

        Hell, look at the 100 meter WR progression
        1991-1994: 9.86
        1994-1996: 9.85
        1996-1999: 9.84
        1999-2002: 9.79
        2002-2005: 9.78
        2005-2007: 9.77
        2007: 9.74

        What is it now?

        9.58
        Despite sprinting being one of the most participated-in sports on the planet, in 2 years, we’ve seen one man knock 50% more off the record than in the 16 years previously. Outliers happen. Greatness can happen. If A, then B, is a terrible argument.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        forget for a second the fact that track and field athletes in specific and the olympics in general are notorious for steroid use, and please re-read the talent pool argument i made before.

        i do not mean to say that records will cease to be broken after a certain point. i just mean that over time, performances WITHIN a given population will vary less and less, and you will be LIKELY to see fewer outliers. your point about track and field does not disprove my point if you do not show that these record-breaking performance stand out by an increasing level from the mean of the performances for that year.

        even if you did, to ignore the likely effects of steroid use in a sport like the 100m dash over the period you are referring to is ridiculous.

        your argument about pedro’s career pogression has nothing to do with anything ive said so far.

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      • Joe R says:

        Track and field has strong testing policies, and a positive test strikes your time from the record book. You won’t find Ben Johnson, Justin Gatlin, or Tim Montgomery in there.

        Fact is, you’re still making a ridiculous argument. You’re saying “because there’s less of a chance of an outlier, a player who is an outlier must be cheating.” That’s dumb. Outliers exists. Outliers will always exist.

        Factor in also that Martinez was way more known for the movement and location of his pitches than the actual velocity, and your argument essentially becomes “If A, then B” nothingness.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        “because there’s less of a chance of an outlier, a player who is an outlier must be cheating.”

        Never made it that general. In every post I have been talking about pedro as a specific case, and said that the relative greatness of his performance, combined with other circumstancial factors, make me think he took steroids.

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      • Joe R says:

        So why the hell is Pedro a specific case? Why is he the one on the shitlist and not Randy Johnson, or outliers in other sports like Michael Phelps? Because of “circumstancial evidence” aka his ethnicity? Who cares if it’s statistically accurate that Dominicans have been disproportionately caught on the juice, that’s dumb.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        i would agree with you that randy also took steroids. the circumstantial evidence for him would be his age, he had his best years from 36-38.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        Wrighteous, in what ways would steroids have directly increase Pedro’s strikeout rates?

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    • Wrighteous says:

      Exactly B. and, if you are going to argue that standout/outlier performances can be achieved in a modern competative popluation with a large talent pool that is free from steroids then i hardly suggest using the olympics as an example.

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      • Diaz says:

        Diego Maradona? Pele? There have been outliers like Pedro in a Sport whose talent pool is at least 10 times the size of Baseball. Your talent pool theory does not hold up in this argument.

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      • Wrighteous says:

        i am not going to get in an argument about soccer cause i know very little about it. again, i never said that it was impossible to have outliers. i just said that the likelihood of outliers (especially extreme ones like pedro) should decrease over time assuming an ever-increasing talent pool. in theory, i dont see how you could disagree with this.

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      • Joe R says:

        No one disagrees with this, what people disagree on is using it as evidence for steroid usage.

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      • Diaz says:

        We all understand the fact that when the talent pool grows the likelyhood of outliers does infact decrease. What we disagree about is that the rate of decrease would make it impossible for outliers to exist. Furthermore we mainly disagree that a players performance, especially when it follows a rather normal career trajectory is evidence enough of PED use. I also disagree with your assertion that steriod use could have greatly effected Pedro’s performance as he was in fact not a flamethrower for must of his career, despite his reputation, and that his success was mainly the result of non velocity based atributes. Though of course a more effective FB does make a change up more effective.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        From which population are you calling Pedro an outlier from?

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  28. Jeff K says:

    I think DC mixed up average FIP and replacement level FIP in this article. I think your calculation showed that Pedro was 10 wins better than average, not replacement level. Did anyone see this?

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  29. Jeff K says:

    Wait, nevermind, I see what he did.

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  30. Nick says:

    We need to petition MLB/the Red Sox to release a DVD of all of Pedro’s starts from 99 and 2000. I imagine they’d be more open to it after he retires/goes to the HoF.

    You can currently buy his 17 K performance in Yankee Stadium on iTunes.

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    • Wrighteous says:

      here is something i can agree with. i was actually at pedro’s 17k game in yankee stadium. it was incredible, the best baseball game ive ever been to, better than the endy chavez catch game in 2k6. i would love to go back and watch pedro pitch in his prime.

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    • RPMcSweeney says:

      Can you point to his 17 K performance on iTunes? I searched for all MLB content, but they only seem to offer games from the last two or three seasons.

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  31. dprat says:

    I’ll summarize and be done with this particular waste of time. Wrighteous’ argument:

    1) Pedro was very, very good at a time when some baseball players used steroids
    2) Pedro knew a guy who knew a guy
    3) “He’s Dominican”

    Now two statements:

    A = “Pedro used steroids”
    B = “Wrighteous is racist”

    On the basis of evidence provided in this thread, I’d say:

    P(B)>P(A)

    Though neither would reach any kind of threshold we should feel comfortable with, I still think it might be worthwhile to post this as a response to future Wrighteous claims re: steroids use:

    P(Wrighteous is racist)>P(player X used steroids)

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    • Wrighteous says:

      racism argument is silly.

      a disporoportiane number of dominicans have tested positive so far under baseballs steroid policy. i brought this up more to make a point about how the circumstances under which pedro was “raised” as a basball player–his environment–might make him more likely to do steroids. all things equal, his actual race has nothing to do with it, just the circumstances that his nationality imply. it was a nuture argument, not a nature argument.

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  32. Sean Serritella says:

    Hey douche. Did you ever think that Pedro used steroids?

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  33. Sean Serritella says:

    The thing is, no athlete can dominate a league full of steroid users without using steroids themselves.

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    • Joe R says:

      And here we go again.

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      • Joe R says:

        Note the excellent use of the articulate term “douche”.

        I kind of feel bad for Dave Cameron at this point, he can’t write anything without it either getting trolled or attacked by a small and critical readership. Sure some of his stuffs misses the mark, but I’d sure love to be Bill Plaschke / Wojo / etc and just hack attack it to big bucks.

        (I do find it funny though that a lot of the smartest writing out there comes from KC, maybe the Royals should let the local sports media run the team).

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      • B says:

        It is sad to see an interesting conversation topic, in a forum where a lot of smart debate and analysis goes on at times, ruined by steroids banter. I can see why Dave gets frustrated with his readers on occasion.

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      • Joe R says:

        Sometimes he goes into attack mode way too soon, but when topics like this get ruined by people just trying to stir shit, basically.

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      • Dave B. Wagner says:

        I can’t remember the last time the comments section contributed to a Fangraphs article in any positive way.

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      • Joe R says:

        Commenting’s good. Disagreeing is good. Trolling the comments with an abstract argument for the purpose of annoying everyone is what sucks and turns it into mlb.com forums or yahoo answers where the idiots who think the Yankees should sit Rivera vs. Boston due to bad history (among other things) lurk.

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  34. Much of the increase of strikeouts over this time is likely due to hitters swinging for more power. If you graph the change in SO/Game vs SLG from year to year since 1986 you can see a very good correlation resulting in an rsquared of 0.85.

    If you look at the “steroid era” from 1990-2003 the correlation is up to 0.88, but since then there has been an inverse relationship as strikeouts continue to climb and SLG fell.

    Also from your idea that outliers of K/9 prove steroid use then Roger Clemens is clean. His K/9 rate compared to league average actually fell when he turned 30 and continued until reaching league average in his final season. His skills as he aged counted on a gain in BB/9 against the league average, which I’m assuming has little to do with steroid use.

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  35. Mark says:

    Not only was that the best season of all-time, but Pedro was the best pitcher of all-time. I don’t care about 300 wins and other overall career stats. Take Pedro’s best 5 years and tell me someone who had a better 5.

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    • B says:

      I think a lot of people will agree with you that Pedro’s peak was better than anyone else’s (myself included). Does that make him the best pitcher of all-time, though? It’s a lot harder to argue he’s the best pitcher of all time when you’d rather have Greg Maddux’s career than Pedro’s. Or for that matter, RJ’s, Clemens’, and possibly even Smoltz’s or Glavine’s (of this era of pitchers). I dunno, it’s a pretty subjective debate that there’s no real right answer to.

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  36. Ethan says:

    Jim Rice, on a “Ask Jim Rice” blog for some tire company, said that from what he saw of Zack on Tuesday, he doesn’t think he’s as dominant as Pedro in his prime.

    Two things:

    1) OBVIOUSLY he’s not as dominant as Pedro was; but that said…

    2) Zack’s Game Score from Tuesday: 70.
    Pedro’s average GS, 1999: 69.

    So what, exactly, did Rice see on *Tuesday* that made him say this?

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  38. Maryln Orear says:

    Haha this guy says he discovered some Runescape hacks… do you think he’s for real? Is that even possible since Runescape is a client side game?

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  39. On the topic of Facebook… this girl put up a website with the best Facebook statuses… some of em are actually good lol

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