There Are No Words

Pedro Martinez‘s 1999/2000 seasons are probably the best stretch of pitching in baseball history. His numbers are just hilarious when you look back at them – in 1999, he put up a line of 1.56 BB/9, 13.20 K/9, and 0.38 HR/9, good for a 1.39 FIP. Don’t like the fact that he had a high BABIP that year? Then pick 2000, when his ratios fell all the way to 1.33 B/99, 11.78 K/9, and 0.78 HR/9, but his BABIP was .253, which helped push his ERA to just 1.74.

Regardless of which year you prefer, both are historically great. And if you didn’t get to see it happen, you’re seeing it again with Cliff Lee in the playoffs.

0.38 BB/9, 12.75 K/9, and 0.38 HR/9 through three starts, good for a 0.91 FIP. It’s not like he’s getting all that lucky on home runs either – his xFIP is 1.34. This is Pedro-in-his-prime stuff, but he’s doing it against the best teams in the best league in games that are basically do-or-die. If there have been better performances in playoff history, they aren’t that much better, and they probably didn’t come back to back to back. This is a legend in the making.

We will all tell our children about these three starts. If he does this again in Game 7 to win the ALCS for the Rangers, we’ll be wondering where this ranks in the history of sport.

On the biggest possible stage, Cliff Lee is pitching about as well as anyone has ever pitched. He deserves every accolade thrown his way. As Jerry Crasnick said, we are running out of adjectives to describe him.

All we can do is enjoy it. We may never see anything like this again.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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Cliff Lee
Cliff Lee

I just wanted to make sure they knew how good I really am… you know, for the negotiations next month. 6y @ $30m good? I think so.