The Rocket vs. Pedro
Does It Get Any Better Than This?
American League Championship Series. New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox. Game Three. Series Tied 1-1. Roger Clemens vs. Pedro Martinez. Red Sox aces past and present. Nine Cy Young Awards. Clemens scheduled to pitch at Fenway Park for the last time. Tickets going for more than $1,000 on eBay. A surefire ESPN Sports Classic.
Clemens and Martinez have faced each other four times in their careers but only once in the postseason. The following is a brief review of their matchups:
The first time they went head to head was in the ALCS on October 16, 1999. Clemens lasted only two-plus innings and allowed five runs on six hits and two walks. Martinez pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out 12 as the Red Sox pummeled their arch rivals 3-1 at Fenway Park.
The second head-to-head confrontation took place on May 28, 2000. Martinez outdueled Clemens in a 2-0 Red Sox victory, tossing a complete game shutout while scattering four hits and striking out nine. Clemens also pitched a complete game, allowing only five hits while striking out a season high 13 batters. Trot Nixon hit a two-run home run with two outs in the top of the ninth inning to beat Clemens and the Yankees. After hitting two batters, Pedro induced Tino Martinez to ground out to second with the bases loaded to end the game.
The third matchup occurred less than three weeks later on June 14, 2000 but failed to fulfill the excitement of the previous game as The Rocket left the game after only one inning with a strained groin, an injury that placed him on the disabled list the following day. Pedro went six innings and allowed one run but did not get credit for the victory as Boston rallied late to defeat New York, 2-1.
The last time Clemens and Martinez paired up was on April 14, 2001. The Yankees won, 3-2, but neither Clemens (6 IP, 2 R, 5 K) nor Martinez (7 IP, 2 R, 9 K) were involved in the decision.
Boston Red Sox, 3-1. New York Yankees, 1-3. Pedro Martinez, 2-0 with a 0.93 ERA. Roger Clemens, 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA.
Rather than writing a preview of this afternoon's game (several of which can be found on espn.com, mlb.com, and a multitude of baseball blogs), I thought it made more sense to provide a Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT stamp on this historic matchup.
The Rocket vs. Pedro:
G GS CG IP H R ER HR BB SO W L Clemens 607 606 117 4278.2 3677 1672 1517 321 1379 4099 310 160 Martinez 355 288 41 2079 1553 667 597 149 554 2426 166 67CAREER RATE STATS
ERA WHIP BAA OBP SLG OPS Clemens 3.19 1.18 .231 .295 .339 .634 Martinez 2.58 1.01 .206 .266 .315 .581ALL-TIME LEADERS (1900-2003)
RUNS SAVED ABOVE AVERAGE RSAA 1 Lefty Grove 668 2 Walter Johnson 643 3 Roger Clemens 613 4 Greg Maddux 540 5 Grover C Alexander 524 6 Randy Johnson 461 7 Pedro Martinez 453 8 Christy Mathewson 405 9 Tom Seaver 404 10 Carl Hubbell 355Clemens has led the league in Runs Saved Above Average (RSAA) six times (1986, 1990-1992, 1997, and 1998). Martinez has led the league four times (1997, 1999, 2000, and 2003). [The RSAA totals are the amount of runs that a pitcher saved vs. what an average pitcher would have allowed under the same conditions. It's essentially the same stat as Total Baseball's Pitching Runs. The stats are adjusted for the year, league, and home ballpark in an attempt to compare the player's performance to the average player in his environment.]
ERA DIFF PLAYER LEAGUE
ERA RATE PLAYER LEAGUE
Clemens has led the league in ERA six times (1986, 1990-1992, 1997, and 1998). Martinez has led the league five times (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, and 2003).
HITS/9 IP DIFF PLAYER LEAGUE
HITS/9 IP RATE PLAYER LEAGUE
Clemens has led the league in hits per nine IP three times (1986, 1994, and 1998). Martinez has led the league five times (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, and 2003).
BASERUNNERS/9 IP DIFF PLAYER LEAGUE
BASERUNNERS/9 IP RATE PLAYER LEAGUE
Clemens has led the league in baserunners per nine innings twice (1986 and 1997). Martinez has led the league five times (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, and 2003).
STRIKEOUTS DIFF PLAYER LEAGUE
STRIKEOUTS RATE PLAYER LEAGUE
Clemens has led the league in strikeouts five times (1988, 1991, 1996-1998). Martinez has led the league three times (1999, 2000, and 2002). Clemens has led the league in strikeouts per nine innings three times (1988, 1996, and 1998). Martinez has led the league five times (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, and 2003).
STRIKEOUTS/WALKS DIFF PLAYER LEAGUE
STRIKEOUTS/WALKS RATE PLAYER LEAGUE
Clemens has led the league in strikeouts divided by walks four times (1987, 1988, 1990, and 1992). Martinez has led the league three times (1999, 2000, and 2002).
WINS DIFF PLAYER LEAGUE
WINS RATE PLAYER LEAGUE
Clemens has led the league in wins four times (1986, 1987, 1997, and 1998). Martinez has led the league once (1999).
WINNING PERCENTAGE PCT 1 Pedro Martinez .712 2 Sam Leever .692 3 Whitey Ford .690 4 Lefty Grove .680 5 Randy Johnson .669 6 Vic Raschi .667 7 Christy Mathewson .665 8 Roger Clemens .660 9 Sal Maglie .657 10 Andy Pettitte .656Clemens has led the league in winning percentage three times (1986, 1987, and 2001). Martinez has led the league three times (1999, 2002, and 2003).
Conclusion: We're looking at two of the ten best pitchers of all time. Clemens has better career totals and Martinez has better rate stats. One could argue that The Rocket could be ranked as high as third all time based on quantitative stats, while a case could be made that Pedro is number one all time based on qualitative stats. As it currently stands, Roger's combination of cumulative and rate stats are superior to Pedro's. The latter's cumulative totals will obviously grow over time, but his rate stats may slip slightly as he ages. In any event, Clemens and Martinez rank high enough in both departments to warrant inclusion among the Top Ten Pitchers of All Time.
Getting back to the matchup at hand, October 11, 2003 may not be Ali vs. Frazier (III)--aka The Thrilla in Manila--but it has the potential of becoming one of the most talked about baseball games ever. As famed boxing announcer Michael Buffer would say, "Let's Get Ready to Rumble".