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Pedro Wins 1999 Cy Young Award
His 1999 season was one of the best in history, especially considering the offensive era baseball's in right now. Pedro went 23-4, with a 2.07 ERA and a club record 313 strikeouts. He struck out 15 or more batters 6 times, including 17 in a one-hitter against the Yankees on September 10. He allowed only 37 walks (the lowest total in history for a member of the 300-strikeout club!) and gave up only 9 home runs, none of them with runners on base.
Manager Jimy Williams says, "It's pretty special just to have the opportunity to watch this man pitch every game. I've seen guys win games but not with the strikeouts. All kinds of different pitches. I've never seen anything like this. You see him one time, and you say, 'Wow, look at that!' But how many times have you seen him do this? I really don't know how you can put in perspective what we're seeing out here."
But I'm going to try.
His ERA of 2.07 was 1.37 points lower than the 3.44 of league runner-up David Cone of the Yankees, and 2.80 lower than the league average. There have been just two other occasions - Dazzy Vance in 1930 and Greg Maddux in 1994 - when the pitcher with the league's best ERA was more than a run better than the runner-up. Pedro struck out 313 batters, 113 more than runner-up Chuck Finley of the Angels. Opponents batted a league-low .205 against him, 70 points below the league average. He averaged 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings, more than five more a game than runner-up Finley, and his 1.6 walks per nine innings were just behind Gil Heredia of Oakland (1.5). In this age of offense, Pedro was able to completely dominate the league.
And even though it didn't count in the Cy Young voting, who could forget his dominating performance in the All-Star Game? He struck out all but one of the batters he faced, winning the game's M.V.P. before the hometown crowd. And then there was his heroic performance in the final Division Series game against Cleveland. With his back hurting and the team wondering if he'd be able to throw more than a couple of pitches, he held the Indians hitless for six innings, just when the team needed him the most.
But Pedro brings so much more to the team. His warm personality, his off-the-field charity, his enthusiasm for the game, and the electricity he brings to Fenway Park make him a joy to watch.
Q: Pedro, your reaction to winning this award. It wasn't much of a surprise, was it?
Pedro Martinez: No, it wasn't at all. I pretty much expected it. But it's always nice to know you're receiving an award like this. It's always a pleasure to be able to get it.
Q: Pedro, what do you think your chances are in the MVP voting? If you were a voter, would you say you, or Manny Ramirez, or somebody else?
Pedro Martinez: I think my chances are the same as everybody else's. We all have good numbers and we're all in the pile. Whatever happens, happens.
Q: Since you were pitching in the American League this time around and facing the designated hitter and your ERA was at least one run better than the next best starter, do you appreciate this one more, or do you look at it the same as the first one?
Pedro Martinez: Well, the first one is always special. But this one in the American League makes me feel special, especially because it is a different league. You probably do face a lot more offense than you do in the National League. It's always special, it doesn't matter where you get it or when you get it. I feel really lucky to win it, not only once, but twice and in different leagues.
Q: During the season your back was still bothering you at the end of the playoffs. How do you feel now and what have you been doing since the end of the season?
Pedro Martinez: I have been taking care of it. I have my therapist here working with me every day and I am also doing a lot of swimming. I'm not really doing any exercise or any weights, but I'm doing a lot of swimming and a lot of therapy and it feels a lot better. It feels completely normal right now.
Q: Who would you pick for MVP and what would it mean to you, there are so many great names, Kirk Gibson, Sandy Koufax, guys who have been Cy Young and MVP in the same year?
Pedro Martinez: It would mean a lot, probably a little more than just winning this Cy Young alone. I already achieved that. The MVP would be something different, especially to a pitcher. It would be great if I could get it, and go to that list of names you mentioned and it would be great. I would probably pick Nomar for MVP.
Q: Pedro, when you look at your numbers and what you did this season, can you see yourself improving and if so, how?
Pedro Martinez: I don't know. I can't really tell you what's going to happen away from the field. I have to go to the field and see it happen. A lot of people asked me the same thing last year when I won 19 at Fenway and I answered back with another great season. I hope I can do it again. I don't see why I can't -- I'm still young and healthy. You just have to go to the field and expect to do it.
Q: You put yourself at physical risk a couple of times this season by pitching when you were less than 100% and you maybe paid a little bit of a price for it. Would you do it again if you had it all to do again? Do you worry about jeopardizing your future?
Pedro Martinez: I'm out there for the team. Whatever happened is the team's decision. Whatever I can do to help the team, even if I'm not 100%, I'm going to do it and I don't regret doing it. I think I would do it not once, but twice, three times if I have to help my team to win a championship or a World Series. Of course, I have to worry, but that's what it's all about. If I end my career playing the game, it was meant to happen. I hope to end my career like everybody else, because of getting old and deciding to leave. You have to take the chances.
Q: There are a lot of people who don't think pitchers should qualify for the MVP award because they're not on the field as much as the position players.
Pedro Martinez: I don't see why, otherwise we should be erased from the roster and not be there. Not be the #1 starter, not be the ace, whatever -- what about a DH? It would be nice to be able to go into the clubhouse in between pitches and analyze every pitch I threw to the batter. Some hitters take a hack and go right in and analyze their at bats and the way the pitches moved and the way the pitcher is throwing. They can see location, signs, and everything. You can't discriminate against a pitcher because he's not out there every day. If I could be out there every day I would, but my abilities are to throw the ball over 90 mph and pitch. That's why we are chosen as pitchers. If we're one of the 25 players, than we qualify like everybody else. There shouldn't be discrimination against any pitcher or player. You have to give credit to the one who has it. If I win, fine. If I don't, that's fine too. There's no crying in baseball.
Q: Pedro, what about winning 30 games in a season? You started 15-2 this season. What would it take to win 30 games? Was this your best chance or do you think it could actually happen again?
Pedro Martinez: I think it could happen, but it's going to be difficult, very difficult to get because of the way the rotation is these days. You also have to have every little break, get every decision. It's like being perfect for one year. I think my best chances were this year. Like I said, you have to be perfect. You can't get hurt, you can't have too many no-decisions, you can't lose too many games. You have to be perfect in winning. You have to give the team a quality outing every time you go out there and that's hard to do.
Q: You gave your National League Cy Young to your baseball hero, Juan Marichal. What are you going to do with this one?
Pedro Martinez: I'm going to take it home and share it with my people. I'm going to bring it to the Dominican and put it in my trophy room and enjoy it with all my family, friends, and the people in this country. They really root for me hard.
Q: How are you a better pitcher now than you were in 1997 with the Expos?
Pedro Martinez: I am more mature right now and I understand better how things are. Everything else is the same -- my stuff is the same -- fastball, curveball, changeup. Experience is the only thing different and it helps.
Q: Saberhagen has surgery on his rotator cuff. Are you concerned that you're going to have enough pitching next year to get you to the World Series, which is where you want to be?
Pedro Martinez: We got it done last year and we finished in first place in pitching. If Saberhagen is down, we have to pick him up. Hopefully one of the young prospects will do the job, Brian Rose or Juan Pena, or Ramon will come back healthy hopefully. We have Wakefield, who we can use as a starter. If Saberhagen is not here when we start the season, we'll pick him up and do it ourselves.
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