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Battle of the Eras: Chris Sale V. Pedro Martinez

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This season, MLB batters have hit more home runs than they have hit in any other season. Ever. Yes, that’s including the steroid-era.

On Wednesday night, Red Sox ace, Chris Sale became the first AL pitcher to record 300 K’s in a season, since Pedro Martinez in 1999 (the climax of juicing in the MLB). To call what Sale has done in 2017 “impressive” would be an egregious understatement. It’s downright spectacular.

Both of these hall of fame caliber arms dominated their respective “eras”. But who had the rougher go of it? And can we definitively say that one pitcher is better than the other?

Before we continue, I have to admit that Pedro Martinez is 100% my favorite pitcher of all time. Without a doubt. When I was 8 years old, my favorite shirt to wear was a men’s XL “t-shirt jersey” of his. I was a big-boned kid. Anyways…

For Pedro, it was the varicose-veined behemoths like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa, that he had to overpower. Where Chris Sale is now facing the equivocal adversity of the “juiced-ball era”: Power-hitting is ubiquitous; exit velocity is invariably up. And I’m sorry, but until the MLB comes out and coherently denounces this slang-like colloquialism, that’s what we’re rolling with: The baseball is juiced. Chris Sale has pitched and is currently pitching, in an “era” that favors hitters. One that is not at all dissimilar to the steroid-era that Pedro triumphed in, over a decade ago.

Tearing the Cover Off of the Ball

So let’s chronologically define these eras in question, to make comparisons fair, even though we’re dealing with the incomparable.

Concerning Pedro Martinez’s performance, we’ll say that the 1999 and 2000 seasons combined were the pinnacles of his era. And for Chris Sale, we’ll look at 2016 through 2017, as the superlative years so far, of the juiced-ball era.

From 1999-2000, the average for home runs hit per game (HRPG) was 1.16. This was when batters were going through anabolic steroids and HGH faster than they were going through Gatorade. From 2016-2017 thus far, the HRPG is currently at 1.21. This disparity is a symptom of the juiced-ball era. Or maybe all of the hitters in the MLB were invited to a symposium, where they were taught how to hit more homers… Probably not.

So how do these two greats of the game compare?

Bringing It

Let’s start with the elder of the two: Pedro Martinez. From 1999-2000, he was an indomitable force on the mound. For starters, he went 41-10 in the win-loss column. If that’s not godly enough for you, he had a professionally manicured ERA of 1.90. How Pedro, how? In 430.1 innings pitched, he racked up 597 K’s with a clean WHIP of .830. Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty solid.

But bear in mind, the steroid-era HRPG hardly compares to the unparalleled HRPG of Chris Sale’s contemporary juiced-ball era. Sale is pitching against the objectively more difficult phenomena, of the two.

With presumably 1 start left in the 2017 season, Chris Sale, through 2016-2017, has a record of 34-17 (.667 W-L%). That’s a helluva winning-percentage, considering that he pitched for the terrible Chicago White Sox for the majority of that span. Over the past 2 years in question, his ERA is presently at 3.06 and his WHIP is at 1.001. Sale has 533 K’s in that stretch, which is comprised of 436 total innings pitched.

Again, like Pedro, these numbers illustrate a transcendent talent.

The Eye Test

When it comes to Red Sox baseball, it’s almost sacrilegious to compare any pitcher to Pedro Martinez. He is kind of like our Paul Pierce: He gave us a piggyback-ride during the worst of times. But as the media and the statisticians have so tenaciously pointed out, Chris Sale is having a Pedro-like season for the Sox. So who’s better?

The fact of the matter is, one could make a reasonable argument for both sides.

Pedro Martinez faced chemically amplified power-hitters, in the steroid-era. Chris Sale is throwing a baseball that is ambiguously “loaded” in the favor of any hitter, during the juiced-ball era. One’s a lefty; one’s a righty. Yeah, yeah the list goes on.

Memory is the ultimate discerner. Sale has impressed us, but his impression will be crystallized by his performance in the playoffs. Also note that this iteration of the Boston Red Sox, that he is pitching for in 2017, is relatively more formidable than the one that Pedro pitched for.

Yet again, stats are stats; achievements are achievements. Both of these pitchers have achieved greatness, despite facing historically challenging odds. When it comes to concrete veneration: Writers and Cooperstown brass will be the ultimate deciders.

For now, Boston should relish the performance of their current, and for the foreseeable future, ace Chris Sale. He’s had himself a year. But as all greats will tell you, the “next” victory is always their favorite victory. We should all rest easy, knowing that Chris Sale will be toeing the rubber in game 1 of the 2017 postseason for the Sox. As his numbers show, this guy has what it takes to win. 

Columnist operating out of Manchester, NH. Retired pitcher (unprofessional not amateur). Voracious consumer of all things Celtics and Red Sox. Sometimes I produce content as well.

Boston Red Sox

Red Sox Rumor: Jackie Bradley Jr. Being Shopped For Trade

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Red Sox

With the Boston Red Sox looking to acquire a power bat this offseason to keep up with the Yankees they are reportedly shopping a core member of their current team.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today the player Boston is shopping is center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. One potential destination for Bradley is the Chicago Cubs. Chicago has been connected to Boston with slugger Kyle Schwarber potentially being available.

Schwarber has mashing power but has had issues at the plate having a .211 average last season that caused the Cubs to send the home run hitter back to the minors last June.

Bradley who hit 26 home runs two seasons ago fell back to 17 home runs this past season with a .245 batting average. His fielding ability though makes up for any shortcomings he has at the plate and his contract status could be very appealing in the trade market. Bradley Jr. has three years of arbitration remaining on his contract.

If Boston moves on from Bradley the likely scenario of outfield positioning would be moving Andrew Benintendi over to center field keeping Mookie Betts out in right field.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Stanton in Pinstripes Edition

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MLB Home Run Derby

The snow is now cascading down upon us with indifferent wrath. Today, Boston saw the first real Winter Storm of the impending season. And while you were outside futilely efforting to resist nature, with your shovels and snowblowers, the World of Baseball fractured entirely.

If you haven’t heard by now, you live under the most obscure rock in existence. The New York Yankees have purportedly acquired Giancarlo Stanton from Derek Jeter and the Miami Marlins. 

Stanton is currently going through the formality of physicals and medical checkups – as if there’s going to be anything physically wrong with this inhuman behemoth.

The Winter Meetings commence tomorrow. It is expected that the trade will be officially announced soon after.

Reports suggest that the Yankees have agreed to eat $265 million of Stanton’s contract, while sending Starlin Castro to Miami along with a couple of low-level pitching prospects.

This was our White Whale, Boston – this one got away and we still ended up dying in the end.

Dave Dombrowski looks like an absolute fool for having let this chiseled new-school Bambino slip through his hands. He immolated the entire pitching crop, down on the farm. So it’s inconceivable that Dombrowski didn’t offer the kitchen sink, in his pursuit of Stanton.

Conversely, underneath the surface, Giancarlo’s mind might have been irrevocably made up, before talks even started. He’s a city-slicker. Miami nightlife translates better to Big Apple nightlife than it does to the half-revelry of the Boston Commonwealth.

The Yankees obtain Giancarlo Stanton, presupposing the implications for the Red Sox and fans alike. It’s with a heavy heart that I unfortunately welcome you to a familiar and antique era of Red Sox Baseball. It’s the late 90’s all over again…

But, you know what? Let’s try to make light of this nonplussing news! Yeah, we don’t need Giancarlo Stanton and those Damn Yankees still won’t win the World Series! It’s time for another installment of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

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Boston Red Sox Do Not Need To Get A Big Bat

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Red Sox

Many have stated their wishes that the Boston Red Sox will go out and get a big-time bat for the heart of their order. A bat that they seemingly need to help protect the likes of Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez in the lineup. One of the bigger names connected to the team is Giancarlo Stanton, but reports show that idea as a longshot with Stanton not looking at Boston as a possibility.

Another name, Jose Abreu, is also reportedly out of the running with Ken Rosenthal reporting that the White Sox will not trade their slugger before the start of the season. With the potential list shortening with JD Martinez and Eric Hosmer leading the running, maybe Boston should sit still this offseason.

That is sort of a controversial take, but the notion of Hosmer or Martinez doesn’t get the juices flowing, and ultimately will cost the Red Sox more then they are worth.

So what is the answer, Boston still needs a first basemen for next season. A position that could be filled with Sam Travis and Hanley Ramirez given the idea that Dustin Pedroia will find some time at the DH spot next season with Eduardo Nunez getting some quality time at second base. Another possibility is Rafael Devers not panning out at third base and needing to move to first base or DH at times.

Also in the cards is prospect Michael Chavis who should find himself in AAA Pawtucket at some point next season and maybe in Boston at third base or first. Then comes the possibility of Blake Swihart or my favorite, Bryce Brentz. Both were getting trained at first base with Pawtucket last season and could see reps at first base if Dave Dombrowski opts to not sign a big-time bat.

Of course, these solutions are not as flashy and will not present an immediate threat for Boston in the heart of their order. But betting on the current roster to bounce back at the plate and see an emergence of another young player might be a route to take.

Worse case scenario they get the same amount of production and end up right around 90 wins like they were this past season. But the upside of keeping the financial flexibility going forward while trying out prospects might be the best thing for Boston to do instead of overreacting to fan pressure.

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