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.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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14 years ago

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

big baby
14 years ago
Reply to  Rory

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

14 years ago
Reply to  big baby

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.