Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Case (or Lack Of One) for Dennis Martinez 4/14/20

Hey baseball fans!

In a time of uncertainty, all eyes lie on the President to see what he does next. But for right now, let's talk about El Presidente. That's right: it's a Dennis Martinez post!

Dennis Martinez pitched for a number of teams, most notably the Orioles, Expos, and Indians, during a 23-year career from 1976-1998. An overall chipper guy, Martinez was the first ever Nicaraguan to pitch in the majors, a feat that hasn't been accomplished as much as you'd think since his retirement. Martinez had a 3.70 ERA during his years in baseball with a record of 245-193 and 2,149 strikeouts. He posted at least ten wins in a season 15 times, nine of those years consecutively, and twice finished in the top five for the Cy Young vote. Martinez got less than the 5% required to stay on the Hall of Fame ballot after his first year of eligibility in 2004, but that doesn't mean that the four-time All Star deserves zero praise. Even though he went 7-16 in 1983 with an ERA towards six, he still was on the '83 Orioles when they beat the Phillies in that year's World Series. His best year in Baltimore was arguably 1981, when he won 14 games in a strike-shortened season with a 3.32 ERA, his best seasonal ERA in Charm City. Only after his trade to Montreal did Martinez really become El Presidente.

From 1987-1993, you could argue that Martinez was in the same elite tier as Greg Maddux. I mean, you would lose the argument, but not by much! Martinez's years in Montreal were a sort of renaissance for him, as he posted a 2.96 ERA, 96 wins, and a 1.14 WHIP during the span. But his greatest achievement north of the border actually came in a game in Los Angeles. On Sunday, July 28, 1991, El President was el perfecto, pitching a perfect game against the Dodgers, thereby becoming the first pitcher born outside the United States to pitch a perfect game. It came in the midst of Martinez's best yearly ERA (2.39, which led the league) and his second of three consecutive All Star nods. The game itself was notable for a few reasons. Dodger Stadium became the first stadium to witness two perfect games (Sandy Koufax in 1965 was the first) and the Dodgers became the first team to lose consecutive perfect games (Tom Browning's perfecto against LA in 1988 was the one immediately before Martinez's).

Despite his resurgence with the Expos, Martinez was too inefficient earlier in his career to be considered a Hall of Famer in my book, but he'll always be one in the hearts of Expos fans. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

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