Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Top 50 On Cardboard- #25 Pedro Martinez

My Top 50 on Cardboard
Pedro Martinez

1991 Upper Deck Final Edition Pedro Martinez RC

Pedro Martinez was one of the top pitchers of his generation.  Some would argue that he could be the best of his generation.  I am not going to get into a debate about where he ranks amongst his peers this evening, but I will argue that Pedro should probably get a little bit more love in the world of cardboard. His rookie card appears in the abundant Upper Deck Final Edition set from 1991, although his 1992 Bowman card is often collected, bought, sold, and traded for more like his rookie card.  In my opinion, they are both really cool early 90s rookie cards, but the 1992 Bowman card is in a very significant set, which makes it the more desirable of the two early Martinez cards.  To make up for it, I posted a picture of the Upper Deck Final Edition.

Hobby Impact-
Pedro really took off on cardboard when he was traded to the Red Sox.  His early cards on the Dodgers and Expos have a pretty good following, but most were put out in the early and mid 90s when the wax was abundant and Pedro was not really always recognized for the pitcher he was at that time.  Extremely under-appreciated.  Then the Red Sox years came and Pedro Martinez took off with collectors.  I remember the first of Pedro cards that Topps put out in 1998 after the Expos traded him to the Red Sox.

1998 Topps Pedro Martinez 

Almost all of Pedro's Topps cards that year featured the same picture of Pedro.  Some of the cards were basically a waist up shot, like the base Topps card pictured above, and others showed Martinez sitting on a wooden stool.  Same picture, just cropped differently.  As boring as the first round of Pedro Martinez Red Sox cards were, they briefly ignited a quiet spark which made Pedro Martinez cards extremely popular.  The Expos and Dodgers cards, outside of his few certified autographs, seemed to lag behind.

The first Pedro certified autograph Pedro signed was a 1996 Leaf Signature while he was playing in Montreal.  The card hovers around $50, but is pretty easy to find floating around different places.  Red Sox autographs were always pretty hard to stumble upon and there was an added premium on the cards due to the fact that he was pictured as a Red Sox.

2000 Skybox Autographics Pedro Martinez Autograph 

The really unique trend with Pedro Martinez cards continued when he left the Red Sox and signed with Mets.  He also later played part of a season with the Phillies.  The Red Sox cards, inserts, short-prints, premium cards, and autographs all trend considerably higher than those same cards where Martinez is pictured on another team.  Only later in his career the other teams were the Mets and Phillies.  Martinez does have a few autographs from his time with the Mets, but there are almost all sticker autographs and not nearly as nice looking as his Red Sox autographs.

I think if Pedro were a little bit more universally liked there would be a little bit more consistency to the value of his non-Red Sox cards.  As a non-Red Sox fan, I never had much of a problem with Pedro and always had a high level of respect for Pedro as a player.  Again, not debating his place amongst his peers, but Pedro is really really high on my list.  A good Pedro card is always worth a look whether he is a Dodger, Expo, Red Sox, Met, or Phillie.  In fact, Topps just added some new Martinez cards to some of this year's products including a few autographs.  It would be nice to add one of those one of these years.

On The Field-
You remember the debate surrounding last year's Cy Young award with Felix Hernandez were people were debating the value of wins as a stat for pitchers.  Yeah, well there are a few people floating around who question whether or not Pedro is a Hall of Famer because he only has a grand total of 219 career wins.  Too low?  There are other numbers besides wins.  While Pedro only won twenty games twice in his career he are some other areas were he excelled:

  • He won a total of 5 ERA titles during his career.  One with the Expos and four with the Red Sox in seven years
  • Pedro only led the league in strike outs three times, but he had nine season of over 200 strikeouts including four over 250, and two over 300 
  • Pedro led the league in ERA+ five times, each time his number was over 200.  A stat line of 100 indicates an average pitcher's ERA+
  • Pedro led the league in WHIP six times.  All six seasons his WHIP ended up being less than 1
  • He won a total of three Cy Young Awards.  One National League and two American League

JAWS rates Pedro as the 21st best starting pitcher of all-time.  He is the third ranked modern pitcher on the list behind Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux.  While there are pitchers with better career WARs than Martinez, there is not a single pitcher on the list higher than Pedro with a better career ERA+ than Martinez.  His career number ended at 154 with the next closet belonging to Lefty Grove at 148.  

Pedro was also a pretty tough player.  He was really short and not sure he could out muscle many other players in the Majors, but that did not stop Pedro from standing up to other players, pitching inside, and drilling a few batters.  Here's a few of my favorites (Thank you MLB Classic channel):

The sound Gregg Jefferies make when he gets drilled is awesome.    How many times have you seen the pitcher charge the other pitcher?  

There was this gem against Reggie Sanders

and then there was this gem.  Great Pedro moment. 

Favorite Card-
This is really pretty easy.  It's got to be a Red Sox card.  Slight temptation to throw an Expos card here, but I just like Expos cards.  I've always really like his 2001 Topps card.  Pretty classy looking card here that has a really good picture of Pedro.  

2001 Topps Pedro Martinez

It also helps that this was a really good set too.  Pedro has several inserts in this product, and unlike the 1998 Topps cards, they actually use different photographs on the different cards.  Definitely worth your time to pick up a copy of this card and also worth checking into the inserts from this set.   

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