Martinez reaches 200-win milestone


MIAMI -- Right-hander Pedro Martinez toed the mound on Monday night in the first inning looking to become the fourth Latin American pitcher to reach 200 victories in the major leagues.

Twenty outs later, Martinez left with a 4-3 lead. The Mets bullpen did the rest, as New York beat Dominican Jorge Sosa at Shea Stadium to give Martinez his milestone win.

With 200 wins, Martinez trails Nicaraguan Dennis Martinez (245 wins), Dominican Juan Marichal (243) and Cuban Luis Tiant (223) among Latin pitchers.

In his march to the 200 Club, Martinez, 34, has been the most effective of the elite circle, and at this rate, he could be considered the best Latin American pitcher of all time.

Martinez reached 200 victories with a total of 284 decisions in 355 career starts. His .700 winning percentage is the best not only among Latin American pitchers, but also among all hurlers with at least 150 wins since 1900.

He is the all-time leader among Latin pitchers in strikeouts (2,878), and with 122 more will become the 14th member of baseball's 3,000 strikeout club.

Pedro is the only Latin American pitcher to win more than one Cy Young, with three on his mantel. He won the award once in the National League (1997), then twice in the American (1999 and 2000). Martinez, Marichal and Tiant went their entire careers without a Cy Young distinction.

With a career 2.72 ERA heading into Monday night, Pedro is the only Latin American pitcher ahead of Marichal (2.89), Tiant (3.30) and Dennis Martinez (3.70) among the first 100 of all time with at least 1,000 innings and 100 decisions.

But Marichal, the only Latin American pitcher in the Hall of Fame, is still widely regarded as the best Hispanic pitcher of all time. He not only had an impressive career in terms of wins and losses (243-142, .631), but also completed 244 of his 457 starts, and his 52 shutouts place him 18th on the all-time list.

The "Dominican Dandy" had six 20-win seasons, including 26 in 1968, a great year of pitching in the majors. He also pitched 3,507 innings (almost 1,000 more than Pedro Martinez currently).

Martinez has won 20 games two times, including 23 in 1999, when he had one of the best seasons of any pitcher ever.

Pedro won pitching's triple crown that year -- with a record of 23-4, 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts in 213 innings. In addition to winning his second Cy Young, he finished second in the AL MVP voting, behind Ivan Rodriguez.

While Marichal had his heyday in the golden era of pitching, Martinez has dominated during a time of great hitters, who have been helped by smaller stadiums, better strength training and (for some) suspect "supplements and vitamins."

In his 16 years in the majors from 1960 to 1975, Marichal had a 2.89 ERA, compared to 3.52 in the National League overall in that span, a difference of 0.63.

In 15 big-league seasons (1992-2006), Martinez's ERA (2.72) is 1.78 better than his peers' average (4.50).

One key stat in understanding the difference between the two eras is the following: During Marichal's time, no batter, with the exception of teammate Willie Mays in 1965, reached 50 home runs in one season in the National League (where he pitched the majority of his career).

In contrast, Martinez came up to the big leagues in 1992, and five years later, interleague play began. Since then, players have hit 50 home runs or more on 18 occasions, with six instances of 60 or more and two of 70 or more.

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.