Pedro Martinez Is the Best Pitcher of All Time

Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight says so.
PHOTOGRAPH BY EZRA O. SHAW/ALLSPORT VIA GETTY IMAGES

PHOTOGRAPH BY EZRA O. SHAW/ALLSPORT VIA GETTY IMAGES

In your heart, you know Pedro Martinez to be the best pitcher of all time. At last, there are numbers to back it up.

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight recently compiled a list of the best pitchers of all time using their proprietary Elo ratings. Not only did the former Red Sox ace and Hall of Famer take top honors, but the site pinpointed Martinez’s June 8, 2000 outing against the Cleveland Indians as the “absolute peak moment for any starting pitcher since 1911.”

But what’s Elo, you ask? From FiveThirtyEight’s Neil Paine and Jay Boice:

Our Elo algorithm works by assigning each starting pitcher a Pitcher Score rating representing the expected effect he’ll have on opponents’ hitting in his next start. Rookie pitchers start with a relatively low Pitcher Score, but they can build it up by posting strong starts according to the game score formula, which rewards pitchers for quality performances (with a slight bonus for greatness in the fielding-independent categories of strikeouts, walks and home runs).

When Martinez debuted in 1992, Roger Clemens, then with the Sox, had the highest “Pitcher Score” among all active players. But soon, Martinez would eclipse Clemens, Greg Maddux, and Randy Johnson.

Former Sox great Curt Schilling made FiveThirtyEight’s list as well, but for his lights-out April 7, 2002 performance with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

FiveThirtyEight previously ranked the 2007 and 2004 New England Patriots the two best teams in NFL history, despite the former falling just short of the Lombardi Trophy. This year, Silver correctly predicted the Pats would fail to cap Tom Brady’s revenge season with a championship.


Kyle Scott Clauss Kyle Clauss, Digital News Writer at Boston Magazine bmagdigital+kclauss@gmail.com


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