Let’s get the shoo-ins out of the way: Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez were two of the greatest pitchers of all time. Forget “should they get in to the Hall”? The question to argue would be: “How far up the list of Greats should we put them?” But that isn’t what we are talking about in these articles. For now, I want to simply highlight the reasons why these two are no-doubt Hall of Famers. Today, I will focus on:
As John Kruk can tell you, the enormous left-handed figure of Randy Johnson firing 98 mph fastballs at you is a scary sight. Probably doubly so before he learned full command of his pitches. His intimidating size and speed, combined with the acquired skill of locating his pitches, resulted in one of the all-time best runs for a pitcher. In a 12 year stretch between 1993-2004, Johnson struck out more than 300 batters six times, and over 290 three more times. In 2001, he fell a dozen short of the single-season record, punching out 272 batters in 35 appearances. He lad the league in K’s nine times.
What made Johnson truly great though was the fact that, unlike so many other fireballers with lots of strikeouts, he was able to harness the speed and vastly reduce the number of walks he would allow. In 1993, he began to get a grip on his natural power. After walking a horrifying 17.1% and 15.6% of the batters he faced in ’91 and ’92, his walk rate dropped to 9.5% in ’93, and never crossed over 10% again. In fact, he got it as low as 4.6% in 2004. That number isn’t just impressive for a power-pitcher, but for any pitcher.
He won his first Cy Young Award in 1995 for the Mariners, striking out 294 batters in 214.1 innings. He also lead the American League in ERA and ERA(-). But it wasn’t until he came back to the National League (he began his career in Montreal) in 1998 that he truly became a monster on the mound. He was traded from Seattle to the Houston Astros halfway through the 1998 season. He started 11 games for Houston, and compiled a 1.28 ERA and 116 k’s in 84.1 innings. And then he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Johnson won the NL Cy Young Award in all of his first four years with Arizona. During those four years, he never pitched fewer than 248.2 innings, never struck out fewer than 334 batters, and his year-end ERAs never went higher than 2.64. He lead the NL in ERA(-) all four years.
In addition to short-term dominance in the early 2000’s, Johnson also had longevity, pitching 4135.1 innings over 22 major league seasons. His career totals might be his most impressive claim to the Hall:
4875 strikeouts (2nd all-time)
5 Cy Young Awards (2nd most all-time) *he finished 2nd three other times
110.3 fWAR (5th all-time)
104.4 RA9 WAR (12th all-time)
10 All-Star Game appearances
Since 1974 (when they start to track these stats), he is 3rd in WPA and 2nd in RE24 among starting pitchers
To top it all off, in 2001 he was named the World Series MVP, as his Diamondbacks beat the NY Yankees in seven games. Johnson had a 1.04 ERA in 17.1 innings during the Series.