Siberian Baseball

Monday, August 20, 2007

What'll Santana do next?

One of the interesting stories on Ballhype today poses the question: "Who's better - Pedro Martinez or Johan Santana in their respective primes?"

I'll warn you that as a link from The Hardball Times it's a little thick and stat heavy, but it's an interesting comparison. If nothing else, it helps to illustrate just how dominant Martinez was in his 20s (and what a mistake Tommy Lasorda made in shipping him off to Montreal) with some of his unreal numbers.

What it has me thinking of is how similar the two pitchers are, not on paper, but in terms of putting butts in the seats. Need any further evidence? Just look at Santana's line from Sunday.

One of the hallmarks of any great pitcher - and especially the power pitchers - is the spike in attendance when they take the hill. Martinez certainly had that in Boston and Santana is the undisputed champ of the "Are there tickets?" test in Minneapolis.

I've seen this before when Kerry Wood and Mark prior were healthy in Chicago and any fan can rattle the names of the big pitchers who they'd pay to see when they come to town. It's not just the pitchers you're happy to see pop up on the probables list when you have tickets in hand, it's the guys who you'll actively seek out when there name pops up.

Off the top of my head, I'd also put Felix Hernandez and Daisuke Matsuzaka on that list (with Matsuzaka subject to a mandatory one-year review during next year's Spring Training) of guys you just can't miss because something big might happen.

That's not to say I wouldn't enjoy seeing other pitchers or wouldn't pick up a ticket if I happened to be in town - for instance, if I had a chance to see Dontrelle Willis in Florida or Jake Peavy in San Diego I'd jump at the chance - but those three top my list of pitchers that I'd actively feel I was missing something each time I missed a start.

Sure, Martinez has the edge in pure numbers, but Santana is just as capable of delivering a performance for the ages each time he takes the hill.

What else can you really ask for?

(Photos taken for Siberian Baseball)

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