Batter's Box Tabs Guerrero,
P. Martinez as
Greatest Montreal Player, Pitcher
|In recent polling, the readers of Batter's Box Interactive Magazine displayed a preference for active players over the historical legends who wore the tri-coloured "M" of Les Expos before their recent move to Washington, D.C. to become the Nationals.|
In the "greatest player" showdown, nine of the 10 nominees received at least one vote, with only The Human Pin Cushion, Ron Hunt, getting shut out in support -- he tried to lean into a few votes, but couldn't quite connect. Guerrero led the way with 34 percent, while Raines grabbed 29 percent; no other player cracked the 15 percent mark, as Hall of Fame backstop Gary Carter's 12 percent trailed Guerrero, Raines and Andre Dawson, who cobbled together 13 percent support.
The other nominees were, alphabetically, Andres "The Big Cat" Galarraga, Hunt, Dennis Martinez, Steve Rogers, Rusty Staub and Tim Wallach. Martinez and Rogers combined for just about five percent of the vote, as the readers of Batter's Box clearly dismissed pitchers as candidates for "greatest player."
Ironically enough, when the followup poll queried after the greatest pitcher in Expo history, neither of the two pitchers listed on the "greatest players" list came away with the victory, as Pedro Martinez nabbed an even 40 percent of the vote, with (no relation) Dennis "El Presidente" Martinez trailing at 31 percent. Steve Rogers, the franchise's all-time leader in starts, innings, wins and strikeouts, was a distant third at 19 percent. No other pitcher garnered even seven percent.
The other candidates, alphabetically, were Tim Burke, Bill Gullickson, Jeff Reardon, who racked up 152 of his 367 career saves with the 'Spos, Steve Renko, Bryn Smith, Bill Stoneman and Ugueth Urbina. Burke, Gullickson, Renko, Smith and Stoneman each received either zero votes or just one vote
Here's the Thinking ... From Inside Da Box
Bauxite John Northey mused on the "greatest player" conundrum, but his decision didn't include Guerrero: "To me it has to be Tim Raines. He was the full package. Ran, hit for average, hit for power (in the 1980s, 10-20 homers was power), took walks, decent on defense, great timing with his hits. A true All-Star all around. Gary Carter is a close second. Have to love that he sang 'O Canada' in French at the HOF ceremonies last week."
Rosterite Mike Green agreed, adding "Tim Raines hitting a triple to left-center in the park at West Palm Beach is about as good as it gets," as did Craig Burley, who intoned, "Tim Raines, the finest ballplayer ever to play an extended period in Canada (apologies to Vlad, Roberto Alomar and Carlos Delgado)."
Burley continued, "Guerrero was a great, great player [for Montreal] but Raines beats him on the strength of his little skills -- his range, his reliabile glove, his standout baserunning. Vlad has the 'ooh, aah' skills -- the powerful bat and arm that made you leap out of your seat to watch him. Raines was the greatest pure turf player I can remember. For someone like me, who loves the style of turf baseball, Tim Raines was the man."
Not everyone opted for Raines or Guerrero, though, as minor league guru Gerry McDonald chimed in, "While acknowledging Raines, I always liked the Hawk, outstanding defense and a good bat. In ways he was like Vernon [Wells], he left the on deck circle swinging." Reader Jim Jacobs concurred, adding, "Guerrero wasn't [in Montreal] long enough. Raines was great but Andre Dawson was even better. One of the most underrated players ever." Meanwhile, the Roster's esteemed Magpie, Dan McIlroy, insisted, "Tim Raines was a truly great player, but Gary Carter was an even greater one."
Green also took issue with the followup "greatest pitcher" question, noting that "The meaning of the question dictates the answer here. If it means 'who was/is the best pitcher as an Expo?,' the answer is pretty clear, [but] if it means 'who/is was the best pitcher who donned an Expo uniform/,' the answer is pretty clear too. I took it as the former." Green did not reveal who he voted for, though presumably it was either Dennis Martinez or Rogers -- but not Pedro Martinez.
As the poll question writer noted, Green was correct in his reading, since if the latter interpretation had been correct, not only Pedro Martinez, but Randy Johnson also would have appeared on the list of options.
And while Box senior editor Jordan Furlong bemoaned, "Where's the love for Steve Renko? Where?" (Given that Renko received no votes, presuming Furlong voted, it was not for Renko -- ed.), a variety of quality pitchers were left off the list of candidates. Reader bigrighthander protested "what about the "spaceman"???," but in addition to Bill Lee, former Expo luminaries including Jeff Fassero, Woodie Fryman, Charlie Lea, Mike Marshall, Mel Rojas, Scott Sanderson, Javier Vazquez and, as Keith Talent noted, Pascual Perez were not listed as options. The Expos apparently were blessed with a plethora of very good -- but very few great -- pitchers throughout their run.
Still, Pedro Martinez was a great hurler for the Expos, if only for a relatively short time (four years, not quite 800 IP), and as Batter's Box reader costanza put it, "Neither Rogers nor El Presidente had a season even remotely comparable to Pedro's '97. 305 Ks? Dennis didn't get that many in any *two* seasons. [Ed. note: True! His top two Expo seasons totaled just 303 strikeouts.] Given the open-ended nature of the question, I thought that was justification enough to throw my vote that way."
Magpie pointed out that comparing Rogers to Pedro Martinez is "quite similar" to making a Dave Stieb/Roger Clemens comparison for Canada's remaining major league franchise. "Steve Rogers won about 100 more games for the Expos than Pedro did, even if Pedro's peak years there were significantly better than Rogers'," said McIlroy.
The debate rages on? Or is the last and definitive word on the greatest of Les Expos?