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2015 MLB Hall of Fame Inductees: Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio

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"Are Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz Best Pitching Class Ever at Hall of Fame?" by Jay Jaffe on si.com

The 4th inductee is Craig Biggio, who will undoubtedly be overshadowed by the 9 combined Cy Young Awards the three hurlers share between them.

The Sports Illustrated article is interesting, as it attempts to rank the HOF classes in terms of "Best Pitchers," and, as it turns out, this year's class only ranks #2 using their methodology.

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In terms of 'freaks of nature,' Johnson and Martinez rank among the best of that breed. Martinez had unusually long fingers that were so flexible he could bend them backwards to touch his wrist, and he threw the nastiest of the nastiest splitter in the game. Johnson was amazing in that he was able to get the mechanics of that long 6'10" frame all together to deliver that freakish slider that seemed to be aimed at the back foot of the right-handed hitter, snapping under the hands. When both of these freaks were on, they were unhittable.

Another freak of nature I loved to watch grew up with me in Lancaster County -- Bruce Sutter, Hall of Fame Class of 2006. Early in his career he had surgery on his arm to relieve a pinched nerve, and he could never fully straighten his arm after that. He also had unusually long fingers. The combination of the two led him to perfect the split-fingered fastball, which he made his "out" pitch. I've bumped into him many times over the years back in Lancaster, and when I shake his hand, his fingers nearly come up to my elbow.

Of course, the 'freaks' list in baseball goes on....Mordecai "3 Fingers" Brown, ageless Satchell Paige, one-handed Jim Abbott....

As for the best pitching class ever to be inducted into the Hall, I wouldn't argue against this one. After WW2, there was a catch-up of star players from early in the 20th Century, so the '46 class featured Jack Chesbro, Joe McGinnity, Eddie Plank, Rube Waddell and Eddie Walsh. In their day, that was a hell of a pitching quintet. The '72 class had Lefty Gomez, Sandy Koufax and Early Wynn, who stack up pretty well against Martinez, Johnson and Smoltz.

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In terms of 'freaks of nature,' Johnson and Martinez rank among the best of that breed. Martinez had unusually long fingers that were so flexible he could bend them backwards to touch his wrist, and he threw the nastiest of the nastiest splitter in the game. Johnson was amazing in that he was able to get the mechanics of that long 6'10" frame all together to deliver that freakish slider that seemed to be aimed at the back foot of the right-handed hitter, snapping under the hands. When both of these freaks were on, they were unhittable.

I was in a hurry yesterday, but spent a couple fruitless minutes looking for the video of Randy Johnson throwing Edgar Martinez the first pitch of one of the All-Star Games. He purposely launched a fastball about a foot behind his head! Martinez was smiling and patting his chest like he was having heart palpitations

Dennis Martinez also said that Edgar Martinez was the batter he hated facing the most.

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I was in a hurry yesterday, but spent a couple fruitless minutes looking for the video of Randy Johnson throwing Edgar Martinez the first pitch of one of the All-Star Games. He purposely launched a fastball about a foot behind his head! Martinez was smiling and patting his chest like he was having heart palpitations

Dennis Martinez also said that Edgar Martinez was the batter he hated facing the most.

Try looking for John Kruk ....

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Try looking for John Kruk ....

Or Larry Walker!

Man it's weird - I had a visual in my mind of Edgar Martinez doing *exactly* the same thing that Kruk did, right down to tapping his chest. The mind is a funny thing.

What's interesting in the Kruk video is that, after the pitch, they cut to the AL dugout, where every person in the shot is laughing ... except Jim Palmer, who looks like he's muttering curse words under his breath (start here and look at Palmer).

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