The Cleveland Indians’ Shane Bieber is having one of the greatest pitching stretches in baseball history. And he’s doing it for bargain-basement pay.
The 25-year-old right-hander is leading the league with 14.7 strikeouts per nine innings but will earn just $231,000. That’s a fraction of the contract Gerrit Cole signed with the New York Yankees that made him the highest-paid pitcher of all time. Cole holds the single-season record for the statistic, 13.8, achieved last year with the Houston Astros.
Bieber’s performance can be favorably compared with one that’s generally recognized as the best in the past 25 years: Pedro Martinez’s 2000 season. But it’ll doubtlessly come with an asterisk, as Martinez’s year spanned 162 games and Bieber’s 2020 is a coronavirus-shortened 60.
Martinez rode pinpoint control and the game’s best change-up to lead the major leagues that season in five categories. One of them, earned run average plus (ERA+),