In 1999, Martinez had arguably the greatest year of his career, but due to certain writers leaving him off their ballots, Martinez was passed over for the AL MVP award in favor of Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez.
The slight irritated Martinez, and when Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander won the AL MVP this year along with the Cy Young, it opened up an old wound for the former Red Sox ace.
Martinez went on The Big Show on WEEI and voiced his displeasure with the voting in 1999.
"I was kind of pissed off at first [when Verlander won the MVP], but then I went to realize that [the voters] are going to have to live with that label on their back. If anyone calls them prejudiced or racist for not voting for me, everyone will have to understand that it's their responsibility for not voting for me at that time," said Martinez.
Martinez later went on to say that he was happy for Verlander and that the Tigers' ace was deserving of the award, but he was still upset about the voting procedure that took place in the '99 season.
George King of the New York Post and LaVelle Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune left Martinez off their ballots for MVP that year, which proved to be enough to cost the Sox star the award.
"I was ripped apart," added Martinez. "I’m not afraid to say that the way that George King and Mr. LaVelle Neal III went about it was unprofessional."
Martinez was on top of the baseball world in'99. He stole the show at the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park, striking out five of the six batters he faced, including big names such as Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and recently inducted Hall-of-Famer Barry Larkin. The iconic showing won Martinez the All-Star MVP.
He unanimously won the AL Cy Young, winning the pitching triple crown that year with a 23-4 record with a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts in what many have described as one of the greatest pitching seasons in history.
Verlander, by comparison, still had a great season, but nothing that compared to Martinez. The 2011 Cy Young winner posted a 24-5 record with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts. While Verlander pitched more innings than Martinez, ( 251 to 213 1/3) the Sox ace had a much better strikeout-per-nine innings rate, posting a beastly 13.2 compared to 9.0 for Verlander.
Martinez also had a dominant postseason in '99, coming out of the bullpen to throw six no-hit innings against the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS to clinch the series. Martinez won the only game for the Red Sox against the New York Yankees in the ALCS.