“_____ could throw a baseball through a lifesaver if you asked him.” -Joe Morgan
“One time, _____ was pitching for the Cubs, and all of a sudden I see him grimacing and limping around. I thought he popped a groin or something. I came to the mound and asked what was the matter. (the quote drops off here while the newspaper is politically correct, but _____ told Grace “I have a boner right now”)Â Grace then responded to _______Â “You know dude, you really do love pitching don’t you?”
“At one point, in midsentence and without warning, he winced like a man about to pass a stone, lifted his left cheek off the chair and let loose. “Whoa, wow, sorry about that,” he said, then continued with the eggs and the discussion and the golf pool. So add that to the ______ scouting report: bats right, throws right, farts left.” (source)
The mystery man from the above quotes is none other than Greg Maddux.
Now, for those of us who have followed baseball for the past decade or two, there is little question about how great Greg Maddux was. However, in this age where things can dramatically change from under/overrated, I actually think that despite all of the praise heaped upon Greg Maddux, he might be underrated. Now before you think I am just coming up with some controversial angle to write a column, let me just plead my case for a minute using some statistics:
- For seven straight years Greg Maddux’ ERA was at least one run better than the league average. No other pitcher in the history of baseball has done that.
- Since 1900, 2 of the 4 best single-season marks for ERA+ (pitching performance relative to the league average) are held by Greg Maddux/
- In 1994, his ERA+ was 271. That means he was 171% better than the average starting pitcher in the major leagues that year. That number should almost knock you over. That year, the next best pitcher posted an ERA+ of 178. So in short, Maddux was nearly 100% better than any other National League pitcher in 1994.
- In 1995, his ERA+ was 262. That was good enough to be 112% better than the next pitcher in the NL.
- Since 1954, among pitchers that threw at least 3,000 innings, his walk rate of 1.80 is 2nd best.
- He averaged 34 starts a year for 23 years.
- In his streak of 4 consecutive Cy Young awards from 1992-1995, Maddux received 91% of the first place votes. In Randy Johnson’s streak of four consecutive awards, he received 81% of the first place votes. Even if you take the four best seasons of votes that Roger Clemens got in his seven Cy Young awards (90% of the vote), he still can’t best Maddux’s 91% mark.
- Over his career, he struck out 3.37 batters for every one that he walked. Since 1954, there is only one pitcher (Mike Mussina) with 3,000 innings pitched that can best that mark.
- Since 1954, his .63 HR/9 IP his good for 7th best among pitchers with at least 3,000 IP
- In his career, he started 740 games. In that same time span, his closest competition (Tom Glavine) started 682 games. That is nearly two additional seasons of starts in that time period. Only three pitchers in baseball history have started more games.
- He holds the record for putouts by a pitcher and number of double plays started by a pitcher.
- There are two men in baseball history that have won 300 games and walked less than 1,000 men. Greg Maddux is one of them.
- In 1995, he posted a 19-2 record for a winning percentage of .905. This is the only time in baseball history that a starting pitcher had a winning percentage of over .900 with at least 20 decisions.
I could go on and on…this guy was simply amazing, and if he isn’t the first unanimously elected Hall of Famer, then whichever writer didn’t vote for him should have his privileges revoked.