Posted December 16, 2013

JAWS and the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot: Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux, Hall of Fame, JAWS
Greg Maddux, Braves

Greg Maddux has a chance to become the first unanimous selection to the Hall of Fame. (Richard Mackson/SI)

The following article is part of my ongoing look at the candidates on the BBWAA 2014 Hall of Fame ballot.  For a detailed introduction to JAWS, please see here. For the schedule, see here.

In the discussions I’ve had regarding this year’s Hall of Fame ballot, the crowded field of candidates and the ways that the process might be improved, I’ve heard one sentiment repeatedly: “Anybody who doesn’t vote for Greg Maddux ought to have his ballot revoked.”

Given the body of work in question, it’s not hard to see why. Maddux’s 355 wins are the most of any righthanded pitcher since World War II. He won four Cy Youngs, led the NL in ERA four times, made eight All-Star teams and helped his teams to the playoffs 13 times, including a run of 10 straight trips with the Braves from 1993-2003 (excepting the 1994 strike season). He was durable, too; in his 23-year career, he reached 190 innings 21 times (tied with Don Sutton for the all-time lead) and he did it consecutively, even topping 200 in the strike-shortened 1994 and ’95 seasons. Only once did he spend time on the disabled list. Most impressively, he excelled at a time when scoring was at its highest level since the 1920s and ’30s, making him the rare pitcher to stand out in an era typified by musclebound sluggers.

Unlike Roger Clemens, Maddux didn’t succeed due to mid-90s velocity; his fastball reached 93 mph in his early years, but generally ranged in the mid-to-high 80s in his prime. Instead, it was his exceptional command of a wide array of pitches, an ability to avoid hard contact and a cerebral approach founded in an understanding of effective velocity — the combination of speed and location — that made him great. Rob Neyer hailed him as “the smartest pitcher who ever lived” in the middle of his career, and the tag stuck, though longtime Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone later explained the source of Maddux’s genius: “He always told me, ‘When you can throw your fastball where you want, when you want, it’s amazing how smart you can be.’”

Because he has no known connection to performance-enhancing drugs at a time when the electorate is dragging its collective feet over those who do, Maddux is virtually assured of gaining first-ballot entry in 2014. Under normal circumstances, he might be expected to challenge Tom Seaver’s all-time high of 98.84 percent of the vote, set in 1992, but between the crowd of qualified candidates and the blank ballot brigade (which cast five empty votes last year), it’s not hard to imagine him falling short of that lofty rate — less due to any personal vendetta than to the greater impact that vote might have elsewhere, as I explain below.

That shouldn’t obscure the larger point: Maddux is a lock to get in, guaranteeing that the BBWAA won’t achieve a back-to-back shutout after admitting no one last year.

Pitcher Career Peak JAWS W L ERA ERA
Greg Maddux 106.8 56.3 81.6 355 227 3.16 132
Avg HOF SP 72.6 50.2 61.4

Born in San Angelo, Texas, Greg Maddux was the youngest of three children fathered by an Air Force officer. He was four and a half years younger than brother Mike, who himself spent 15 years (1986-2000) in the majors and today is the pitching coach of the Rangers. Both boys spent much of their childhoods in Madrid, Spain, and then Las Vegas, Nevada. In Vegas, Mike began taking informal instruction from retired major league scout Ralph “Rusty” Medar, and Greg tagged along; soon he too caught the scout’s attention. Recalled their father, Dave, for a 1995 Sports Illustrated feature by Tom Verducci, “The first time Greg threw, Mr. Medar said, I don’t know where the boy got those mechanics, but let me tell you this: Don’t you let anybody change those mechanics. He’s going to be something.”

Maddux learned a changeup from Medar, which helped him compensate for his lack of size (5-foot-11, 150 pounds when he graduated high school) and velocity. Though agent Scott Boras advised him to go to college, Maddux nonetheless signed with the Cubs when he was drafted in the second round in 1984, receiving an $85,000 bonus. Despite a middling minor league strikeout rate, he climbed the ladder quickly and debuted in the majors on Sept. 2, 1986, three months after his brother. In an epic game against the Astros that was started by Houston’s Nolan Ryan and Chicago’s Jamie Moyer — two pitchers whose careers combined to span an epoch from 1966 to 2012 — Maddux entered in the 17th inning as a pinch-runner for catcher Jody Davis and was the losing pitcher after surrendering a solo homer to Billy Hatcher in the 18th.

Maddux made five starts that month, then broke camp in the Cubs’ rotation the following spring. Still just 21 years old, he was knocked around mercilessly, at one point getting sent back to Triple A and finishing the year 6-14 with a 5.61 ERA. He quickly turned the corner, however, beginning his 1988 season with a three-hit shutout of the Braves, earning All-Star honors for the first time and ending up 18-8 with a 3.18 ERA in 249 innings; his 5.2 WAR for the season ranked fourth among NL pitchers. In 1989, he finished third in the Cy Young voting and fifth in WAR (5.0) while helping the Cubs win the NL East, going 19-12 with a 2.95 ERA in 238 1/3 innings.

After solid seasons in 1990 and ’91 — the latter of which saw him lead the league in innings pitched for the first of five straight years at 263 — Maddux won his first Cy Young in 1992 on the strength of a 20-11 record and 2.18 ERA in 268 frames. He gave up just seven homers in that span, leading the league in home run rate (0.2 per nine) for the first of four times and in WAR (9.2) for the first of three times. He beat out future teammate Tom Glavine for the Cy Young, getting 20 of 24 first-place votes.

Maddux joined forces with Glavine that winter, signing a five-year, $28 million deal with the Braves. Reportedly, he spurned a five-year, $34 million offer from the Yankees, whose general manager Gene Michael had managed him with the Cubs in 1986 and ’87. He’s also said to have passed up a $27.5 million take-it-or-leave-it offer from the Cubs, who gave him just four days to consider and told him it was too late by the time he called.

In Atlanta, the 27-year-old Maddux joined a team that had won back-to-back pennants in 1991 and ’92, and a rotation that included 1991 Cy Young winner Glavine as well as Steve Avery (1991 NLCS MVP), John Smoltz (1992 NLCS MVP) and former first-round pick Pete Smith, who had gone 7-0 with a 2.05 ERA in a late-1992 stint; an April 1993 Sports Illustrated feature by Steve Rushin hailed them as “Five Aces.” Smith was a dud, going at 4-8 with a 4.37 ERA that year, but the team as a whole won a franchise-record 104 games and its third straight NL West flag — yes, prior to 1994 realignment, Major League Baseball somehow reckoned Atlanta was further west than St. Louis or Chicago — before being eliminated by the Phillies in the NLCS.

Maddux led the league in ERA for the first time (2.36) that year and won 20 games and his second straight Cy Young, though his 5.8 WAR was miles behind the 9.3 of league-leader Jose Rijo. In the strike-shortened 1994 season, Maddux led the league with a microscopic 1.56 ERA and 8.5 WAR and was a unanimous selection for the Cy Young award. That made him the first pitcher ever to win three straight Cys; his 2.08 ERA over that span was nearly half the major league average of 4.11.

Maddux had the best year of his career in 1995 while helping the Braves win their first of 11 straight NL East titles. Though limited to 209 2/3 innings by the shortened season, he lead the league in that category as well as wins (19), ERA (1.63), complete games (10), shutouts (3), home run rate (0.3 per nine), walk rate (1.0 per nine), WHIP (0.811) , strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.9) and WAR (9.7). Not only would most of those marks hold up as career bests, but he again was a unanimous winner for the Cy Young, making him the award’s second four-time winner after Steve Carlton, and he placed third in the NL MVP voting, the highest he would ever finish. In five postseason starts, he posted a 2.84 ERA,  most notably two-hitting the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series. While he lost Game 5, the Braves won their first world championship since 1957 — the only one they would win under manager Bobby Cox — behind Glavine’s one-hit shutout in Game 6.

That October, The Sporting News‘ Michael P. Geffner described the four-time Cy Young winner’s arsenal and approach in a cover story that captures Peak Maddux (hat-tip to The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers, which included part of this passage):

[T]ypically, it was a performance fully appreciated only after it was over, when, all at once, you are suddenly struck by the staggering number of soft outs he induced: inning after easy inning of squibbers off the end of the bat; dribblers off the handle; check-swing grounders; half-swing popups; and bat-freezing called third strikes. And, maybe even more striking, is the way he seems to accomplish this without so much as breaking a sweat, so simply, so undramatically, doing nothing more than merely mixing average, slightly above-average, and slightly below-average pitches: an 82- to 86-mph fastball (on the slow radar gun) that he throws 70 percent of the time, a decent slider, a circle-change (his strikeout pitch), a cutter (a breaking fastball to back off lefthanded hitters), and a big, slow nothing of a curve.

But don’t be fooled: The mixture is perfectly calculated and unrelentingly diabolical, striking stunningly, pitch after pitch, at the hitter’s weakest points, straight for the kill — outside corner, inside corner, down and away. And always at different speeds and from that same stripped-down, monotonous delivery. Everything moving dizzily away from the center of the plate. Until the poor hitter can’t even see straight. Until he’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

(NOTE: For an analysis of Maddux’s delivery complete with visuals, see Baseball Prospectus’ Doug Thorburn.)

Maddux helped the Braves return to the World Series in 1996, but his performance took a step back, as his ERA “skyrocketed” to 2.72. That  was still good for second in the league, and he led the NL in walk rate (1.0 per nine) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.1), both for the second of three straight years. His four-year reign as the NL Cy Young winner came to an end, however, as Smoltz took home the award. While he was even better in the postseason than the year before, delivering a 1.70 ERA in five starts and throwing eight innings of shutout ball against the Yankees in Game 2 of the World Series, Maddux wound up on the short end of a 3-2 decision in Game 6, as the Bronx Bombers won their first championship since 1978.

Maddux signed a five-year, $57.5 million extension in August 1997, surpassing Barry Bonds as the game’s highest-paid player in terms of average annual value. By that point he had peaked; though he would remain durable and effective while racking up high win totals, he had already slipped from being the best pitcher in the league to merely one of the best. From 1996 to 2000, he placed in the league’s top three in pitching WAR four times but never led. He won his fourth ERA title in 1998 (2.22) and helped the Braves back to the World Series in 1999; in 2000, his age-34 season, he made what would be his last All-Star appearance and received the last of his Cy Young votes.

Though Maddux pitched to a 2.62 ERA (159 ERA+) in 2002, nagging injuries — including one to his lower back that forced him to start the year on the disabled list — limited him to 199 1/3 innings, his first time below 200 since 1987. That was the last season on his five-year deal; he agreed to arbitration with the Braves and signed a one-year, $14.75 million deal, to that point the largest in history. Alas, that was just in time for his real performance downturn. His ERA swelled to 3.96 in 2003, his highest since 1987; while still good for a 108 ERA+, he would never finish a season above 110 — or below a 4.00 ERA — again, largely due to a spike in his home run rate at a time when balls were still flying out of the park. After Atlanta was eliminated by the Cubs in the 2003 Division Series, Maddux returned to Chicago via a three-year, $24 million deal.

The 38-year-old Maddux joined a Cubs team that had just come within one win of a trip to the World Series and featured an impressive young rotation with Mark Prior, Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano. While Chicago actually won 89 games in 2004, one more than the year before, it narrowly missed the playoffs. Maddux was part of the cause, as he was pounded down the stretch, yielding 21 runs and nine homers in his last four starts and 23 innings; he finished with a 4.02 ERA and 1.5 homers per nine, the latter more than double his career rate. Still, his season wasn’t without its highlights. On July 17, he blanked the Brewers for the last of his 35 career shutouts, while on Aug. 7, he beat the Giants to become the 22nd pitcher in history to win 300 games.

When Wood and Prior struggled to say healthy, Maddux couldn’t do enough to halt the Cubs’ slide below .500; after a 79-83 finish in 2005, they fell to 66-96 and last in the NL Central in ’06. On July 26, 2005 he became the 13th pitcher to reach 3,000 strikeouts, whiffing the Giants’ Omar Vizquel. Just over a year later, he escaped Chicago via a deadline trade to the Dodgers, for whom he mustered a bit of the old magic by putting up a 3.30 ERA in 12 starts as the team won the NL West. He signed back-to-back one-year, $10 million deals with the Padres, but even pitching half his games in the expansive Petco Park, he was more or less a league-average pitcher. A trade back to Los Angeles in August 2008 didn’t yield the same results as before, as he was cuffed for a 5.09 ERA in seven starts. He threw three scoreless innings in relief in the postseason, an unfamiliar role; in December, he announced his retirement at age 42.

In the end, the question isn’t whether Maddux belongs in Cooperstown, it’s where in the pantheon he belongs. On the traditional merits, his 355 wins trail only Warren Spahn’s 363 among pitchers since World War II and ranks eighth all-time. His 740 starts ranks fourth all-time, his 3,371 strikeouts 10th, his 5,008 1/3 innings 13th. Among pitchers since World War II with at least 2,000 innings, his 132 ERA+ ranks seventh behind Pedro Martinez (154), Hoyt Wilhelm (147), Clemens (143), Johan Santana (136), Randy Johnson (135) and Whitey Ford (133); Sandy Koufax (131) is eighth in less than half as many innings. At the 2,000-inning cutoff for postwar pitchers, Maddux is sixth in walks per nine (1.8), 11th in K/BB ratio (3.4) and 21st in fewest homers per nine (0.63).

Maddux is one of only four pitchers to win at least four Cy Young awards, joining Carlton, Randy Johnson (five) and Clemens (seven); Johnson won four in a row from 1999-2002 matched Maddux’s feat for consecutive honors.

Additionally, Maddux won a whopping 18 Gold Gloves, more than any other player at any position. Thanks in part to the way his efficient mechanics put him in position to field the ball after he released it, he had impressive range as a fielder and was 25 runs above average via Defensive Runs Saved over the last six years of his career, the only years for which we have that data.

Aided by the addition of the third round of playoffs in 1995, he’s still all over the postseason leaderboard, if not always in positive ways; his 14 losses rank second, his 11 wins only fifth. He’s fourth in postseason starts (30) and fifth in innings (198), over which he put up a 3.27 ERA, not far off his regular season mark of 3.16.

From an advanced statistical perspective, Maddux’s 106.8 career WAR ranks seventh all-time, with Clemens (140.3) and Tom Seaver (110.5) the only postwar pitchers above him. His 56.3 peak score is “only” 23rd all-time but still behind just Clemens (66.3), Johnson (62.0), Bob Gibson (61.6), Seaver (59.6) and Pedro Martinez (58.2) among the postwar set. Maddux loses ground to most of those pitchers in a WAR-based measurement because he didn’t strike hitters out with as much frequency (6.1 per nine to Clemens’ 8.6 per nine or Johnson’s 10.6 per nine); thus, he has to share more of the credit with his fielders. In the end, he ranks 10th all-time in JAWS among starters, with only Clemens (103.3), Seaver (85.0) and Johnson (82.0) ahead of his 81.6 among postwar pitchers. That’s not just a Hall of Famer, that’s an inner-circle one.

In the 21 elections since Seaver set the record with 98.84 percent of the vote back in 1992, only six of the 29 players elected by the BBWAA have surpassed 95 percent: Steve Carlton (95.82 percent in 1994), Mike Schmidt (96.52 percent in 1995), George Brett (98.19 percent in 1999), Nolan Ryan (98.79 percent in 1999), Tony Gwynn (97.61 percent in 2007) and Cal Ripken (98.53 percent in 2007). Maddux will likely join their company, but pushing into the upper reaches to threaten Seaver’s record may be out of the question. Last year saw five voters mail back blank ballots in protest of the number of PED-tainted candidates on the ballot, the latest in a trend of writers making the election about themselves instead of about the candidates. Those votes count in the total, so in an election where 569 ballots were cast, the maximum percentage any candidate could have gotten would have been 99.12 percent. Assuming those same numbers apply to this year’s ballot, Maddux could only afford to have one other voter not include him among their 10 and still surpass Seaver.

Setting aside resident BBWAA curmudgeon Murray Chass‘ threat/promise to vote for Jack Morris and nobody else, it’s not difficult to see how a voter could leave Maddux off as part of a game-theory strategy, particularly with more than 10 qualified candidates. If you’re a voter who wants to make sure that the candidacy of Mike Mussina or Edgar Martinez doesn’t go unnoticed, or that Morris needs your vote in his final year of eligibility, or that Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are finally worthy of your vote after you withheld it last year, you might conclude that Maddux doesn’t need your vote, and write in another name instead. Doing so might be considered a perversion of the process in the eyes of some, but with the BBWAA thus far sticking to the 10-candidate limit on the individual ballots, it’s inevitable that someone will go this route.

Ultimately, it probably doesn’t matter. Greg Maddux is going to be elected to the Hall of Fame in a landslide, and deservedly so.

60 comments
bhayes420
bhayes420

He was unbelievable in his prime, and could probably still be pitching somewhere if he wanted.  He could win games on guile alone!  He and Glavine need to go in together.  And hopefully Smoltz can join them in a couple of years.  

tmadz
tmadz

Maybe there's just too many baseball people casting votes. 569?  That's way too many, especially when you count the ignoramus' casting blank ballots to protest whatever. I have to believe that getting farther down the list of those who are eligible to cast ballots, there has to be many questionable bozo's that really have no business casting votes. If ANYONE doesn't think Maddux is a guaranteed HOF player then take away their vote. Stamp out this stupid business of idiotic voters thinking that someone can't go in on a first ballot. That is purely about the voters ego and not the players accomplishments.

JohnG1
JohnG1

The Jose Rijo thing threw me. Can someone explain *why* he was "miles ahead" of Maddux in WAR that year? Looking at their lines, it doesn't make sense:


Maddux: 20-10 2.36 ERA 8 CG 267.0 IP 14 HR 52 BB 197 SO 170 ERA+ 1.049 WHIP

Rijo: 14-9 2.48 ERA 2 CG 257.1 IP 19 HR 62 BB 227 SO 162 ERA+ 1.088 WHIP


Ok, don't get me wrong. Rijo had a very good season as well, but it seems that with the exception of strikeouts (which wasn't really *that* lopsided), Maddux was better in basically every way. Yet he had just 5.8 WAR to Rijo's 9.3. Given how closely Rijo trails Maddux in the other numbers, I could see him being slightly ahead in WAR. But 4.5? This is why I have a hard time making everything about WAR. I think it's a useful stat, but it also puts out results like this that I just can't justify.

rpearlston
rpearlston

I'm certain that such a sentence (Anyone who doesn't for for ...) had been said time and again, but that doesn't make it so.  I suspect that there is a small handful of voters who think that Maddux was so good because he got so many calls so far off the plate.  The same voters will also leave Glavine off of their ballots, for the same reason.


I suspect that first to be elected unanimously has recently retired, and I don't mean Doc Halladay (although he will be a HOF'er).  The first to be elected unanimously will likely be Mariano Rivera.

DavidA.Burns
DavidA.Burns

I never understood people not voting for clear-cut HOFers on the first ballot because of some sort of precedent set because players like Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb etc. weren't.  But, if somebody like Cal Ripken couldn't be unanimously elected, well, it ain't ever going to happen.

John NoLastName
John NoLastName

Obviously he's in on the first ballot. Who cares about the vote totals? If Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, et al weren't unanimous, then nobody should be.

rfaronson
rfaronson

If Murray Chass is so math-challenged that he doesn't realize that voting for Morris AND Maddux does not hurt Morris's percentage, then he does not deserve a HOF vote.

tonybot3
tonybot3

I personally, don't feel he's worthy, and you can rest assured i will boycott the awards if his name gets called.

NoQNoSuperBowl
NoQNoSuperBowl

I saw him toss a complete game 63 pitch shutout. Amazing pitcher. He deserves to be a unanimous selection but I think he won't be. Mariano Rivera will be the first to achieve that.

casualumberjack
casualumberjack

His EIGHTEEN golden gloves alone should be enough to get him in the Hall. He's the best fielding pitcher ever, no question. 

JPerl52
JPerl52

There is no doubt that Maddux should be a unanimous selection.  Someone has to break the ridiculous "no one gets 100%" tradition that some self-appointed "protectors" have imposed.  They are not honoring the legacies of the prior greats, they are just perpetuating an unjustifiable practice that dishonors the selection process. 

Hammer109
Hammer109

Was he a great pitcher?  Absolutely.  Would I make him a first ballot HOF'er?  Yes I would.  However, I'm just going to point out one thing.  He was not a dominant post-season pitcher.  He was good, but he often would pitch just well enough to lose.  If he'd been dominant, the Braves would have won more than one WS. 

I compare him to Peyton Manning in that way.  Also one of the greatest, also a first ballot HOF'er, but not great in the post-season.

DanDeeley
DanDeeley

If Maddux gets less than 100% then yes, the person that does not vote for him should never be allowed to vote again. There is no good reason not to vote for the man.

Shooter McGavin 19711
Shooter McGavin 19711

A few writers will not vote for Maddux simply to make sure that no player ever gets into the HOF unanimously.  Seaver didn't.  Ripken didn't.  Carlton didn't.  Even Cobb didn't.  So yeah, Maddux deserves it - but he will get around 99 percent of the vote.


OK
OK

Maddux is a unanimous Hall selection for the second-best right-handed pitcher in the history of baseball, trailing only Walter Johnson.

Disbott3000
Disbott3000

I imagine some collusion will go on to make sure he gets in the HOF without getting 100% of the vote.

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

Like so many things in life, this is made more complicated than it's supposed to be.


For those that have a vote, it's simple.  Is this man a HOF player?  The answer is yes or no.


And the answer to that is yes.  He is not the greatest pitcher of all time but he's way up there, well above oh so many pitchers who are in the HOF.


To many, he's in the top ten pitchers of all time, to others he's in the top 20.  


The point is that when a realistic person looks at what he did in his career and compares it to other starting pitchers in the HOF and they see that his stats are way above most of the pitchers in the hall, then they're answer needs to be that yes indeed, he is a HOF player.


But, people make things out to be MORE than they are.  Their vote doesn't ask them to insert things such as should this player be the first player ever to be elected unamimously?


The instructions do not say should this player do something that Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and others didn't accomplish?


It's my opinion that others should have already been voted in unanimously, but it hasn't happened.


A HOF fame voter is to simply decide if a player is a hall of fame player and Greg Maddux is a hall of fame player but some voters will vote a different way for OTHER reasons as I mentioned above.


But I fail to see how one may say that he doesn't deserve to receive 100% when others haven't.  THAT isn't what they are supposed to vote on.  Is he or is he not a HOF player?


Also I fail to understand when some voters say that well he IS going to get elected to the hall anyway so I'll vote for another player.


The question is the same for Greg as it is for others.  Is HE a hall of fame player and yes he is so vote on that and don't insert politics or feelings that one shouldn't be the first unanimous player etc...

Ryan1
Ryan1

Guy was amazing


He would have had more Cy Youngs but his teammates, Glavine and Smoltz were outstanding and then came Randy Johnson at his peak.


No PED's there, 4 Cy Youngs, All Star Games, a title - how can he not get voted in?

2001mark
2001mark

No.


Because some writer will complain that Maddux didn't win the Braves' World Series all by himself, & that was his lone championship team.


It would probably take a player utterly dominating his era, winning multiple awards & championships, finishing top 10 all time in multiple stats, before anyone is unanimous for each & every writer.


Even then, there'll be a writer who was miffed that player dominated his favourite team so much that he doesn't vote out of personal spite.


Ladies & Gentlemen... the 'greatest' (lols!) HOF of all sports.

Callaway
Callaway

If Maddux doesn't get 100% of the votes, its a crying shame.

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

The best compliment I can give him is this:  "God, I hated that guy".  He just owned the Phillies, and everyone else too.

tonywieman@gmail.com
tonywieman@gmail.com

I was honored to watch him his whole career. Thanks to living in Florida, the Braves used to be Florida's team.

ineedataxi
ineedataxi

Hands down  greatest pitcher of the last 25 years

PAZSKY
PAZSKY

@tmadz Can't agree more on the "NO HOF on the First Ballot" thinking..ridiculous.

PAZSKY
PAZSKY

@JohnG1 That's exactly why the WAR stat is ridiculous in comparing players and their achievements..

buddha2727
buddha2727

Roy halladay was good, even had a few great seasons but he is not a HoFer, sorry. He barely won 200 games, he wasn't great long enough, sorry. And if he does get in it will be like on his 14-15th try

bhayes420
bhayes420

@rpearlston Rivera will not get votes from some idiots solely because he was a reliever.  I don't like it, and don't agree with it, but I would guarantee he doesn't get elected unanimously.  

JPerl52
JPerl52

@rpearlstonNo question that Rivera is the best reliever and one of the very best pitchers (starter, reliever, or otherwise) in baseball history, and a class act in every way.  But I don't think there is any chance that he will be a unanimous choice - Electing relievers to the Hall is still a pretty recent development, and some of the "old-school" thinkers will make sure that he is not the first unanimous pick

bhayes420
bhayes420

@NoQNoSuperBowl Rivera will not be elected unanimously.  Some voters still struggle with relievers in the HoF period.  I don't agree with it, but it won't happen.  

tmadz
tmadz

@NoQNoSuperBowl I have no idea why you think Rivera is likely to be unanimous more than Maddux. I don't think there's many voters who will put a starter with 355 wins behind a closer, no matter how good, who would pitch 1-2 innings at a time.

buddha2727
buddha2727

It's called a team sport for a reason buddy. Look at the errors that were made in the field, look at the relievers blowing games, just like football is a team sport. I'm guessing that's why you sit on the couch and stuff your face with Cheetos instead of being a major leaguer....

casualumberjack
casualumberjack

@Hammer109 You point out his only weakness! Keep in mind however that those Braves teams relied heavily on the pitchers to win the games. Had he been pitching for the Yankees we probably would not be having this conversation.

rpearlston
rpearlston

@Sportsfan18 I can tell you precisely why some voters will not vote for him.  (I'm not a voter.)    They'll simply point out that both he and Glavine got so many calls far outside of the strike zone that they couldn't help but win games.  


While I dispute the second half of that thinking, I fully agree about the strike zone that expanded for all Atlanta pitchers while the Braves won so many consecutive division titles.

rpearlston
rpearlston

@Ryan1 No one is saying otherwise.  The argument here is whether or not Maddux will be the first unanimous selection to the HOF.  Did you read the article before you wrote your comment, or are you reacting only to the headline?

PAZSKY
PAZSKY

@tonywieman@gmail.com I don't know about "Florida's Team" (I lived there for 30+ years), but I get your point- TBS and the Braves were always on cable, pretty much the only baseball games on TV during the week. Some cable areas where I lived either had WOR-New York or Chicago, so we got to see either Mets or Cubs/White Sox games as well, then local channel 39 would show Yankees/Orioles games also, but the Braves were the cable king.

Disbott3000
Disbott3000

@tonywieman@gmail.com They still must be because no one is paying attention to the Marlins (understandable) or the Rays (regrettable. Good management, bad stadium.)

rfaronson
rfaronson

@ineedataxi I think both are sure first ballot HOFer.  Maddux had a longer career.  Pedro had a much higher peak, especially if you adjust for ballparks (Fenway is brutal on pitchers) and league (DH versus pitcher).  If I had to pick one pitcher, in his prime (however you choose to define prime) it would be Pedro over Maddux, and it's not even close. 


Just for fun, I took both pitchers and since each of them had seven seasons of greatness starting with their first season leading their league in ERA+ and ending with their last, totaled them both.  Maddux had an amazing ERA+ of 190 and WHIP of 0.968.  Pedro was much better: ERA+ of 213, WHIP of 0.940 (and WHIP includes 6 of those 7 years having to pitch in Fenway and facing the DH).  Maddux looks better on unadjusted ERA (2.15 to 2.20) but take away league and ballpark disadvantages and it's clear that Pedro was a better pitcher.  For their careers (and yes, Maddux pitched longer, but also always in the NL) Pedro had a better unadjusted ERA (2.93 to 3.16) and ERA+ was 154 to 132 for their career, advantage Pedro. Longer is (to me) the tie breaker if it's close, but it's really not close enough.  Even if you eliminate Maddux's first two and last five seasons, clearly his worst, his ERA+ only goes up to 147, still below Pedro, and his wins also drop below 300.  Take away Pedro's last four seasons and his W-L% goes up to an amazing .701 and ERA+ to 166.  That's Koufax level of performance for twice as long as Koufax was Koufax.  But Pedro pitched in Fenway, which skewed his stats (and not in a good way).


I also bet that Maddux gets a higher percentage of votes.  HOF voters don't care about the color of a pitcher's skin, do they?

therantguy
therantguy

@ineedataxiHands down? Really? I am all for baseball arguments and while he should absolutely be a 1st ballot 100% hall of famer, it's very clear that Pedro Martinez was a better pitcher. Dude won 9% more games (i.e. winning percentage), lower ERA, lower WHIP, higher ERA+ (by a mile), struck out 4 guys more per 9 innings etc...etc...


Don't even suggest to me that if the choice was between Pedro's average season and Maddux's that any team in the league would pick Maddux.

leetro1525
leetro1525

@JohnG1 As the author of that piece, I'm curious why you, and others, would think that it's ridiculous.  I wouldn't expect two similarly talented pitchers to put up the same R/9 if they pitched in front of drastically different levels of defense.  If you don't adjust for that, you're under-rating the pitcher in front of the poor defense and over-rating the pitcher in front of the good defense.  If you don't believe that the Reds' and Braves' defenses were that different, then you can adjust the WAR totals, but looking at the names on those teams, I think those values are pretty close.

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@rpearlston @Sportsfan18  When a pitcher has good control and is CONSISTENT with where the throw the ball, they will get calls just off the plate.


Other pitchers who were not on the Braves had this happen to them too.


If it was only Braves pitchers then how about the rest of their pitching staff's over the years?'


ALL catchers try to frame the pitch, pull it in just a tad with their glove.  Getting a pitch called a strike just off the plate is as old as the game is.


How about calling an out at 2nd base on the double play when either the SS or 2nd baseman already took their foot off the base BEFORE they had caught the ball from their double play partner?


My point is that things happen in the game.  Others besides Maddux and Glavine had this happen to them too.

oasis1994
oasis1994

@rpearlston @Sportsfan18 


Here are a few other reasons we shouldn't care if they got strikes outside the strike zone.


1. Michael Jordan got away with everything (different sport I know)

2. How about we look at what hitters were and are wearing? They have elbow pads and guards that stick out so far that pitchers like Maddux, who didn't throw 95+ had have pinpoint control and live on the outer edge. 

mapender
mapender

@ineedataxi I don't disagree with what you are saying about their prime numbers, but you can't compare career stats for the two. Maddux pitched so many more innings that it is bound to hurt his rate stats while padding his counting stats when compared to Pedro.

I find this comparison between the two interesting. If you compare Pedro's entire career to Maddux's 1991-2002 stats which is roughly the same number of innings pitched, it shows you how much Maddux's later career hurt his rate stats.

Pedro (career) v. Maddux (1991-2002)

IP: 2,827.1 v. 2,839.1

W-L%: .687 v. .683

ERA: 2.93 v. 2.55

CG: 46 v. 76

SHO: 17 v. 27

ERA+: 154 v. 164

WHIP: 1.054 v. 1.045

SO/9: 10.0 v. 6.7

SO/BB: 4.15 v. 4.32


If I had to pick one pitcher in is prime to win one game, I'd probably go with Pedro. But career, it is a no brainer to go with Maddux. He essentially pitched the same number of innings as Pedro did in his career at just an effective (or arguably more effective) rate. Plus, Maddux pitched more than 2,000 additional innings at a better than average rate. Also, once you are arguing whether you'd rather have a pitcher with a 190 ERA+ or a 213 ERA+, well I think either would do just fine.

Brian7
Brian7

@therantguy If you really wanted to see who was the better pitcher, look at the wins put up after 33. That will tell you who was the better pitcher. Who performed once they lost their natural gifts to age. After 33 Martinez had 22 wins. Maddux after 33, 126. My friend it's not close. If we go off of "peak value" Roger Maris would be in the Hall of Fame.

Brian7
Brian7

@therantguy @ineedataxi Maddux is hands down the better pitcher. You can't even count on two hands the times Maddux threw complete games that were under 90 pitches. Oh yeah, Martinez struck out people. Congrats. You still threw 5 or 6 pitches in at bats when you do that. Maddux induced dribblers on the third pitch of the AB. Maddux personified efficiency. And he bucked the system where strike outs were king. He had pen-point placement on nearly every pitch. And he was a better student of the game. Hell, he stole bases all the time when the opportunity presented itself. Every GM in the game would choose Maddux over Martinez because of the value he supplied over the his career. To add insult to injury, Maddux would have never been caught dead throwing down a 70 year old coach.  

casualumberjack
casualumberjack

@therantguy @ineedataxi Pedro had more raw talent, but that's about as much as I'll give in Pedro's favor. '94 & '95 Maddux was just as good as any of Pedro's best seasons. Maddux had a MUCH longer career than Pedro (pitched almost twice as many innings!), which skews those stats you mention. Not to mention all the little things that Maddux did, including his 18 gold gloves and his above-average batting stats. Though I agree Maddux isn't a 'hands down' best, I'd say he edges out Pedro for the reasons I mentioned.

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

@therantguy @ineedataxi W/L % is deceptive.  However, ERA, WHIP, and ERA+, K/9 are much better for comparing pitchers.  And Pedro was better

pipdmx33
pipdmx33

@oasis1994@rpearlston@Sportsfan18Also, he got calls outside of the zone in a time when a good percentage of hitters were juicing, and bottom-of-the-order middle infielders were routinely hitting 20+ home runs.

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@PhillyPenn @therantguy @ineedataxi   There ARE different ways to define better.


Pedro was better in many of his seasons than Greg.


But which pitcher was BETTER when all of their OVER 20 seasons were combined?


Oh, Pedro didn't pitch over 20?  


Pedro was a great pitcher, no doubt.  My point is that there are many ways to describe greatness in sports.  An average player for his career may have one of the best or the best season ever in a sport.


Or a player may just be very good, one of the best each season without being THE best, yet he is one of the best for a couple of decades.