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Deciding who would be named the Cubs’ All-Time Starting Pitcher was the most difficult of all positions.
The previous selections to the team were made in a vacuum—how well that player performed in that era. However, when deciding which pitcher would represent all other Cubs pitchers, the same courtesy was not afforded.
This is the only position where consideration was given to not only how that pitcher performed in their era, but how successful he would have been in other eras.
For that reason, the Chicago Cubs’ All-Time Starting Pitcher is Greg Maddux.
“Mad Dog” pitched in what can be considered the most difficult era for pitchers, yet still achieved great success.
He won 355 games, with an ERA of 3.16, and had 3,371 strikeouts to only 999 walks. He won four straight Cy Young Awards from 1992 to 1995 and finished in the top five in voting five other times; he won 13 straight Gold Gloves—18 overall; and he was named to the NL All-Star Team eight times.
Succeeding as much in the steroid era as Greg Maddux did, looking like an accountant when the hitters were PED-fueled hulks, takes a great deal of talent and skill.
Maddux had both a changeup and a fastball that danced across the plate, with the accuracy of a sniper’s bullet. He complemented those pitches with a slider that could increase the strike zone's size and a seldom-used and plain curveball.
He was a stark contrast to one of the era’s all-time great, hard-throwing hurlers Roger Clemens.
Maddux was able to use his soft throwing style to counter the brutish swings of his bulky adversaries. With Maddux, just like a realtor, movement and location were his keys to success—two aspects of the pitching game he mastered as Beethoven did the piano.
Greg Maddux was, as Jacob Peterson put it, economical in his pitching. In an era of undoubtedly pro-hitter baseball, Greg Maddux pitched with as great efficiency as he did success.
In 1995 he had 19 wins and only 23 walks; in 1997 he again had 19 wins but this time only 20 bases on balls.
Peterson analyzed the average number of pitches it takes a pitcher to record 27 outs. The average as of the 2012 season is 145; Peterson wrote that the average was higher during the steroid era but was not specific.
He calculated that Greg Maddux needed only 120.6 pitches to record 27 outs, noting no other pitcher with 2,000 IP since 1988 has averaged fewer than 130.