Where Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine Stand Among MLB's All-Time Great Pitchers

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Where Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine Stand Among MLB's All-Time Great Pitchers
Harry How/Getty Images

It's fitting that Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine became Hall of Famers and secured their rightful places in Major League Baseball history the same way they spent much of their careers—together. But even among the best of the best, where do these two greats rank among their fellow all-timers?

Teammates on the Atlanta Braves for exactly a decade (1993-2002), Maddux netted 97.2 percent of the official vote, while Glavine garnered 91.9 percent, according to the Baseball Writers Association of America. The pair, joined in this year's Cooperstown class by first baseman/designated hitter Frank Thomas (83.7 percent), are in some pretty heady company, per the BBWAA:

Maddux and Glavine are the first pair of Hall of Fame classmates both to record voting percentages in the 90th percentile since 2007 with Cal Ripken Jr. (98.5) and Tony Gwynn (97.6). Overall it is the fifth time in Hall of Fame voting history that classmates have recorded 90th percentile totals, joining 1936 (Ty Cobb 98.2 Honus Wagner 95.1, Babe Ruth 95.1, Christy Mathewson 90.7); 1989 (Johnny Bench 96.4, Carl Yastrzemski 94.6); 1999 (Ryan 98.8, Brett 98.29) and 2007.

Put another way, the righty Maddux and lefty Glavine are the first ever to be inducted into the Hall in the same year as pitchers who received at least 90 percent of the vote. That's pretty darn neat.

As Glavine put it to Mark Bowman of MLB.com prior to the election announcement:

If you get in and go in by yourself, you're proud. But if you have the opportunity to go in with guys you spent a large chunk of your career with and guys people identify you with, to me that would be even more fun.

From strictly a performance and statistical standpoint, though, where does this prominent pair place in the vast history of baseball? Here's a rundown of several of their career numbers—and ranks—including some of the more traditional stats, like wins, innings and starts, as well as a few newer-age metrics that help compare across generations, like ERA+:

Maddux and Glavine's Career Ranks (SPs w/ 2,000 IP since 1900)
STATISTIC MADDUX RANK GLAVINE RANK
W 355 5 305 14
GS 740 3 682 10
IP 5,008.1 9 4,413.1 21
ERA 3.16 40 3.54 101
WHIP 1.14 27 1.31 198
K/9 6.1 71 5.3 124
BB/9 1.8 15 3.1 215
CG 109 183 56 259
ERA+ 132 15 118 65
QS% 64.9% 17 63.9% 24

Baseball Reference

It's pretty clear immediately that while both pitchers were fantastic in many of these categories, Maddux simply was in a higher tier than Glavine. That's not a knock on the latter—this is just what happens when parsing and dissecting the best of the best.

For further evidence that Maddux belongs a notch above Glavine—and perhaps on the Mount Rushmore of pitchers—here's a look at the leaders in Wins Above Replacement among starters with at least 2,000 innings since 1900, according to Baseball Reference:

Starters with Highest Career bWAR (Since 1900)
RANK PLAYER bWAR HALL OF FAMER
1 Walter Johnson 152.6 Yes
2 Roger Clemens 139.2 No (on ballot)
3 Pete Alexander 116.9 Yes
4 Lefty Grove 110.0 Yes
5 Tom Seaver 106.1 Yes
6 Greg Maddux 104.8 Yes
7 Randy Johnson 104.1 No (on 2015 ballot)
8 Phil Niekro 97.3 Yes
9 Bert Blyleven 96.4 Yes
10 Christy Mathewson 95.5 Yes
11 Gaylord Perry 93.6 Yes
12 Warren Spahn 92.8 Yes
13 Eddie Plank 86.5 Yes
14 Pedro Martinez 85.9 No (on 2015 ballot)
15 Steve Carlton 84.0 Yes
16 Nolan Ryan 83.7 Yes
17 Robin Roberts 83.0 Yes
18 Fergie Jenkins 82.7 Yes
19 Mike Mussina 82.7 No (on ballot)
20 Bob Gibson 81.9 Yes
21 Curt Schilling 80.7 No (on ballot)
22 Cy Young 80.0 Yes
23 Tom Glavine 74.0 Yes
24 Don Sutton 68.8 Yes
25 Kevin Brown 68.7 No

Baseball Reference

For additional context, Fangraphs' WAR actually ranks Maddux third all-time with 114.3 WAR, while Glavine places 39th with 63.9 WAR. 

Among their other achievements during their 23- and 22-year careers, respectively, Maddux won an unprecedented 18 Gold Gloves and can say he is one of only two pitchers in history with four straight Cy Young Award titles (Randy Johnson is the other). Glavine won two Cy Youngs and made 10 trips to the All-Star Game (two more than Maddux).

Taking all of the above into consideration, Maddux is pretty easily in the top 10 of all time, and there's a legitimate case to be made that he's among the top five pitchers ever to step on a mound. That depends on how one would rank him against elites like Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez.

By comparison, Glavine's spot is a little more challenging to pinpoint because there are a lot more names in his range, including contemporaries Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling, neither of whom has made it to the Hall yet. All in all, calling Glavine an all-time top-25 pitcher would be a good starting point and not out of place.

Ultimately, the Hall of Fame just welcomed two of the very best starting pitchers in baseball history—who just so happened to be longtime teammates—on the same day.

 

To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11

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