Greg Maddux: Cooperstown in 2014 Is The Professor's Next Stop
Throughout his illustrious 23-year career Greg Maddux earned the nickname "The Professor". Remembering Bob Costas, Joe Morgan and Bob Uecker mentioning it during the NBC Telecast of the 1995 World Series should have been enough vindication.
I'm going to go one step further and mention a piece of recent history, and tie it in to Greg Maddux.
Not two years ago, Orioles SS Cal Ripken, Jr. and Padres OF Tony Gwynn were elected into the Hall of Fame, earning greater than 95 percent of the vote in their first time on the ballot.
Many questioned at the time how any sportswriter who voted could possibly not vote for one or both of these players who'd played 20 years with the same team, and accumulated statistics in numerous categories that put them at or near the top of the baseball record books and were ambassadors for the game in the process.
The lame excuse that some of these idiotic sportswriters, including one from the Daily Southtown in Chicago, made was that no one had ever gotten 100 percent of the vote, let alone on the first ballot.
Doing so for Ripken and or Gwynn would make it seem they were better than Babe Ruth, Henry Aaron or the current top percentage vote getter in Tom Seaver.
Any writer who doesn't think Greg Maddux deserves to be in the Hall of Fame in 2014 should be fired. Period.
I don't care that Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, etc never got 100 percent of the vote. Should they have? I'd say yes.
But those votes are years in the past and the writers who didn't vote them in on the first ballot, if they're still alive, should be ashamed and embarrassed for not checking a box on an all-time great.
If Maddux doesn't get every single vote in five years—it will be an outrage.
As Tim Kurkjian so eloquently pointed out, Maddux has the third most wins of any pitcher whose careers started after 1900, behind only Warren Spahn and Walter Johnson. He has 18 Gold Gloves, not just a record for pitchers, but for any position, including 13 in a row.
The only pitchers of Maddux's generation who come even close to matching his entire body of work are his teammates (John Smoltz and Tom Glavine), Roger Clemens, and possibly Randy Johnson. Clemens and Johnson might have more Cy Young awards, Glavine has more 20-win seasons, but the mark of amazing consistency and control is what makes him unique.
In the light of the Mitchell Report last year, Maddux's accomplishments are even more dignified based on the hitters he was facing, his lack of physical stature (6', 180 lbs) and that the closest contemporary (Roger Clemens) by every piece of circumstantial evidence and testimony that has been made public, cheated to reach the same level of achievement that Maddux did without performance-enhancing drugs.
Then we look at the numbers: 355-227, 3.16 ERA, 3371 K. 740 games started and 109 of them finished. He had 30+ shutouts and only 999 walks issued in 23 seasons.
Four straight Cy Young Awards (1992-1995), 18 Gold Gloves, and a career ERA in postseason of 3.31 shows that the 11-14 record he had in the postseason wasn't entirely the result of him not pitching well.
In his prime, Maddux may have had the best two-season stretch of anyone since World War II. His 1994 and 1995 seasons were unheard of by today's standards, as he went 16-6, 1.56 ERA in 1994 and 19-2, 1.63 ERA in 1995—both strike-shortened seasons.
Despite having fewer than 30 starts in each of those seasons, each of those two years he pitched over 200 innings, had 10 complete games and three shutouts. The only pitcher still on the mound today who could come close to saying that is Roy Halladay.
He followed up that stellar 1995 regular season with a fine showing in the playoffs, going 3-1 with a 2.84 ERA in five post-season starts as the Braves won their only World Series in Atlanta.
Maddux's physical stature was not one that would make it to the majors today. Many scouts would say he's too short, not strong enough and doesn't throw hard enough. Even in his prime, a Maddux fastball would top out about 91 MPH. He had a great curveball, but he hardly ever threw it.
He made his living on that outside corner with a cut fastball that had so many left-handed hitters raising their arms just in time to see it tail from being inside to cutting right over the black as the ump called strike three.
His arm action was so deceptive, that he was a master at getting hitters off balance to total 419 GIDP over his career.
His 2.32 Ground to Fly Ball Ratio showed his talents at keeping hitters off balance as much or more than the fact that he got 66 more hitters to hit into double plays than hit homeruns (353) over 23 years.
The records and statistics speak for themselves. There isn't a fan of the Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers or any other team who has any sense of baseball history to argue the fact that Greg Maddux deserves to get every vote for the Hall of Fame when he's eligible.
For anyone who disagrees—go read this list of stories and then try to tell me or anyone else he doesn't deserve every single vote in 2014.
Greg—like you've done so many times to the fans, we tip our cap to you.
Congratulations on an absolutely stellar career.
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