Greg Maddux: The Reincarnation of Cy Young
I love Greg Maddux.
I'm upset that he retired. I will definitely miss him.
He represents every positive aspect of a ballplayer and professional athlete. He's a fantastic pitcher who simply goes out there and does the best he can every time he takes the mound. He's low-key and under the radar.
He was the type of guy you can build a team around. He reminds me a lot of Cy Young. Here are just a few of the similarities between the two.
1. They flat out won games.
Young 15 straight seasons 15+ wins.
Maddux 17 straight seasons 15+ wins.
Young 13 seasons top five in wins.
Maddux 15 seasons top five in wins.
Young led league in winning percentage twice.
Maddux led league in winning percentage twice.
Young career winning percentage .618
Maddux career winning percentage .610
2. They were dominant. Both Young and Maddux are consistently ranked in the top 10 all-time in lists of the greatest starting pitchers.
Young career ERA 0.99 better than the league.
Maddux career ERA 1.00 better than the league.
3. They had incredible control. Young and Maddux were each the best control pitcher of their time, averaging just one or two walk per game for the majority of their careers. Neither struggled with their control at any point of their career, but each did post their four highest single-season walk totals in their first four seasons.
From there on out, they settled down.
Young 14 seasons leading league in fewest walks per game.
Maddux 9 seasons leading league in fewest walks per game.
4. They both pitched forever. Both Young and Maddux started about the same year, just about one hundred years apart from one another. Each threw a complete game win in their first major-league start.
Young 1890-1911 (22 seasons).
Maddux 1986-2008 (23 seasons).
5. They changed teams.
Young pitched for four different teams.
Maddux pitched for four different teams.
And both came back to their original team for a second stint (Young with Cleveland, Maddux with Chicago).
6. They were durable. Both Maddux and Young pitched into their early 40s, and were still effective. Obviously, Maddux couldn't pitch the same number of innings as Cy Young, because times have changed and pitchers simply can't throw 400 per season anymore.
But both Maddux and Young are among the best workhorses of all-time. Each retired as the active career leader in almost all the major pitching categories: innings pitched, games started, complete games, wins, losses, hits allowed, and batters faced.
Young top 10 in innings pitched 19 straight seasons.
Maddux top 10 in innings pitched 18 straight seasons.
Young led league in complete games three times.
Maddux led league in complete games three times.
Young led league in shutouts seven times.
Maddux led league in shutouts five times.
7. They had similar postseason numbers. Each had career losing records in the playoffs (Maddux 11-14, Young 2-3) but it really wasn't their fault. Young posted a 2.36 ERA in the postseason and Maddux posted a 3.31 ERA.
The bottom line: These two guys were so similar—right-handed starters who pitched forever, had amazing control, and were extremely consistent and durable. Except that Young was a harder thrower than Maddux, their careers and statistics were eerily similar.
Few people initially think of two guys like Maddux and Cy Young as so comparable to each other, but it really amazed me when I dug deeper into their statistics that they were actually pretty similar pitchers. I wish that I could have been able to see Cy Young pitch.
But at least I got to see Maddux.
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