Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Maddux: Lowest ERA Ever

When it comes to Earned Run Average, Greg Maddux was the greatest in history. Experts say Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, and Maddux were so dominant because their ERA was so much lower than the league ERA, but Maddux’s comparative ERA was the lowest. Gibson and Koufax played in an era when pitching was so dominant that the mound was lowered. Maddux pitched against a league full of juiced up players hitting home runs at a record pace. Maddux put up four straight years where his ERA was less than 2/3 the league average. Only Walter Johnson, who pitched in the dead ball era, can match that.
Maddux led the majors in ERA in 4 years out of 6, and finished in the top 5 in the majors 9 times in the 10 year period from 1993 - 2002. Since 1920 only five pitchers had seasons with an ERA lower than 1.65: Spud Chandler (1943), Bob Gibson (68), Luis Tiant (68), and Dwight Gooden (85). Maddux did it twice, in 94 and 95.

Only three active pitchers have careers ERAs lower than Maddux, who pitched for 23 seasons. Today pitchers are dominant because players are trying to hit home runs, and instead strike out in record numbers.

Of all the players in MLB history who pitched as long as Maddux, only one had a lower ERA. Maddux is the only pitcher in history with more than 300 wins and 3000 strikeouts, and less than 1000 walks. The Hall of Famers he faced only hit .273 off him – 14 points lower than their career average.

era.league.% of league.career
1.56 4.21 37.1% Maddux 3.16
1.12 2.99 37.5% Gibson   2.91
When the greatness of Roger Clemens is discussed, most will fail to compare him to Maddux. Though some of their statistics are comparable, Maddux was the better all-around pitcher: ERA, strikeouts, walks, wins, consistency, fielding, and even bunting (The Mad Dog had more sacrifice bunts than any right-handed pitcher in history, and is second all-time behind Tom Glavine). And Maddux did it without using performance-enhancing drugs.

Sunday night I looked at all the photos on AJC.com, looking for my two friends who had made the trip. Tom said his view wasn’t that good. Baptist John was at Turner Field. Yesterday I finally got to look at those commemorative HOF AJC’s. Thought about cutting out some photos for my scrapbook calendar, but decided to save them intact. Also bought the special commemorative Sports Illustrated HOF edition off the newsstands, with Maddux and Glavine on the cover. Filled with neat info and articles I hadn’t read before.

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