Greg Maddux and 5/20 Pitchers

This past spring, birtelcom wrote a piece about Greg Maddux, looking at his pitching efficiency in terms of pitches thrown per inning. As pitch count data are consistently available only since the late 1980s, his analysis was limited to the period of the past 25 seasons or so. That being said, Maddux was clearly in a class of his own in terms of minimizing pitches thrown per inning pitched.

In this post, I will approach the same topic a bit differently to extend the analysis through the entire history of professional baseball. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the name Greg Maddux again figures very prominently.

When Greg Maddux retired four years ago, possibly his milestones that were least remarked upon were these:

  • 5,000 innings pitched
  • 20,000 batters faced

Maddux reached both plateaus in his final season, becoming just the 13th pitcher all time to do so. This dual accomplishment speaks to longevity, high workload and, most importantly, consistent and unrelenting efficiency in retiring batters, so much so that it will likely be a long time (if ever) before another pitcher reaches either plateau, never mind both of them.

For the record, Greg Maddux faced batter number 20,000 on June 20, 2008 as San Diego hosted Detroit. The trivia answer is Placido Polanco, batting in the first inning and hitting a weak grounder to short. Maddux reached 5,000 innings in his second-to-last game, pitching for the Dodgers against the Giants on September 19, 2008. Out number 15,000 was World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval, popping up to short in the 3rd inning.

Here are the 5 and 20 club members.

Rk Player WHIP IP From To Age G CG SHO W L BB SO ERA ERA+ HR BF Tm
1 Walter Johnson 1.061 5914.1 1907 1927 19-39 802 531 110 417 279 1363 3509 2.17 147 97 23405 WSH
2 Pete Alexander 1.121 5190.0 1911 1930 24-43 696 437 90 373 208 951 2198 2.56 135 165 20893 PHI-CHC-TOT-STL
3 Tim Keefe 1.123 5049.2 1880 1893 23-36 600 554 39 342 225 1233 2564 2.63 126 75 20941 TRO-NYP-NYG-NYI-TOT-PHI
4 Cy Young 1.130 7356.0 1890 1911 23-44 906 749 76 511 316 1217 2803 2.63 138 138 29565 CLV-STL-BOS-CLE-TOT
5 Don Sutton 1.142 5282.1 1966 1988 21-43 774 178 58 324 256 1343 3574 3.26 108 472 21631 LAD-HOU-TOT-MIL-CAL
6 Greg Maddux 1.143 5008.1 1986 2008 20-42 744 109 35 355 227 999 3371 3.16 132 353 20421 CHC-ATL-TOT-SDP
7 Gaylord Perry 1.181 5350.0 1962 1983 23-44 777 303 53 314 265 1379 3534 3.11 117 399 21953 SFG-CLE-TOT-TEX-SDP-ATL-SEA
8 Pud Galvin 1.191 6003.1 1875 1892 18-35 705 646 57 365 310 745 1807 2.85 107 121 25415 STL-BUF-PBB-PIT-TOT
9 Warren Spahn 1.195 5243.2 1942 1965 21-44 750 382 63 363 245 1434 2583 3.09 119 434 21547 BSN-MLN-TOT
10 Kid Nichols 1.224 5067.1 1890 1906 20-36 621 532 48 361 208 1272 1881 2.96 140 156 21082 BSN-STL-TOT-PHI
11 Nolan Ryan 1.247 5386.0 1966 1993 19-46 807 222 61 324 292 2795 5714 3.19 112 321 22575 NYM-CAL-HOU-TEX
12 Steve Carlton 1.247 5217.2 1965 1988 20-43 741 254 55 329 244 1833 4136 3.22 115 414 21683 STL-PHI-TOT-MIN
13 Phil Niekro 1.268 5404.0 1964 1987 25-48 864 245 45 318 274 1809 3342 3.35 115 482 22677 MLN-ATL-NYY-CLE-TOT
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/4/2012.

Nice assortment of pitchers spread across the past 15 decades, missing only the 1931-41 period. I sorted the list by WHIP, as a proxy for BF per IP. Only the pitchers with the bolded names (each of whom pitched a significant portion of his career in the dead-ball era) have a lower BF/IP than Maddux’s number of 4.0774.

Less efficient pitchers who reached 20,000 batters in fewer than 5,000 innings are these gentlemen.

Rk Player WHIP IP From To Age G CG SHO W L BB SO ERA ERA+ HR BF Tm
1 Roger Clemens 1.173 4916.2 1984 2007 21-44 709 118 46 354 184 1580 4672 3.12 143 363 20240 BOS-TOR-NYY-HOU
2 Bert Blyleven 1.198 4970.0 1970 1992 19-41 692 242 60 287 250 1322 3701 3.31 118 430 20491 MIN-TOT-TEX-PIT-CLE-CAL
3 Mickey Welch 1.226 4802.0 1880 1892 20-32 565 525 41 307 210 1297 1850 2.71 113 106 20308 TRO-NYG
4 Bobby Mathews 1.237 4956.0 1871 1887 19-35 578 525 20 297 248 532 1528 2.86 104 70 21997 KEK-BAL-NYU-CIN-PRO-TOT-BSN-PHA
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/4/2012.

Calling Mathews and Welch less efficient is probably a bit unfair as, separated by a century from Blyleven and Clemens, they would have had more batters to face owing to many more errors made behind them.

Are there more efficient pitchers who have career marks over 5,000 innings and under 20,000 batters? In a word – no. However, Walter Johnson, the only 5/20 pitcher with career BF/IP below 4, had 5039.1 IP and 19,729 BF at the end of the 1923 season.

Here are the pitchers with career BF/IP below 4 (min. 2000 IP), an achievement exclusive to pitchers playing primarily in the dead-ball era.

Rk Player WHIP IP From To Age G CG W L BB SO ERA ERA+ HR BF Tm
1 Addie Joss 0.968 2327.0 1902 1910 22-30 286 234 160 97 364 920 1.89 142 19 8891 CLE
2 Ed Walsh 1.000 2964.1 1904 1917 23-36 430 250 195 126 617 1736 1.82 145 23 11413 CHW-BSN
3 Christy Mathewson 1.058 4788.2 1900 1916 19-35 636 435 373 188 848 2507 2.13 135 89 18913 NYG-TOT
4 Walter Johnson 1.061 5914.1 1907 1927 19-39 802 531 417 279 1363 3509 2.17 147 97 23405 WSH
5 Mordecai Brown 1.066 3172.1 1903 1916 26-39 481 271 239 130 673 1375 2.06 139 43 12422 STL-CHC-CIN-TOT-CHI
6 Babe Adams 1.092 2995.1 1906 1926 24-44 482 206 194 140 430 1036 2.76 118 67 11947 STL-PIT
7 Rube Waddell 1.102 2961.1 1897 1910 20-33 407 261 193 143 803 2316 2.16 135 37 11717 LOU-PIT-TOT-PHA-SLB
8 Deacon Phillippe 1.105 2607.0 1899 1911 27-39 372 242 189 109 363 929 2.59 120 41 10380 LOU-PIT
9 Chief Bender 1.113 3017.0 1903 1925 19-41 459 255 212 127 712 1711 2.46 112 40 11895 PHA-BAL-PHI-CHW
10 Eddie Plank 1.119 4495.2 1901 1917 25-41 623 410 326 194 1072 2246 2.35 122 42 17803 PHA-SLM-SLB
11 Doc White 1.121 3041.0 1901 1913 22-34 427 262 189 156 670 1384 2.39 113 33 12093 PHI-CHW
12 Hooks Wiltse 1.131 2112.1 1904 1915 24-35 357 154 139 90 498 965 2.47 112 54 8413 NYG-BTT
13 Ed Reulbach 1.143 2632.1 1905 1917 22-34 399 201 182 106 892 1137 2.28 123 33 10521 CHC-TOT-BRO-NEW-BSN
14 Eddie Cicotte 1.154 3226.0 1905 1920 21-36 502 249 209 148 827 1374 2.38 123 32 12731 DET-BOS-TOT-CHW
15 Frank Smith 1.166 2273.0 1904 1915 24-35 354 184 139 111 676 1051 2.59 101 27 9062 CHW-TOT-CIN-BAL
16 Nap Rucker 1.175 2375.1 1907 1916 22-31 336 186 134 134 701 1217 2.42 118 41 9441 BRO
17 Bob Ewing 1.178 2301.0 1902 1912 29-39 291 205 124 118 614 998 2.49 116 31 9157 CIN-PHI-STL
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/4/2012.

Which pitchers avoided the magic 4 batters per inning level most consistently? Here are the pitchers with the most seasons (min. 162 IP) below this threshold.

Rk Yrs From To Age
1 Eddie Plank 12 1904 1916 28-40 Ind. Seasons
2 Cy Young 11 1899 1910 32-43 Ind. Seasons
3 Walter Johnson 10 1908 1919 20-31 Ind. Seasons
4 Chief Bender 9 1904 1915 20-31 Ind. Seasons
5 Greg Maddux 8 1992 2001 26-35 Ind. Seasons
6 Christy Mathewson 8 1904 1913 23-32 Ind. Seasons
7 Mordecai Brown 8 1904 1915 27-38 Ind. Seasons
8 Addie Joss 8 1902 1909 22-29 Ind. Seasons
9 Tom Seaver 7 1968 1977 23-32 Ind. Seasons
10 Babe Adams 7 1910 1920 28-38 Ind. Seasons
11 Eddie Cicotte 7 1909 1919 25-35 Ind. Seasons
12 Ed Walsh 7 1906 1912 25-31 Ind. Seasons
13 Doc White 7 1903 1911 24-32 Ind. Seasons
14 Rube Waddell 7 1902 1909 25-32 Ind. Seasons
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/4/2012.

Maddux and Seaver stand out here as the only live-ball era pitchers on the list, with Maddux’s accomplishment the more impressive given the offensive context he pitched in.

The live-ball era list for the above looks like this.

Rk Yrs From To Age
1 Greg Maddux 8 1992 2001 26-35 Ind. Seasons
2 Tom Seaver 7 1968 1977 23-32 Ind. Seasons
3 Pedro Martinez 5 1997 2005 25-33 Ind. Seasons
4 Randy Johnson 5 1997 2004 33-40 Ind. Seasons
5 Curt Schilling 5 1992 2002 25-35 Ind. Seasons
6 Jim Palmer 5 1969 1977 23-31 Ind. Seasons
7 Fergie Jenkins 5 1967 1978 24-35 Ind. Seasons
8 Mike Mussina 4 1992 2003 23-34 Ind. Seasons
9 Roger Clemens 4 1986 2005 23-42 Ind. Seasons
10 Don Sutton 4 1971 1980 26-35 Ind. Seasons
11 Juan Marichal 4 1963 1969 25-31 Ind. Seasons
12 Sandy Koufax 4 1963 1966 27-30 Ind. Seasons
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/4/2012.

Strictly a post-expansion phenomenon, likely due to the continuing (and not independent) trends of fewer errors and more strikeouts.

Finally, who will be the next 5/20 pitcher, or even the ย next 5 or 20 pitcher? (or, maybe the question should be “Will there be such a pitcher?”). Here the IP leaders among active (or not yet officially retired) pitchers.

Rk Player IP From To Age G CG SHO W L BB SO ERA ERA+ HR BF Tm
1 Jamie Moyer 4074.0 1986 2012 23-49 696 33 10 269 209 1155 2441 4.25 104 522 17356 CHC-TEX-STL-BAL-TOT-SEA-PHI-COL
2 Livan Hernandez 3189.0 1996 2012 21-37 519 50 9 178 177 1066 1976 4.44 95 362 13816 FLA-TOT-SFG-MON-WSN-ARI
3 Andy Pettitte 3130.2 1995 2012 23-40 501 25 4 245 142 983 2320 3.86 117 271 13290 NYY-HOU
4 Kevin Millwood 2720.1 1997 2012 22-37 451 22 6 169 152 843 2083 4.11 106 296 11616 ATL-PHI-CLE-TEX-BAL-COL-SEA
5 Roy Halladay 2687.1 1998 2012 21-35 403 66 20 199 100 556 2066 3.31 134 224 11005 TOR-PHI
6 Tim Hudson 2682.1 1999 2012 23-36 406 25 13 197 104 810 1801 3.42 126 210 11157 OAK-ATL
7 Mark Buehrle 2679.0 2000 2012 21-33 421 28 8 174 132 604 1521 3.82 119 300 11145 CHW-MIA
8 Derek Lowe 2658.1 1997 2012 24-39 672 10 4 175 157 791 1714 4.00 110 214 11301 TOT-BOS-LAD-ATL
9 CC Sabathia 2564.1 2001 2012 20-31 383 35 12 191 102 769 2214 3.50 125 227 10622 CLE-TOT-NYY
10 Jeff Suppan 2542.2 1995 2012 20-37 448 16 5 140 146 871 1390 4.70 97 337 11139 BOS-TOT-KCR-STL-MIL-SDP
11 Barry Zito 2436.1 2000 2012 22-34 400 12 5 160 132 1004 1797 3.93 109 259 10356 OAK-SFG
12 Bartolo Colon 2393.1 1997 2012 24-39 381 32 9 171 122 773 1833 4.05 112 294 10158 CLE-TOT-CHW-ANA-LAA-BOS-NYY-OAK
13 Randy Wolf 2268.0 1999 2012 22-35 376 13 9 132 117 810 1767 4.20 100 287 9703 PHI-LAD-TOT-MIL
14 Chris Carpenter 2219.1 1997 2012 22-37 350 33 15 144 94 627 1697 3.76 116 220 9305 TOR-STL
15 Ryan Dempster 2215.2 1998 2012 21-35 547 11 3 124 124 992 1918 4.33 99 241 9658 FLA-TOT-CIN-CHC
16 Roy Oswalt 2213.0 2001 2012 23-34 356 20 8 163 96 511 1818 3.28 130 194 9150 HOU-TOT-PHI-TEX
17 Freddy Garcia 2183.2 1999 2012 22-35 359 12 4 152 101 691 1575 4.15 108 267 9264 SEA-TOT-CHW-PHI-DET-NYY
18 A.J. Burnett 2162.2 1999 2012 22-35 345 22 10 137 121 888 1971 4.05 104 221 9230 FLA-TOR-NYY-PIT
19 Bronson Arroyo 2076.2 2000 2012 23-35 359 13 5 124 115 589 1355 4.23 104 282 8836 PIT-BOS-CIN
20 Johan Santana 2025.2 2000 2012 21-33 360 15 10 139 78 567 1988 3.20 136 220 8262 MIN-NYM
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/4/2012.

I won’t bore you with the Batters Faced list – it’s all the same guys except that Miguel Batista replaces Johan Santana in 20th spot (it’s worth noting that Santana’s BF/IP of 4.08 is the best here, just ahead of Halladay, the only other pitcher below 4.1).

I sure don’t see anyone currently pitching who has even a remote chance of reaching either the 5 or the 20 milestone. The reason isn’t hard to spot. Just look at the CG column – Roy Halladay leads with 66 and only Livan Hernandez also has more than 35. Compare that to Maddux’s 109 CGs, easily the lowest total of any 5/20 pitcher. Barring an unexpected return to former practices of pitcher use, I believe Greg Maddux is indeed the last of the 5/20 breed.

 

Leave a Reply

91 Comments on "Greg Maddux and 5/20 Pitchers"

Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
mosc
Guest

CC’s got a shot at doing a lot of historic things. He’s been a horse so it seems more than blind optimism he stays healthy. He’s left handed so even as his velocity inevitably sags he should remain effective. I’d think he could survive as a medicore innings eater even on just slider, sinker, changeup if he had to they’re all way above average pitches. He showed some signs of wear this year, but if you’re looking for a guy who’s got a chance at 5k IP, it’s CC and there may never be another shot at it.

John Autin
Editor
“Never” is a long time. Maybe right now nobody looks like a strong candidate for 5,000 IP (although I’d argue that Felix Hernandez has a better shot than CC). But 5,000-IP guys have always been outliers; there are just 13 in all of MLB history. And conditions change. From 1920 through 1980, only Warren Spahn reached 5,000 IP. But since then, 6 more have joined the club — P.Niekro, Ryan, G.Perry, Sutton, Carlton and Maddux. Clemens and Blyleven both topped 4,900 IP. And while Maddux did carry a heavy yearly workload in his prime, his peak IP seasons are not… Read more »
Bryan O'Connor
Editor

And it will be Mike Trout.

bstar
Guest

Good point, JA. We heard that Tom Glavine would be the last 300-game winner. Then we heard Randy Johnson would be the last 300-game winner.

There will be another.

MikeD
Guest

Agreed. With offense “normalizing” over the past few years, and the continued improvements in medicine and training, not to mention the great amount of money even below-league-average pitchers earn, I do expect the game to see another 5,000 IP pitcher. Perhaps he’s even pitching right not. As noted, Sabathia at 31 is half way there and he has qualities that would not make it shocking at all if he continued to pitch effectivelyinto his 40s. King Felix. Justin Verlander. Or most likely someone we don’t even know yet. Yet I do think it will happen again.

John Autin
Editor

FWIW, the Bill James Career Assessment Tool (f.k.a. “Favorite Toy”) projects the following chances for certain pitchers to reach 5,000 IP:

7% — Felix Hernandez
2% — CC Sabathia*
Less than 1% — Buehrle, Cain, Kershaw, Greinke, Verlander

* Last year’s 200 IP costs CC about half the projected chance at 5,000 that he would have had if he’d matched his 2011 total of 237 IP.

Through age 26, King Felix is 214 IP ahead of CC at the same age. He’s also the MLB innings leader over the last 3 years and the last 4 years.

Ed
Guest

John – Did you use the ESPN calculator for those?

John Autin
Editor
Ed
Guest

John – I mentioned this a while ago but the ESPN calculator is “broken”. They’ve accidentally switched the weighting for “last year total” and “three years ago”. If you play around with it you’ll see what I mean. Best to use extreme numbers since it’s easier to see that way.

Bottom line is that CC has a 0% chance and Felix has a 6% chance.

John Autin
Editor

Ed, thanks for the reminder. I’ve confirmed your findings.

mosc
Guest

I’m thinking this stuff doesn’t look at the righty/lefty differences. I think a lot of left handed pitchers who adjust to low velocity can be successful later in their career. Sabathia’s slider is exceptional and is not velocity dependent.

Jason Z
Guest
I do not believe that CC or anybody else currently on the radar has a chance of joining this club. CC is the youngest on this list, and he will be 33 when next season ends. Carsten Charles reported feeling something in his elbow he never felt before after that last start in the ALCS against Detroit. CC averaged 34 starts the last five seasons, this year, 28. The Yankees tried to spin his DL stints as precautionary, but the truth is probably somewhat less clear. In fact, the Yankees have already spoken publicly about limiting his innings going forward.… Read more »
John Autin
Editor
In searching for the next 5,000-inning pitcher, the natural temptation is to look for those with a lot of innings at a relatively young age. That’s been my first instinct. Since Felix Hernandez just finished his age-26 season, I was looking at pitchers since 1973 who had more IP through age 26 than Maddux (1,442). There are 7 such men — Fernando, Gooden, King Felix, Tanana, Eckersley(!), Mike Witt, and Saberhagen. Trouble is, the 6 who are retired didn’t get anywhere near the target: – Tanana got to 4,188 by throwing slop for another 13 years; – Eck got to… Read more »
scott-53
Guest

Maddux has a record (possibly modern era) of 17 consecutive seasons(1988-2004) with 15 or more victories.

He came close to making it 20 seasons in a row. Had 13 in 2005. 14 in 2007.

scott-53
Guest

Thanks Doug, Interesting that Spahn and Maddux Are the only 2 pitchers with a streak Of 14 years or longer ending after 1916.

Mike L
Guest

If you think about it, Maddux was a freak because he was durable, but also because he was good enough to keep getting the ball, as a starter. He was a >100+ ERA pitcher for 19 consecutive years and was at 200 innings every all but one of those years (and that one was 199.1 innings).

bstar
Guest

Great post, John. Can you clarify something for me? I thought you were of the crowd that thinks pitching 200+ innings early in your career doesn’t necessarily lead to injury. Have I misread you there? Because Fernando, Sabes, and Dwight Gooden are three great examples of why it’s not the best idea.

If you’d have told me in 1985 or 1986 that out of those three (and let’s throw Orel Hershiser in there too to make four), not one would end up in the Hall of Fame I would have been shocked.

John Autin
Editor
bstar — Yes, and I’m flattered that you remembered. Three counterpoints, though: 1) There’s a big difference between 200 IP and the early workloads of Fernando (285 IP at 21, avg. of 269 from 21-25), Gooden (218 at 19, 277 at 20, 250 at 21) and Sabes (avg. of 234 from 21-25). 2) Also in that group was Mike Witt, who had a gradual buildup in his early 20s (avg. 154 from 20-22), then shouldered a typical load for 6 years (avg. 247 from 23-28), and then broke down. And since you mentioned Hershiser, he was almost 25 before his… Read more »
bstar
Guest

True, there’s a big difference in 200+ and 250+ IP. I threw out 200+ because that is considered heavy for a young pitcher these days.

I only brought up Hershiser to throw him in the group of 80s pitchers who appeared destined for the Hall of Fame (to me), not as another example of a heavy-workload-while-young guy.

MikeD
Guest

I think it’s unlikely that Sabathia will get to 5,000 innings, just as I think it’s unlikely that any of the pitchers mentioned make it. I’d bet against any one player, yet I’ll place a bet on the entire field that someone will do it eventually.

As for Sabathia, I won’t factor his weight and overall size into the equation. He has no comparison in the game’s history. For all we know, his great size may somehow benefit him. Anyone who reaches 5000 innings will be an outlier, and outliers are impossible to predict.

John Autin
Editor
Great piece, Doug. I look forwarding to giving it a deeper look later today. Obviously, control was a big factor in Mad Dog’s efficiency. His career average of 1.795 BB/9 ranks “only” 50th all-time. But let’s look at him in the context of his times: Number of times leading the league in BB/9: 14 – Cy Young 9 – Greg Maddux 7 – Christy Mathewson 5 – Pete Alexander, Fergie Jenkins, Deacon Phillippe, Jim Whitney (1883-87), Fritz Peterson(?!? 1968-72) It took a few years for Maddux’s control to reach its zenith. In his first 7 years, with the Cubs, he… Read more »
Brent
Guest

His on the mound control is not one of the Top 5 facts I would have come up with at the mention of Fritz Peterson (the “interesting” trade he pulled off with teammate Mike Kekich would be #1, of course)

Jason Z
Guest

The “swap” occurred immediately after the end of the 1972 season.

It worked out better for Fritz (the cat??) Peterson.

He is still married to Mrs. Kekich.

Mike and Mrs. Peterson…

not so good.

Hartvig
Guest
I’ve read a few different books by umpires- a couple of Ron Luciano’s, Durwood Merrill & at least 1 other I cannot bring to mind)- and I recall that in one of them the umpire talked about a couple of things that might relate here. One was how pitchers who are always around the plate tend to get the benefit of the doubt on close calls verses the ones who are all over the place. The other was how certain players reputations might effect how calls went. From what I remember whoever it was basically said that while umpires try… Read more »
Bryan O'Connor
Editor

Great piece, Doug, though I’d argue that it’s not until the fourth chart that you really highlight Maddux’s efficiency. It would seem that a pitcher would have to be efficient to reach either the 5k or 20k milestone, but Nolan Ryan and his 2,800 walks show that it can also be done more with longevity than efficiency. Even with all those walks, Ryan’s 4.191 BF/IP is more efficient than 14 of the 20 actives in your last chart. He must not have give up a lot of hits.

Luis Gomez
Guest

Well… he did threw a few no-hitters ๐Ÿ˜‰

brp
Guest

I’m assuming a little sarcasm on that last sentence; glancing at his bbr page Ryan’s H/9IP rate is only 6.555, well below Sandy Koufax’s 6.79 as the best in history. He lead the league (AL or NL) 12 times in that category, stretching from 1972 to 1991.

Bryan O'Connor
Editor

Sarcasm, yes. Proofreading, no. On a related note, I don’t think anyone has pitch count data for all of Ryan’s career, but I’d have to guess he was less efficient in terms of pitches per out than he was in terms of batters faced per out. That seems just as important in terms of efficiency leading to high inning counts.

That Ryan led the league in fewest hits per nine in 1991 is amazing. I think he was 73 that year.

Jason Z
Guest
I always enjoy players who have major statistical accomplishments years and even decades apart. Nolan Ryan he giveth in a big way… He had 2 shutouts in 1970, 2 in 1991. 10.4 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched in 1972. 10.6 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched in 1991. 6.2 hits per 9 in 1968. 5.3 hits per 9 in 1971. led the AL in strikeouts (329) in 1972. led the AL in strikeouts (301) in 1989. led the AL in strikeouts, a paltry 223, in 1991. Had an ERA+ of 118 with the Mets in 1970. Had an ERA+ of 140… Read more »
scott-53
Guest

I agree,in a big way. 23 years old in 1970. 44 years old in 1991. Had his last no-hitter after 1991 if I remember right.

Jason Z
Guest

I meant to mention the no-hitters too Scott.

Just forgot.

The first was May 15, 1973.

The seventh was May 1, 1991.

Mike L
Guest

Great post. Loved Maddux, he seemed to operate on a different plane than most other pitchers. BTW, in the 1995 Bill James Player Rating’s Book, he called Maddux “Nature’s Perfect Pitcher”.

scott-53
Guest

Think Maddux was the youngest pitcher to reach 250 victories. Age 35. May have been the youngest to reach that milestone after World War II. ???

scott-53
Guest

Maddox got victory #250 7-5-2012. I was in Las Vegas at the time. Made lvrj.com print edition. (7-6-2001)

scott-53
Guest

TYpo-Typo-Typo— Maddux got victory #250 7-5-2001.

John Autin
Editor
In terms of pitch efficiency, Maddux is an extreme outlier among his contemporaries. Even though complete searchable pitch counts only go back to the year 2000, Maddux stands far apart from every other pitcher, whether by pitches per batter faced or pitches per out. For the 124 pitchers with 1,000+ IP from 2000-11:* Pitches per BF: 3.26, Maddux 3.43 to 3.50, six guys, topped by Jon Lieber 3.73 = median and average Pitches per Out: 4.46, Maddux 4.80 to 5.00, twelve guys, topped by Lieber 5.32 = median 5.31 = average The covered period is just the last 9 years… Read more »
bstar
Guest

I’ve said this before here, but this really illustrates why Game Scores are not that relevant to me.

They give extra credit to strikeouts but give absolutely no credit whatsoever to games where a pitcher threw an 80-pitch shutout. Let’s see a strikeout pitcher do that.

scott-53
Guest

Interesting that the 5 and 20 club runs from 1880-2008 except for 1930-1941. The Depression years. Followed by 4 years of World War II.

scott-53
Guest

-Stock market crash that started in 1929 leading to the Great Depression.

-Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941 that lead the United States into WWII.

kds
Guest
I wouldn’t be the least surprised if WWII had an effect, Feller might be 5 and 20 if he hadn’t lost 4 years. But there were other things going on in baseball and how it was played in the period 1930-1960, when only Spahn qualified. 1), There were a lot of double headers, sometimes a majority of a teams games. 2), There was much less separation between starting and relieving than there is now. 3), There was still some effort to match certain starters against certain opponents, by quality, by handedness, (don’t pitch lefties in Fenway, do pitch them in… Read more »
scott-53
Guest

-Also traveled more by train and bus. No jet lag.

-Longer road trips and longer home stands pre-1960’s.

-No West coast teams until Dodgers and Giants moved out West.

-No Mountain Time Zone teams until Rockies and Diamondbacks.

David Horwich
Guest
I kind of doubt Feller would’ve made it to 5 and 20 but for the war. Consider this: he had been worked *very* hard at a very early age: age 19 – 277.2 IP age 20 – 296.2 IP age 21 – 320.1 IP age 22 – 343.0 IP And then got a break of almost 4 full seasons before resuming a full major-league workload. Even with the break, he had his last outstanding season at age 28, and while he remained effective over the second half of his career, he was nothing like the brilliant pitcher he’d been in… Read more »
bstar
Guest

All very good points, David.

David Horwich
Guest

Thanks bstar. It’s often been said that Feller would’ve won 300 but for the war, and hey maybe he would’ve; all such projections are of course speculative. But I think it’s ‘safer’ to make those projections for position players than for pitchers – interpolating another 2000 PA into Ted Williams’career wouldn’t have had the same consequences as interpolating another 1000 IP into Feller’s would have had.

Brent
Guest
Excellent points. When he returned in 1946, of course, he famously pitched 371 innings, led the league in walks and strikeouts and must have had a number of 200 pitch games. In 1947, he “only” pitched 299 innings and I think it is clear that his effectiveness had already started that year, his age 28 year. The main proof I have of this is that his SO/9 innings drastically dropped that year, to never go up the to the prior levels he had ever again. His SO/9 for his career were: 11.0/9.1/7.8/7.5/7.3/6.8/7.4/8.4 and then it dropped off to 5.9/5.3/4.6/3.8/4.0/3.8/3.1/3.8/2.7/2.8. To… Read more »
Ed
Guest

It’s easy to blame Feller’s dropoff in strikeouts on being overworked in 1946. On the other hand, Hal Newhouser had the exact same dropoff in SO/9 from 46 to 47 after “only” pitching 285 innings in 1946, his lowest total in several years. So I don’t know. Not saying it wasn’t the cause, but I’m not 100% convinced.

Ed
Guest

FWIW, Feller attributes his decline in strikeout to falling off the mound and injuring his back in a game on June 13th, 1947. He said his fastball was never the same. There does appear to be some truth to what Feller said. In 1947, he averaged 7.2 SO/9 before (and including) June 13th, but only 5.2 after.

scott-53
Guest

He may have done a lot of pitching during the war. (Army-VS-Navy)????

scott-53
Guest

@86— Nope. Enlisted (Navy) December,1941. Served as a gun captain. Discharged August,1945.

(Yahoo search)

Jason Z
Guest
I too loved watching Maddux do his thing. As Mike L says, @14, he was on a different plane. As he attributed to Bill James in his 1995 book, “natures perfect pitcher. How did natures perfect pitcher due in 1994 and 1995? In 1994 His ERA+ was 271, followed the next season with 260. Next best ERA+ was 189 in 1997. In 1994 and 1995 he had a career high ten complete games each season. Only started 53 games in these two seasons, due to the players strike. In 1994 natures perfect pitcher allowed 6.7 hits per 9. In 1995… Read more »
John Autin
Editor
Jason, I’m not sure that Maddux’s career supports any point about pitchers in general. The evidence is pretty strong that the typical pitcher’s prime is before age 29, most often in the range of 25-28. Here’s a couple of ways to look at the question: Since 1920, the number of pitchers worth 5+ WAR at each age: Age 24 – 59 Age 25 – 81 Age 26 – 85 Age 27 – 74 Age 28 – 77 Age 29 – 72 Age 30 – 68 Age 31 – 65 Age 32 – 54 This is true even of HOF pitchers,… Read more »
Jason Z
Guest
I agree that Maddux is a unique example. As more teams move away from the Leo Mazzone (throw alot) example, it only reinforces my opinion that we won’t see 5/20 again for a long time if ever. I would have assumed that a pitchers top WAR seasons would have been ages 28 and 29. My thought was, that as with Maddux, by age 28 most pitchers will be in a position to combine knowledge while still maintaining top physical skills. What I do see from your chart is more reason to be concerned with CC Sabathia. He is 32 now.… Read more »
scott-53
Guest

Roger Clemens had a won/loss record of 68-22 going from age 38 to 42 (128 starts 2001-2004).

Doug
Guest

Warren Spahn was 104-59 over the same ages (1959-1963). That’s 163 decisions in 170 starts, of which 104 were complete games. Four of those seasons were 20+ wins, including 23-7 at age 42, tied for the best w-L% of his career.

The only stat that declined over this period was SO/9, from 5.2 to 3.5, but his BB/9 improved, from 2.5 to 1.7.

scott-53
Guest

Spawn had one Major League complete game on his 25th birthday. 370 before his 43rd birthday.(1963)

(baseball-reference.com)

kds
Guest

I read somewhere that Maddux hated to waste a pitch. That is when up 0-2 or 1-2 many pitchers will intentionally throw well off the plate on the slim chance that the batter will chase. If Maddux was always close to the zone this would help keep his pitch count down.

bstar
Guest

Maddux’s attitude about 0-2 or 1-2 was that since the hitter is more likely to swing with two strikes, why not go ahead and try to throw a perfect pitch just off the outside or inside corner of the plate instead of wasting a pitch? You can afford to throw a ball or two since you’re ahead in the count but why not maximize the number of chances you have to throw a perfect pitch? It repeatedly worked.

mosc
Guest
Pitchers throw where the catcher sets up. You’re putting way too much conscious thought into where you miss. If a pitcher were to think that much about how much to miss by, they’d never be close. Pitchers are trained to zoom in on the glove and hit the spot. Catchers are trained to set up on the corners. In other words, virtually all pitchers throw at the corners on 0-2 and 1-2 except for when a catcher sets up well out of the zone on purpose. You see catchers set up as low as possible fairly regularly (not just looking… Read more »
mosc
Guest

If you hear Braves catchers talk about catching those guys, they often talk about asking maddux if they wanted them to set up outside on 0-2 etc. He would say something like “I’ll choose when I miss”. I guess you could believe that he purposely throws a little off of the glove, I find it more likely that he’s just confident in getting the out if he hits the glove on the corner.

bstar
Guest

Former pitching coach Leo Mazzone tells a story about when Maddux first came to the Braves. It was Maddux’s first bullpen session ever with Mazzone. Leo drew a mark on the wall with a piece of chalk and told Maddux to come as close to the mark as possible. Maddux threw the first pitch–bang, right on the mark. Second pitch, right on the mark. Same thing for every subsequent pitch. Mazzone had to finally tell Maddux, “OK, let’s move on to something else.”

Jason Z
Guest

Great story.

That’s one way to win over 350 games.

Atlcrackersfan
Guest

Did anyone else notice that 4/13 of the list of 5/20 pitchers spent the bulk of the career with the Braves, a franchise that barely exceeds a .500 w-l record?
Maddox, Spahn, Nichols and Neikro.

scott-53
Guest

Since 1953 5010-4497(.527). Not to bad once they got out of Beantown.

(baseball-reference.com) assist.

Atlcrackerfan
Guest

Nichols pitched for the 1890’s Braves.
About 2/3 of Spahn’s career was in Milwaukee, although he contributed mightily to the ’48 Braves.
Otherwise, from 1900 onward the beantown braves were only matched by the late ’70’s and late ’80s atlanta teams for woefulness!

italian holidays august 15
Guest
A periodic base between $endDate and $startDate is operated on by this location. Please modify your days or choose an all- destination for example Egypt, Caribbean, Cyprus, Canaries Tunisia or Turkey. and outfits, witches and pumpkins and orange and black color schemes|in. and witches and pumpkins and black and red colorschemes|pumpkins and witches and Goggles and black and orange color schemes|witches and Goggles and black and red color schemes|pumpkins and We advocate a German village vacations or an Italian language breaks With our Croatia journey adviser service-we can design your personal personalized French holidays in Italy. You’ll be shock that… Read more »
wpDiscuz