Model of consistency, control
As spectacular as 300 wins may be, Greg Maddux's brilliance can't be defined by his victory totals.
Coming into this season, according to Lee Sinins' Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia, the average National League pitcher during Maddux's career (1986-present) had an ERA of 4.24. Maddux's career ERA, on the other hand, looked a little different than that:
At a fabulous 2.89.
You might not be surprised to learn that's the greatest difference in ERA by any 300-game winner in modern history (after 1900), compared to his league ERA.
Here's Maddux, vs. the previous top five of all time:
Maddux won 20 twice -- tied with Nolan Ryan for the second-fewest ever, behind Sutton's one.
Cy Young (now there's a shocker) had the most 20-win seasons (15).
Cy Young 18
Walter Johnson 16
Warren Spahn 16
Most double-digit win seasons by non-300-game winners: 17, by Tommy John, Bert Blyleven and Ted Lyons.
|Always in control|
He once ripped off nine straight seasons with a walk ratio lower than 2.00 per nine innings. And only three pitchers in history ever had a longer streak (right):
Lefty Grove, Jimmie Foxx, 1941 Red Sox
Warren Spahn, Willie Mays, 1965 Giants
Don Sutton, Reggie Jackson, 1986 Angels
Christy Mathewson 31 years, 328 days
Walter Johnson 32 years, 190 days
Grover Alexander 37 years, 207 days
Steve Carlton 38 years, 275 days
The only American League team that can make that claim, by the way, is the Yankees (Roger Clemens, Phil Niekro).
If we include pitchers who merely won their 300th after 1900 (but started their career in the 1800s), the Red Sox (Cy Young, Lefty Grove) and Braves (Kid Nichols, Warren Spahn) join the fun.
The only pitcher in history to win his 200th and 300th games against the same team: Grover Cleveland Alexander -- against (ta-taaa) the Giants.
HIGHEST WINNING PERCENTAGE, 300-WIN CLUB:
1. Lefty Grove .680
2. Christy Mathewson .665
3. Roger Clemens .664
4. John Clarkson .650
5. Grover C Alexander .642
6. Greg Maddux .638
SEASONS WITH AT LEAST 10 MORE WINS THAN LOSSES:
12 Christy Mathewson
11 Cy Young
9 Grover Alexander
8 Greg Maddux
8 Kid Nichols
8 Walter Johnson
8 Lefty Grove