Monday, December 08, 2008

Here's to an Ace

Whatever led to Greg Maddux winning 355 games and being the best pitcher of my generation--both within a single season and over a career--it wasn't as obvious as Roger Clemens (even without the juice), Randy Johnson or even going back a bit further, Seaver, Ryan, Carlton or Palmer. Obviously, even if not overpowering, his talent had much to do with it, but more than with the others, his intelligence and preparation were fundamental to his great success.

Here are some numbers: 4 (straight) Cy Young Awards (+ 5 more times in the Top 5 in voting). 18 seasons with 15 or more wins, including 17 in a row. 9 seasons with 18+ wins. 10 seasons with an ERA of 3.00 or under, including 2 seasons under 2.00. 5008 innings pitched. And though he had many masterful seasons--including a few with the Cubs before they stupidly let him get away--I'll take his 1995 season, when he went 19-2 with a 1.56 ERA with only 23 walks and 38 earned runs allowed in 209 innings as perhaps the greatest of my lifetime (and he must have been hurt at some point that year, as he only started 28 games).

Anyway, I'm probably not saying anything others haven't said better, but most of all in an era where great athletes are quite often jerks or worse, Maddux always seemed like a good, classy guy.

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