glavine_maddux_hof

Maddux and Glavine, in bullets

  • Even though strikeouts were not his bread and butter, Maddux had more K’s (181) in 1995  than hits and walks combined en route to his fourth consecutive Cy Young.
  • Mad Dog didn’t make it past the 4th inning in 2 of his first 5 starts as a Brave in 1993.  He pitched at least 5 innings in every start that followed through Sept. 10, ’95, when he was lifted early due to a minor injury.
  • Glavine averaged 3.1 BB/9 IP over his career, contributing to a WHIP a little higher than most HOF pitchers. But in his second season, a 23-year-old Glavine walked only 40 in 186 innings, good for a 1.140 WHIP — second only to his 1.097 WHIP in ’91.
  • Tommy G. and Ron Gant were nearly traded to Boston in the late 1980s for Mike Greenwell. The deal was nixed when Bobby refused to include Kent Mercker.
  • You know he was smart. But did you know Glavine had been accepted to Harvard after high school. He chose the Braves over the Crimson — not to mention the L.A. Kings.
  • Add three more innings over two seasons and Maddux would have 20 seasons of 200 or more IP
  • From July 31, 1993, through August 4, 1995, Mad Dog had 56 quality starts in 57 games pitched.
  • Maddux and Glavine weren’t taken until the second round of the 1984 draft, Glav was selected 16 picks after Mad Dog. The Braves took Drew Denson in the first round that year; the Cubs, Drew Hall. Also chosen ahead of the HOF’ers: Shawn Abner, Cory Snyder, Alan Cockrell, Oddibe McDowell, Pete Smith,  Terry Mulholland, Scott Bankhead and Mike Dunne.
  • In May 2001, a 35-year-old Maddux became the first pitcher since 1919 to record two 1-0 complete game shutouts in the same month.
  • In a game that lasted 2:07, Mad Dog threw just 76 pitches in a complete game victory over the Cubs.
  • Glavine completed three of his first four World Series starts. In 58.1 career Fall Classic innings, he allowed just 33 hits.
  • Right-handed batters had a .697 OPS vs. Glavine; lefties, .696.
  • Maddux had a .0936 WHIP in his 355 wins.
  • Mad Dog at Fulco: 38-15-2.33 ERA, 0.949 WHIP; at Turner Field: 72-31-2.68, 1.083 WHIP.

 

Bobby in the HOF

We assume Mad Dog and Glavine will join him. And, perhaps, Pete Van Wieren in the broadcaster’s wing.

Another former Brave player and manager, Joe Torre, was unanimously voted in by the Veteran’s Committee, as was Tony LaRussa, who played nine games at second base for the ’71 Bravos.

brain-on-drugs

Most stat geeks clueless when it comes to drugs

Let me start by saying I’m not close-minded to the importance of advanced metrics in evaluating talent. I’m neither old school or new school — I just hate math. Unfortunately, many of the number crunchers seem driven by a conviction that they are more evolved than those who have better things to do with their time.

Smugness is one thing. Hypocrisy is another. For all their obsessing over stats, most have little interest in facts. Like the indisputable fact that greenies and steroids are not interchangeable.

Fortunately, not all stat geeks are wed to this false narrative used by PED enablers eager to dismiss the cloud hanging over the heads of Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, et al. Larry Behrendt of the Yankee Analysts blog tried to keep them honest in a 2011 post that’s worth your time.

Drugs like amphetamines do not behave in ways that make for convenient arguments about who should (and should not) be Hall of Fame inductees.

For the moment, let’s toss the categories out the window, and look at the facts instead. With all of the facts in hand, it becomes impossible to compare amphetamine use to the use of anabolic steroids.  These two drugs are not remotely similar.  No good can be accomplished by blurring the important distinctions between these two drugs.

Anabolic steroids are drugs that mimic the effects of the male hormone testosterone.  They increase protein synthesis within cells, which helps build larger muscles.  It’s well accepted that use of anabolic steroids, in combination with adequate diet and high intensity exercise, can result in gains in muscle strength.  Whether this increased strength enhances performance in a sport like baseball is an open question – most people assume that it does, but we have no scientific proof. …

While anabolic steroids enhance performance by helping an athlete build muscle, amphetamines (sometimes called “greenies” in baseball circles) affect performance by stimulating the athlete’s central nervous system.  Amphetamines trigger increases in the user’s blood pressure, heart rate, cardiac output and breathing rate.  As a result, athletes that take amphetamines experience increased alertness and wakefulness, and decreased sensation of muscle fatigue.  Studies show that amphetamines can increase reaction time and cognitive function, and improve an athlete’s endurance (at least to the extent that the athlete is willing to work longer and harder without reporting exhaustion).

These are not opinions. But apparently Craig Calcaterra, who mocks the mere suggestion that Jack Morris is Cooperstown-worthy (for the record, he wouldn’t get my vote), knows something science does not. It’s “lunacy” to keep Bonds and Clemens out of the Hall, he writes.

Players who have either admitted to or have been credibly accused of taking (greenies) include Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. And this leaves out all of the drug and/or alcohol users who took things which hindered their performance, which also impacted the competitive nature of the game, albeit adversely to their team’s interests.

Tortured logic aside, none of the legends mentioned by Calcaterra topped his season-best home run record by 24 after his 35th birthday, as Bonds did in 2001. Greenies never caused anyone’s head to literally swell, either.

And they never helped a 34-year-old power pitcher revive his career at age 34 a la Roger Clemens, who rebounded from two mediocre years to strike out 292, a career-best, in 264 innings.

Not that it matters to humorless prigs like Keith Law, who recently tweeted:

Worthy names like Tom Glavine, who remained effective through his 40th birthday without cheating. But to Law and his acolytes, Clemens is more deserving due to a higher strikeout rate. How he achieved it is apparently irrelevant.

Maddux slighted again, and was Smoltzie better than Glavine?

I’m thrilled that the last pitcher chosen in ESPN’s ranking of the 100 greatest players in MLB history is the perpetually underrated Knucksie, #100 overall.

Not so much with the highest-ranked pitcher: Roger Clemens.

ESPN cautions its list is a “judgment-free zone where Barry BondsRoger Clemens and even Pete Rose are welcome.” (Rose debased the game but earned every one of his 4,256 hits. He shouldn’t be lumped together with players who came upon their stats dishonestly.)

I don’t understand how you overlook the cheating, which allows ESPN to rank Barry Bonds ahead of The Hammer and Ted Williams. But those who do so will never convince me that Clemens was the best pitcher in baseball history. He wasn’t even the best of his generation.

His ranking, at #7 overall, speaks to to the most overrated stat in all of baseball: the strikeout. If Warren Spahn was pitching today the stat geeks would insist his 363 wins were attributable mostly to luck, as he averaged only 4.4 K/9 IP.

Strikeouts are about all that Clemens has over Mad Dog, who ranks at #13, third among pitchers (Walter Johnson finished 12th). I’m repeating myself but apparently some people refuse to listen.

Maddux has had as many dominant seasons as Clemens, finishing with an ERA under 3.00 nine times. Granted, Clemens did it 12 times, but in two other years Maddux finished with ERA’s of 3.00 and 3.05. And no pitcher in modern history (Pedro in ’99 was close) can match Maddux’s 1995 campaign: 19-2 with a 1.56 ERA and an 0.811 WHIP. Even though strikeouts were not his bread and butter he had more K’s that year (181) than hits and walks combined en route to his fourth consecutive Cy Young.

Maddux was more durable, totaling 200 innings or more 18 times. Add three more innings over two seasons and Maddux would have 20 seasons of 200 or more IP. Clemens topped 200 innings 15 times.

My favorite Maddux stat? From July 31, 1993, through August 4, 1995, a two-year period, Mad Dog had 56 quality starts in 57 games pitched.

And Maddux has been better in October, with a 3.27 ERA, compared to 3.75 for Clemens. His first Fall Classic appearance might have been his best; the fearsome Indians (with Manny Ramirez hitting seventh) managed to get but FOUR balls out of the infield in Game 1 of the ’95 Series. Time of game: 2:37.

Maddux had one more win and a better WHIP (1.143 to 1.158). Clemens had a better ERA (3.12 to 3.16) even though Mad Dog had ERA’s of 3.96 or higher in each of his last six seasons. Conversely, three of Clemens’ worst years came between his 30th and 34th birthdays, a period when most pitchers are at their best, or close to it. It’s reasonable, then, to conclude that had Clemens not cheated he wouldn’t have made it into the Top 100.

Oh, and Maddux was the best fielding pitcher of his era, if not ever.

If only he had juiced, or pitched for the Yankees and Red Sox. Or had a strikeout ratio like Tommy Hanson’s and John Rocker’s.

They didn’t make the list, of course, though Smoltzie and Glavine did. Some may quibble with Smoltz ranking 18 spots higher than his former teammate, but I’m good with it. Glavine had more wins and one more Cy Young Award, but Smoltzie had a better ERA and WHIP and, for three years, was as dominant a closer as the game has seen. And he had no  peer in October. Some people say that doesn’t matter, but they’re typically the same people who say cheaters deserve a pass.