Maddux in 2009
Born: April 14, 1966|
San Angelo, Texas
|September 3, 1986, for the Chicago Cubs|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 27, 2008, for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Earned run average||3.16|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Vote||97.2% (first ballot)|
Gregory Alan Maddux (born April 14, 1966) is an American former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher. Maddux is best known for his accomplishments while playing for the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs. With the Braves, he won the 1995 World Series over the Cleveland Indians. The first to achieve a number of feats and records, he was the first pitcher in major league history to win the Cy Young Award for four consecutive years (1992–1995), matched by only one other pitcher, Randy Johnson. During those four seasons, Maddux had a 75–29 record with a 1.98 earned run average (ERA), while allowing less than one baserunner per inning.
Maddux is the only pitcher in MLB history to win at least 15 games for 17 straight seasons. In addition, he holds the record for most Gold Gloves with 18. A superb control pitcher, Maddux won more games during the 1990s than any other pitcher and is 8th on the all-time career wins list with 355. Since the start of the post-1920 live-ball era, only Warren Spahn (363) recorded more career wins than Maddux. He is one of only 10 pitchers ever to achieve both 300 wins and 3,000 strikeouts, and is the only pitcher to record over 300 wins, over 3,000 strikeouts, and fewer than 1,000 walks.
Since his retirement as a player, Maddux has also served as a special assistant to the general manager for both the Cubs and Texas Rangers. On January 8, 2014, he was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, in his first year of eligibility, receiving 97.2% of the votes.
Maddux was born in San Angelo, Texas and spent much of his childhood in Madrid, Spain, where the United States Air Force stationed his father. His father exposed him to baseball at an early age. Upon his return to Las Vegas, Nevada, Maddux and his brother Mike trained under the supervision of Ralph Meder, a former scout from the majors. Meder preached the value of movement and location above velocity, and advised throwing softer when in a jam instead of harder. Maddux would later say, "I believed it. I don't know why. I just did." Though Meder died before Maddux graduated from Valley High School in Las Vegas in 1984, he instilled a firm foundation that would anchor Maddux's future career. Maddux lives in the same community.
Mike Maddux was drafted in 1982. When scouts went to observe the elder Maddux, their father Dave told them, "You will be back later for the little one." Some baseball scouts were unimpressed by Maddux's skinny build, but Chicago Cubs scout Doug Mapson saw past the physique. Mapson wrote a glowing review that read in part, "I really believe this boy would be the number one player in the country if only he looked a bit more physical."
Maddux was drafted in the second round of the 1984 Major League Baseball draft by the Cubs, and made his major league debut on September 3, 1986, the conclusion of the September 2nd game which had been postponed due to darkness (lights were not installed at Wrigley Field until 1988). At the time, Maddux was the youngest player in the majors. His first appearance in a major league game was as a pinch runner (for catcher Jody Davis) in the 17th inning against the Houston Astros. Maddux then pitched in the 18th inning, allowing a home run to Billy Hatcher and taking the loss. His first start, five days later, was a complete game win. In his fifth and final start of 1986, Maddux defeated his older brother, who was pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies, marking the first time rookie brothers had pitched against each other. Mike Maddux was well used to his younger brother's competitive spirit, saying of their youth, "If Greg couldn't win, he didn't want to play, plain and simple."
In 1987, his first full season in the majors, Maddux struggled to a 6–14 record and 5.61 ERA, but he flourished in 1988, finishing 18–8 with a 3.18 ERA. This began a streak of 17 straight seasons in which Maddux recorded 15 or more wins, the longest such streak in MLB history.
Maddux established himself as the Cubs' ace in 1989, winning 19 games, including a September game at Montreal's Olympic Stadium that clinched the Cubs' second-ever National League Eastern Division championship. Manager Don Zimmer tabbed him to start Game One of the National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants. He allowed eight runs and was relieved after surrendering Will Clark's grand slam home run with two outs in the fourth. Maddux believed that just before the grand slam, Clark was able to read his lips during a conference at the mound between Maddux and Zimmer, and so knew what pitch to expect. After that incident, Maddux always covered his mouth with his glove during conversations on the mound. Maddux took a no-decision in Game Four; the Cubs ended up losing the NLCS four-games-to-one.
After consecutive 15-win seasons in 1990 and 1991, Maddux won 20 games in 1992, tied for the NL lead, and was voted his first National League Cy Young Award. Free agency was pending for Maddux, but contract talks with the Cubs became contentious and eventually ceased. Both Chicago general manager Larry Himes and Maddux's agent, Scott Boras, accused the other of failing to negotiate in good faith. The Cubs eventually decided to pursue other free agents, including José Guzmán, Dan Plesac, and Candy Maldonado. After seven seasons in Chicago, Maddux signed a five-year, $28 million deal with the Atlanta Braves.
He made his debut with the Braves as their opening day starter against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, beating his former teammates 1–0. It was a good start to another strong season. He led the NL in ERA for the first time while posting a 20–10 record. Maddux won his second straight Cy Young Award, and the Braves took their rotation of Maddux, 22-game winner Tom Glavine, 18-game winner Steve Avery, and 15-game winner John Smoltz to the postseason. Maddux won against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game Two of the NLCS, but with Atlanta trailing 3 games to 2, lost the decisive Game Six.
During the strike-shortened 1994 season, Maddux posted an ERA of 1.56, the second lowest since Bob Gibson's historic 1.12 in 1968, the last year of the elevated mound, and the lowest in the majors since Dwight Gooden's 1.53 in 1985. It pleased Maddux that his 1994 batting average (.222) was higher than his ERA. Maddux also led the National League in wins (with 16) and innings pitched (202) in his third Cy Young-winning year. Maddux also finished 5th in National League Most Valuable Player voting in 1994.
In the following 1995 season, Maddux was 19–2 and posted the third-lowest ERA since Gibson's: 1.63. Maddux became the first pitcher to post back-to-back ERAs under 1.80 since Walter Johnson in 1918 (1.27) and 1919 (1.49). Maddux's 1.63 ERA came in a year when the overall league ERA was 4.23. Since the introduction of the live-ball era in 1920, there have only been five pitchers to have full-season ERAs under 1.65: Gibson and Luis Tiant in the anomalous 1968 season, Gooden in 1985, and Maddux, twice. Maddux's 19 wins led the National League, for the third time in four seasons.
On May 28, 1995, he beat the Astros, losing a no-hitter on an eighth-inning home run to Jeff Bagwell. It was the only nine-inning one-hitter of his career. In June and July, Maddux threw 51 consecutive innings without issuing a walk. Maddux pitched effectively in all three of the Braves's postseason series, winning a game in each. His Game One victory in the 1995 World Series involved nine innings, two hits, no walks, and no earned runs with Orel Hershiser pitching for the opposite team. Maddux took the loss in Game Five, but the Atlanta Braves won their first World Series championship two days later. Following the 1995 season, Maddux won his fourth straight Cy Young Award, a major league record, and his second consecutive unanimous award. Maddux also finished third in that year's National League Most Valuable Player voting. The Atlanta Braves also made good on a pre-season promise to their pitching rotation, installing a putting green in the locker room at the newly built Turner Field following the World Series victory.
From 1996 to 1998, Maddux finished fifth, second, and fourth in the Cy Young voting. In August 1997, Maddux signed a $57.5-million, five-year contract extension that made him the highest-paid player in baseball. In February 2003, he avoided arbitration by signing a one-year $14.75-million deal. Maddux's production remained consistent: a 19–4 record in 1997, 18–9 in 1998, 19–9 in both 1999 and 2000, 17–11 in 2001, 16–6 in 2002, and 16–11 in 2003, his last season as a Brave. From 1993 to 1998, Maddux led the National League in ERA four times, and was second the other two seasons.
On July 22, 1997, Maddux threw a complete game with just 78 pitches (63 strikes and 15 balls) against the Cubs. Three weeks earlier, he had shut out the defending champion New York Yankees on 84 pitches, and five days before that, he'd beaten the Phillies with a 90-pitch complete game. Maddux allowed just 20 bases on balls in 1997, including six intentional walks.
Maddux struck out 200+ batters for the only time in his career in 1998. He outdueled the Cubs's Kerry Wood to clinch the NLDS, but the Braves were eliminated in the next round. The Braves returned to the World Series in 1999. Maddux was the Game One starter, and took a 1–0 lead into the eighth inning before a Yankee rally cost him the game and eventually the series as the Braves were swept.
On June 14, 2000, Maddux made his 387th putout to break Jack Morris's career record. In September 2000, he had a streak of 40 scoreless innings. He pitched poorly in his one playoff start of 2000. In May 2001, Maddux became the first Braves pitcher since 1916 to throw two 1–0 shutouts in the same month. The first included a career-best 14 strikeouts. In July and August of that year, Maddux pitched 72 consecutive innings without giving up a walk; that streak ended when he intentionally threw four balls to Steve Finley. In 2002, he won his 13th straight Gold Glove Award, an NL record. Maddux tied Jim Kaat's career record of 16 Gold Gloves after the 2006 season.
Throughout most of his years with the Braves, in the tradition of other pitching greats such as Steve Carlton, Maddux often had his own personal catcher. Though the Braves's primary catcher during much of that time was Javy López, Maddux at various points used Charlie O'Brien, Eddie Pérez, Paul Bako, and Henry Blanco, for the majority of his starts, which were generally regarded as Lopez's day off, though Lopez did sometimes catch Maddux in his post-season starts.
Maddux was the crown jewel in the much-vaunted Braves trio of Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz, who pitched together for over a decade as the core of one of the best pitching staffs in the history of the game. The three were the linchpin of a team that won its division (the National League West in 1993 and the East from then on) every year that Maddux was on the team (1994 had no division champions). The three pitchers were frequently augmented by other strong starters such as Steve Avery, Kevin Millwood, Denny Neagle, and Russ Ortiz. In 1995, they pitched the Braves to a World Series title. In 29 postseason games with Atlanta, Maddux had a 2.81 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP, but just an 11–13 record.
Maddux returned to the Cubs as a free agent prior to the 2004 season, when he signed with them on February 18, 2004. Maddux got his first win on April 23 after losing 3 consecutive games at the beginning of the season. On August 7, Maddux defeated the San Francisco Giants, 8-4, to garner his 300th career victory. In April 2005, he beat Roger Clemens for his 306th win in the first National League matchup between 300-game winners in 113 years. On July 26, 2005, after a three-hour rain delay, Maddux struck out Omar Vizquel to become the thirteenth member of the 3,000 strikeout club and only the ninth pitcher with both 300 wins and 3,000 strikeouts, having reached both marks against the San Francisco Giants. Maddux finished as one of the four pitchers to top 3,000 strikeouts while having allowed fewer than 1,000 walks (he had 999). The other three pitchers who have accomplished this feat are Ferguson Jenkins, Curt Schilling, and Pedro Martínez.
Maddux's 13–15 record in 2005 was his first losing record since 1987, and snapped a string of seventeen consecutive seasons with 15 or more wins. (Cy Young had surpassed the 15-win total for 15 straight years; both Young and Maddux reached 13+ wins for 19 consecutive seasons. This is even more impressive considering that Cy Young pitched in an era with no more than 4 regular starters that would average more than 40+ games per season, whereas Maddux pitched in an era with a 5-man rotation where reaching 40 starts in a season was virtually unheard of.)
Maddux's second stint with the Chicago Cubs lasted until mid-2006, when he was traded for the first time in his career, to the Los Angeles Dodgers. At the time, the Dodgers were in the thick of a playoff race. In his first Dodger start, Maddux threw six no-hit innings before a rain delay interrupted his debut. In his next start, Maddux needed just 68 pitches to throw eight shutout innings. On August 30, 2006, he won his 330th career game, passing Steve Carlton to take sole possession of 10th on the all-time list. On September 30, 2006, Maddux pitched seven innings in San Francisco, allowing two runs and three hits in a 4–2 victory over the Giants, clinching a postseason spot for the Dodgers and notching another 15-win season. It was Maddux's 18th season among his league's Top 10 for wins, breaking a record he'd shared with Cy Young and Warren Spahn, who did it 17 times apiece. However, the Dodgers were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Mets. Maddux started the third and final game, throwing an ineffective no-decision. Maddux was honored with a Fielding Bible Award as the best fielding pitcher in MLB for 2006.
On December 5, 2006, Maddux agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal with the San Diego Padres with a player option for the 2008 season, an option that Maddux later exercised at a reported $10 million. Maddux earned his 338th victory in the game that Trevor Hoffman earned his milestone 500th save. On August 24, 2007, he won his 343rd game to take sole possession of ninth place on the all-time win list. He achieved another milestone with the same win, becoming the only pitcher in the major leagues to have 20 consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins and placing him second on the list for most 10-win seasons, tied with Nolan Ryan and behind Don Sutton, who has 21. Also in 2007, Maddux reached 13 wins for the 20th consecutive season, passing Cy Young for that major league record. He finished the season with a career total 347 wins. Maddux won a record 17th Gold Glove award in 2007. On May 10, 2008, Maddux won his 350th game.
Maddux was traded back to the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 19 for two players to be named later or cash considerations by the San Diego Padres. His return to Los Angeles was unlike his debut, though, as he allowed 7 earned runs on 9 hits while taking a loss against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Maddux pitched his 5,000th career inning against the San Francisco Giants on September 19. On September 27, in his final start of the season, he won his 355th game, moving him ahead of Roger Clemens into 8th place in all-time wins. Maddux ranks tenth in career strikeouts with 3,371. His strikeout total is balanced against 999 walks. For the 2008 season, he posted an 8–13 record. His 1.4 walks per 9 innings pitched were the best in the majors.
After the Dodgers won the National League West, Maddux was moved to the bullpen after manager Joe Torre decided to go with a three-man rotation. Maddux pitched four innings of relief during the series (which the Dodgers lost), allowing no runs. Maddux was noted for his ability to warm up quickly.
On January 11, 2010, Maddux was hired by the Chicago Cubs as an assistant to General Manager Jim Hendry. In his return to Chicago, his focus was on developing pitchers' styles and techniques throughout the organization, including minor league affiliates. For the 2012 season Maddux left his position with the Cubs and joined the Texas Rangers organization, where his brother Mike was the pitching coach.
On July 6, 2016, Maddux was hired as an assistant baseball coach for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He will serve as the pitching coach. Greg's son, Chase is a sophomore pitcher for the Rebels.
Maddux relied on his command, composure, and guile to outwit hitters. Though his fastball touched 93 mph in his early years, his velocity steadily declined throughout his career, and was never his principal focus as a pitcher. By the end of his career, his fastball averaged less than 86 mph. Maddux was also noted for the late movement on his sinker (two-seam fastball), which, combined with his control, made him known as an excellent groundball pitcher. While Maddux was not known for his strikeout totals, his strikeout totals have often been undersold because strikeout rate has often been measured per nine innings, rather than per batter faced. Maddux alternated his two-seam fastball with an excellent circle changeup. Though these served as his primary pitches, he also threw a four-seam fastball, a cutter, a curveball, a slider, and a splitter.
Maddux was renowned for focusing on the outside corner. This approach was emphasized under former Atlanta Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone. He would begin by throwing strikes with his fastball down and away, then expand the strike zone with his changeup--sometimes obtaining borderline strike calls from umpires simply on the strength of his reputation. In complement with this strategy, Maddux popularized a tactic of throwing his two-seam fastball off the plate inside to left-handed hitters, only to have the ball break back over the inside corner for a strike. Maddux said of that pitch, "That was just my normal fastball that did that. ... I always had it. The pitch really started to work for me when I ... learned how to throw a cutter, it made that pitch more effective."
In addition, his propensity for throwing strikes and avoiding walks kept his pitch counts low. On July 2, 1997 he won a game against the New York Yankees, for example, with the numbers "nine innings, three hits, no walks, eight strikeouts, one pickoff, one double play, 84 pitches ... [in] two hours and nine minutes". Dodgers general manager Fred Claire admired Maddux's pitching consistency, saying "It's almost like a guy lining up a 60-foot-6-inch putt ... he is just so disciplined, so repetitive in his pitches." Speaking about Maddux's accuracy, Orel Hershiser said, "This guy can throw a ball in a teacup."Baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs talked about facing Maddux: "It seems like he's inside your mind with you. When he knows you're not going to swing, he throws a straight one. He sees into the future. It's like he has a crystal ball hidden inside his glove."
Maddux was also known for intensely studying hitters in preparation for his starts. He would often watch hitters take their warmup swings or read their body language to gauge their mentality. Teammate Tom Glavine said, "I think the hitters think he can go back and recall every pitch he has ever thrown. That's not the case, but I think he's probably better at remembering things than most people are. He's definitely better in the course of the game at making adjustments on a hitter based on what he's seen, whether it's one swing or a guy's last at-bat."
Finally, Maddux has been praised for his superior pitching mechanics, helping him avoid serious arm injuries throughout his lengthy career. One analyst of pitching mechanics wrote, "Maddux's sterling reputation for pitching mechanics is more than justified. He could repeat his delivery as well as any pitcher that I have ever seen, with consistent timing and positioning that persisted regardless of pitch type or pitch count, giving the impression that he was never fatigued." Maddux was also a highly durable pitcher, leading the National League in innings pitched in five consecutive years. He pitched at least 194 innings for 21 consecutive seasons, and finished with the lowest BB/9 ratio in the National League nine times.
Maddux has been credited by many of his teammates with a superior ability to outthink his opponents and anticipate results. Braves catcher Eddie Pérez tells the story of Maddux intentionally allowing a home run to the Astros's Jeff Bagwell, in anticipation of facing Bagwell in the playoffs months later. Maddux felt Bagwell would instinctively be looking for the same pitch again, which Maddux would then refuse to throw. On another occasion while sitting on the bench, Maddux once told his teammates, "Watch this, we might need to call an ambulance for the first base coach." The batter, Los Angeles' José Hernández, drove the next pitch into the chest of the Dodgers' first base coach. Maddux had noticed that Hernández, who'd been pitched inside by Braves pitching during the series, had shifted his batting stance slightly. On another occasion, a former teammate, outfielder Marquis Grissom, recalled a game in 1996 when Maddux was having trouble spotting his fastball. Between innings, he told Grissom, "Gary Sheffield is coming up next inning. I am going to throw him a slider and make him just miss it so he hits it to the warning track." The at-bat went as Maddux had predicted.
Early in the 2000 season, Maddux was asked by sportswriter Bob Nightengale what had been the most memorable at-bat of his pitching career. Maddux said it was striking out Dave Martinez to end a regular season game. Nightengale was surprised Maddux hadn't picked a postseason game, or a more famous player. Maddux explained: "I remember that one because he got a hit off me in the same situation (full count, bases loaded, two out in the 9th inning) seven years earlier. I told myself if I ever got in the same situation again, I'll pitch him differently. It took me seven years, but I got him."
Publicly, however, Maddux is dismissive of his reputation, saying, "People think I'm smart? You know what makes you smart? Locate your fastball down and away. That's what makes you smart. You talk to Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, or Tom Seaver. They'll all tell you the same thing. It's not your arm that makes you a great pitcher. It's that thing between both of your ears we call a brain."
To this day, Maddux maintains Koufax, Gibson, and Seaver are the three best pitchers of the "live ball" era of baseball. Informed by "The Sporting News" he had been voted best pitcher of the 1990s, he replied, "It [the award] could have gone to Glavine or Smoltz just as easily and each would have deserved it. They're both great pitchers."
Maddux never walked more than 82 batters in any season of his career, averaging fewer than 2 walks per game. In 1997, Maddux allowed 20 walks in 232+ innings, or 0.77 per 9 innings. In 2001, he set a National League record by going 72 innings without giving up a walk.
Maddux's low walk totals also kept his pitch counts down, enabling him to go deeper into games. In 31 starts, Maddux threw 9 innings with 100 or fewer pitches. Ten of those starts were under 90 pitches, including a 76-pitch complete game in July 1997, the most efficient start by any pitcher since 1979.
In addition to his pitching skills, Maddux was an excellent fielding pitcher. He won 18 Gold Gloves, the all-time record for any position. Of his 18 total awards, Maddux won 10 with the Braves, five with the Cubs, two with the Dodgers and one with the Padres. Maddux was also a good hitting pitcher, with a career .171 batting average, including four seasons batting .200 or better. He hit 5 home runs, with 84 RBIs.
Maddux pitched in 13 Division Series contests, 17 League Championship games and five World Series games. He has a 3.27 ERA in 198 postseason innings, including an outstanding 2.09 ERA in 38.7 World Series innings. He was chosen for the National League All-Star team eight times.
Maddux won 20 games only twice, in 1992 and 1993. However, he won 19 games five times (including the 1995 season which was reduced to 144 games from the strike of 1994), 18 games twice, and 16 in the strike shortened 1994 season (which was reduced to 115 games). He won four ERA titles (in 1993-1995 and 1998), and led the NL in shutouts five times. He holds the major league record for seasons leading his league in games started (7). He also holds the record for most seasons finishing in the top 10 in the league in wins (18).
In his 2009 book, "The Annual Baseball Gold Mine" baseball statistics guru Bill James found Maddux to be far and away the most underrated player in baseball history. The methodology for this included the fact that though Maddux only won 20 games twice, he won 19 games five times. He also had only one season of 200 or more strikeouts but had seasons of 199, 198 and 197, respectively, which diminished his reputation as a strikeout pitcher. In addition to that James also argued that although he had 18 seasons of 200 or more innings pitched, he also had three seasons of 199.1, 198 and 194 innings pitched.
In 1999, Maddux ranked 39th on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, the highest-ranking pitcher then active. He was also nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. However, when TSN updated their list in 2005, Maddux had fallen to number 51.
The Cubs retired jersey number 31 on May 3, 2009 in honor of both Maddux and Ferguson Jenkins. The Atlanta Braves retired Maddux's number 31, on July 17, 2009.
"I get asked all the time was he the best pitcher I ever saw. Was he the smartest pitcher I ever saw? The most competitive I ever saw? The best teammate I ever saw? The answer is yes to all of those", said Braves manager Bobby Cox at the banquet to induct Maddux into the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame at the Omni Hotel in Atlanta on July 17, 2009.
Maddux was born on April 14, 1966, the same day as former Braves teammate David Justice and shares a birthday with former teammate Steve Avery. He is married to Kathy; the couple has 2 children; a daughter, Amanda "Paige" (born December 9, 1993), and a son, "Satchel" Chase Maddux (born April 19, 1997).
On January 8, 2014 Maddux was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The pitcher later announced that he would not have a team logo on his plaque, citing his history with both the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs: "It's impossible for me to choose one of those teams ... as the fans of both clubs in each of those cities were so wonderful", Maddux said.