While the sports world has turned to football, one of the greatest athletes of our generation is about to accomplish something that has to be considered astounding. Greg Maddux is less than ten innings away from reaching 5000 for his career. That’s right 5000!
I think innings pitched may be one of the most underappreciated stats in all of sports. It’s not like at bats, or pass attempts, or even attempts fromm the field. To record innings you must actually get people out. Think about that. It’s not the number of pitchers a guy throws, nor is it the number of batters that he faces. It’s about how many outs a pitcher gets, and Maddux has got them more often than about anyone.
In the 20-year span from 1988 to 2007, Maddux reached 200 innings 18 times. He even threw 202 innings in 1994 when the strike occurred in mid-August. And the two years that he didn’t reach 200 innings, in ’02 he had 199 1/3, and in ’07 he had 198. Even now, as a 42-year-old, he’s over 175, with maybe four starts to go. His record of 7-12 is not very Madduxesque, but his ERA is still in the low fours. A lot of 32-year-olds would take that.
But as much as I’m in awe of the innings total, he has another stat that may even be more impressive. He has yet to walk 1000 men in his career. Right now he sits at 999. Let’s put it this way. Tom Glavine, who, like Maddux, is known as a control/finesse pitcher, is next on the active innings list with just over 4400. He has walked exactly 1500 guys.
When talking about pitchers of this generation, we’ve had a few guys who had impressive stretches: Johan, Pedro, Randy, and Clemens. But when you look at what Maddux did from ’92-’98, his stretch is as good as anyone’s. Someday we’ll be able to tell our grandkids that we saw the last guy get 350 wins and 5000 innings.
P.S. You do realize that Aubrey Huff leads the American League in total bases.