Chat with Jayson Stark
The case for Glavine
- 2007: Glavine 23, Maddux 18
- 2006: Glavine 22, Maddux 17
- 2005: Glavine 23, Maddux 18
The case for Maddux
The choiceWhat is it about Greg Maddux, anyway? Even though his numbers don't look much better than Glavine's -- and, in many cases, actually look worse -- nearly everyone I surveyed said they'd rather have Maddux than Glavine. And much as I respect Glavine the pitcher and human being, I'm with them all the way. Maddux had to make a mid-career readjustment a few years back. But since he made it, he has been the same guy, year-in and year-out, for three straight seasons. (ERAs those last three years: 4.24, 4.20 and 4.14). Glavine, on the other hand, is trending in the wrong direction; his ERAs over the last three years look like this: 3.53, 3.82 and 4.45. Glavine gives you more quality starts over the course of a season. But he also gives you more starts that turn into utter disasters. Maddux, on the other hand, is one of those rare commodities in this sport: a guy who almost always gives his team exactly what it expects. Oh, and there's one more thing we shouldn't overlook here. Everyone who has ever played with Greg Maddux looks at him as, essentially, a genius. The ripple effect of that genius on everyone around him is incalculable. As an executive from one of Maddux's old teams put it, "Glavine might win more games, but in the big picture, Maddux will win more games for your team." Vote: Which over-40 pitcher is better?
Archive: Hot Stove Heaters
Jayson Stark (12:59 PM)
Welcome to Battle of the 300-Win Legends. Should be a fun debate. One thing I need to clear up at the top: This isn't a debate about who has had the better career. The question du jour is: Which 300-game winner would you take for THIS year? And no, you can't take Warren Spahn, Walter Johnson or Nolan Ryan. Either-or. That's the rule. Now let's get to the starter's line.
Andres (San Diego, Ca)
Who is the better Post Season Pitcher?? I know they won a ring together with the Braves but who has the overall better numbers in post season??
Jayson Stark (1:02 PM)
This isn't really on topic, but it's interesting, so what the heck. Glavine has the better record: 13-1 in 35 postseason starts, versus Maddux's 10-11 in 32 starts. But Maddux has a slightly better ERA (3.34 to 3.42). So it's kind of a wash. Neither has been a Mr. October kind of guy, but they've both had their moments. At any rate, this is about now, not then. So next question!
Dave, Atlanta, GA
When the Braves were trying to find a veteran pitcher this offseason why didnt they get Maddux instead?
Jayson Stark (1:04 PM)
For all intents and purposes, you understand, Maddux was never really on the market. He was technically a free agent, but he was always going to go back to San Diego. So it's not as if the Braves had their choice this winter of bringing back one or the other. But I've heard that they actually thought Glavine fit their team better because he was lefthanded. Funny thing about that is, lefthanded hitters batted .326 against him las t year.
No question you gotta take the Rolls over the Bentley any day of the week...Oh and Tommy Glavine without thinking twice...Maddux has the better career but Tommy is going to win more game this year and has better stuff this late in his career.
Jayson Stark (1:06 PM)
It's funny you say that. A couple of scouts told me they still think Glavine has better "stuff" now because he still throws harder than Maddux. But other scouts vehemently disagreed with that, because Maddux has such ridiculous movement on his fastball, where Glavine has to pitch to spots all the time. So it's all how you define stuff.
Richard Lincoln Park, Michigan
Why was their not more interest in Glavine from teams such as the Yankees or Indians? They are always looking for a veteran presence on the mound.
Jayson Stark (1:07 PM)
That's not indicative of anything. Glavine made it clear from the beginning that if he pitched this year, it would either be for the Braves or Mets. I don't think he's an AL kind of guy anymore anyway. He gave up 19 runs in 14 1/3 innings last year against the Tigers and Yankees. Youch!
Andy (Colorado Springs, CO)
Maddux all the way. In Glavine's 34 games last year, 8 times he gave up 5 or more runs, not really the consistency you want. Long-time Mets fan who will forever remember Glavine's last New York start. (Speaking of New York, Jim York, pitcher for the '76 New York Yankees may be eligible as a player playing in the same town as his last name.)
Jayson Stark (1:11 PM)
I'm going to do my best in this chat to factor out the Mets-fan hate factor that derived mostly from Glavine's last start of the year. So I'm not going to dignify posts about what a heartless quitter Glavine is by actually responding to them. This guy is a multi-time Cy Young award-winner who threw eight shutout innings in the clinching game of the only World Series his Braves ever won. So one game should not be allowed to define his career. And it won't define this chat, either. But Andy, this wasn't directed at you.
Jayson Stark (1:13 PM)
Now, in answer to Andy's actual question, those ups and downs ARE a relevant issue in this debate, because you have to pick one guy for this year. Now here's the evidence. Glavine had more quality starts (21). We've documented that already. But in the other starts, he had six different times where he gave up at least six runs. Maddux had two. Glavine had three starts where he gave up seven runs or more. Maddux had none. So I think it's safe to say Maddux was steadier. Not that he didn't have some clunkers himself.
Greg, Dover, DE
Jayson, it's gotta be maddux. Between his movement on his pitches and just his overall knack for being one step ahead of the hitters in their thought process. I would rather take my chances on a pitcher who has that, than Glavine who you kind of have to hope he's going to hit his spots.
Jayson Stark (1:15 PM)
Don't underestimate Glavine's intelligence. I've heard other pitchers say that just watching him has taught them valuable lessons about how to pitch, especially when you're behind in the count. But Maddux is more than just intelligent. I think he's actually psycho. His catchers talk about how, when they go over the hitters before a game, he'll tell them exactly what's going to happen in every at-bat -- that he'll throw this pitch for a first-pitch strike, then come back with a different pitch and get a foul ball, then put the guy away with the next pitch. And that's exactly what happens. The guy sits on the bench and tells people around him exactly what's about to happen. It's insane! He should work for Psychics Hotline.
Ron (Moreno Valley, CA)
The annual Gold Glove status or Maddux has to be factored in. He's a magician in the middle and continues to take away the small ball game teams try to play against him, forcing teams to swing for the fences as always.
Jayson Stark (1:18 PM)
That's another aspect we should definitely note. Glavine helps himself in a lot of ways out there. But Maddux helps himself in just about every way, except possibly holding runners. The guy even stole a base last year. And he's up to 17 Gold Gloves, most by any pitcher in history. In fact, here's a trivia question. Who won the only NL Gold Glove Maddux didn't win since 1990? Good luck.
Jayson Stark (1:19 PM)
The great ESPN researcher, Mark Simon, just checked in with more on how these two have fared in October. Maddux has pitched in 21 postseason series' (11 best-of-7s) and never had more than 1 win in any one of them. Glavine has pitched in 24 (15 best-of-7s) and the only one where he won twice was 1995 WS. So what he's saying is what I mentioned earlier -- that neither of them is the kind of guy you run out there in October with the thought they'll win you a postseason series all by themselves. But will they give you a chance to win? Most of the time, yeah.
It has to help Glavine going to Atlanta where he will be the third guy instead of last year in New York where he was forced into the number one spot by Pedro's injury. Also, Glavine will benefit from the great job that Bobby Cox does at handling his pitching staff.
Jayson Stark (1:22 PM)
I agree with this. Glavine was miscast as a No. 1 in New York at this stage of his career. He's just a middle-of-the-rotation guy right now who eats innings and keeps you in games much of the time. He also has a trust factor with Bobby Cox that I think will really help him. I don't see Bobby Cox leaving him in there to give up seven, eight, nine runs. I don't think Willie Randolph did Glavine any favors by letting him take so many beatings on nights he didn't have it.
It was another Brave...Mike Hampton in 2003.
Jayson Stark (1:22 PM)
Yep, that's the answer to our trivia question. Quite a few of you got it right away. Way to go.
Joe (Birmingham, AL)
Aside from being an innings eater, wasn't the belief that Glavine could mentor young lefty Chuck James just as big a factor as anything as to why the Braves wanted Glavine back so badly? James' stuff is similar to a young Glavine but he just doesn't seem to have "it" right now and hopefully Glavine can show him (a) how to pitch and (b) hoew to prepare to pitch (mentally and physically). This makes Glavine a better fit for the Braves than Maddux would have been (even though I think that Maddux is the superior pitcher...career wise and presently).
Jayson Stark (1:23 PM)
Very well put. He's definitely there in part to teach Chuck James the art of the changeup.
Cheng (Boulder, CO)
Hey Jayson, your postseason numbers are slightly wrong. Glavine is 14-16, 3.42 ERA and 13-11 in postseason series. Maddux is 11-14, 3.34 ERA and 10-11 in postseason series.
Jayson Stark (1:24 PM)
Whoops. You're right. Tried to do it fast and used the wrong column. Thanks!
Brett, Taipei Taiwan
Being a fan of an AL team, I don't want either of them. Neither one still has what it takes to compete against teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, or Tigers. I'd take Curt Schilling over either of them in a day. He's a proven and repeated champion, and he still has what it takes to compete, 300 wins or not.
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
OK, let's leave Schilling out of the debate since he's about 100 wins short of qualifying for this discussion. But let's look at how the two of them did in interleague play last year. I mentioned Glavine's disastrous starts against the Yankees and Tigers. He looked like he had nowhere to go to get an out against such deep, patient lineups. But Maddux wasn't much better against the AL. He faced the Red Sox, Mariners and Rays, and didn't win any of those starts: 0-2, 7.31. Just supports my contention that they're both in the right league at this stage of their careers.
mike (Santa Barbara)
Picking between the two for next year, wouldn't you say that potential durability would be a factor? They both have had relatively injury free careers, but due to how much harder Glavine throws, at his age, wouldn't you think he'd have more potential for injury? Maddux is a just a magician. He could switch to throwing underhand and pitch for another 10 years!
Jayson Stark (1:29 PM)
You might think that, but who has had more physical problems over the years? Maddux, by far. Glavine isone of the most durable pitchers of modern times, and maybe all time. Still has never been on the disabled list in his career. And the closest he has come had a lot more to do with a New York taxi than with his delivery.
Sure, mention Schilling, but if you're going the "not in this discussion" route, Smoltz is better than all three of them right now.
Jayson Stark (1:30 PM)
I would actually take Smoltz myself. But that's the wrong debate!
I would take Maddux. Not just because of the pitching and the feilding, but the fact that he can always get the bunt down. You have to love pitchers who can handle that bat.
Jayson Stark (1:32 PM)
Hold on here. I agree that Maddux can handle the bat, but Glavine is the answer to the question: Which active pitcher has laid down the most career sacrifice bunts? He leads Maddux, 213-174. So who's second? Maddux, of course.
Jason (Lebanon, OH)
Comparing them this way. Which one was better. Cubs pre 93 Maddux or Braves Maddux or Recent Cubs Maddux or Padres Maddux. Do the same with Braes Glavine or Mets Glavine. If you could take one of the guys from one of these time frames which one would you clone?
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
That, too, is a different debate. But it's such a fun question, I'm tackling it anyway. I don't know how you could not pick Braves Maddux: 194-88!!!!! With a 2.63 ERA and nearly a 5-to-1 strikeout/walk ratio. Amazing.
Jayson, as a writer, who do you feel was more approachable during their career, and when comparing these two, shouldn't you take into account the impact both Maddux and Glavine has had on the teams they playe(d) for?
Jayson Stark (1:38 PM)
They're very different to interview. Glavine is in the top five most articulate players I've ever talked to. He gives you an insightful, thoughtful answer on any topic imaginable, and he's as cooperative and professional, win or lose, as any player I've ever come across. Maddux is more challenging. Always stands at his locker, win or lose. Doesn't big-time you or talk down to you. But he's not as willing to let you in. And he's more playful if that's the right word. He'll give you answers where he leads you in one direction, just to see how you'll react, which subtly challenges you to follow along or you don't get the rest of the thought. He's funnier than Glavine, too, in a quiet, deadpan kind of way. So they're both tremendous to talk to. Just very different.
How about park factor? Madduz may as well be pitching in a state park
Jayson Stark (1:41 PM)
San Diego is shangri-la for pitchers. I'm with you there.But Shea isn't exactly Citizens Bank Park, either. (Nor is Turner Field, for that matter.) Check out the road ERAs last year: Maddux 4.65. Glavine 4.54. Proves your point, Brandon.
Scott (St. Cloud, MN)
Since both of these guys rely so much on control, how about looking at their walk totals from last year? Glavine had 64 and Maddux had 25. Maddux also had more strikeouts in almost the exact same number of innings. I think Maddux will have the better year. Less walks plus bigger ballpark equals less runs given up.
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
You sound like some of the people in baseball I surveyed. One NL executive said it was actually pretty simple. Maddux still strikes out more hitters than Glavine and walks fewer. He's right. Strikeouts per 9 IP: Maddux 4.73, Glavine 4.00. Walks per 9 IP: Maddux 1.14 Glavine 2.88.
Dave (Albany, NY)
As a Mets fan, I appreciate how "solid" Glavine was over his short Mets career. The one thing I do, however, have to say about Glavine is that I've never seen a pitcher who was so reliant on who the Plate Umpire was when he was out on the mound. When Glavine doesn't get those "on the black" calls he tends to get hit around hard as was the case that last day of the regular season.
Jayson Stark (1:47 PM)
This is a great observation. One scout's observation about Glavine was: "Ques-Tec killed Tommy." I don't totally agree, because he's been smart enough to make adjustments within the framework of Ques Tec. But he's also a guy who has always tantalized hitters and pitched from behind a lot, and the inability to get a 2-and-0 strike or 2-and-1 strike from certain umpires makes his life tougher than it does for Maddux. Look at this stat: Glavine went 2-0 on 159 hitters last year, Maddux on just 77. But Maddux went 0-2 on 136 hitters, Glavine on only 84. Tells you a little about style, doesn't it?
Maddux will still show up in big games and big situations. Look at what happened with Glavine and the Mets last season when they had to win 1 game. For me, it still has to be Greg Maddux.
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
Mark Simon provided us with another fascinating stat on how these two guys have done from Sept. 1 on over the years. Glavine since 2002: 12-14. Maddux in the same span: 21-14. But Maddux had a couple of September stinkers last year, too, against the Rockies and Dodgers. So Glavine isn't the only one who had his ups and downs down the stretch.
Maddux seems to have made the pitcher around him better especially young pitchers (when Chad Billingsly first came up to the dodgers)
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
Maddux has left his mark on so many young pitchers (and old, for that matter), I wouldn't know where to start the list. Best line I heard on how smart he is came from a scout who said that if he were just being hired to advance-scout the National League, the first thing he'd do is go find a video of Maddux in every start, because all he does is exploit every hitter's weakness in the league -- or try to, anyway.
If the Braves were willing to pay Glavine more than 10 millio this year then why did they ever let him go to New York in the first palce
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
Hold on, John. They're not paying him more than $10 million. He took a pay cut to $8 million. But payroll did have a lot to do with why he left (and why Maddux left), and with why he's coming back. The Braves were in the midst of being payroll-chopped by Time Warner a few years ago, and they couldn't afford Glavine (or Maddux) anymore. This year, with Andruw Jones leaving, they had more payroll flexibility, so they were able to bring him back. Funny thing is, they probably needed him more last year than this year. But last year they didn't have the money.
Will (Turlock, CA)
As a die hard Braves fan, you have to choose Maddux. The man is a genius, despite he has lost some speed on his fastball. Just look at the movement he has on all his pitches. And besides you have to go with the guy who has the nickname Mad-dog!
Jayson Stark (1:56 PM)
When in doubt, pick the better nickname. That's my motto, too.
David Los Gatos, CA
Do you think that both Glavine and Maddux's career's will be tainted because of their post season records and lack of multiple championships. Neither one was able to pitch that seeming perfect "A game" such as Jack Morris, Curt Schilling, and others throughout recent history. Maddux will be know as the best of our current era, but will his post season failings continue to haunt his legacy?
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
No. They were never that style pitcher where they could go out and win games singlehandedly. But they've both had enough big postseason moments where October wouldn't be any kind of blight on their careers. I mentioned Glavine won a World Series clincher. And Maddux pitched eight shutout innings in Game 2 of the '96 World Series in like 82 pitches, against a Yankees lineup that could definitely work a count. So they've had their moments. Both of them.
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
Whaddayaknow. It's time to go. Let's take one more.
if maddux and glavine were here to discuss this with us, Greg would be telling us that because he has hit 5 hr (including one off kevin brown) to Glavine's 1 hr; That this topic should not even be discussed. Smoltz would frantically be trying to tell everyone that he is the best golfer.
Jayson Stark (2:02 PM)
That is exactly right. You must have played golf with these guys once, huh? The cool thing about these three guys is that they played together and starred together and fed off each other and golfed with each other for 10 years, yet they never let ego or jealousy get in the way of friendship. The trash talking was a sign of respect and camaraderie, but nothing more. Three of the most memorable pitchers and personalities of my time covering baseball. And all great. We'll look back on those Braves teams someday and be blown away that the three of them were that great together for so long.
Jayson Stark (2:03 PM)
Thanks, everyone. You can't beat an hour of Maddux-Glavine talk. Seeya all in chat land down the road.
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