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March 2014

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COMMENTS

The Myth of Greg Maddux, the Soft Tosser

Written by , Posted in General, Minor League

Since Andrew Cashner, no high ceiling starting pitching prospects both succeeded in the upper minors and eventually debuted with the Cubs. They have, however, had a variety of pitching prospects with mediocre fastball velocity, but good control, or at least reported good control. From Nick Struck to Chris Rusin, this tradition is now being held up by Kyle Hendricks. With Jake Arrieta likely not ready for the start of the season, some call for Hendricks to get a shot at a spot in the rotation to start the season, despite Hendricks only starting six Triple A games.

The back end of this tradition, however, always involves the proponents of the soft tossing prospects arguing, “but Greg Maddux didn’t throw hard!”

In some ways that statement is correct. Maddux never threw 95, and spent the last 6 or 7 years of his career with his fastball velocity slowly creeping from the high 80s to the mid 80s. But prior to his decline, Maddux threw a 92 mile per hour fastball. A 92 mile per hour fastball with fantastic movement and pinpoint control and command.

The four elements of a fastball are velocity, movement, control and command. On the 20-80 scouting scale, Maddux’s velocity through his prime was a 55-60, solidly above average, and the movement, command and control were all 70s to 80s.

So, first of all, comparing guys who throw 89-90 to in prime Maddux is inaccurate. There’s a big difference between 89 and 92.

Second, comparing a guy who has above average to good control in the minors to the pitcher with the greatest combination of pitch movement and control in the history of baseball is a disservice to the young pitcher.

I’m rooting for Hendricks. He could be a solid, cost controlled back end of the rotation piece. But let’s allow him to be that before we start comparing him to one of the greatest pitchers, if not the greatest pitcher, of most of our lifetimes.

  • Eddie Von White

    OK

  • Doc Raker

    What about velocity differential between the fastball and the secondary pitches? A very big part of pitching is changing speeds pitch to pitch in order to keep hitters off balance. A 88 mph fastball looks like a 95 mph fastball when it follows a 75mph off speed pitch. If a pitcher has movement, control and change of speeds the actual mph of the fastball becomes less important.
    Not to bust your chops Noah but isn’t ‘command’ and ‘control’ the same?

    When Maddux came up he threw hard, he came up shortly after the soft tossing Jaime Moyer. To bad the Cubs didn’t keep both of those guys their entire careers. Could you imagine how good the Cubs would have been for 2 decades if they had kept those 2 guys.

    • PLCB3

      Unbelievable that they let Greg Maddux walk over half a million bucks over the life of the deal, then gave more money to his replacement.
      And that they traded Jamie Moyer AND Rafael Palmero for Mitch Williams.

      • Cindy Sandburg mustn’t have been fond of bemulleted relievers.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        Same GM who allowed the hardest worker in the game Andre Dawson to leave one homer shy of 400, and replaced him with Candy Maldonado who was the laziest player to play left field for Cubs.

      • Kid K found him. Hawk was in the ivy.

      • Kid K found him. Hawk was in the ivy.

      • Dusty Baylor

        Candy….Effing…Maldonado. I thought he was the worst FA signing ever until Milton Bradley…top 5 anyway.

      • PLCB3

        Nothing will be worse than Hasbro because Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu could have been had for less

      • AC0000000

        Nothing will be worse than Hasbro because Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu could have been had for less

      • Doc Raker

        We let Maddux go after his first cy young only to see him earn 3 more in consecutive years thereafter. Imagine that, 4 Cy Youngs in a row. Now a days 500k is what they spill at dinner.

      • PLCB3

        500K over 5 years. 100K a year!

      • Doc Raker

        unbelievable

      • PLCB3

        If Maddux played today, he would get Kershaw + Verlander money.

      • Doc Raker

        unbelievable

      • AC0000000

        If Maddux played today, he would get Kershaw + Verlander money.

      • Doc Raker

        We let Maddux go after his first cy young only to see him earn 3 more in consecutive years thereafter. Imagine that, 4 Cy Youngs in a row. Now a days 500k is what they spill at dinner.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    Well said Noah, most people do not remember that Maddux was not a very good pitcher when he first came up in the mid-eighties. He needed to learn before he became the great Greg Maddux. Hendrix should start in AAA, and come up for spot starts, until he shows he does have the knowledge to be a full time starter.

    • Doc Raker

      Jimi? Excuse me while I kiss the sky!

    • Dusty Baylor

      I would say this: Maddux was also 20 when he came up in 1986. Hendricks is 24 this season. Hendricks has as many minor league games as Maddux. I’m NOT saying he’ll be anywhere near what Maddux was, I’m just saying he could be ready to be the 5th starter right now. No harm, no foul, and it’s not like they’d be starting the arb clock on a 21 yr old.

    • Dusty Baylor

      I would say this: Maddux was also 20 when he came up in 1986. Hendricks is 24 this season. Hendricks has as many minor league games as Maddux. I’m NOT saying he’ll be anywhere near what Maddux was, I’m just saying he could be ready to be the 5th starter right now. No harm, no foul, and it’s not like they’d be starting the arb clock on a 21 yr old.

  • PLCB3

    I thought that the knock of Maddux coming up was his small build.

  • AC0000000

    I thought that the knock of Maddux coming up was his small build.