Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Maddux

Along with the Dunn, the impetus for this post came from a text I saw a couple of nights ago. Since I'm not the most original person on this planet, I take my inspiration where I find it and give credit where credit is due:
Anyone with a Better Call Saul pic as his Twitter ID photo already has all the credibility I'll ever need, so I dug into the research. It's a pretty small list:

Caveats galore:
1. Years are listed just to give some clue as to when pitchers actually pitched--obviously, Greg Maddux pitched from 1986-2008 but had his first Maddux in 1990 and last one in 2000.
2. Pitch count data is spotty prior to 1988, so take the Preacher Roe and Sandy Koufax data with a grain of salt.
3. The total number of Madduxes (Blogger doesn't  recognize "Madduxes" as a word--I highly suggest it LEARNS IT) was 346, going back to 1945, which is the absolute limit for pitch data--not many at all. Cashner's was the 10th this year:

You'll notice the original tweet was sent to someone else:

Well shoot, if Boba Fett says he invented the Maddux, I guess the discussion is over. I expanded the definition to cover all games in which pitchers threw 99 or  fewer pitches in 9+ innings, regardless of runs allowed or outcome of game:

This is where I made my mistake, including games that weren't shutouts as Mr. Lukehart pointed out to me, and I understand--I still think it's an accomplishment. That's 11 pitches an inning, EVERY SINGLE INNING in an era where batters are being trained to take more pitches per plate appearance. This chart shows the change in pitches per plate appearance since 1988:
.2 pitches per PA may not seem like much but it is a 4.2% improvement in a relatively short time span. It would be fascinating to see how this trended throughout baseball history but that data doesn't exist for folks like me, and may not exist at all. 

Greg Maddux is probably safe at the top of the Maddux List since pitchers don't pitch complete games anymore, let alone shutouts. Even Maddux had problems achieving the Maddux since his last one was in 2000. I'll finish with this example of the state of pitching data prior to 1988. I noticed a game for Rick Wise, a pitcher for five teams from 1964-1982. He had a game on September 18th, 1971 against the Cubs in which he pitched 12 innings and threw only...91 pitches!?!  How can this be? Here's one way:
Inn Score Out RoB Pit(cnt) R/O @Bat Batter Pitcher wWPA wWE Play Description
Bottom of the 5th, Phillies Batting, Behind 2-3, Cubs' Milt Pappas facing 1-2-3
b5 2-3 0 --- 1,(0-0)  PHI L. Bowa M. Pappas 6% 45% Single to CF
b5 2-3 0 1-- 1,(0-0)  O PHI O. Gamble M. Pappas -5% 40% Popfly: 3B
b5 2-3 1 1-- 1,(0-0)  OO PHI T. McCarver M. Pappas -8% 32% Ground Ball Double Play: 2B-1B
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 LOB. Cubs 3, Phillies 2.
Top of the 6th, Cubs Batting, Ahead 3-2, Phillies' Rick Wise facing 2-3-4
t6 3-2 0 --- 1,(0-0)  O CHC C. Fanzone R. Wise 2% 34% Popfly: 2B (Short RF)
t6 3-2 1 --- 1,(0-0)  O CHC P. Bourque R. Wise 2% 36% Flyball: LF
t6 3-2 2 --- 1,(0-0)  O CHC R. Santo R. Wise 1% 37% Groundout: 2B-1B
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB. Cubs 3, Phillies 2.
Bottom of the 6th, Phillies Batting, Behind 2-3, Cubs' Milt Pappas facing 4-5-6
b6 2-3 0 --- 1,(0-0)  O PHI D. Johnson M. Pappas -4% 33% Lineout: 2B
b6 2-3 1 --- 1,(0-0)  O PHI W. Montanez M. Pappas -3% 30% Groundout: 1B unassisted
b6 2-3 2 --- 1,(0-0)  PHI G. Luzinski M. Pappas 2% 33% Single to SS
b6 2-3 2 1-- 1,(0-0)  O PHI D. Money M. Pappas -4% 29% Flyball: LF
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB. Cubs 3, Phillies 2.
Top of the 7th, Cubs Batting, Ahead 3-2, Phillies' Rick Wise facing 5-6-7
t7 3-2 0 --- 1,(0-0)  O CHC P. Popovich R. Wise 2% 31% Groundout: 1B-P
t7 3-2 1 --- 1,(0-0)  O CHC G. Hiser R. Wise 2% 32% Lineout: 1B
t7 3-2 2 --- 3,(0-2)  O CHC F. Fernandez R. Wise 1% 33% Strikeout Looking
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB. Cubs 3, Phillies 2.
Bottom of the 7th, Phillies Batting, Behind 2-3, Cubs' Milt Pappas facing 8-9-1
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 9/18/2013.

However the numbers of this game were tabulated it appears the scorer took pitch counting off for a couple of innings. Somehow both Wise and Milt Pappas made it through two innings by throwing one pitch to every hitter. I suppose it IS possible, but highly unlikely. In fact, there's a notation included in this table that is NOT visible in the original Baseball-Reference box score but is embedded in their HTML as every at-bat listed here has a "UX" after it, meaning the number of pitches is unknown.

It's a fine line between trivia and analysis and I try my hardest to stay on the analyst side, but this is interesting to me (and apparently at least  two other people as well). Instead of cheating and profiting from the work of others as I did with my last two posts, I created my OWN stat for tomorrow's post, and it's so good that the person I named it after is...#2 on the list. It seemed like such a good idea at the time--stay tuned.

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