Thursday, December 12, 2013

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #85 GREG MADDUX


SIMPLY ONE OF THE BEST.



THE CUBS PROBABLY SHOULD'VE HELD ONTO HIM.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Greg Maddux was an artist holding a baseball while painting the corners of the plate with a devastating sinker-changeup repertoire. While he didn't possess the stuff to blow away hitters, they hardly stood a chance matching wits with The Professor. He won 355 games, eighth all-time and second behind Warren Spahn since the live-ball era began in 1920. In July, he'll take his rightful place in the Hall of Fame.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • On April 5, 1993, in his first start for the Braves, with whom he signed as a free agent in the off-season, Maddux flummoxed his former team. Making the start at Wrigley Field, Maddux shut out the Cubs for 8.1 innings, allowing five hits, in the 1-0 victory. The Cubs got a glimpse at what they would be missing and the Braves a preview of what was to come from their new ace for the next 11 years.  

DEFINING SEASON

  • Looking at Maddux's stats is a study of bold type and eye-popping numbers. Let's go with '95, when he led all major-leaguers in WAR (9.7). Of the 34 pitching categories that Baseball-Reference lists, he led 18 of them, including victories (19), ERA, (1.63), complete games (10), shutouts (3), innings (209.2), walks per nine (1.0) and WHIP (0.811). Of course, he unanimously won the NL Cy Young and probably deserved the MVP, too, but he finished behind Dante Bichette and #114 Barry Larkin.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Drafted in the second round of the '84 draft, Maddux made his major-league debut in '86 and was the league's youngest player at age 20.
  2. After winning only six games in his first full season the next year, Maddux began a streak of 17 consecutive seasons of 15-plus victories in '88.
  3. With free-agent-to-be Maddux represented by agent scott boras and coming off his first 20-win season and Cy Young Award in '92, contract talks with the Cubs broke down and the Braves signed him to a five-year contract.
  4. Maddux would win three consecutive Cy Youngs with the Braves, giving him four in a row, the first pitcher to accomplish that feat.
  5. Won the most Gold Gloves in history with 18. 

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