Stephen Strasburg and Madduxing
I'm technically on vacation right now so this will be a quick post, but Stephen Strasburg did something so remarkable yesterday afternoon that I couldn't resist putting a few words together about it. As we all know Strasburg threw his first career complete game and first career shutout yesterday as he led the Nats to a 6-0 win and a sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies. What's more remarkable though is how Strasburg accomplished that feat, mainly that it took him just 99 pitches.
Back in 2012, Jason Lukehart at Ground Ball With Eyes came up with a new term for dominance such as that displayed by Strasburg on Sunday, the Maddux . The Maddux is a nine or more inning shutout by a starting pitcher which is completed in less than 100 pitches. It is named after Greg Maddux, one of the best pitchers in recent history and perhaps the ultimate control pitcher. Unsurprisingly for a stat named after him, Greg Maddux has thrown the most Madduxes of all-time, with 13. Overall, 217 pitchers, including Strasburg, have accomplished this feat.
For the Nationals, this is the fourth Maddux thrown in team history. Jordan Zimmermann threw a Maddux this April in a game against the Cincinnati Reds. Jason Marquis threw a Maddux in 2011 in a win against the San Francisco Giants. Finally, Pedro Astacio threw the first Maddux in Nationals team history in 2006, defeating the Atlanta Braves.
But Strasburg did something more impressive than the other three, he also struck out ten batters in his Maddux. Here is a list of all the players to accomplish that feat since 1916 via Baseball-Reference's Play Index:
Yes, Strasburg is just one of 13 players since 1916 to toss a shutout in under 100 pitches and strike out ten batters while doing it and his company on that list isn't too shabby. Jim Bunning and Sandy Koufax are in the Hall of Fame, while Carpenter, Schilling, Oswalt, Mussina, Halladay and Lee are all one of the best pitchers of their era.
Something even cooler, a Maddux with ten strikeouts is rarer than a perfect game, which has been accomplished 19 times in the same time frame. While it is not quite a perfect game, I would say a Maddux with ten strikeouts is one of the best accomplishments a pitcher can have. While no hitters and 20 strikeout games are cool, those are just maxing out on one statistic. To be able to average eleven or less pitches per inning while still striking out ten or more batters a pitcher has to be at the pinnacle of his game.
Many have considered Strasburg to be a disappointment, which is laughable. However, now we can demonstrate that Stephen Strasburg can accomplish feats that nearly no other pitcher in history can and that's pretty cool.