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Last call: Greg Maddux, the greatest pitcher of all time?

December 8, 2008 | 10:00 pm

Greg Maddux officially retired Monday, news that was severely underplayed across the country. It's not often a pitcher with 355 victories retires, but his retirement was treated as almost an afterthought around the country. Too bad.

The question is, though, how great was Maddux? Is he the greatest of all time?

Let's rank the top pitchers using the ERA+ stat. ERA+ is the ratio of the league's ERA (adjusted to the pitcher's ballpark) to that of the pitcher. Anything greater than 100 is above average and below 100 is below average. The stat basically equalizes ERA across different baseball time periods, making it easier to compare pitchers from the 1930s with pitchers from the 1990s. Taking a look at Maddux compared with pitchers in the Hall of Fame:

1. Lefty Grove 148

2. Walter Johnson 147

3. Ed Walsh  146

3. Hoyt Wilhelm 146

5. Addie Joss 142

5. Al Spalding 142

7. Kid Nichols 140

8. Three-Finger Brown 138

8. Cy Young 138

10. Bruce Sutter 136

11. Pete Alexander 135

11. Christy Mathewson 135

11. Rube Waddell 135

14. John Clarkson 134

15. Whitey Ford 133

16. Greg Maddux 132

17. Sandy Koufax 131

18. Dizzy Dean 130

18. Carl Hubbell 130

18. Hal Newhouser 130

In the Hall of Fame Black Ink test (click link for an explanation), Maddux ranks 10th. In the Gray Ink test, he is sixth. In the Hall of Fame standards test, he is seventh.

So although it is probably safe to say Maddux wasn't the greatest pitcher of all time, he definitely is in the top 10. And it's not too often you get to see one of the 10 greatest of all time in any field.

Plus, Maddux starred in one of the greatest commercials of all time:

All in all, a great career and a class act who will be missed.

-- Houston Mitchell