The Other Maddux

When you hear the name Maddux you think of Greg Maddux. Greg Maddux was an eight time all star, won the Cy Young four times, won eighteen gold gloves, won a World Series, and won at least 15 games for 17 straight seasons. He also won more games during the 1990s than any other pitcher. For these reasons he is considered one of the best pitchers of all time and arguable the best of my generation. Greg Maddux had great stuff through his career, especially during 1992 to 1995 where he won his four consecutive Cy Young’s and had a remarkable record of 75-29 with a 1.98 ERA, while allowing less than one runner per inning. Even though he has 3,371 career strikeouts and ranks 10th on the all time strikeout list, Greg Maddux wasn’t known as being a strikeout pitcher. He was known as the best in getting batters to pitch to contact. This way he was able to throw fewer pitches and go deeper in games. He is known for being a great finesse pitcher and possible the best control pitcher ever. This made him one of the most successful groundball pitchers ever. Maddux relied on his command, composure, and baseball IQ to get hitters out by mixing in strikeouts with his strategy to induce the ground out. Thus, when you hear the name Maddux, you automatically think about Greg Maddux the Hall of Fame pitcher!

Mike Maddux is the older brother of Greg Maddux. He was a mediocre journeyman pitcher who spent 15 years in the major leagues playing for 10 teams. He was mostly a relief pitcher who appeared in 578 career games. In his career he won 39 games and lost 37. That is compared to his brother Greg who won 355 and lost 227. Mike Maddux has pitched 861 innings with a career ERA of 4.05. Thus, he had the opposite career of his hall of fame brother. One thing they had in common was there baseball IQ and great understanding for pitching. After he retired from playing in 2000 he started his career as a pitching coach first for the Round Rock Express, a Double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. In 2000 his Round Rock Express staff ranked 2nd in the Texas League with a 4.11 ERA. Also, in 2000 the same team won the league championship. With his success it wasn’t too long before he was noticed for being an excellent pitching coach and was given a chance in the major leagues.

In 2003 he started his professional career as a major league pitching coach with the Milwaukee Brewers. He was the Brewers pitching coach for six years from 2003 to 2008In 2008 the Brewers staff ranked 2nd in the National league with a 3.85 ERA. This was the lowest earned run average for the Milwaukee Brewers in 16 years since 1992.

During the 2008 season Manager Ed Yost was fired and the new manager, Ken Macha hired his own coaching staff. Mike Maddux was not made to feel welcome with the new coaching staff. The Brewers should have been more aggressive to retain him. Mike was offered a position by the Rangers which he accepted. This was a big mistake for the Milwaukee Brewers. A good organization knows that the coaches have a big impact on the team, and maybe even more than the actual manager. The Chicago Cubs know this. The Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild has been with the Cubs since 2002. He has seen the Cubs go through three managers in Don Baylor, Dusty Baker, and now Lou Piniella. Cub’s management knows how important a pitching coach is and they have told the three managers that Larry Rothschild is the pitching coach. Lou Piniella didn’t mind because he was the first manager who gave Larry Rothschild a chance as a pitching coach back with the Reds in 1990 after Larry Rothschild was his bullpen coach. Dusty Baker wanted to bring in one of his guys in Dick Pole as pitching coach, but the Cubs said no, so Dick Pole became the bench coach. Dick Pole is currently the pitching coach for the Reds managed by Dusty Baker. Other organizations have had the same pitching coaches for a while, but very few out last the manager like in Chicago.

On February 6, 2008 Nolan Ryan was hired as the president of the Texas Rangers. The Texas Rangers have made their hitting coach the highest paid hitting coach in the game, until this past off-season where The Chicago Cubs lured him away from The Rangers. This is because they know the importance of good coaches. One of the first things Nolan Ryan did was hire Mike Maddux as their pitching coach on November 3rd, 2008. He joined Jackie Moore (bench) and Dave Anderson (third base) as new coaches for the 2009 season. Maddux decided to go from Milwaukee to Texas because of prior connections in the Texas Organization. This is because Maddux started his pitching coach career as the pitching coach at Double-A Round Rock from 2000 to 2002. That Round Rock team was owned by Nolan Ryan who is now the Rangers President. That team was managed by Jackie Moore, the new Texas bench coach. Maddux inherited a Texas pitching staff that had a 5.37 ERA, worst in the major leagues.

For the 2008 season the Texas Rangers pitching was terrible. The prior year they ranked dead last in ERA for team ERA of 5.37. That is why Nolan Ryan hired Mike Maddux to try and turn the pitching around. They had 8 shutouts for 17th place in the majors, gave up the most earned runs at 860, ranked 6th in walks at 625 free passes, and ranked 27th in strikeouts with only 963 as a team. Opponents batted a league best .288 against them. The Texas Rangers pitching staff was bad for a number of years having the 24th ERA in 2007 at 4.75 ERA, 9th in giving up earned runs at 755, and second in walking batters at 668

In his first season with Texas, the Rangers pitching staff had an ERA of 4.38 which ranked 8th in the American league out of 14 teams and 18th in the major leagues out of 30 teams. They had 11 shutouts and 8 complete games. Their 11 shutouts ranked 8th in the majors and their 8 complete games ranked 7th in the Majors. They were 7th in saves with 45. Their Achilles heel was converting saves where they were 45 for 58. Thus, the Texas rangers had an average pitching staff, but were much improved from the previous seasons.

The Texas pitching staff has much to look forward to this year. They are anchored by the veteran in Kevin Millwood. Millwood came up with the Atlanta braves in 1997 behind Hall of famers Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine. He was overshadowed by those great pitchers, but showed a lot of promise and potential. Then he played for the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cleveland Indian in 2005. In 2005 for the Indians he had his best season since 1999. In 2005 he went 9-11 with a 2.86 ERA. Then he signed a big multiyear deal with the Texas rangers before the 2006 season. He struggled with the Rangers until this season under Mike Maddux. Maddux was able to get him back on track and be the ace he was supposed to be.

Then there is the magic he has performed with the other pitchers. This was Scott Feldman’s second year as a starter in the big leagues after pitching in their bullpen for a few years. Last season Feldman went 6-8 with a 5.39 ERA in 25 starts. This past season under the mentorship of Mike Maddux Feldman put his game together going 17-8. He had a 4.08 ERA in 31 starts logging a career high 189.2 innings only allowing 86 runs and 18 homeruns. He turned Feldman into a top of the rotation pitcher after barley being a 5th starter. Tommy Hunter pitched in 3 games for the 2008 season going 0-2 with a 16.36 ERA in 11 innings. He was able to make adjustments this season and went 9-6 with a 4.10 ERA in 19 starts. Under Maddux, Feldman and Hunter developed to being middle of the rotation pitchers with the potential of getting even better as they learn from one of the best pitching coaches.

This year he will have 2 new projects to make effective starters. Derek Holland made his debut this season going 8-13 with a 6.12 ERA in 21 starts in 33 games with a complete game shutout. He is a lefty with potential to grow next season. The 5th starter in the Rangers rotation will be Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy just needs to stay healthy because he has been injury plagued since his debut back in 2005 with the Chicago Whites Sox.

Thus, Mike Maddux may not be the Maddux everyone knows, but he has found his place as one of today’s elite pitching coaches.

17 comments:

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

What is ERA?

In 2008, the Rangers had a team FIP of 4.83, 3rd worst in baseball.

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

Very interesting post Irwin (the ERA bit aside). Thanks for pointing this out.

The 'Bright' One said...

Once again, i must disagree with the analysis.

I dont understand how you jump to the conclusion that Mike Maddux is a good pitching coach. Just like jumping to the conclusion that Del Negro is a bad coach with no empirical data

1) I dont believe the pitching coach has any affect on how pitchers pitch. Leo Mazzzone was considered pitching god in Atlanta, but when he went to baltimore, his pitchers sucked just as bad with him as they did without him. Maybe it was having maddux/glacine/smoltz that made people think Mazzone knew something other pitching coaches did not. Every pitched is born with a certain ability, that is independent of the pitching coach at the major league level.

2) Maddux has never had much success as the pitching instructor. The one year Milwaukee was under a 4 ERA with maddux was when Sabathia pitched 1.65 ERA over 130 innings. CC is what made their era so low that year, not anything Mike Maddux did or did not do.

As DME mentioned, the rangers FIP was well above their team ERA. Plus, the improved pitching stats for the rangers was mostly due to their young pitchers in the pen and a healthy frank Fransisco. Also, Orel Hersheiser was the rangers pitching coach before Maddux. There is no way Maddux knows more about pitching than Hersheiser

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

Well Rothschild is not exactly the best pitching coach. He's average at best in my beliefs. Now Dave Duncan, thats a pitching coach. He made Braden Looper average and Joel Pinero a top starter last season.

FIP by season under Mike Maddux
2003: 4.88 FIP (25th in MLB)
2004: 4.10 FIP (6th in MLB)
2005: 4.20 FIP (13th in MLB)
2006: 4.39 FIP (10th in MLB)
2007: 4.22 FIP (6th in MLB)
2008: 4.83 FIP (28th in MLB)
2009: 4.49 FIP (23rd in MLB)

A good staff is foremost the pitcher and secondarily the coach. The Pitching Coach just helps develop the players or teach him tricks (or, in Duncans case, big sweeping curveballs). Thats all.

I would say 2007 was all Ben Sheets and CC, while 2004 was Doug Davis having a career year (plus ben sheets)

Cubsfan4evr said...

TBO, you don’t seem to think a player (in either basketball or baseball) can grow, learn, and develop under a coach. A pitcher can learn new things from pitches, strategy’s, timing mechanics, etc, to make them better. Let me relate this to you. You are in medical school to be a doctor. First you studied science for your undergrad to prepare you for medical school. After medical school when you become a doctor you will be an intern, resident, possibly chief resident, attending, and possibly a chief of a department. A pitcher is like a doctor. You don’t just become a pitcher overnight. Pitcher’s start in little league, travel teams, high school teams, the minors, and then the majors. A pitcher when they get to the majors still have things to learn and refine. Just as you will once you become a doctor. You won’t be the best doctor over night. You will have things to learn while you’re a doctor and learn from doctors higher up. Thus, Maddux can teach pitchers things, especially the young ones I talked about.

The 'Bright' One said...

Yes, but i was born with the capacity to learn all these things and become a doctor. Other people simply cannot. Hence, it doesnt matter how much they are schooled, they will never amount to being a doctor or even graduating college for that matter.

A major league pitcher was born with the ability to pitch in the majors. No coach can teach you to throw 95MPH. Also, diff pitchers have diff skills. Some were born able to throw a crazy curve or a sick changeup or with 6 fingers. You cant just teach someone a Brandon Webb sinker by practicing a lot.

You can teach someone the rules of the game, but not the game itself

Cubsfan4evr said...

Everyone has talents and can learn things. Some people are more adept to learn certain things and develop specific skills that they are all capable to learn. You were born with the capacity to learn all the things you need, to become a doctor. I was not born with those skills and Science was never my thing, thus I would never pursue a career to become a doctor. I have an aptitude with computers and data management, MIS stuff, so I went to school for that. I didn’t know everything I needed to before school, like you needed to go to Medical school.

The same thing is for a pitcher. Except their school are the minor leagues. Some Baseball clubs have better minor league systems than others. So players in better minor league systems where the coaches can teach them the basics, strategies, and most importantly develop pitches, may develop better pitches. It is all if the pitcher can put in together on how to pitch and develop good pitches. Some pitching coaches may get through to some pitchers, while other may not. They need to get that light bulb to go off for pitchers so they are ready enough for the major leagues. Some pitchers come up to early because they show flashes of greatness in the minors, or the team wants to see what their top prospects can do. Most of the time a pitcher doesn’t come into the league and have success right away. They will have rough outings and may get hammered. A good coach will teach them to adapt and change pitches to be successful!

As you said “A major league pitcher was born with the ability to pitch in the majors” so they have the ability to and the raw talent there. Even though they have the talent and the 95MPH fastball, it doesn’t mean they will be good. They could have control problems in which a good pitching coach can help them develop techniques to try and make them less wild along with practice. Many guys like Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Zumaya, Fernando Rodney, have good fastballs, but they are not great for how hard they throw. This is because it takes more than being able to throw hard to be an above average pitcher. Yes you do need a good fastball first and have that talent, but you need to learn many other parts to be a complete pitcher.

A good pitching coach will teach the basics, strategies, timing techniques, and other things that a pitcher may need depending on what they still need to learn. A pitcher does need a second pitch, and a starter needs more. A good pitching coach can help figure out what their skill level and aptitude may be best to learn certain pitches. They may not be able to teach them how to throw these pitches as well as their naturally good pitches, but they can see what may be better than other and help them learn to throw it better than other coaches may be able to. A good coach like Maddux can teach better than other coaches may be able to explain. A good pitching coach can teach them to develop their skills to the best of their ability. Not all coaches can do this.

The 'Bright' One said...

1) DME could you please settle this argument.

2) Have you noticed how most pitchers can pitch in the majors for 15-20 years, and all of their peripherals like walk, K, HR, GB/FB rates are almost identical year to year. Zambrano will always walk about 4 per game. Marquis will always strike out around 5. All these pitchers have been in the majors for many many year, under several different pitching coaches, yet their abilities never deviate.

Also, how do you explain the differences between pitchers on the same team working with the same coach? Ben Sheets would always strike out a bunch and never walk anyone, but Doug Davis would do the opposite. They were both "taught" by Mike Maddux. Same school, yet different grades, strange. Almost as though the school doesnt matter, but their natural abilities do.

Cubsfan4evr said...

I have “noticed how most pitchers can pitch in the majors for 15-20 years” and there stats are similar throughout most of their career. This is true for many pitchers, but not all. A guy like Kevin Millwood who I talked about in the article is a great example. He was able to put it together and had a good few years. Then he lost it and was able to get back to being the pitcher he was under Maddux. Plus the pitchers I talked about Mike Maddux helping were younger pitchers that were just getting their feet wet or some who were up and down for a year or two, or in the bullpen for that time. I was talking about projects that he had of specific players to make them understand and learn how to pitch using their talents to have the type of careers you were talking about.

I am not saying that Mike Maddux is a genuine and can make everyone into a great pitcher. He is like a great teacher that may be able to get through to most of their students, but not to them all. Also a teacher can only get the most out a player’s talent, the same with Maddux and good pitching coaches. He can’t make a player better than their talent like I said it my last comment. I am saying he will get more out of that talent than other pitching coaches and that is why he is so good.

The reason you have such a hard time with this is because there are not many saber metrics to back it up. Thus, like there are not many stats to show if a teacher is great. For a teacher you can look at grades and the class average, like here you can look at ERA compared to what it was the year before and compared to the rest of the league. The difference is in medical school or in a certain major it is assume that all the students have an aptitude to learn the material and they all can learn it. In baseball they all have talent to pitch, but some have higher ceilings and more talent than others.

The 'Bright' One said...

even if everything you said is true, you have no evidence to back it up besides your own opinion. And even that is not strong because you do not consistently watch the brewers or rangers play. Hence, you are jumping to conclusions on a question in which you are not an expert, have little to no data, and blindly believe what espn and other networks want you to believe. I'm pretty sure whatever reputation Mike Maddux has is a byproduct of his brother. If his last name was horowitz, likely people wouldnt know who he is, what team he coaches, or he might not be a major league coach in the first place.

This is basically an argument about the difference between science and religion. Us scientists are taught to only make conclusions based on causal experimentation and results. Religion teaches blind faith. Hence no middle ground

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

To quote justice Stevens in Burnham:
"As I explained in my separate writing, I did not join the Court's opinion in Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186 (1977), because I was concerned by its unnecessarily broad reach. Id., at 217-219 (opinion concurring in judgment). The same concern prevents me from joining either JUSTICE SCALIA's or JUSTICE BRENNAN's opinion in this case. For me, it is sufficient to note that the historical evidence and consensus identified by JUSTICE SCALIA, the considerations of fairness identified by JUSTICE BRENNAN, and the common sense displayed by JUSTICE WHITE, all combine to demonstrate that this is, indeed, a very easy case. * Accordingly, I agree that the judgment should be affirmed."


Here, I apply a similar logic, albeit in a non-legal/non-P.J. context.

On one hand, you have Dave Duncan spinning crappy pitchers into servicable #3/4 starters(see Braden Looper, Joel Pinero, Todd Wellemeyer, Ryan Franklin, Kyle McClellan, Kyle Lohse, and even Jeff Suppan). On the other hand, I am a firm believer that stuff is something you refine, not teach. You clearly can teach one how to throw and be effective and create an arm using NASA technology, but 18-22 years into a player's career, its not very easy to unteach and reteach. You can teach better ways to transfer momentum and grip the pitch to add a mile or two or inch or so of break, but somethings, like the size of your hand (which lends to grip) or axis of movement, cant be taught.

I think a smart pitching coach does help players develop. He is there, like the hitting coach, not to turn you into a pitcher perse, but to take what you've got and tell you how to fix it. Such as how a hitting coach may tell a player to widen his stance for better balance. A pitching coach may say "you're tipping your pitches, do this differently."

Now, Duncan can teach the big curveball, but that doesnt mean a player just can do it. The player needs inherent talent to do before one's tutorage can take effect. Mike Maddux doesn't walk into the ball park and say "sim sim salabim" and poof, Neftali Feliz is good. No, he studies how Feliz pitches and teaches him the game theory and correct/refines his approach.

But that's just my two sense. It's a blend of both. Regardless, my curveball is shit.

Cubsfan4evr said...

This is my opinion on why I think Mike Maddux is good. You can disagree TBO, I am just showing you my argument and why I think it. I did use evidence to back up my point. You can choose to agree with that logic or not, but I am countering your arguments because I do have a point based on reason and logic so I can keep backing it up. You are right I have not consistently watched the Brewers or Rangers play like I do the Cubs. The Cubs do play the Brewers several times a year, so I have been able to get a good sample size of the Brewers and their pitching. I have not been able to watch the Rangers as much as I would like. The reason I decided to write this was after I saw a few Rangers games last year, and saw Tommy Hunter and Scott Feldman pitch.

I never said I was an expert on the Rangers and have seen every game that Mike Maddux was the coach for. Our loyal GOI readers know that I am a Cubs fan and follow them the most and the national league. I never tried to mislead anyone and say I was an expert on the topic. Like all my posts, I was just offering my opinion and the data to go along with it. You are entitled to your opinion, and I have been countering your arguments by explaining the reasons and points from my article.

Now you are just grasping at straws with his name being the reason and the science/religion reason. I don’t think I need to respond to that.

The whole point of my article was that he is a good teacher and good at developing pitchers based on what he sees with their talent. That is what I have explained with my comments. Thank you DME for saying that. I found your points and pulling in the law references interesting.

The 'Bright' One said...

and you still have nothing to conclusively back up your claims. even if it is true, you still need hard evidence which i dont see.

i think the only way you can possibly judge a pitching coach, is a direct testimonial from his pitchers that their success is a direct result of something the pitching coach did. and even that would not be totally reliable cause baseball players arnt exactly rocket scientists when it comes to connecting a to b

Cubsfan4evr said...

I did give you evidence of why he is a good coach. I understand that there isn’t overwhelming evidence and sabermetrics to break it down and show that he is, but there isn’t much evidence to show that any coach is that good. This is because you can’t look at the talent they have and saw they are performing well, they maybe have been good before they ever met their current coach or they could be future hall of famers. The Nationals are a bad team, but this doesn’t mean they have a bad manager because the talent is crap. So the Rangers could have bad pitching, it wouldn’t necessary mean that Maddux is a bad coach, it could mean his team and GM gave him bad pitchers to work with. After seeing how well Tommy Hunter and Scott Feldman turned their careers around under him and other pitchers did in Milwaukee is how you judge a coach. So we agree that it is hard to judge a coach.

Sexy Rexy said...

I really like Maddux and think he's at least top 5. Esp. with what he's been doing with Colby Lewis and CJ Wilson this year.

Maddux has done some great things this year and throughout his career but I feel like for every good Rangers pitcher, there's an equally bad Rangers pitcher. I'd really like to see him to do better work with Harden. I know Harden was sort of a dumb pick up b/c a guy with Harden's skill set doesn't work well in Arlington, but Id like to see Maddux give his guys GB tendencies, like in St Louis, which would be EXTREMELY beneficial for the Ballpark.

Also, Brandon McCarthy just sucks. He was never really any good in Chicago and kudos to the Chicago media machine for hyping this shitty pitcher up so we could get Johnny Danks!

But overall, I too like Mike Maddux

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

Well St. Louis has the second most HR suppressing park in baseball, so they dont really need GBs there....

Sexy Rexy said...

but guys like Joel Pinero do