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Who was better? Randy Johnson or Greg Maddux?

Jul 1, 2013, 1:32 PM EDT

Image (1) maddux1.jpg for post 4264

David Laurila of FanGraphs had a great conversation starter last week when he asked some players and coaches who they thought was “better” — Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds. He didn’t define “better.” He made his interviewees figure that out and then talk about it a bit. It was cool because it had other players assess baseball performance, which is something we don’t see too often.

David does it again this week, asking who was better: Randy Johnson or Greg Maddux?

Maddux is my favorite player of all time so I’m disqualifying myself due to clear, unshakeable bias. But what say y’all?

  1. jayscarpa - Jul 1, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    Johnson had 7 post season wins, 5 of them against the Yankees.

    I’ll take Maddux

  2. rickdobrydney - Jul 1, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    “Favorite player of all time ????” —– Kidding, right ??? Well, I guess brainy, nerd types stick together —-

    • stlouis1baseball - Jul 2, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      You find it surprising that one of the best Pitchers in the History of the game is someone’s favorite player? Really? Noooo. Can’t be. Serious? Or are you just being a Penishead?

  3. Ducky Medwick - Jul 1, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    Maddux is my all time favorite as well, but I also think RJ was “better.” Not sure how to feel just now.

  4. earpaniac - Jul 1, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Maddux was the best pitcher I ever saw. And I must be older than most, because I hear “Pudge” and I immediately think of #72, or #27, depending on your allegiance. The other one is a copycat! Lol

  5. whitdog23 - Jul 1, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    FanGraphs is awesome!!! just dumped HardBall Talk and will get my baseball news there now…PLUS clever ideas for debate!!

    • stlouis1baseball - Jul 2, 2013 at 1:05 PM

      Great! Take care Whit!

  6. cardinalcrazy - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    If heads, then Maddux, if tails then Johnson. Flip coin … and it lands on tails. After an exhausted scientific study, Johnson narrowly beats out Maddux.

  7. nbjays - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:20 PM

    Johnson was a tall, intimidating power pitcher who used nasty, filthy stuff to get guys out. Maddux was a finesse pitcher who used his brain to get guys out.

    Mad Dog beats the Unit easily, although if either of them is not a first-ballot, unanimous HoF inductee, then the entire BBWAA needs to be lined up and shot and replaced with people who are semi-intelligent.

  8. modellforprez - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:31 PM


  9. largebill - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:59 PM

    This is not a great match up for comparison. Randy might be better compared to Nolan Ryan. Both had control issues early on that became less of an issue as they matured as pitchers. Obviously both Ryan and Johnson were the premier power pitchers of their eras. While Maddux racked up a lot of K’s he wasn’t nearly in the same category as Johnson as a power pitcher. Bottom line, I’d be damn glad to have either anchoring my team’s rotation.

  10. olk777 - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:35 AM


    I would rather have him pitch game seven of the World Series.

    That’s how I judge these things.

  11. stlouis1baseball - Jul 2, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    Randy Johnson was a great pitcher. One of the best. No question.
    That in mind…this isn’t even a hard decision for me. Greg Maddux…hands down.

    My reasononing? With Johnson…you are getting one of two pitches.
    With Maddux…you are getting one of about twelve variations of pitches.
    If I am hitting against Johnson I look fastball…fastball…slider (and it’s filthy)…fastball…
    slider (and it’s filthy)….fastball…then when I am not sure…I look fastball.

  12. sportsfan18 - May 22, 2014 at 5:38 PM

    Mad Dog was better than Randy…

    Why? He was more consistent…

    Randy had many years at the beginning of his career where he was not dominant.

    Three years in a row he led the league in walks (all well OVER 100 walks those seasons with 152 one year and 144 another) and had more than 90 walks to other seasons then.

    Randy did NOT have his first ERA below 3.00 until he was 31 yrs old! It took him until his 8th season to do that… 31 yrs old.

    Greg was much more consistent over the years in his career.

    Mad Dog had his first ERA below 3.00 in his 4th season. And we all know taht Greg didn’t walk many batters.

    They are both great pitchers and I understand how those may make a case for Randy being better.

    To me, as an organization, I would have preferred the overall flow of Greg’s career than Randy’s.

    Greg’s absolute peak was much higher than Randy’s too.

    Randy’s highest ERA+ were 195 and 193, but not in consecutive seasons.

    Greg had a 271 ERA+ one year and followed it up with a 260 ERA+ the next season.

    Greg’s ERA+ for his 4 consecutive Cy Young seasons were as follows:


    Randy’s ERA+ for his 4 consecutive Cy Young seasons were as follows:


    Greg helped his defense too. Pitchers that work quickly, throw strikes always help their defenders out.

    When a pitcher is wild and is walking a lot of batters like Randy did for many years in the first part of his career, it hurts the defense. Putting men on base via walks doesn’t help.

    So, overall, I’ll take Greg’s career, the way it unfolded from year to year if I could have my choice of either of them.

    Randy was impressive, imposing firing 100 mile per hour pitches while being as tall as he was…

    But Greg’s complete game against the Cubs I believe where he ONLY threw 76 pitches total in a complete game was as impressive as anything I’ve seen in the game.

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