Greg Maddux Not the Most Efficient Braves Pitcher Ever

Well, at least for one game.  Maddux, of course was very efficient, so much so that one of the more fun stats has been named for him—a Maddux is a game in which the pitcher hurls a complete 9 inning game in 100 pitches or less.  Appropriately, he holds the record for most Madduxes.  He does not, however, hold the record for fewest pitches in a 9 inning game.  Red Barrett does.

On Aug 10, 1944, playing for the Boston Braves, Red Barrett pitched a complete game in 58 pitches.  Pitch counts weren’t an official stat back then, but they were counted; and a reporter put it in his game summary—thus we have it for posterity.  Turns out the other pitcher, Bucky Walters of the Cincinnati Reds, also worked quickly—and the full 9 inning game was completed in 1 hour, 15 minutes!  As one might expect, Barrett got Reds hitters to swing early and often…and end up out.  He allowed 2 hits, struck out nobody and walked nobody.

Barrett was basically an average MLB pitcher, racking up a 69-69 record with a 3.53 ERA in his 11 year MLB career, with the Reds, Braves, and Cardinals. WAR of course wasn’t a thing back then (the stat, that is—WW II was tragically still very much a thing in 1944), but BBR has him at 10.0 for his career.  His best season was the following year, 1945, during which he was traded from the Braves to the Cardinals.  That year he went 23-12 with a 3.00 ERA in 284.2 IP.  It was definitely a different game then—he had 24 complete games, and that didn’t lead the league.
Also different from anything you’d see these days: that game, at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, was in the middle of a 20 game road trip for the Braves. 20 straight games on the road in a 154 game schedule. The Braves won that one 2-0.

The losing pitcher that day, Bucky Walters of the Reds, deserves special mention.  A converted infielder, he was a “Hall of Very Good” pitcher.  For his 16 year MLB career—mostly with the Reds but also 4 with the Phillies and 1 with the Braves—he went 198-160, with a 3.30 ERA; BBR credits him with 53.2 WAR.  In particular, he anchored the Reds rotation in their 1939 and 1940 NL pennant winning seasons.  In 1944, he was an All Star again.  The loss to Barrett’s Braves was one of only 8 for him that year, against 23 wins.  He posted a 2.40 ERA in 285 IP, with 27 complete games.

Final 1944 tidbits: On Aug 10, 1944, the Braves sat in 6th in the NL at 32 games behind the Cardinals; the Brooklyn Dodgers and Phillies were tied for last at 34 games back.  The Braves finished in 6th as well, with the Dodgers 7th and Phillies 8th.  The Cardinals meanwhile rolled to a 105-49 record and defeated the St Louis Browns (now Baltimore Orioles) in the World Series—the only time the two St Louis teams matched up in the WS.  If the Browns had the same record as they did as AL champs but were in the NL, they’d have tied the Reds for 3rd place, 16 games back.  Pittsburgh was the second place team, 14.5 games back—not a pressure packed race that year.

6 thoughts on “Greg Maddux Not the Most Efficient Braves Pitcher Ever

  1. Problem is, teams in 1944 were largely filled out by guys who couldn’t be drafted or weren’t fit to volunteer – so maybe those numbers are a leeeeetle skewed?

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  2. You can be the best once and that’s fine. But if you’re the best over and over again, well… my friends, consistency is key. 😛

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