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updated: 7/26/2014 6:34 PM

Numbers posted by Thomas and Maddux truly amazing

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  • Former Atlanta Braves pitchers Tom Glavine, left, and Greg Maddux, right, pose with Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas after a news conference announcing their election to the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame class in New York. Induction ceremonies are Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y.

      Former Atlanta Braves pitchers Tom Glavine, left, and Greg Maddux, right, pose with Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas after a news conference announcing their election to the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame class in New York. Induction ceremonies are Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y.
    Associated Press

 
 

Frank was the best hitting slugger I'd ever seen. There wasn't a pitch he could not destroy, not one spot in the strike zone he couldn't reach. He made even good pitchers nervous. I watched them twitch and walk off the mound to regroup.

Greg was the smartest dominant pitcher I'd ever seen. He toyed with batters, controlling sport's most direct 1-on-1 matchup with wisdom and creativity. He froze good hitters with called strikes, based on sequence and ingenuity. I watched them shake their heads on the way back to the dugout.

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Frank once went seven consecutive seasons batting at least .300, hitting 20 or more homers, and finishing with more than 100 RBI, walks, and runs scored. Ted Williams did it six years in a row. No one else went more than five. One of those seasons was strike-shortened 1994. In only 113 games Frank still had 38 homers, 101 RBI, he hit .353, scored 106 runs, walked 106 times, and slugged an absurd .729. Extrapolate that math to 162 games and it's 61 HRs and 145 RBI.

Greg once went seven seasons with an ERA under 3.00, and in the midst had two straight years staying under 1.80. The last guy to do that was Walter Johnson (1918-19). Since 1920, only four pitchers had ERA seasons under 1.65: Bob Gibson and Luis Tiant in 1968, Dwight Gooden in 1985, and Greg, twice. In '94, his batting average was higher than his ERA.

Frank is the all-time White Sox leader in leader in runs scored (1,327), home runs (448), doubles (447), RBI (1,465), extra-base hits (906), walks (1,466), total bases (3,949), slugging percentage (.568), and on-base percentage (.427). With apologies to Appling, Collins, Fox, Minoso, and Aparicio, it's Frank.

Greg once went 72⅓ straight innings without a walk, a streak broken when Bobby Cox ordered Steve Finley intentionally put on base. From age 28 to 40, he never walked more than 45 batters in a season, staying under 30 four times. In his career, he started 740 games. In 236 of them, he walked no one.

Frank is as close as we'll get to an assuredly clean slugger in the steroid era. In a time when PED usage left obvious marks, like McGwire's three-foot wide torso, Sosa's impossible biceps, and Bonds' ever-growing head, Frank just kept looking like Frank. He was always big. And his annoyance with the cheaters has never played like lies.

Greg is emblematic proof that all pitchers need not be a slave to velocity. He knew how to pitch to bad contact. A sawed-off bat leads to an easy grounder. An overly aggressive slug at an outside sinker is an easy flare to right. Thirteen times, he finished a complete-game shutout with fewer than 100 pitches.

Frank is in the conversation for the best right-handed hitter of all time. My list would have Aaron, Hornsby, and others ahead of him, but to be mentioned with Mays, Wagner, Clemente and DiMaggio isn't bad. Cabrera and Pujols join that list by the time they're done.

Greg is in the conversation for the best starting pitcher of all time, period. It's the unique combination of feats, plus longevity. Consider the 18 Gold Gloves, including 13 in a row. He's 10th on the all-time strikeout list. I'd have him top five, with Cy Young, Walter and Randy Johnson, and either Warren Spahn or Tom Seaver.

Frank and Greg will be the last Chicago guys to get in to the Hall of Fame for a long, long time. The Sox can't claim Griffey in 2016, or possible inductees Thome and Vizquel in 2018. Kerry Wood isn't going in. Neither is Jamie Moyer and his 269 career wins. I want to see where Mark Buehrle's career numbers wind up.

The Hall of Fame is a truly magical, tangible place. It's a place where you can put aside flaws of inconsistent omission and voting process, basking instead in excellence and history.

Frank and Greg belong there, as much as anyone in the joint.

• Matt Spiegel co-hosts "The McNeil & Spiegel Show" 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday on WSCR 670-AM. Follow him on Twitter @mattspiegel670.

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