So what's a Maddux?

Jonathan Ernst

Today's a good day to remember that Jason Lukehart invented a term ... well, I'll let him explain it:

Greg Maddux is my favorite pitcher ever, and it's not particularly close. I tend to be more drawn to position players, but Maddux has always been an exception. I know the strikeout is the "best" out, but growing up, I didn't want to be accused of fascism, so I liked pitchers who got grounders and weak pop flies, or if they struck guys out, did it by painting the corners. I realize there's a bit more to it than that, and a bit more to Maddux too, but I was a good pitcher without being able to throw very hard, and I loved me some Greg Maddux. In 1998, I came across a box score for a game in which Maddux had thrown a complete game shutout, and used fewer than 100 pitches. I LOVED it! Ever since then, I've kept my eye out for such games and calling such a pitching line a "Maddux."

Requirements for a Maddux:
The pitcher must toss a complete game shutout, and throw no more than 99 total pitches.

Simple enough, right? But not so easily done! Via Lukehart, the Maddux leaders in the Maddux Era (1988-2013):

1. Greg Maddux 13
2. Zane Smith 7
3. Bob Tewksbury 6
t4. Tom Glavine 5
t4. Roy Halladay 5

You could have given me a hundred guesses, or five hundred guesses, and I wouldn't have guessed Zane Smith. I remember Zane Smith, but somehow I completely missed (or have forgotten) that he was particularly economical with his pitches. With Halladay retiring, the active leaders are Bartolo Colon and James Shields, with four apiece.

Last spring, for some reason that's also long forgotten, I made a list of baseball things named after baseball players. I guess I figured I might write about them someday.

Someday is today! I'll save rules and laws and diseases and boners named after players for another time, but here are a few of my favorite things that are just a name ...

John Anderson - He was a pretty good American League outfielder early in the 20th century, but became famous for allegedly trying to steal second base with the bases loaded. It now seems he wasn't actually trying to steal second, but rather was picked off first base after taking too big a lead. Still, for decades afterward you pulled a "John Anderson" if you tried to steal an occupied base or committed some other foolish baserunning blunder.

Arlie Latham - Latham, who played third base for some years in the 19th century, was so famous that his name eventually came to mean two completely different things. First it was any infielder who dodged a hard-hit ground ball; later it was a coach on the field who "yells and gesticulates in the coach's box to distract the opposing pitcher."

Since the latter never happens any more, let's try to bring the former back.

Baker - Named for Frank "Home Run" Baker, a "Baker" was simply a home run. A decade or so later, the term "Babe Ruth" was popularly used for home run, too.

Eckstein - Any scouts reading this? Is this one still current? In 2006, a scout told Baseball America's Alan Schwarz, "Placido Polanco is an Eckstein -- a pain-in-the-ass player who keeps coming at you, a get-dirty-type guy." Which seems funny now, because that might have been the last time that Placido Polanco was compared to David Eckstein.

Pipp - This isn't actually a thing, but rather a verb: If you're replaced due to injury or illness and never get back into the lineup, you've been Pipped (or Wally Pipped).

Sammy Vick - I always confuse Sammy Vick with Sammy Byrd. Byrd's nickname was "Babe Ruth's Legs," while Ruth's ghostwriter wrote that Vick was "noted for possessing one of the most voracious appetites in the big leagues." For many years, a player who ate a lot was simply known as a "Sammy Vick." Which seems a little strange, considering Vick's listed at just 163 pounds.

Kimbrel - This one's obviously new, but I sure hope it sticks. Actually, I'm not even sure what it is, which is frustrating for a number of reasons. But I think it's when a relief pitcher takes over in the ninth inning and strikes out all three batters he faces to end the game. I used to have a note somewhere about the inventor of the term -- a Braves blogger, probably -- but please feel free to educate me.

Speaking of education, I know I'm forgetting a bunch of recent ones. So please drop those into the comments as you think of them.

Oh, I almost forgot: I couldn't have written the above without a great deal of help from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary.

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