What Makes an Elite Pitcher?

Young, Mathewson, Johnson, Alexander, Grove, Spahn, Seaver, Clemens, and Maddux


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About the Book

Elite baseball pitchers are elite for a reason. They seem to have it all: a variety of pitches that no one can lay a bat to; cool heads and confidence in their “stuff” when they get in a jam; and the kind of dexterity that makes difficult plays seem easy.
Is elite status revealed through statistics? Though the author of this book considers statistics of both the traditional and sabermetric sort, he argues that the greats are proved not by broad statistical comparison with all other pitchers, but by their record against one another.
In a thoughtful discussion of the evidence of head-to-head matchups, he finds the nine pitchers who make up the true elite: Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Grover Alexander, Lefty Grove, Warren Spahn, Tom Seaver, Roger Clemens, and Greg Maddux. For each pitcher the book provides biographical information, career highlights, and a list of the feats that put him in the record books.

About the Author(s)

Warren N. Wilbert, a veteran baseball historian and SABR member, is the author of numerous books about baseball. He lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Bibliographic Details

Warren N. Wilbert
Foreword by Robin Roberts
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 394
Bibliographic Info: 118 photos, tables, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2003
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1456-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8456-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii

Foreword     xi

Introduction     1

1 Cy Young     5

2 Christy Mathewson     39

3 Walter Johnson     76

4 Pete Alexander     129

5 Lefty Grove     158

6 Warren Spahn     200

7 Tom Seaver     238

8 Roger Clemens     280

9 Greg Maddux     309

10 Fall Classics     345

Notes     357

Appendix A: Ratings from the Total Pitcher Index     363

Appendix B: Selected Career Statistics     365

Bibliography     367

Index     371

Book Reviews & Awards

“presents the case for greatness…in the process, the book relates the Babe’s superlative pitching career”—Choice; “large collection of photographs…useful bibliography…attractive…well indexed”—The SABR Deadball Committee Newsletter.