They were the 4 elite pitchers of our era.
There are many debates about who had the best career, who had the best peak, who had the best stuff, who was the most dominant over the greatest amount of years, and who you would want to pitch the most important game for you.
The purpose of this post is not to answer those questions, but to see how they did in the playoffs.
So let’s cut through the myths and MEDIA driven legends, and see the actual post season stats of these 4 aces. Let’s face it folks, the post season is what separates the boys from the men. It’s the most tense, clutch, and pressure situation in baseball. Is it unfair to judge a player based on 5 games? Yeah, but that’s life.
Thankfully, these 4 great pitchers have appeared in many post-season games, so we have a better sample than just a handful of games.
The Big Unit has appeared in 8 post seasons, and 11 series. He started 16 games, and made 3 relief appearance. He has 11/16 (69%) Quality Starts.
His record is 7-9, with an ERA of 3.50. His teams have won 4/11 series. He has pitched 121 innings, with 132K, 106 hits, and 32 walks. He has 3 complete games. He has one World Series ring, and was co-winner of the World Series MVP.
Pedro has appeared in 4 post seasons, and 8 series. He started 11 games, and made 2 relief appearance. He has 7/11 (64%) Quality Starts.
His record is 6-2, with an ERA of 3.40. His teams have won 5/8 series. He has pitched 79.1 innings, with 80K, 63 hits, and 26 walks. He has 0 complete games. He has one World Series ring, and no post-season awards.
Mad Dog has appeared in 12 post seasons, and 21 series. He started 30 games, and made 2 relief appearances. He has 21/30 (70%) Quality Starts.
His record is 11-14, with an ERA of 3.34. His teams have won 10/21 series. He has pitched 194 innings, with 122K, 191 hits, and 50 walks. He has 2 complete games. He has one World Series ring, and no post-season awards.
The Rocket has appeared in 12 post seasons, and 24 series. He started 34 games, and made 1 relief appearance. He has 18/34 (53%) Quality Starts.
His record is 12-8, with an ERA of 3.75. His teams have won 14/24 series. He has pitched 199 innings, with 179K, 173 hits, and 70 walks. He has 1 complete game. He has two World Series rings, and no post-season awards.
All 4 pitchers have excellent post-season numbers. Clemens and Maddux each have actually pitched a season’s worth of post-season games against the best teams in baseball.
- The irony is that Greg Maddux, who is not known for his post-season accolades, actually was the most consistent and had the lowest ERA. His record is 11-14 because of some some unlucky teams playing behind him.
- Meanwhile, Roger Clemens, regarded by himself as the greatest pitcher of all time, was only good half the time he pitched. Of course, he does has 2 rings, his teams did win most of the time.
- If it wasn’t for the Yankees causing him so much trouble, Pedro Martinez would be regarded in the same light as Sandy Koufax in terms of post-season clutch.
- Speaking of the Yankees, Randy Johnson’s 2 seasons with the Yanks ruined his post-season quality starts % and ERA. But guess what? It counted. And the Yanks needed him. That being said, when Randy was “on”, he was generally an unstoppable (but not perfect) machine- extremely dominant with his strikeouts and innings pitched.
So…who’s the best of the 4 aces when it comes to post season play? It’s tough to say. I’d have to pass on Roger, though.
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