Monday, April 21, 2014

Henderson Alvarez has become a Maddux icon

Henderson Alvarez, a right-handed pitcher for the Marlins is becoming quite a sensation within the world of the Maddux. On Saturday night in Miami, Alvarez (who just turned 24 on Friday) pitched the first Maddux of 2014, shutting out Seattle on just 90 pitches, while allowing only 2 hits and issuing 0 walks. It was the third Maddux of Alvarez's career already, which puts him in select company, especially given his age. Youth wasn't the only factor that made this particular Maddux so notable though, and I don't think any other active pitcher could have generated as many interesting tidbits of Maddux trivia as Alvarez just did.

For anyone in need of a refresher, a Maddux is a complete game shutout in which the pitcher throws fewer than 100 pitches. You can find all sorts of leader boards and factoids for the Maddux here.

Alvarez pitched his first Maddux in May of 2012, which allowed him to crack two different lists: It was only the 16th game of his career, which put him in a tie for 4th on the list of pitchers who throw a Maddux fastest. Alvarez was also only 22 years and 16 days old, which put him 3rd on the list of youngest pitchers to throw a Maddux.

Alvarez pitches his second Maddux in September of 2013. That was the 58th game of his career, which made him the third fastest to throw two Madduxes (Dave Fleming was the fastest, throwing his second in the 46th game of his career back in 1993). It also made Alvarez the youngest pitcher with two Madduxes, beating Fleming by 53 days. That second Maddux was also a no-hitter, only the ninth no-hit Maddux.

Saturday night makes Alvarez the fastest pitcher to reach 3 Madduxes, needing just 62 career games (the old mark was 66 games, by Bob Tewksbury). It also makes Alvarez the youngest to 3 Madduxes. He was 24 years and 1 day old (no pitcher has ever thrown a Maddux on his birthday). The old record was 25 years and 142 days, by Jaime Navarro.

Looking down the road... Tewksbury was also the fastest to 4 Madduxes, but he didn't get there until his 188th career game, beating Tom Glavine by one game. Glavine was the youngest to reach his fourth Maddux, at 27 years and 98 days. Who knows if Alvarez will ever throw another one, but he's got more than three years to go before passing those thresholds.

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JUNE 3, 2014 UPDATE: Alvarez waited just 8 games to throw his fourth Maddux, getting there tonight against Tampa Bay, and needing only 88 pitches to do it. He took just 70 career games to get there, 118 fewer than Tewksbury, who had been the fastest. Alvarez is only the tenth player to throw at least 4 Madduxes, and he's also only the 19th player to throw 2 of them in the same season (the record is 3, by Greg himself and Zane Smith).

I heart Henderson Alvarez.

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Alvarez's second Maddux, from last September, was the final one thrown in 2013, which means Alvarez has now thrown the last two Madduxes. That had only happened once before*, when Tewksbury accomplished it way back in 1990.

*Greg Maddux missed out on becoming the second to do it by a matter of hours. He pitched the first Maddux of 1995, and also pitched a Maddux on the final day before the labor stoppage ended the 1994 season early. That 1994 game was in the afternoon though, and Zane Smith tossed one that night, which means Smith's was the last one before Greg's first of 1995. Also, that final day of the 1994 season is one of just seven times that multiple Madduxes have been thrown on the same day.

Finally, Alvarez has now pitched a Maddux in three consecutive seasons, which only three other pitchers have done. Zane Smith had at least one every season from 1990 to 1992 (a total of 6 Madduxes over those three seasons), Chris Bosio had one in 1991, 1992, and 1993. Topping them all (not surprisingly): Greg Maddux strung together six straight seasons with a Maddux from 1990 to 1995.

If you appreciate the Maddux, you should mark your calendar for every one of Henderson Alvarez's starts. No active pitcher seems to have his knack for working 9 innings with such efficiency.



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