Baseball statistical historian Bill James has been publishing a series of articles on his pay website about outstanding players with short careers. Today he chronicles the performance of the 1960’s Reds’ star pitcher Jim Maloney.

Maloney pitched before the Big Red Machine; well, not technically since he pitched a few games in 1970 before injuries brought his Reds career to a close, but his best years came before the Reds team became the juggernaut dynasty of the 1970’s. Many today may not know just how dominating he could be. Here’s how James tells the story:

Jim Maloney used to pitch some fantastic games. On May 21, 1963, facing a strong Milwaukee lineup that included (Eddie) Mathews and (Hank) Aaron, he pitched 8 1/3 innings of two-hit, shutout ball, striking out 16. At Wrigley Field on July 23, 1963, with Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Ernie Banks hitting 3-4-5, he pitched a 1-hit shutout, striking out 13, giving up a first-inning single. On August 13, 1963, he bested Juan Marichal with a 2-hit shutout, making him 18-4 on the season. On September 2 he pitched a 3-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts, making him 20-6.

On April 18, 1964, he pitched six no-hit innings, leaving the game with the no-hitter running because it was early in the season and he wasn’t ready to go deep. On September 25, 1964, he pitched a one-hit shutout at Shea Stadium, a second-inning single by Joe Christopher marring the occasion. His next start after that (his last start of the year), he pitched 11 innings of 3-hit, shutout baseball, striking out 13 but receiving no decision.

His first start of 1965 he pitched another one-hitter, an eighth-inning single by Denis the Menke. In those three consecutive starts (in two different years) he pitched 29 innings, giving up 5 hits and no runs, striking out 29. On June 14, 1965, he pitched 10 innings of no-hit ball, striking out 18. He gave up a homer in the 11th inning, and took a loss. At Wrigley Field on August 19, 1965, he pitched a 10-inning complete-game no-hitter, striking out 12. That was just three weeks before the famous (Sandy)Koufax/ (Bob) Hendley pitchers’ duel in the same park, a no-hitter for Koufax, a one-hitter for Hendley, and the thing that almost nobody remembers about that one is that Koufax and Hendley tangled again five days later, and Hendley actually beat Sandy, 2-1.

Anyway, getting back to Maloney, Maloney pitched a 5-hit shutout against Milwaukee on September 6, striking out 12. He pitched a 2-hit shutout against Houston on September 25.

He started the 1966 season with a 5-hit shutout of Philadelphia, striking out 13. He added a 2-hit shutout in May and a 3-hit shutout in June. In August, 1967, he pitched a 3-hit shutout of Atlanta, then pitched 6 and a third innings of no-hit ball, leaving the mound with the no-hitter hanging, at Pittsburgh on August 16.

In 1968 he pitched a one-hitter on May 28 against the Dodgers, striking out 10. He ended the 1968 season with two consecutive two-hit, complete-game shutouts, striking out 20 in total.

Against Houston on May 13, 1969, he pitched a no-hitter, striking out 13. On September 26 he pitched a one-hitter, striking out 9.

Jim Maloney was 50 games over .500 in his career. If he had been able to pitch through the years of the Big Red Machine he might have won 30 games a year, but his arm went the day Sparky (Anderson) showed up in town, and he retired with “just” 134 wins, although most of them were really impressive wins. We credit him with individual won-lost contributions beginning in 1963 of 25-11, 20-9, 28-7 and 25-7. With Win Share values of 32, 39 and 34 for three of those seasons, he does meet one standard of Hall of Fame performance, the standard of three high-impact seasons.

Today, Chad Dotson talks about hope for the Reds team. I’m predicting, and suggesting, that Reds fans change their minds about what to expect from this team when it comes to hope. I suggest our hope should brim from our young pitching staff…by the names of Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman, and Travis Wood.

We need some Jim Maloney days….

11 Responses

  1. Bill Lack

    For the young readers that don’t remember Jim…

    From BaseballReference.com:

    Similar pitchers:

    1. Ramon Martinez (950)
    2. Andy Messersmith (932)
    3. Denny McLain (930)
    4. J.R. Richard (927)
    5. CC Sabathia (922)
    6. Roy Oswalt (915)
    7. Jose Rijo (913)
    8. Mort Cooper (912)
    9. Ray Culp (911)
    10. Jason Schmidt (910)

    Some pretty good pitchers on that list.

    • Steve Price

      Similar pitchers:
      1. Ramon Martinez (950)
      2. Andy Messersmith (932)
      3. Denny McLain (930)
      4. J.R. Richard (927)
      5. CC Sabathia (922)
      6. Roy Oswalt (915)
      7. Jose Rijo (913)
      8. Mort Cooper (912)
      9. Ray Culp (911)
      10. Jason Schmidt (910)
      Some pretty good pitchers on that list

      Bill, taking it back through age 29, his last real season…and the list of comparable pitchers gets even better…check out #1 to see how good Maloney REALLY was…and many Reds fans today don’t remember him:

      1. Sandy Koufax 933
      2. Steve Carlton 928
      3. Fergie Jenkins 926
      4. Lon Warneke 921
      5. Dwight Gooden 917
      6. Dave McNally 917
      7. Greg Maddux 916
      8. Ramon Martinez 916
      9. Jim Palmer 915
      10. Andy Messermith 912

      He was 30 in 1970 when he tore his Achilles tendon, having won his last game as a Red in 1969.

      Uh…check out that list again…power pitchers usually last longer, too…imagine Maloney leading the rotation for the Big Red Machine.

  2. Jared

    With the current lineup and staff, I can see this:

    pitched 10 innings of no-hit ball, striking out 18. He gave up a homer in the 11th inning, and took a loss.

    happening again.

  3. toyboy

    I was fortunate enough to work for the Reds when Maloney pitched in the early 60’s and I got to see him pitch every turn. He was awesome. The old lefthander said in an interview once that Jim Maloney was the best pitcher he ever saw… and he saw a few. Pretty good endorsement if you ask me.

  4. pinson343

    Jim Maloney was dominating in his prime. One thing I remember him for were some heartbreaking losses. That 1965 10 inning no hitter with 18 Ks, but then losing the game on a HR in the 11th, was a loss to a bad Mets team. I listened to the whole game on the radio.

    But Maloney pitched for some very good offensive teams. The 2 seasons he won 20 games, 1963 and 1965, the Reds had good teams that scored a lot of runs. On a thread the other day, Mike gave the numbers for the 1965 Reds – they scored more than 800 runs, very unusual at the time. The next best offense in the majors was not even remotely close – I think Mike said the next best offense scored 4.4 runs per game – about 720 runs.

  5. Bill Lack

    Thanks Steve…that REALLY illustrates the point of how good he was. Yeah, with the BRM in ’70, he might have won 30..who knows?

  6. Jello

    Just imagine the BRM with a healthy Maloney, and if Gary Nolan didn’t have his arm troubles.

    • Steve Price

      Just imagine the BRM with a healthy Maloney, and if Gary Nolan didn’t have his arm troubles.

      Take it even further…

      Imagine a BRM with healthy arms from Maloney, Nolan, Gullett, Merritt, and Simpson…they all had arm troubles. Jim McGlothlin went down early, too.

      And, the Reds traded away Ross Grimsley, Joaquin Andujar, and Milt Wilcox.

      Of course…if those guys had been healthy, we probably wouldn’t have had Jack Billingham who had some great years with the Reds. I used to think we wouldn’t have made the Joe Morgan trade if the pitchers had remained healthy, but I’ve since changed my mind from what I’ve read. It looks like Sparky wanted Morgan early on, and the deal had always started as May or Perez for Morgan.

      The BRM really went into decline because our pitching failed. For those who don’t like pitch counts, check out the injured list of guys above…all threw many innings by the age of 23.

      Maloney threw 250 at age 23
      Nolan threw 226 at age 19
      Merritt threw 227 at age 23
      McGlothlin threw 197 at age 23
      Gullett threw 217 at age 20
      Wayne Simpson threw 176 at age 21 after throwing all winter ball season and 162 at age 20…it’s said he threw about 400 innings about 15 months before blowing out his arm

      Maloney’s career ‘ended” from an Achilles heel injury, but the Reds had already had to limit him following age 25.

      Grimsley had also pitched 197 at age 22 and 242 at age 23 for the Reds…those are the 3rd and 4th highest totals of his career.

      I think there’s a real reason that Captain Hook became Captain Hook….

  7. Bill Lack

    My Koufax plug…he went to the University of Cincinnati and while there, dated my aunt…hard to imagine a quiet Jewish boy from Brooklyn and my VERY Italian Catholic aunt…

    • Steve Price

      My Koufax plug…he went to the University of Cincinnati and while there, dated my aunt…hard to imagine a quiet Jewish boy from Brooklyn and my VERY Italian Catholic aunt…

      He was a class act though. Since Cincinnati has a history of getting local players to play for them (where’s Kevin Youkilis?), it’s hard to imagine Koufax not being a Red…or that we let Jimmy Wynn get away, too.

      Losing Don Zimmer doesn’t bother me so much.