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 wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 pitchersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 Ã¢â‚¬Å“justÃ¢â‚¬Â 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….