Did you know that Greg Maddux and Barry Bonds both debuted in the summer of 1986 and retired within a year of each other in 2007 (Bonds) and 2008 (Maddux)?
Yep, for 20+ seasons, baseball fans were treated to one of the greatest hitters and pitchers to ever step foot on the diamond playing at the exact same time. In fact, Maddux and Bonds squared up against each other a total of 157 times throughout their careers, which was the most for each player.
But despite their relative greatness, Maddux never quite saw it as an even matchup. In fact, he thought one party had the clear advantage every time he stepped up to the plate, and it’s quite a hilarious explanation:
Greg Maddux says Barry Bonds was the easiest hitter to pitch to 😂 pic.twitter.com/b298KLY1Zt
— Kent (@RealKentMurphy) January 1, 2018
Here’s the (rough) transcript if you’re not in a position to watch:
“Actually, though, he was like the easiest guy in the world to pitch to, because it didn’t matter if you just … walked him [LAUGHS].
He was a guy, he was like on … he was so much better than all the other hitters in the game that … you gotta pick your fights. You gotta get 27 outs, you gotta know where they are, because they’re not gonna be with him. You go pick on the other 8 guys and see if you can’t find ’em that way.”
Okay, that’s actually hilarious. And you know what else? Maddux wasn’t lying. If “The Professor” was known for anything throughout his career, it was his control/command of the strike zone. In over 5,000 innings pitched, he finished with an amazingly tiny 4.9% walk rate. And yet, against Bonds, that walk rate TRIPLED (15.3%).
Indeed, Bonds hit .265/.376/.508 against Maddux over his career, which is obviously amazing in general – let alone against a pitcher like Maddux. Maddux did get Bonds to homer less frequently than the rest of the league, but you can’t quite say he got the best of him. If anything, he probably should’ve walked him more.