Atlanta Braves pitcher Kris Medlen had an outstanding 2012 season. Winning 23 regular season games in a row, dating back to the 2010 season, is a streak that takes significant luck, but considerably more skill.
Was Medlen a guy who just went on a roll like other pitchers have in the past, or does he really have what it takes to be a consistent big-timer?
Medlen was being compared late in the 2012 season by some baseball experts to former Atlanta Braves great Greg Maddux. Heady stuff for a guy that during his minor league career was projected to be no more than a long relief/spot starter at the major league level.
So can the name Medlen be spoken in the same breath as the great Greg Maddux? According to John Smoltz, it can…
“He’s the closest thing I’ve seen to Greg Maddux, with a few more miles per hour on his fastball,” Smoltz stated. “If you look at a young Greg Maddux and what he was able to do with that 91 or 92-mph comebacker, it was pretty impressive. I’d say Medlen has a better curveball, and Greg had a better changeup, but they’re close.”
Comparing stats, Maddux tossed 186.2 innings his first two years in the big leagues, compiling a 5.61 ERA. Medlen was much more impressive, logging 175.1 innings with a 3.90 ERA.
In his third season Maddux was an all-star, pitching 249 innings with a solid 3.51 ERA. But Medlen was better in his third season, hurling 138 innings resulting in an eye-popping 1.57 ERA. Medlen’s oustanding .913 WHIP compared to the Maddux 1.249 places a punctuation mark on the comparison. Granted, Medlen logged considerably fewer innings in his third season than Maddux, but that is offset by him being the unquestioned best starter in baseball the second half of the 2012 season.
Injuries often derail pitchers on their way to greatness, but what is amazing is that Medlen had his breakout season AFTER Tommy John surgery. Although it must be noted that the Tommy John procedure has become like “viagara for pitchers”, as they often come back better than before.
Medlen shows the same type location, ball movement, and athleticism that made Maddux a very rich man and a future Hall of Famer. Like Maddux, he also works fast and gets the fans home to bed at a decent hour and we all love that, don’t we?
In addition, Medlen’s make-up is unique among today’s pampered and self-centered athletes. He genuinely enjoys everything about being a major league pitcher and openly conveys those sentiments. Perhaps that is why his mind appears unencumbered while on the field, allowing him to work quickly and seemingly oblivious to the pressure.
Will Kris Medlen have a Greg Maddux career? I haven’t found any reason to say that he won’t.