Going There. Hendricks vs Maddux

UPDATED to the first 435.2 IP for Maddux vs the first 445.1 IP for Hendricks.

I am joining Evan Altman in unabashedly using the term “Kyle Hendricks” in the same breath as “Greg Maddux.”  And not in a derogatory way.

To the tape:


Granted, Hendricks entered the MLB scene at 24 while Maddux started at 20.  There are some unfair advantages which we can address later.  But, while Kyle has not completed his third year, he is only 42 innings (or six 7-inning games) away from a fair comparison.

At this juncture the two are only 6 one hundredths (0.06) apart on Field Independent Pitching, with Kyle slightly ahead of Greg 3.35 to 3.41.  Hendricks is significantly outperforming Maddux among peers (ERA+) and in WHIP.

Kyle is averaging 1.5 hits per nine innings less than Greg did in his comparative third year, while Maddux gave up slightly fewer home runs and walks.   They are a a half a strike out apart per nine innings.   It’s like looking in a dimly lit mirror.

For those who want to see a comparison of DRA:  Maddux posted 9.09 – 4.39 – 3.65  in his first 3 years vs Hendrick’s 3.97 – 3.27 – 3.55.

Where Kyle seems to have excelled, no doubt due to his Dartmouth and Cubs farm system development, is in his effectiveness.  In 42 career innings less than Maddux, Hendricks has already accumulated nearly THREE more WINS against replacement.

In 42 career innings less than Maddux, Hendricks has already
accumulated nearly THREE more WINS against replacement.

At the very least it can be fair to say that Hendricks is “Extra-Maddux-like” in his first 3 years in the majors.   If you want to get REALLY crazy however (and let’s face it – only true Cubs fans do), let’s look at Maddux’s performance when he was 24 to 26 years of age.

Maddux Hendricks Comp

It is exceptionally hard to draw any conclusions because:

  • Kyle isn’t finished with his full 3rd year at age 26,
  • Maddux had the advantage of 3 prior years of MLB experience, and
  • I will be banned from Wrigleyville, Cubs Den and The Athletic if I do.

But, with Kyle on track for over 4.2 WAR this year and no subsequent regression from his strong finish in 2015 , it isn’t impossible to say that there isn’t some comparable expectations to Maddux going forward.  1992 was a breakout year for Maddux (9.2 WAR – are you kidding me!??), but applying fuzzy logic, you could easily envision Kyle being a lower walk, lower WHIP, lower hit/9 – higher home run and strike out version of the Mad Dog Professor.

No one knows if Kyle can hang in 10 more years (much less 20) to have the Hall of Fame like impact Maddux did.  But I have no hesitation calling Kyle “Maddux Jr” or Greg – “Hendricks Sr.”

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