In his 18-year career with the Cleveland Indians, Bob Feller never pitched on AstroTurf or made a grueling West Coast road trip, but then he never faced a weak-hitting expansion team, either. The Atlanta Braves' Greg Maddux has never pitched 371 innings in a season, faced Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams or had fielders with small gloves and flannel uniforms playing behind him. Those are some of the reasons why it's difficult to compare the raw statistics of pitchers from different eras.
But you can level the statistical playing field by measuring a pitcher's ERA as a percentage of his league's ERA—that is, by comparing how pitchers stack up against their contemporaries who face the same hitters under the same conditions.
In that light, over the past four years Maddux ranks as the greatest righthanded pitcher since Walter Johnson (above), who spent 21 years with the Washington Senators before retiring in 1927. Nobody in baseball history can equal the dominance of Sandy Koufax from 1963 to '66, but among righthanders no one can match Maddux's four-year run of ERAs that are so much better than the league averages. Here is a look at how Maddux measures up to the best of them:
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]