Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz

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1975 Topps Joe Niekro 595 - Braves Card of the Day ⚾

Question: who is the best brother pitching combination in history? Is it Joe and Phil Niekro? Maybe Jim and Gaylord Perry? Or perhaps Dizzy and Daffy Dean?

OK. Obviously it wasn’t Dizzy and Daffy. Daffy started off his career with two excellent seasons, but injuries pretty much ended his productive years in his third season. Dizzy would have a number of productive years, but eventually, arm injuries would end his career as well. So, the Dean brothers are out.

So, how best to compare the Perry brothers and the Niekro brothers then? Do you like WAR? Jim Perry amassed an impressive 41.8 rWAR, which only looks small compared to his brothers 90.4. That would be a combined 132.2 wins above replacement. Phil Niekro bettered even Gaylord’s rWAR with 96.2. Joe, who’s career didn’t really take off until he became an Astro in the late 70s, had a career rWAR of 29.8 That brings the Niekro brothers to 126 total wins above replacement. In this regard, the Perry brothers win, but it is close.

Do you like wins? Sure, the stat has been all but discarded, but it was THE stat when these men all pitched. Phil Niekro won 315 games and Joe won 221 for a combined 536. Gaylord Perry won one less than Phil and Jim Perry won 215 for a combined 529. The edge here goes to the Niekro boys. Close again.

The Perry brothers combined to strike out 5,110 batters while the Niekro brothers struck out 5.089. Looks at these numbers and the rWAR numbers and the wins numbers and you see that this is really close.

The awards go to the Perry brothers. Gaylord took home two Cy Young Awards and Jim took home one. Neither Niekro brother ever won the Cy Young, although, it should be said Phil Niekro was jobbed out of the award in 1974. And 1978. And maybe even 1979. So, you know, there’s that too.

So, I’d have to call it a wash.

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