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16 days ago

Marquez: a .400 hitter and a true great

Dennis Noyes compares the reigning Champion to a baseball great and the greats of his sport in Cycle World

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) has been in the media once again, this time compared to the last .400 hitter in baseball, in 1941, as Dennis Noyes looks through the MotoGP™ rider’s incredible record.

From Marquez’ revolutionary ability to save it when the front tucks to his aggressive riding style, the article delves into that ultimate question: is Marquez the greatest of the modern era? Or more, is that what he will become?

The reason for asking the question now, after round five of 2018 in Marquez’ sixth premier class season, is that his win in Le Mans was his 38th in 95 starts – making him, in the language of baseball, a .400 hitter. The last of those, such is the rarity, was “Splendid Splinter” Ted Williams in 1941, who hit .406 and hasn’t been beaten since. So what does that mean for Marquez? It means that he’s won 40% of his races – not over a season, which can often happen, but over his entire premier class career. That’s never happened before in the modern era; Doohan was close but fell two wins short.

Delving into the stats, Noyes compares Marquez with the top 10 in each of these categories: wins, podiums, poles and fastest laps – on a percentage basis. The number 93 leads three of four.

In all-time winning percentages, Marquez’ .400 and flat 40% is top, with Mick Doohan second on 39.4% and Kenny Roberts (37.9%) and Casey Stoner (33%) in third and fourth respectively. Of those with whom Marquez shares the grid, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) is seventh on 28.7% and Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) eighth on 24.6%. No other current riders are in the top 10.

When it comes to pole positions, Marquez (48.4%) leads Freddie Spencer (43.5%) and Mick Doohan (42.3%). His only contemporary in the top 10 is Lorenzo, who is on 21.8%.

The third category Marquez leads is fastest laps. 43.2% is Marquez’ table-topping number, ahead of the 41.4% of Kenny Roberts and the 33.6% of Mick Doohan. His contemporaries? Rossi is eighth on 24.2%, and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) ninth on 21.6%.

So what’s the only statistic on which Marquez is currently beaten? Podiums. Wayne Rainey reigns the stats there, with a stunning 77.1%. That’s 64 podiums in 83 starts, to compare to Marquez’ 67 in 95 and 70.5%. The rider from Cervera is nevertheless the closest man to Rainey, but would need to finish on the podium in his next 28 starts to equal that as it stands. Can he equal that over his career and reign the record books?

Before deciding on the answer to that question, however, consider this: Noyes’ article finishes with the comparison that often characterises the question of the ‘greatest’: Marquez vs Rossi. And it’s the Italian who, by this stage in their respective careers, wins on the numbers. Marquez’ has won 40% of his starts and Rossi had won 56%, Marquez has been on the podium 70% of the time and Rossi had stunned the field by getting on the rostrum 83% of it. Only on poles is Marquez ahead – 48% to Rossi’s 32%.

Will Marquez find some hurdles in his future such as those Noyes mentions for Rossi? Difficult seasons on a different bike, the sudden appearance of some truly legendary competitors…or will Marquez race on into the lead in all the record books?