Are 300 Game Winners Becoming a Thing of the Past?

August 17, 2007 at 8:31 pm 6 comments

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Tom Glavine, as we all know by now, recently won his 300th game. I want to give him congrats for three reasons: 1. He is my favorite player of all-time, 2. He deserves it, and 3. He may be the last person to ever reach the 300-win milestone.

Every pitcher that has won 300 games is in the Hall of Fame. It’s a huge milestone. Only 23 pitchers have ever reached 300 wins in the history of the game and it’s not getting any easier. 300 wins is very difficult to reach and it’s getting harder to reach.

According to Boston.com in the last 60 years, getting 300 wins has become one of the most rare milestones: Only 11 pitchers have achieved it since the end of World War II. And since 1990, only Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine have made it to 300. That’s right, only 11 since WWII! The other 12 members of the 300 win club all reached the milestone before 1941.

Let’s do the math on this. If a pitcher pitches 20 seasons, without injury, he has to win an average of 15 games in each season. The only pitcher I can think of off the top of my head to pitch without going on the DL is Tom Glavine. He has gone 19 consecutive seasons with atleast 25 starts, only Greg Maddux has a longer streak at 20. An injury free career is not likely to happen. That would mean a pitcher starting at 20 years of age and going until he’s 40 and averaging 15 wins per season. It’s hard enough to win 15 in a season let alone do it for 20 years. It’s even harder for pitchers to stay healthy long enough to do it.

Leo Mazzone said it best to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun: “There ain’t going to be no more.” “Forget it, they are not going to pitch that long,” said Mazzone. “They are not going to come up a day early. You are not going to have four-man rotations, you have too many stupid pitch counts, etc. So you aren’t going to have that anymore. What we’ve done as far as Little League on up is created a mind-set of five- and six-inning pitchers. And you aren’t going to get 300 wins pitching five or six innings.”

That’s right, managers and coaches tend to “baby” their pitchers nowadays. I honestly am tired of seeing a pitcher get taken out of a game in order for a reliever to come in and get a “save” when the score is 4-1. It happened to Roy Oswalt a day ago. I was watching the Rays game today and Scott Kazmir pitched 6 scoreless against the Red Sox and he ended up with the no-decision because the bullpen blew the 1-0 lead in the 9th inning.

What I’m trying to get at is the fact that there are so many regulations and crap like that that it’s incredibly hard to reach 300 wins in today’s game. But there might be hope. Here are a few guys, in order, that I think have about a small chance. let’s say 5%, of reaching 300:

C.C. Sabathia – He is only 27 and already has 95 wins. You’re thinking wow! But remember the formula above, 20 seasons averaging 15 wins per season. Sabathia started when he was 20 and has only reached 15 wins twice, one when he was a rookie and won 17 games. He should finish this season with about 18 wins. That would leave him with 99 wins for his career. He would still need 201 to reach 300. It’s a strectch but Sabathia probably has the best chance to reach 300 and it’s slim.

Johan Santana – With 90 wins at the age of 28 he could get there but he has a long way to go. One thing that would help him is if he goes to a contender when he becomes a free agent. Santana should pitch into his 40s and has the stuff and smarts to be very good longer than anyon on this list. He got a late start and needs to make up ground. He also has the best secondary numbers of any pitcher on the list. He has an outside shot but the bullseye is almost unhittable.

Roy Halladay – Fluke injuries and his one very, very, very bad year in 2000 have slowed him down. He is at 108 and is 30 years old. 19 wins a season will get him there by the time he’s 40. I think Halladay will be like Greg Maddux when he’s 40. He will pitch into his 40s and that gives him hope. He is one of the smartest, if not the smartest pitcher in the AL and he throws so many different pitches for strikes. Doc has a shot if no line-drives hit him in the leg and if he gets some offensive help because he’s in a tough division. I think Halladay might have the best shot to pitch until the age of 45 affectively and that could help him out a lot.

Justin Verlander – It’s a little too early to say but if he can stay healthy he has as good a shot as anyone. He plays for a team that scores runs, he has the stuff, the only question is his durability. He’s only 24 so we have about two decades to wait and see.

Carlos Zambrano – If he signs with the Mets or a team that scores runs or in a pitcher’s park he has a shot. He has 78 wins at the age of 26 so he has a long long way to go. He also needs to stay in shape and keep his head in the game for almost two decades. I think he has a shot but it’s a very very long one.

Roy Oswalt – He has the most wins of anyone on this list with 111 but he is already 30. He would have to average 19 wins a season to reach 300 by his 40th birthday. Oswalt has the stuff, he’s in the right league, and he is durable. But he has also mentioned in ESPN the magazine that he wants to pitch for about 10 seasons and then retire and live on his farm.

Guys with less than a 1% chance: Dontrelle Willis, Jake Peavy, Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Scott Kazmir, Barry Zito, Mark Buehrle, Cole Hamels.

Will it ever be done again? I can’t tell you. But I think I will be a very old man if it ever does happen again.

So you ask: Are 300 game winners becoming a thing of the past? I tell you: Only the future will tell.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. charlie  |  August 15, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    I pretty much think that it will be a thing of the past and nobody else will be getting there. Mussiana and Johnson have a good shot, barring they can stay healthy, and can win 15 games for 1 more year for Johnson, and 3 for Mussiana. Out of today’s pitchers I doubt anybody of the newer pitchers will get there…. Not even Johan Santana. Mathamatically it’s not even favorable now with pitchers being treated like a fragile statue.

    Reply
  • 2. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  August 15, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    I know. Pitchers are treated like they are a new Mercedes and they can’t get dirty. How many different 20 game winners have we had in the last 5 years?

    Reply
  • 3. charlie  |  August 16, 2007 at 7:01 am

    Along the same lines: Dontrelle Willis won 20 games a few seasons ago, and this season he’s really struggling. There probably only going to be 2 maybe 3 20 game winners this season.

    Reply
  • 4. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  August 16, 2007 at 8:42 am

    It’a actually kinda shocking how many are on pace for 15 wins this season. With offense down this year pitchers are staying in a little longer and getting wins. That’s my theory, no proof of it but it’s my theory.

    Reply
  • 5. Andy  |  August 21, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    How about Felix Hernandez? He is only 21 and only time will tell if he turns into the pitcher he can be, but hes got amazing stuff, and pitches in a big pitchers park.

    Reply
  • 6. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  August 21, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    King Felix is a very good option, I overlooked him. He is young, has great stuff, and is in a great pitcher’s park. Good call Andy. But I still don’t think anyone will get to 300 anytime soon.

    Reply

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