This Wednesday, Randy Johnson will make his first attempt to win his 300th game, as he sits perched on the doorstep with 299 wins.  Johnson’s climb up the all time wins chart has created a lot of buzz in baseball circles as to the chances of someone else replicating the feat of 300 wins.

Records show that since the decade of the 40’s, our current decade is the second only to the 1980’s in number of pitchers reaching the 300 win milestone.  During the 80’s, Tom Seaver, Gaylord Perry, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro and Steve Carlton joined the elusive 300 win club. Nolan Ryan was the only one in the 90’s, and in the new millennium, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and now soon Randy Johnson – make it a nice quadrilateral

Johnson has been a unique pitcher among this list.  He has a career 3.29 ERA to go along with his 299 wins.  That alone does not seem to be unusual.  I mean, you have to be pretty good to get this far in the win column.  The amazing part is he has consistently gotten better with age.  He is second on the all time strikeout list behind just Nolan Ryan.  He has gotten better and better and better with age.

Since turning 30 years old, Johnson has won 235 of his games and struck out more than 3700 batters.  If you measure his Earned Run Average against the league average (this is an advanced statistic called ERA+), he is +147 during that time.  Some baseball pundits say if he is not the greatest old pitcher in the history of the game, then he is right there with the likes of Lefty Grove and Hoyt Wilhelm, both Hall of Famers.

Johnson had won 49 games entering 1993, his 5th year with the Seattle Mariners.  Then he went on a historic 10 year run which included a record of 175-58 along with 5 Cy Young Awards.  He will become the 24th pitcher to win 300 games and just the 6th left hander to do so.  Johnson’s 72 victories in his 40s would rank fourth behind Phil Niekro (121), Spahn and Cy Young, with 75 each.

But enough about the Big Unit for now…..

The other side of the conversation is “can anyone else do it?”  Will there be another to reach 300 wins?

In order to get there in this day and age you need to have a number of things going for you as a Pitcher.

1-      You have to get to the bigs early

2-      You almost need to be on a good team who can help you get some wins

3-      You have to pitch for a lot of years

4-      You need to avoid injury

As the game has continued to advance through the ages, there is more specialization of pitching.  Pitchers all seem to be on pitch counts.  Five days rest is the norm.  Long gone are the days of Cy Young who won an impressive 511 times to go with his 316 losses……  So the guy who has his name on the award which goes to the best pitcher in each league very year has more losses on his record than all but as select few have in terms of wins.

….the magical 300.

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Johnny Goodman writes a weekly sports column for The Soap Boxers. His articles can be found in The Goodman File.

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