Last member of the 300 win club?

June 2, 2009

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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.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kosmo
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 07:57:55

    I’m impressed at how Johnson worked to improve his control. He led the league in walks in 1990, 1991, and 1992, topped out at a rate of 6.8 walks/inning in 1992. However, he then proceeded to cut his walks dramatically, dropping as low as 1.6 walks/IP in (44 walks in 245 2/3 innings)in 2004. Really, it seemed like a something clicked in his mind in 1993, as he cut his walk rate from 6.2 in 1992 to 3.5 in 1993.

    Pitchers also need to avoid personals demons to get to 300 wins, as well. Who among us ever imaging that Dwight Gooden would fall short of 300 wins? He had 119 wins at age 25 – and 75 more during the rest of his career.

    I think that the club has admitted its last member. Let’s look at a few of the top current pitchers:

    CC Sabathia has 122 wins and doesn’t turn 29 until July. My concern with CC is his workload and his weight. Can he keep chugging and stay healthy long enough to win 300? Unfortunately, I see CC running into some injuries.

    The great Johan Santana, age 30, has 116 career wins. Can he pick up 184 more wins? Possibly – but bear in mind that he was won 20 games exactly once.

    Interestingly, Santana isn’t even the top winner among 30 year olds – the most wins by an active 30 year old is Mark Buehrle with 128.

    Felix Hernandez, for all his talent, has 44 wins at age 23. That’s a start, but it’s still a long ways away.

    Stephen Strasburg, the “best prospect in a generation” has 0 wins, but will most likely his major league debut at at 21. He has the time to get to 300, and he has impressed a lot of people with his work ethic, getting himself into much better shape in college. Although he has pitched against international competition, sometimes great prospects don’t develop into great players.

    I really think that if someone else cracks the club, it will be a latin player. The clubs can sign them at 16. A team could conceivably develop the kid for 3 years and bring him up at age 19 – a kid like Michael Ynoa (Inoa).


  2. Peter
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 10:28:13

    I think 300 is a big stretch as teams are more carefull with prospects and virtually nobody pitches on short rest. But if I had to pick some guys with a chance here would be my list:

    Jake Peavy (28) – has 91 wins and doesnt seem to get hurt much. He is a high quality guy with an eary motion. If he ends up on a big time winner I think he can rack up a streak of a few years with 15-20 wins.

    Carlos Zambrano (28) – has 99 wins and is on a good team. Despite his weight he has never made fewer then 30 starts so I think maybe he will be durable.

    Roy Oswalt (31) – 131 wins and is another guy that routinely makes 32 or more starts. Despite being on some bad Houston teams he collects wins very quickly. He had back to back 20 win seasons and had seasons of 15/17/19 wins.

    Roy Halladay (32) – has 139 wins but is a bit older and has had some injuries. I am a Blue Jays fan (in the AL) and a big Halladay fan so I have to pull for him to do it. Similar to Oswalt in a good year he puts up a huge number of wins. He has won 22, 20, 19 and 16 twice. This year he leads the majors with 8 so the guy knows how to get the W.

    I also agree with the other guys posted by Kosmo


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