Written by Daniel Paulling
Published: 12 June 2007
In celebration of my 300th article with AtHomePlate.com
, I’m dedicating this section of cyberspace to the future of the 300
game winner. While this club has been very exclusive -- there are only
22 pitchers to have reached this level in the history of our grand
sport -- it figures to be letting in new members at a slower rate as
time passes. Why? With the advent of the five-man rotation, there are
just less starts made by present-day pitchers. And with more
specialization in relief roles, starters are asked to throw fewer
innings, making it more likely that someone else will pick up the
Is this the end of 300 win club? No, I don’t think so. There are a few
active pitchers who have very good shots at joining the list, but it’s
going to take some luck and some durability. Here’s a look at those
pitchers who might be in line to earn their 300th win, which should
make them an automatic entrant into the Hall of Fame. (Note: The
following are ranked by their chances of making it in.)
Tom Glavine, New York Mets
– It’s surprising that not many
people are talking about Tom Glavine and his chase for immortality, but
the attention is being put onto that Barry Bonds fellow in San
Francisco. This left hander has 295 career wins, which all but assures
him of obtaining his 300th. It’s just a question of how far past that
mark he wants to go. Glavine doesn’t require velocity to pitch well,
which helps at his advanced age of 41. He relies on his changeup and
curveball. Also, it’s not like he has been declining drastically. His
ERA+, which is a measure of one’s ERA normalized, last year was 117,
meaning it was 17% better than the league average. That’s right on his
career mark of 120.
Randy Johnson, Arizona Diamondbacks
– Look who is coming back
from the dead in the desert: Randy Johnson. He’s striking out about
seven batters for every walk, has a very respectable 1.15 WHIP, and is
rounding into form this year, after getting started late. He’s at 282
wins right now, but we should see him get the magical 300th in the
middle of next season.
CC Sabathia, Cleveland Indians
– If you had to bet money on a
youngster, this would be your guy. CC Sabathia came up to the major
leagues at the tender age of 20 and won 17 games. While it still stands
as his career high, he hasn’t won less than 11 in any season. For his
first six years, Sabathia has averaged 13 wins, but expect that number
to jump up once he reaches the prime of his career in a couple of
seasons. He holds the record for most wins before turning 26 for any
active pitcher, which includes Greg Maddux, a 300 game winner.
Johan Santana, Minnesota Twins
– What’s a list of 300-game
winners without the best pitcher in the major leagues? The Twins’ lefty
started starting at an old age, 25, which puts the onus on him to have
a great career and not decline much as he gets older, if he wants to
finish with 300. Eighty-two wins before the age of 27 means he’ll need
218 more (not including what he has already done this year). If he
pitches until he’s 42, that’s about 15 wins a season, entirely possible.
Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants
– He was known as a big winner
throughout his career with Oakland, and that did a very good job of
masking how mediocre a pitcher Barry Zito really was. However, since
he’s over a third of the way to 300 despite playing only seven years,
there’s a chance he could make it. Basically, Zito would have to
average about 13 wins the remainder of his career. That’s entirely
possible, especially if he wins 16 to 17 games for the first few
seasons of his contract with the Giants.
Roy Oswalt, Houston Astros
– The Astros’ ace is another pitcher
in the same category as Zito: about one third of his career out of the
way, 100 wins down. The task is slightly harder for Oswalt in that he
got started at age 23, rather than Zito’s 22, but Oswalt has posted
large win totals throughout his career: 55 wins from 2004 through 2006,
and he’s a much better pitcher.
Dontrelle Willis, Florida Marlins
– While the funky mechanics
lessen Dontrelle Willis’ chances of holding up over this career, the
likelihood the Florida Marlins’ ace breaks 300 is reasonable. He earned
58 wins before the age of 25, meaning he’s got 15 seasons left. That’s
an average of 16 wins per season. Maybe a little optimistic, but
definitely not unattainable.
Mike Mussina, New York Yankees
– This is probably a long shot,
but Mike Mussina has 241 wins and is “only” 38. He’s one of those guys
who doesn’t rely on a quick fastball, but rather command and feel. He
should age well, and if he averages 15 wins over four seasons -- which
might be a bit optimistic -- he could join the club.
Jake Peavy, San Diego Padres
– Jake Peavy is young and talented,
two traits which suit him well in his pursuit of 300. However, his
delivery is awkward, throwing from a quirky 3/4 arm slot. He may not
stay healthy enough to reach the club, but he should be fun to watch.
Peavy has a 1.68 ERA over his first 12 starts in 2007.
Josh Beckett, Florida Marlins
– It’s pretty surprising that Josh
Beckett actually has the same number of wins as Dontrelle Willis. Both
have 65. However, Boston’s ace is two years older and there is a lot
more concern about his ability to stay healthy. He’s only surpassed 200
innings pitched once, and that came with a 5.01 ERA. He’ll be known as
one of those “Imagine if he had stayed healthy” guys.
Ben Sheets, Milwaukee Brewers
– Another guy in Beckett’s
category: too injury prone to project long-term success for. We’ll
always take a look at him and think about what could have been.
However, Ben Sheets is looking very good this season, already matching
his win total from last year with 6.
Carlos Zambrano, Chicago Cubs
– When we think of Chicago Cubs
right handers whose careers were ended because of high pitch counts,
the name Carlos Zambrano doesn’t immediately pop into our minds.
However, it should. He’s putting together a thoroughly despicable
season, and the only person he can punch out is Michael Barrett. Too
bad he didn’t get that five year, $85-90 million contract done at the
beginning of the season. That may go down as the most boneheaded thing
a player has done. Either that, or Zambrano’s prediction of him winning
the Cy Young this year.
John Lackey, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
– It was hard for me
to leave John Lackey off the other list, but I had to. He has decent
stuff, but not overpowering stuff. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
staff ace gives up far too many walks and hits, a fact that can be seen
in his career WHIP of 1.34. Nice guy to have around, but not a nice guy
to bet on reaching 300.
Sidney Ponson, Free Agent
– No explanation needed here. It’s
just a bad joke, much like that $8.5 million the Orioles shelled out
for his 2005 season (6.21 ERA/1.73 WHIP). I don’t know what’s worse:
that he hasn’t retired yet or that general managers are still giving
him money to play.