January 8, 2008

Will there ever be another 300 game winner?

I got an email from a reader who never gave their name, but they asked me what my thoughts on who I see being the next 300 game winner, if I see one at all:
Hello Josh,
I read your blog a lot, and I think that you've done a great job with it so far. Keep up the great work. I do have a question though. After Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine won their 300 games many feel that there may never be another 300 game winner. What are your thoughts on this? And who (if anyone) do you see has a chance of winning 300 someday.

Thanks for the compliment. But you bring up a good question. There aren't too many people that are close that have a great shot of winning it, especially as their careers have dwindled down to the point that a guy like Mike Mussina will be lucky to crack double digits in wins this season and here on out as he battles for playing time with guys that are 15 years younger (or even more) than him. It's hard to believe that a guy who just turned 39 is going to turn it around and start to win enough games by the time he ends his career to win 300 games. What I'm getting at is everyone that is closest to winning 300, are definitely on the down side of their careers, and they likely won't be able to have the opportunity to win that amount of games.

Winning 300 games is getting a lot harder to do. In order to win that amount of games, a pitcher has to rely on two things in particular. One is that he has to be a very successful pitcher throughout his career which likely means many 15-20 win seasons and he probably needs to start doing it at a very young age. The second thing that a pitcher needs to rely on is an injury free career. They may be able to afford 15 games a time or two, however with pitchers set at pitching every 5th day (unlike in the past), it's crucial for a pitcher to remain healthy.

So with that said, here are a few pitchers that are "close" to 300 wins:
Randy Johnson - 284 wins
Johnson is 44 years old and is coming off a season in which he pitched in 10 games as he was injured with a serious back injury. According to reports, he's avoided any setbacks in his recovery and is hopeful to be ready by spring training. He only needs to win 8 games in the next 2 seasons to get to the milestone, however he is definitely older now then his last serious injury and will definitely hit some rough patches this season as he gets back to throwing. And if he does pitch the next 2 seasons, he'll be 46 by the end of the 2009 season. I like his chances than most on this list, however I don't know if he'll play for two more seasons. It's very unlikely that he wins 16 games this season, which is why I'm mentioning him playing two seasons. But anything can happen.

Mike Mussina - 250 wins
As I mentioned before, he is a long shot at winning 50 more games before he retires. He had a dreadful 2007 season as a 38 year old and I think it's asking a lot for him to regain his form as a 39 year old. Sure it could happen, however for him to win 300 by the time he turns 42 (which is a fair age for pitchers to retire who've had a successful career), he'll have to win 16.7 games per season and he hasn't won 17 games since 2003 as a 34 year old.

Pedro Martinez - 209 wins
Martinez has had a wonderful career in which he's recorded a very good 2.80 ERA and over 3,000 strikeouts in 2,673 2/3 innings in his 16 year career. He probably could've gone down as one of the greatest pitchers of all time, however he's had a problem with staying healthy in his career and 2007 as a 35 year old wasn't any different. He only made 5 starts in '07, however he was great in those 5 starts which has to give some people optimism of a strong return for Martinez in '08. He'll need to win 15.2 games per season by the time he turns 42 to win 300 games.
Now, I do like the chances of a guy like Johnson & Martinez opposed to Mussina's, however both Martinez & Johnson were injured for almost all of the 2007 season and both will have to make big strides to get themselves back in contention for the 300 win milestone.

Here are a few pitchers under the age of 30 that I see having a good shot:
C.C. Sabathia - 100 wins
The reason why I've listed C.C. Sabathia on this list is because 2007 was his best season in his career and he's only 27 with 100 wins in 7 seasons. He's had his share of injuries in his career, however none of them have been serious. He has a great team in Cleveland behind him which will give him plenty of run support for what looks like the foreseeable future, so I think we're just beginning to see what C.C. Sabtahai can really do and I think his best seasons are still ahead of him. He'll need to win 13.3 games per season by the time he turns 42 to win 300 games. His current win % is .613 which is even higher than that of Tom Glavine, a fellow southpaw.
Jake Peavy - 76 wins
Peavy is young enough for me to consider him on this list, despite only having 76 wins for his career. He'll be 26 heading into the '08 season (will turn 27 in May) and like Sabathia is coming off of his first Cy Young Award Winning season in '08. He has maintained his health since he came in the league at the age of 21. He'll need to win 14 games per season until the age of 42 if he wants to win 300 games.

Carlos Zambrano - 82 wins
"Big Z" is the youngest pitcher in baseball (26 years old) with over 56 wins (Jeremy Bonderman). He definitely has a chance of winning 300 games, and if he can stay healthy and keep his head on straight (meaning he doesn't blow up at teamates anymore), he could easily win 300 wins by the time he turns 42. In order to do so, he'd have to win 13.6 games per season and after he won 18 games in '07, I think it'll be very likely that he flirts with a chance at 300 for his entire career.

Josh Beckett - 77 wins
Beckett is a very unlikely candidate to win 300 games for one reason and one reason only, his health. He's always had the "stuff", however since he was drafted by the Marlins with the second pick in the first round of the 1999 draft, he's had a very hard time staying healthy. That is, until he's come to the Red Sox. He's notched 200+ innings the last two seasons and had a very good chance of winning the AL Cy Young in '07. If he can maintain his health, then I think he has a great chance of winning 300 games. Especially with a team like the Red Sox behind him.
Other guys worth mentioning (Wins per season until they turn 42):
Jon Garland - 28 years old - 92 wins (14.9 wins)
Mark Buehrle - 29 years old - 107 wins (14.8 wins)
Barry Zito - 29 years old - 113 wins (14.4 wins)
Roy Oswalt - 30 years old - 112 wins (15.7 wins)

Two other guys people will likely ask about that are also worth mentioning:
And if they were younger, Johan Santana & Roy Halladay would more than likely be in contention with 300 wins, however Santana (29) & Halladay (31) both will need to continue their dominance until the time they are 42 without any setbacks.

Santana has 93 wins and will need to win 14.8 games per season until the time he turns 42 in order to win 300 games. It's doable, however he's been a "workhorse" the last 4 years totaling 912 1/3 innings in 134 starts. Which is an average of almost 7 innings per start. That's fine, however I think it'll be hard for him to sustain his durability long enough for him to get to 300. It's a shame, however he still could go down as one of the best pitchers of all time, regardless of winning 300.

Halladay unlike Santana, has had to battle injuries through his career, which is why I think it's less of a chance for him to win 300. In fact, if there's a way for him to remain healthy until he turns 42, he'll need to win 15.8 games per season until he turns 42 as he currently has 111 wins in his 10 year career. It's unfortunate that he can't stay healthy, as when he isn't injured he's one of the best pitchers in the league and is also one of the funnest to watch.

Who else do you seeing as a potential 300 game winner? Is there someone I missed? Let me know. And if you have any questions feel free to email me. My contact information is on the left side of the page.