MLB: Who Will Be the Next 300-Game Winner?

Zeke FuhrmanAnalyst IIIJune 11, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 13:  Pitcher Tim Wakefield #49 of the Boston Red Sox throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on May 13, 2009 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Only 19 players have earned the distinguished honor of being members of the elite 300 wins club. Randy Johnson, at age 45, became the most recent inductee by winning his 300th game on June 4th against the Washington Nationals.

Every time this milestone occurs, sports analysts and fans begin a debate of who could be the next 300-game winner.

To me, a pitcher's win-loss record is the most overrated statistic in sports. When judging a pitcher, you should look at ERA, WISP, K/BB ratio, etc. A pitcher's wins and loses are, in part, due to how well his team is put together.

For instance, Minnesota's Kevin Slowey and Kansas City's Zach Greinke are both 8-2. But if you look closely at the stats, you'll see Slowey's ERA is 4.21 and he gives up 12 hits per nine innings pitched.

Greinke on the other hand, has an ERA of 1.55, and only gives up seven hits per nine innings pitched.

Wins eventually become a longevity statistic. 

Along with Johnson, other pitchers who won their 300th game in their 40s are Warren Spahn (age 40), Roger Clemens (age 40), Nolan Ryan (age 43), Don Sutton (age 41), Phil Neikro (age 46), Gaylord Perry (age 43), Tom Seaver (age 40), Early Wynn (age 40), Lefty Grove (age 41), and Tom Glavine (age 41).

The youngest player to achieve 300 victories was Walter Johnson at age 31. Cy Young was 34 when he accomplished the feat.

When you think of guys who might have the possibility to win 300 games, you think of guys like Johan Santana (117 wins, age 30) and C.C. Sabathia (122 wins, age 28), who are the youngest active wins leaders.

With all the hype that Stephen Strasburg has been getting, you could probably toss him on the list too.

Current active wins leaders are Jamie Moyer (Age 46, 250 wins), Andy Pettite (age 37, 221 wins), Bartolo Colon (age 36, 153 wins), Roy Halladay (age 32, 114 wins), and Kevin Millwood (age 34, 147 wins).

But when asked about the player with the best chance to be the next Mr. 300, one name should come to mind: Tim Wakefield.

A long shot to be sure, Wakefield currently has 186 wins, second most all-time in Red Sox franchise history.

A rare species and a dying breed, the knuckleballer, Wakefield has a unique situation in Boston. He has an unlimited player option that he can renew as long as he wants to play.

And Wakefield definitely wants to play. He has been quoted many times saying he wants to pitch for the Sox into his 50s.

Wakefield is currently 42. If he were to average 10 wins over the next 12 seasons, he should have no problem eclipsing the 300-win mark.

If you think the idea of a 52-year-old Major League pitcher is crazy, it isn't unheard of.

Satchel Paige retired in 1965 at the ripe age of 59. Nick Altrock pitched until he was 57, and Jack Quinn pitched until he was 50. Phil Neikro, a fellow knuckleballer and 300-game winner, pitched until he was 48.

The thing about knuckleball pitchers like Wakefield is they have nearly invincible arms. Instead of overpowering hitters with blazing fastballs, Wakefield uses his floating knuckleball to baffle hitters.

Wake's knuckleball averages 65 mph, while his fastball has been known to touch 80 mph.

Another benefit for Wakefield is that he plays for offense-heavy Boston, a team that is always in the hunt for key offensive free agents and is always there to clean up the players the Yankees don't sign.

Wakefield's career ERA is 4.32, and he usually gets decent run support from the Sox.

Wakefield is 8-3 this season, and is on pace to get 20 wins for the first time in his career. His current career high in wins is 17, which he achieved in both in 1998 and 2007.