CC Sabathia won his 11th game of the season on Thursday and is currently leading the AL in wins for the third consecutive year. The big left-hander has now reached double-digit wins all 11 years of his great career.
Still just 30 years old, Sabathia has 168 career wins and has the best chance of any active pitcher to reach the 300-win mark. But is he a lock to get there?
Sabathia, who was originally brought up by the Cleveland Indians, became a Major League starting pitcher at the tender age of 20. Now in his 12th big league season, Sabathia has yet to put up what would be considered a subpar season. However, he still has an uphill battle to reach 300 career wins.
Despite his massive stature and consistent workload, the current Yankees ace has managed to stay healthy year in, year out. If Sabathia were to theoretically average 20 wins per season through the end of 2013 and then 15 wins per season over the following six years, he would end up with 297 wins at the age of 39. Therefore, 300 wins is certainly not out of the question, but it would require vast success from here on out.
Besides Sabathia, there are only five active pitchers with at least 100 career wins that have a realistic chance of even winning as many as 250 games.
Roy Halladay (179 wins, 34 years old)
Tim Hudson (171 wins, 35 years old)
Mark Buehrle (154 wins, 32 years old)
Josh Beckett (118 wins, 31 years old)
Carlos Zambrano (122 wins, 30 years old)
Out of these six pitchers, Halladay has the best chance of winning 250 games. Arguably the top pitcher in the game today, Halladay should have several good years left and will likely finish his career with somewhere between 260 and 285 wins.
Hudson, on the other hand, will be 36 years old in July, so he will be hard pressed to get to 250. Unless Hudson pitches well through his early 40s, he will likely finish in the low 200s.
Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle has been an iron man throughout his career and would reach 250 wins by the age of 38 if he were to continue at his current pace. However, he has expressed to the public that he does not care much about career statistics and may even retire after this season, depending on his contract situation.
Meanwhile, both Beckett and Zambrano are still years away from even sniffing 250 wins. They will each need to pitch very well and remain relatively injury-free throughout the rest of this decade in order to approach the 250-win mark.
As much as many of us would like to deny it, Randy Johnson may have already become the last pitcher to join the 300-win club. How did he do it, you might ask. Well, for one, Johnson had one of the best 10-year stretches in MLB history from 1993 to 2002, earning five Cy Young Awards and winning 175 games during that span. Secondly, Johnson pitched well into his mid-40s, which is extremely rare. Whether or not steroids were a factor is unknown.
In addition to Johnson, starting pitchers Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens and Tom Glavine all won their 300th game in the past eight years. However, each of them won many of their games before the late-1990s, when eight-inning starts and complete games were still a common occurrence.
Three-hundred wins has long been known as a key number for starting pitchers to reach in order to be considered Hall of Fame worthy. However, with the lack of 300-game winners that the game figures to see in future years, 250 may be the new 300.
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