Why is it that 300 wins for a pitcher is a seemly impossible feat to achieve? Could it be that the style of pitching has changed? Is that pitchers just are not pitching as long as they used to?
I don't know.
Pitchers starting in little league are taught it is easier to fool the hitter than it is to blow it by them. Not only that, pitchers are taught it is okay if they only go 5-for-6.
Come to think of it, pitching style has indeed changed.
But it's not just pitching style that has changed. The physical and mental toll has also increased, which we thank and attribute to the explosion of offense in the 1990's. Not to mention the four-man rotation has given way to the five-man rotation, so pitchers are getting less opportunities for wins.
As a result of said explosion of offense, managers are much quicker to put in relief pitchers than in the past, particularly after the starting pitcher has thrown more than 100 pitches, even when the starting pitcher is winning the game. This increases the likelihood that a pitcher not get a win because of circumstances beyond his control.
Former New York Yankees pitcher and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre is quoted on Baseball Alamanc's 300 Win Club page, "Pitching has become tougher and more demanding and it's harder to throw consistently for as long a period as it would take to win 300 games. It would take a tremendous amount of dedication to do that."
There are currently 23 pitchers with 300 or 300-plus wins. Only one of those pitchers are active. They are listed below. The pitchers highlighted in bold are currently active.
Cy Young, 511
Walter Johnson, 417
Grover Alexander, 373
Christy Mathewson, 373
Warren Spahn, 363
Pud Gavin, 361
Kid Nichols, 361
Greg Maddux, 355
Roger Clemens, 354
Tim Keefe, 342
Steve Carlton, 329
John Clarkson, 328
Eddie Plank, 326
Nolan Ryan, 324
Don Sutton, 324
Phil Niekro, 318
Gaylord Perry, 314
Tom Seaver, 311
Old Hoss Radbourn, 309
Mickey Welch, 307
Tom Glavine, 303
Lefty Grove, 300
Early Wynn, 300
There are a number of pitchers that are close to 300 wins, listed below:
Randy Johnson (age 46), 298
Mike Mussina** (age 41), 270
Jamie Moyer (age 47), 249
Andy Pettitte (age 37), 219
Pedro Martinez* (age 38), 214
John Smoltz (age 42), 210
*free agent; **free agent/retired
There are number of "young" pitchers approaching milestone win numbers. Listed below are a few along with their age.
Johan Santana (age 30), 115
Mark Buerhle (age 30), 122
Rpy Oswalt (age 31), 129
Roy "Doc" Halladay (age 32), 139
C.C. Sabathia (age 28), 119
But the majority of pitchers in the Hall of Fame have not even won 300 games. In fact, the majority of pitchers in Hall of Fame have won less than 300. Listed below are a few pitchers in the Hall without 300 wins.
Bob Gibson, 251
Robin Roberts, 286
Jim Palmer, 268
Bob Feller, 268
Three-Finger Brown, 231
Jim Bunning, 224
Catfish Hunter, 224
Lefty Gomez, 189
Chief Bender, 212
Hoyt Wilhelm, 143 Wins, 227 Saves
Don Drysdale, 209
It just shows you how hard 300 wins really is. It seems that when Randy Johnson wins number 300, it may be a while until we see another 300-game winner. The closest to 300 wins would be Mike Mussina with 270 wins, followed by Jamie Moyer with 249 wins.
Mike Mussina has 270 career wins. If he would have pitched for at least the next three years and had at least 10 wins each year he would have won at least 300, maybe more. But I understand why Mussina retired.
So the next closest pitcher after Mussina to 300 wins is Jamie Moyer. Moyer has 249 career wins and is stuck on attempting career win 250. Once Moyer gets 250, he would have to average at least 10 wins over the next five years.
The only problem with Moyer is that he is 46 right now and might be starting to run out of gas.
After Moyer it gets a little bit bleaker. Andy Pettitte with 219 career wins would be next. Pettitte would have to average 14 to 17 wins over the next five to six years to reach win No. 300.
To try and answer the question in my title: 300 wins is possible. But it would take a new generation of pitchers whose style is to go the full nine and maybe more to get the win.
The value of money needs to be downsized. Pitch counts need to be de-empathised.
A change in pitching style is needed for next generation of incoming pitchers and pitching prospects. Less relying on the bullpen to close the game and more going deep into games. "Going deep" meaning eight, nine, maybe even 10 or 11 innings required to get the win.
In my short life on this little mud-ball we call Earth, I have watched on television three pitchers earn number 300 or better. Maddux, Glavine, and Clemens.
I am eagerly awaiting the next 300-game winner. I hope you are too.