Randy Johnson: A Long Strange Trip to Win No. 300

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IJune 3, 2009

SEATTLE - MAY 22:  Randy Johnson #51 of the San Francisco Giants pitches during the game against the Seattle Mariners on May 22, 2009 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners defeated the Giants 2-1 in twelve innings. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

By the looks of this photograph, Randy Johnson hasn't changed much. The 6'10" southpaw still relies on his side-arm delivery to devour left-handed hitting, and can still bring it with his noted fastball.

Pretty impressive for a player who is 45 years old. 

Johnson is someone to behold, much like Jamie Moyer. In the era of steroids and HGH, a true power pitcher still exists—Even more notable in a time where his body is telling him to shut it down. 

Pitchers in this era don't make it to their 40's—They hardly make it past 37. But Johnson is an exception, one that, tonight, may be the last man to join the 300 win club.

Enjoy this performance baseball fans, it will probably never be met again.

Johnson's career took off with the Seattle Mariners. Having previously been a Montreal Expo, he had shown the world his talent, but struggled with control problems. 

With his move to Seattle came instant success. A no-hitter in 1990 against the Detroit Tigers showed the world what he could do when his control was on.

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A meeting with the great Nolan Ryan would turn Randy Johnson from erratic to fantastic, something he would continue for many years.

In 1993, the Randy Johnson we should all remember came to life. The "Big Unit" went 19-8 with an ERA of 3.24. He also recorded 300 strikeouts for the season. 

Johnson had arrived to the MLB forefront, and he wasn't leaving.

The 1995 Cy Young was no contest as Johnson went 18-2 (a .900 winning percentage) with a 2.48 ERA.  He pitched the Mariners to the American League Championship Series that year, beating the Yankees after coming in as a relief pitcher.

This would not be his first time in that role.

The 1997 season saw a return to form for Johnson. After being sidelined with a back injury throughout 1996, the Unit posted a 20-4 record and a personal best 2.28 ERA.

The season would also be remembered for Mark McGwire's blast off Johnson that went an estimated 530-plus feet.  

Johnson's next stop in his career journey was a brief one in Houston, where he went 10-1 and pitched the Astros into the playoffs. But the Astros could not muster the runs to support Johnson in his playoff appearances. 

He went 0-2 with an ERA of 1.93 against the San Diego Padres.

Arizona took a supposed risk on an "aging" Johnson in 1999. He was 35 years old, and the Diamondbacks as a franchise were only 1 year old. Johnson would not disappoint the new fans of this new franchise. 

He went 36-16 in his first two years, winning the Cy Young Award both seasons.

The 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, led by Johnson and Curt Shilling, beat the New York Yankees for their first and only World Series title. Johnson picked up three wins in the series, including the Game 7 victory after coming out of the bullpen.

Even more impressive, Johnson pitched Game 6 the day before. The 2001 Cy Young winner had defeated his playoff demons.

The 2002 season would be the last of Johnson's four consecutive Cy Young seasons.  The lefty went 24-5 with an ERA of 2.32 and 334 strikeouts, winning baseball's pitching triple crown.

But the D-backs would fail to move on in the playoffs as they were swept by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Johnson's last Cy Young would mark the end of a Diamondbacks era as well. He was injured most of 2003 and in 2004, the only bright spot in a 16-14 came in the form of Johnson's perfect game. 

Randy Johson, at the age of 40 had thrown a perfect game against the Atlanta Braves.  He was only the 17th person to accomplish this feat, and by far the oldest.

Johnson's career would not be the same after he reached his 40's. The Big Unit moved to New York and was serviceable at best, with a 34-19 record in two years. His big contract was not enough to make him happy, so he returned to Arizona.

Johnson's second stint in Arizona had him win 15 games over two seasons, compared to 13 loses. He was still better than average, just not the same guy he once was.

Currently, Johnson is finishing off his career in San Francisco. He has a record of 4-4 with a 5.71 ERA.

The Unit is finished, by all accounts, once he gets his 300th win and the season ends. 

Johnson's career cannot be defined by a single stay in any place. His numbers are solid at every stop he made. He has a career 299-164 record with a lifetime ERA of 3.29. 

This is quite impressive considering the "hits" his ERA has taken since becoming a member of the over 40 club. 

People who look at Johnson now may see a washed-up superstar struggling to find the last piece of his Hall of Fame resume. I see a man who has the competitive drive to push himself beyond the normal limitations of men. 

Johnson is an athletic specimen, one that we may not see ever again. 

People his size and with his ability do not come along often. The most important thing to note is that not once has Johnson be linked with any performance-enhancing drugs.  This man has accomplished everything on the principles of hard work and dedication.

Johnson's statistics speak for themselves and are here for your viewing pleasure. 

Remember Randy Johnson the way we remember Michael Jordan, or Wayne Gretzky. He is one of the best, and he deserves the credit of playing baseball clean in an era of so many dirty players.

SEA (10 yrs)13074.6373.422742663511921838.1141478269816088410216289176677211281.2506.90.84.310.62.45 
ARI (8 yrs)11862.6562.832332321381401630.1132559451316341620207774102765731641.0687.30.92.311.54.99 
MON (2 yrs)34.4294.691110110055.2523329533151025252761.5278. 
NYY (2 yrs)3419.6424.3767670600430.2401227209601073383223617801001.1808. 
SFG (1 yr)44.5005.711010000052.05633331019254012225771.4429. 
HOU (1 yr)101.9091.281111044084.157121242611163003293210.9846.10.42.812.44.46 
AL (12 yrs)16493.6383.603413333571922269.018151009907220991132545111207295011221.2377.20.93.910.12.57 
NL (12 yrs)13571.6552.902652632431801822.1149067258718249424229877133473791581.0897.40.92.411.34.65 
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