Roy Halladay October 2012

Let me thrown four names out there: Cy YoungNolan RyanGreg Maddux, and Tom Glavine. What do these guys have in common? Two are Hall of Famers and two more are on their way. All were big game money pitchers. And most importantly, they are all 300 game winners.

Will we ever see another 300 game winner in baseball? Quite frankly, I don’t think we will. Now don’t get me wrong, as a fan I would love to see it happen again in my lifetime. It would bring me almost as much pure joy as watching Maddux pitch in his prime.

As part of my analysis, I looked squarely at the odds and stats to determine the difficulty level of reaching that plateau in this day and age in baseball. Jamie Moyer, who will turn 50 in November, has 269 wins. Roy Halladay, who is 35 years old, has 199 wins. Andy Pettitte, who is 40 years old, has 245 wins in his career.

You can see where I am going with this, as for some of these guys to keep pitching at the required level to reach the golden 300 mark is just too big of an obstacle to overcome.

Just a little note by the way, Ryan was 43 years old and was considered one of the most durable pitchers ever. When you consider what Ryan had to do to win 300, you really start to feel the force that these star pitchers are up against.

Now some people might want to take a look at the other side of that list, maybe guys who don’t have an AARP card yet. So let’s do just that. I have taken a look at some of the elite pitchers in the game today who would be considered to have a shot at 300.

The names that kept coming up are C.C. SabathiaJustin VerlanderCliff Lee, and Felix Hernandez. There are some pretty big names on that list, but can any of them get to 300 wins during their respective careers?

Let’s take Sabathia and Verlander for example and see where they each currently rank. Sabathia is 32 years old and has 191 wins in his career. I would think that he has a pretty good shot, but I can’t help but wonder whether he can still pitch at a high level for say, eight more years. Sabathia has had some health issues in the past, and the grind of a long season may get the best of him yet.

Verlander, on the other hand, will be 30 next February and has 124 wins. I feel if anyone has a shot at 300, it’s him. Considering though that he has been in the league for seven years already, can Verlander win 176 more in the next seven or so years?

Health and the total grind of each season will, in my opinion, likely get the best of Verlander, as well as Sabathia and the other members of the hopeful 300 wins list. As each moder day star pitcher ages, I also don’t see them adopting a different style or studying hitters quite like the professor (aka Maddux) did in his day.

As part of today’s modern game, we track every statistic- from ERA, to total strikeouts, to what these guys eat on game day, We also have pitch counts that everyone likes to keep their eyes on, whether its coaches, teammates, or GMs. That my friends is likely the biggest culprit of them all.

The likely result is that managers, GMs and key front office decision makers will get in the way of today’s great pitchers ever reaching the 300 win mark. Pitch counts will keep the starters from logging the innings required to have a strong chance to win many games. Coming out of a game consistently in the 5th-6th inning after 100 or so pitchers is still a relatively new concept in baseball.

Starting pitchers back in the day used to throw a lot more pitches and innings during their careers. Some may argue that this led to a greater chance of injuries. But with pitchers undergoing Tommy John and similar surgeries at record levels, perhaps it is time to revisit the whole pitches/innings counts.

It is my sense that a lot of pitchers in this day and age just don’t throw the ball enough. I understand that baseball is more of a business than a game. In the age of $100+ million contract, teams don’t want their star pitchers to get injured and as a result, waste team resources on big contracts for hurt players.

So are MLB teams robbing us of the opportunity to see another 300 game winner? My answer is yes and I hope I am wrong. We did finally have though another Triple Crown winner this year, as Miguel Cabrera reached a standard that most experts believed was unattainable.

If Cabrera can do it, maybe 300 wins is possible. After all, Moyer is fairly close. I just hope that he can pull it off before the age of 60.


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