Blog Entry

Big Unit last of the 300-game winners? Not likely

Posted on: January 5, 2010 9:14 pm

Mark it down: Randy Johnson's retirement, January 5th, 2010.

There goes the last of the 300-win pitchers?

With closers and specialists and hyperactive managers and increasingly fragile starting pitchers who too often don't even stick around long enough to earn decisions, pundits have been predicting for years that pitchers who win 300 games soon will become as extinct as dinosaurs.

So is Johnson the last Tyrannosaurus Rex to stalk the earth?

With his retirement Wednesday (and assuming that Tom Glavine, at 305 wins, is finished), the list of the game's winningest active pitchers now reads like this:

1. Jamie Moyer, Phillies, 258.

2. Andy Pettitte, Yankees, 229.

3. Pedro Martinez, free agent, 219.

4. John Smoltz, free agent, 213.

5. Tim Wakefield, Red Sox, 189.

At 37, Pettitte and Pedro are the youngest pitchers of the lot. Of the 30-to-35 set, Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (32) probably has the best odds to reach 300, and he's at 148. Which means, if he averages 18 wins a season, for the next eight-plus summers, he'd be in position to win 300 when he turns 40.

Of course, now that Halladay is in the NL, he easily could average 30 wins a season and win his 300th six seasons from now (attention, that was a joke).

While it's surely going to be several years before we see another 300-game winner, I find it hard to believe that we'll never see one again. Two younger pitchers who are well-positioned to make a run: The Yanks' CC Sabathia is just 28 and has 136 wins, and the White Sox's Mark Buehrle is just 30 and is at 135.

While reporting a long feature on the Big Unit early last season during his quest for 300, I talked to one coach and one young pitcher who had completely different views on the subject:

"That's something that's never going to be done again," Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa told me. "Now you've got your set-up men, your closers, starting pitchers are out of the game after 110 pitches even if they have their good stuff.

"I think if a starting pitcher wins 200 games, that will be the next milestone."

Mets left-hander Johan Santana, with 122 victories at the age of 30, isn't so sure.

"I guarantee you that if you go back and ask Randy when he had [116] wins if he thought he'd get to 300, he'd say, 'No, no way,'" Santana told me. "You don't know what your future is. There's a lot involved in winning a game. There's a lot involved that has to go right. You have to pitch well, the team has to score runs, the bullpen has to do its job. Now, imagine that 300 times."

When Johnson was Santana's age -- 30 -- he had only 78 wins.

So if you're going to insist that we'll never again see another 300-game winner, proceed with caution.


Since: May 22, 2009
Posted on: January 5, 2010 11:22 pm

Big Unit last of the 300-game winners? Not likely

Does anyone really think Jamie Moyer is a Hall of Famer though?  Maybe I'm ignorant of something, but I can forsee people arguing that a 250 game winner is worthy of the Hall given today's 5-man rotation and heavy use of relievers.

Since: Feb 26, 2008
Posted on: January 5, 2010 11:19 pm

Big Unit last of the 300-game winners? Not likely

Felix Hernandez will be next, he's only 23 and already has 50 something wins!!!

Since: Nov 23, 2008
Posted on: January 5, 2010 10:53 pm

Big Unit last of the 300-game winners? Not likely

Hey, don't forget the projected 5 starters for the Jays this year have 48 career wins ... for all five starters combined. Hopefully by season's end they'll get to 50 total:). 
Then again, the Jays may trade away another great starter for nothing like they did with Halladay, which was the worst trade since Jack traded the cow for some magic beans.

Since: May 22, 2009
Posted on: January 5, 2010 10:45 pm

Big Unit last of the 300-game winners? Not likely

Tim Wakefield will top 400.

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