Wins have become a meaningless stat, but only when those wins accumulate over time do they become something significant, says Jeff Passan. He believes that the 300-win pitcher is a dying breed. It might have been a very rare breed of pitcher, but it was still possible. Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux all made the club within the last decade, the first since Nolan Ryan in 1990. Now this is the fourth season since Johnson added his name to the list and it's possible that he could be the last for at least a very long time.
The only active pitchers who have more than 200 wins are Andy Pettitte (249), who is already 40-years-old, Roy Halladay (201), who is 36 and just suffered a shoulder injury, and Tim Hudson (201), who is 37-years-old. None of them seem likely to make it, but the next highest is CC Sabathia (195) and Passan pegs him as the likely candidate to reach the milestone next. How likely is that, though?
Sabathia already has more wins than Clemens, Glavine and Johnson had at the same age and he still has more seasons to go. He averages around 15 wins a season, which is in line with how often the others won games over the course of their careers. If Sabathia wins 15 games this season, he will finish with 210 wins and would only need another 90 to make it to 300. If he continues to win exactly at this rate (he won't, for better or worse) it will take him until 2019, his age 38 season. He is signed with the Yankees through 2017, his age 36 season, so unless the Yankees want to re-sign him for the sake of publicity, or if he's actually still good, CC will be going for 300 on another team. If that scenario works out for him, he would reach the milestone in only 19 seasons, which would put him right on par with Maddux in both seasons and age. But that's if every goes exactly as planned.
Clemens needed 20 seasons and Johnson and Glavine both needed their entire 22-season careers. Sabathia could pitch two additional seasons, into 2021 and age 40, and then he would only need a little more than 11 wins per season to make it to 300 in his 21st season.
That's a long way off and anything could happen. Many careers have been derailed due to injury or sudden ineffectiveness when they once showed promise of greatness. Sabathia might have the best chance right now, but he won't be the pitcher he is now for the rest of his career. He'll decline and hopefully adapt and if he can do that he can make it. The 300-win club is not just a testament to skill, but also to longevity and that is the true rarity found behind this milestone.
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