The Last of a Dying Breed?

First of all, I have to apologize that a third consecutive Friday will pass without a Mount Otsego entry. Smitty and I just can’t seem to get our acts together at the same time lately. However, we promise that next week we’ll be facilitating a discussion of the greatest shortstops of all-time. Really…I swear…we promise.

To fill the void, I considered borrowing from my own blog and posting about my recent trip to Turner Field in Atlanta, the 30th major league park I’ve visited in my lifetime. That total actually includes 10 stadiums that are no longer active, so I still have a ways to go to get to all of the current ones. But, as I was thinking about re-writing it a bit to make it more suitable for this site, I got another idea.

Randy JohnsonYesterday, Randy Johnson became the 24th pitcher in major league history to notch his 300th win. A lot has been written and discussed about the near-extinction of the 300-game winner. Many think that Johnson may be the last of a dying breed, that the nature of today’s game is making it virtually impossible for a pitcher to accumulate this many victories. Could this be true? Will there ever be a 300-game winner again? One thing’s for sure…if it does happen, we’re going to have to wait quite some time until we see it again, especially considering we’ve just seen four guys get there in the past six years.

Following Johnson on the career victories list, among “active” pitchers—I use the term loosely because two of them haven’t thrown a pitch in the majors this season—are Jamie Moyer (250 wins/46 years old), Andy Pettitte (220/37), Pedro Martinez (214/37), John Smoltz (210/42), Tim Wakefield (184/42), Bartolo Colon (153/36) and Livan Hernandez (151/34). Barring a miracle, none of these players has even the slightest chance of reaching the milestone.

In my opinion, the three pitchers with the greatest chances of reaching 300 are Roy Halladay (140/32), CC Sabathia (122/28) and Johan Santana (116/30). Actually, Sabathia will turn 29 in July, so he’s really only one year younger than Santana and three younger than Halladay, both of whom had birthdays within the past few months.

Despite the fact that Sabathia is younger and has more wins, I consider Santana to be the leading candidate to be the game’s next 300-game winner. Since his first season as a full-time starter—2004—Santana has earned 86 wins in five seasons, an average of 17.2 per year. Sabathia has won 74 in the same time frame, although he has really begun to peak over the last three years.

Sabathia has been a regular starter since the age of 20. That’s more than eight full seasons, thus accounting for his current advantage. On the other hand, being under 30 and having just signed a long-term deal with a team that almost certainly will give him plenty of opportunity to be a consistent big-time winner is a factor that weighs in his favor.

After some injury troubles in his late 20s, Halladay has remained healthy for the past three full seasons. Still, if he wins 12 more games this year, then averages 18 over the next five years, this would put him at 242 at the age of 38. It would then take 4-5 more solid years after that to get to 300. So, I’m considering him the biggest long shot of the three.

If Santana wins 10 more this year, then averages 17 over the next six years, this leaves him at 228 at 36 years old. Even based on these more conservative estimates than those I used for Halladay, he would then be within striking distance if he puts together a couple more good years followed by a few solid ones. This still makes him a long shot, but not nearly the long shot that Halladay is.

Regardless, it’s going to be at least 10 or more years until someone even gets a whiff of the 300 mark. So, once again I’ll ask the question…will there ever be another 300-game winner? Who do you think has the best chance to do it?

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