June 14, 2003
Clemens gets 300th win

Congratulations to Roger Clemens for recording his 300th career win along with his 4000th career strikeout in a 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals last night. Rob Neyer makes the case that Clemens has been the best pitcher of the post-World War II era. Here are some numbers that help illuminate Clemens' career.

Clemens, along with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, are often cited as the last pitchers to challenge the 300-victory milestone in this age of 5-man rotations and six-inning starts. I'm far from convinced of that, if for no better reason than some teams, such as the Toronto Blue Jays have considered bringing back the four-man rotation. I also think there are several current pitchers who have as good a shot at 300 wins as anyone. Mike Mussina has 190 career wins and has averaged 16 wins per full season. If he stays healthy, at that rate he'd have 294 wins after the 2009 season, meaning he'd need six wins at the age of 41 to join the club. It's way too early to make decent projections, but check back on guys like Mark Prior, Roy Oswalt, and the Oakland A's terrific trio of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito in another decade. Baseball changes directions over time, and I think predicting the end of 300-win pitchers is premature at best.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 14, 2003 to Baseball | TrackBack

I agree with you, Charles; some of the younger pitchers definitely have a chance to hit 300 if they stay healthy and pitch consistently at the level that they have in recent years. That wouldn't be such an odd occurrence either; after all, Clemens and (soon, perhaps) Maddux, Glavine, et al. did in the late 80's and the 90's, not too long ago.

I would add Kerry Wood to the list of young pitchers that have the stuff to perhaps one day get to 300. He's a lot like Clemens in many regards; the only concern is that his arm will give out someday.

Posted by: Kyle on June 14, 2003 10:53 AM

Kyle, the main reason I didn't include Kerry Wood is because he's already missed a full year due to injury. He's also not yet put up a single big win season - all the others have at least one season of 19 or more wins, other than Prior, who's three years younger than Wood and is 7-2 so far this season. But yes, he's got the stuff to do it if he's healthy and has some luck.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on June 14, 2003 11:44 AM

I don't think 300 wins is impossible these days, especially with all of the pitchers you have named, however, 30 wins in a season will be next to impossible in the era of the 5-man rotation. If each pitcher starts every 5th game, that only leaves 32 or 33 starts a year.

Posted by: William Hughes on June 14, 2003 6:15 PM

Four-man rotations might be an idea whose time has returned, what with good starters at a premium and a diverse bullpen so highly regarded. Tim McCarver is always talking about starters benefitting from pitching more than they do, and I trust his judgment.

Posted by: Chris Quinones on June 14, 2003 8:46 PM

My big question, since I am too young to remember, was there this huge complaint about how pitching was overpowering in the early 80s as a great deal of pitchers cemented their 300th win? I am just wondering if there was as much handwringing then as there is now about 500 homeruns.

Posted by: Rob on June 15, 2003 12:18 PM

was there this huge complaint about how pitching was overpowering in the early 80s as a great deal of pitchers cemented their 300th win?

No. There was an adjustment made in 1969, both to the definition of the strike zone and the height of the pitching mound in response to the offenseless 1960s. The 80s just happened to see several veteran pitchers reach the 300 milestone in close proximity to each other.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on June 15, 2003 4:16 PM