Over at Another Cubs Blog, there was a discussion in the comments over whether Mike Mussina would be the last 300-game winner. I said no, it’s not nearly that insurmountable, even if after Randy Johnson and then Mussina it doesn’t look like anyone is going to do it for a while. But what sort of pace to do you need to hit 300 wins, anyway? Well, let’s take a look at the three pitchers who’ve gotten to 300 since 2000, plus Randy Johnson, who will do it this year. I’ll leave Moose off, because he’s going to need at least another season after this one to do it. Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine all followed similar career trajectories in getting to 300, while Johnson started later than the others, and has had a little rockier time getting there:
Looking at the chart then, to reach 300 wins, you need a fairly steady pace and a long career. But look at what the actual cumulative wins for each player are, by age:
Those aren’t that crazy at any given point – it’s the sustained production that kills you, and making a career of it past 40. In fact, several players currently playing could conceivably do it, just looking at their win totals. Three active players have seventy five wins and are ahead of the average pace of those four:
C.C. Sabathia currently has 117 wins, more than any pitcher on that list did after his Age 27 season, and well over the average of 90.75.
Jon Garland has 106 wins after his age 28 season, putting him just ahead of the average of 105.5 at that point.
Carlos Zambrano is also ahead of the average after his age 27 season – he has 96 wins against 90.75 for that group, ahead of both Johnson and Glavine for that age.
Obviously, Johnson’s numbers drag the group way down, but still, there are several pitchers today who are on pace to hit 300 wins ahead of that group’s average, if they can stay healthy and effective. The odds are against any of them doing it. Go back and look at Randy Johnson’s line on the chart, and tell me at what point it became a fait accompli that he’d hit 300 wins. I don’t think we can predict Randy Johnson-style career paths, and there are fair number of guys who fall between the average pace of those pitchers and Randy Johnson’s pace, Mussina included. It will probably be more than ten years from now, but I have no doubt whatsoever we’ll see another 300-game winner, and it’ll probably be someone playing today.