CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Premium and Super Premium Subscribers Get a 20% Discount at MLB.tv!

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Prospectus Today: Lear... (08/06)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Wait 'Til Next Year: M... (08/07)

August 6, 2007

History's Heights

Tom Glavine's Climb to 300

by John Perrotto

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Tom Glavine has long seen the big picture of baseball better than most players. The Mets left-hander understands the history of the game. Just as importantly, he understands his place in the game's history. Thus, it was not a surprise to hear what Glavine had to say Sunday night after becoming the 23rd pitcher ever to win 300 games in his career when he beat the Cubs in Chicago: "If I was the last one, it would be pretty cool to be the last one to do something in the game." Glavine is the third pitcher to reach 300 victories in this decade, joining Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux.

A strong case can be made that Glavine will indeed go down as baseball's final 300-game winner, or at least the last one for quite a long time. The only pitcher relatively close to 300 victories is Arizona left-hander Randy Johnson, who is at 284. It used to be that 16 wins was a common occurrence for the Big Unit, as he reached the total in nine of the past 10 seasons, including last year, when he notched 17 victories for the Yankees despite an ERA of 5.00. However, Johnson is done for this season after undergoing surgery last week to remove a herniated disc in his back. Johnson had similar surgery over the winter, which contributed to his missing the first three weeks of this season after being acquired by the Diamondbacks from the Yankees in a winter trade. Johnson finished the season at 4-3 with a 3.81 ERA in 10 starts. He also turns 44 in September, which lengthens his odds of recovering from two back surgeries to regain the form necessary to win 16 more games.

Even if Johnson finds a way to get to 300, there are no other potential members of the club on the horizon. The Yankees' Mike Mussina is next in line with 246 wins, but at 38, he's starting to show his age, posting a 7-7 record and 4.66 ERA in 19 starts this season. It seems a stretch to think he has 54 more victories left in his right arm.

Glavine has gotten by on guts and guile throughout his career. His fastball rarely reaches 90 mph. However, he spots his heater well, and mixes in his other pitches, particularly an outstanding changeup. Furthermore, the 41-year-old southpaw has never been on the DL in his 21-year career. Glavine believes pitchers of his style-durable strikethrowers-are more apt to win 300 games, and that has been proven correct. Of the nine men who have won 300 games since divisional play began in 1969, three were pure power pitchers (Clemens, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver), five were finesse guys (Glavine, Maddux, Phil Niekro, Gaylord Perry, and Don Sutton) while Steve Carlton was a hybrid.

"You're looking at more power pitchers coming into the game every year and you've got to figure those guys are more susceptible to getting hurt," Glavine said. "It'll be interesting to see how many of those guys are able to pitch long enough to even come close to having a chance to get to 300."

Just three active pitchers under the age of 30 have 100 wins: San Francisco's Barry Zito (110), Houston's Roy Oswalt (109), and Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox (106). Zito and Oswalt are 29, and Buerhle is 28.

Though Buerhle is the type of finesse pitcher Glavine thinks is better suited to making a run at 300, the left-hander can't fathom sticking around that long. Beyond that, he realizes pitchers only have so much control over wins and losses. "There is so much stuff that has to happen for you to win," Buehrle said. "You have to work deep into games. Your offense has to score and give you run support. Your bullpen has to help you and not blow many leads. That's why it's so tough to even be a 20-game winner in a season."

Multiply 20 wins by 15 seasons and you get 300. It is that simple mathematical equation that has Cardinals manager Tony La Russa thinking how steep the odds are of seeing any more 300-game winners, beyond the possible exception of Johnson. "For a pitcher to win 300 games, he is going to have to understand his place in history and he is going to have to be dedicated to playing for a very long time," La Russa said. "It can be done, but it takes a lot of work and a pitcher has to not only be talented but really have his heart and mind set on accomplishing the goal."

Glavine reached 300 last night. In a decade in which few pitchers have made more than 36 starts or completed nine games in a season-Toronto's Roy Halladay pulled off both feats in 2003-the steep odds of winning 300 become clearer. "With the way the game is today, so centered on power and so high scoring, it's tough to win a lot of games," Glavine said. "Pitch counts get run up faster, and managers have to go to the bullpen sooner. It's just become increasingly difficult to get wins with each passing season, and I don't know if it's going to get easier any time soon."

John Perrotto is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see John's other articles. You can contact John by clicking here

0 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Prospectus Today: Lear... (08/06)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Wait 'Til Next Year: M... (08/07)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article What You Need to Know: August 29, 2014
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: This Article Mentions Fehlan...
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Friday, August 29
Premium Article The Call-Up: Dilson Herrera
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Thursday, Augu...
Prospectus Feature: Roast A Parks
Premium Article Raising Aces: Mis-Priced

MORE FROM AUGUST 6, 2007
Premium Article Prospectus Today: Learning from Experience
Premium Article Under The Knife: Rantastic
Premium Article Future Shock: Monday Ten Pack
Premium Article You Could Look It Up: A Subjective Look at t...
The Week in Quotes: August 1-5

MORE BY JOHN PERROTTO
2007-08-12 - Premium Article Every Given Sunday: The Future Stock of Bond...
2007-08-09 - Premium Article Rebuilding on the River
2007-08-08 - Premium Article A Little Less Glamour
2007-08-06 - Premium Article History's Heights
2007-08-05 - Premium Article Every Given Sunday: Moving, Shaking, and Car...
2007-08-01 - Premium Article Overwhelming Underdogs
2007-07-29 - Premium Article Every Given Sunday: From the Mound to Managi...
More...