When Randy Johnson won his 300th game two years ago, staggering towards the finish line of a brilliant career, there was strong talk that the Big Unit might be baseball’s last 300-game winner, given the limitations and constraints (read that pitch counts) of the modern game. Not so fast.
CC Sabathia already has 167 wins, and he won’t turn 31 until July 21. This is his 11th major league season, and through the first 10 the Yankee southpaw has averaged just under 16 wins a season.
Sabathia is 167-92 for a .645 winning percentage. He’s led the American League in wins the past two years with 19 and 21 victories respectively.
CC already has 10 wins this year, as many as anyone in the majors. He’s durable, having pitched at least 230 innings in every season since 2007. Never been seriously injured, hardly ever misses a turn, been on the DL just once in his career, that for a strained oblique early in the 2006 season with the Indians. No arm troubles. The very definition of a staff ace, a horse.
Do the math. If Sabathia keeps on his current pace and pitches eight more seasons, he’d reach 300 wins somewhere around the age of 39.
Recent 300-Game Winners
That would be younger than three of the four pitchers who won their 300th game since 2000 — Roger Clemens (40) in 2003 with the Yankees, Tom Glavine (41) with the Mets in 2007, and Johnson (45) with the Giants.
Only Greg Maddux, who won his 300th at the age of 38 with the Cubs, would be younger. Maddux went on to win 355 games, eighth on the all-time list and one more than Clemens.
Before that, Nolan Ryan in 1990 was the last pitcher to reach 300 wins, at age 43, with the Rangers.
Only four active pitchers have more wins than Sabathia — Tim Wakefield (197), Roy Halladay (179), Tim Hudson (171) and Livan Hernandez (171). Halladay is the youngest of this group at age 34, Wakefield the oldest at 44.
Only 24 pitchers have won 300 games, and of that group only six — Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton, Eddie Plank, Glavine, Johnson and Lefty Grove — are left-handers.
CC Sabathia has a long ways to go, but he has a legitimate shot at becoming the 25th pitcher in baseball history to reach 300 wins.
Pitchers used to finish what they started.
In 1904, Jack Chesbro started 55 games for the New York Highlanders. He finished 48 of them, winning 41 games. All are major league records.
Last year, Arizona’s Brandon Webb led the National League with 4 complete games; Roy Hallady of the Blue Jays had 7.
Cy Young threw 749 complete games in his career; the current major league career leaders are Greg Maddux with 109 and Randy Johnson with 99.
In 1968, the so-called “Year of the Pitcher,” Juan Marichal of the Giants led the majors with 30 complete games. The Tigers’ Denny McLain became the last 30-game winner, and had 28 complete games.
“Nobody trusted anybody in the bullpen,” said McLain, who wound up 31-6. “Three or four of my losses were 2-1 and 1-0.”
In 1975, Catfish Hunter started 39 games for the Yankees and finished 30 of them, the last pitcher to reach that mark in complete games.
The last hurler to record 20 complete games was the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela, in 1986. Randy Johnson was the last to have double figures in 10 CGs, 12 in 1999.
Complete games have become baseball’s lost art.