(posted by OMDQ)
As expected, tonight’s ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcast featured much talk about the future of 300 game winners. Most experts tend to agree – misguidedly, I believe – that Tom Glavine will be the last pitcher to reach that milestone, backing up their position with talk of pitch counts, increased specialization, and statistics (every pitcher currently within striking distance is either really old or two steps short of washed up).
Jon Miller and Joe Morgan tried the statistical route tonight, and I’m not sure how well it worked. Discussing the increased roles that relievers have taken on in recent years, ESPN flashed a graphic comparing the career complete game totals of Cy Young (749), Warren Spahn (382), Roger Clemens (118), Greg Maddux (109), and Glavine (57).
If you’re debating specialization, then yeah, these are great numbers to show. Obviously pitchers today are throwing far, far fewer complete games than in Cy Young’s day. But if you’re using this as an argument that 300 game winners are becoming extinct – um, don’t all five guys named above have 300 wins, despite significant changes from generation to generation? Yes, yes they do. Is this a bad statistic to use in this particular argument? Yes, yes it is.
This is just one example, but it helps illustrate exactly why the so-called experts are foolish to even suggest that Tom Glavine will be the last pitcher to win 300 games. No matter how much the game changes, the cream always rises to the top, at least one or two of the best pitchers always rise to the occasion and are long enough for good enough to get to 300. That’s the way it works.
Who will win 300 games next? My money is on C.C. Sabathia, who is in terrific position for his age, but we’ll have to wait and see how the next decade treats him. Even if Sabathia doesn’t do it, however, somebody else will appear on the horizon, either from this generation or the next. Bet on it.