Wednesday, June 3, 2009

300 win units for the Unit

Randy Johnson goes tonight for win No. 300. He's been wobbling to the finish line — which isn't uncommon at that rarified air. 

Early Wynn staggered to 300 — his last three seasons went 8-2, 7-15, 1-2, with a peak of 167-plus innings pitched.

Lefty Grove just got there — 7-6 in 1940, 7-7 in 1941. 

Tom Glavine has 305 wins and, officially, counting. But he has yet to appear in a game this season, and who know how much he has left in the tank. He won No. 300 on Aug. 4, 2007, at which point his ERA for the season was 4.31. It wasn't a horrid year, but he started falling apart late in the season, and he hasn't gotten it back together yet.

Then there are the guys who tried to hang in there long enough to hit the milestone and couldn't quite do it: Bert Blyleven, Robin Roberts, Tommy John, Jim Kaat,  Ferguson Jenkins ... 300 wins is a big number.

Every time somebody gets to 300, there's a rush of columnists opining that this guy will be the last to get there. It was said about Roger Clemens, then about Greg Maddux, then about Glavine. It's being written about Johnson too, only not quite so emphatically — I suppose some of them remember writing it about the others.

It is true, however, that there's nobody particularly close right now. Mike Mussina decided to quit at 270 — had his first 20-win season in 2008 and walked away last winter. Curt Schilling, as great as he was, surrendered this spring to the ravages of age at "just" 216 wins. Jamie Moyer just collected no. 250; his chances of getting even 50 more starts, much less 50 more wins, are slim indeed.

For what it's worth, the Bill James Handbook this spring gave Johan Santana a 24 percent chance of getting to 300. He has, at this writing, 116 wins. Just 184 wins to go, Yo-Yo.

It might be Santana, it might be CC Sabathia (18 percent chance), it might even be Moyer (25 percent chance, according to James; I was skeptical of that number when I first saw it, even more skeptical now that Moyer's 4-5 with a 6.75 ERA this year.). Or even 20-year-old Rick Porcello, with all of six wins so far. But somebody pitching right now is going to win 300.

Besides Johnson.

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