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High and Tight: Will There Be Another 300-Game Winner?

Ken Casey, Alice Cooper, Pete Yorn and more weigh in on our national pastime

Justin Verlander and C.C. Sabathia
Leon Halip/Getty Images; Mike Stobe/Getty Images
August 22, 2012 12:00 PM ET

Ever since 1888, when James Francis "Pud" Galvin became the first major leaguer to win 300 games, reaching 300 wins has been an iconic goal for starting pitchers – a numerical Mt. Everest that bestows immortality upon all those who manage to scale it.

The majesty of the 300-win plateau has been chipped away in recent years by the sabermetricians who rightly question the validity of "W"s as the ultimate measure of a pitcher's worth, and by the killjoys who point out that certain pitchers – like Don Sutton and Phil Niekro, who notched their 300th career victories in their 21st and 22nd major league seasons, respectively – owe their membership in the 300-win club more to longevity than excellence. But while the perceived importance of wins-per-season has obviously declined (as exemplified by Felix Hernandez winning the A.L. Cy Young Award in 2010 with a 13-12 record), and there have been plenty of legitimately great pitchers (like Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson and Pedro Martinez) who never came close to winning 300 ballgames, there's no denying that a pitcher still has to be pretty damn excellent and pretty damn resilient in order to get the ball enough times over the course of their career to rack up 300 victories.

Or, put it this way: There are currently 24 pitchers in the 300-win club, and 20 of those 24 are quite deservedly enshrined in the Hall of Fame; the other four – Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Randy Johnson – aren't eligible for election yet. Clemens' admission to Cooperstown may take longer than he'd prefer, thanks to him probably being a juicer and definitely being a douchebag, but all four of those guys will most likely ride the magic "300" into the Hall in the not-too-distant future.

They may well be the last to do so. Among pitchers who have been active this season, only Jamie Moyer (269) and Andy Pettite (243) have passed the 200-win plateau, and Moyer's currently looking for another team to take a chance on his 49 year-old arm, while the odds of Pettitte accruing 57 more victories (even while pitching for the Yankees) are somewhat slim, considering that only 11 pitchers in MLB history have won 54 or more games after hitting the big 4-0, as Pettitte did in June.

C.C. Sabathia, a workhorse who just turned 32 and currently has 188 career victories to his credit, probably has the best shot at 300, though his recent elbow troubles could bode ill for his future. Mark Buerhle, a remarkably efficient pitcher who has 171 wins at age 33, stands a decent chance as well, though maybe not if he stays with the Marlins. Roy Halladay has 195, but he turned 35 in May. As dominant as Justin Verlander has been in recent seasons, he's 29 and (as of this writing) still needs 181 wins to reach 300 – which means he'd need to win roughly 16.5 games a year over the next eleven seasons to hit the mark by his 40th birthday. And that won't be easy, especially if he keeps getting anemic run support and the Tigers bullpen keeps blowing the leads he leaves them with.

That's not to say that Verlander – or anyone else – won't be able to do it. But in this age of pitch limits and increased bullpen specialization, starting pitchers have far less opportunity to "get the W" than they once did, even if their teams have solid bats and reliable relievers. So this week, we're asking our esteemed panel of rock & roll seamheads: Will we ever see another 300-game winner?

Name: Pete Yorn
Position:
Vocals, Guitar

I do believe others will make the 300 mark. Only four players have joined the 300 club since 1990: Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Randy Johnson . . . so the odds are against it. Add injuries and a five-man rotation to the picture and it seems to be an even more difficult achievement. That said, Justin Verlander, Roy Halladay (although this year doesn't help as much) and my boy C.C. Sabathia (he probably has the best shot) could get there. The Yanks will compete every year, and that benefits C.C. – who, by the way, is pitching Friday, I hear.

Name: Alice Cooper
Position: Vocals

The only other 300-game winners we might see would be Justin Verlander and maybe Roy Halladay. That's because they both seem to be healthy and on top of their game all of the time.

Name: Steve Wynn
Band:
The Baseball Project
Position:
Vocals, Guitar

I think that C.C. Sabathia might be the last one, not the least because he has incredible stamina and pitches for a team that scores a lot of runs. But beyond him? I just don't see it happening again.

Name: Tom Morello
Band: The Nightwatchman, Street Sweeper Social Club, Rage Against the Machine
Position:
Guitar, Vocals

I think it's very unlikely that we'll see another 300-game winner as long as managers and the front offices remain chicken to leave their best guys on the mound.

Name: Handsome Dick Manitoba
Band:
Manitoba
Position:
Vocals

Yes. There are some amazing pitchers out there that, even in this day and age – especially in this day and age of specialty relievers – can go five, six or seven innings for a W. Longevity and staying off the DL obviously is the key for 300 wins, but it is a tall task: you'd need to average 17 wins for 18 years in order to hit 306. Whew!

Name: Ken Casey
Band:
Dropkick Murphys
Position:
Bass guitar, Vocals

Not a chance. Pitchers get too many no-decisions now, due to micro-managing and pitch counts.

Name: Joshua Epstein
Band:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Position:
Vocals, Keyboards

Probably at some point. I could see Verlander winning 300 before it's all said and done. He's a machine.

Name: Vinnie Paul
Band:
Hellyeah, Pantera
Position:
Drums

No!!!! I think global warming has helped make this a thing of the past! Nothing wears a pitcher out more than heat, and we just had the hottest July in American history.

Name: George Thorogood
Band: George Thorogood and the Destroyers
Position: Vocals, Guitar

Anything is possible.

Name: Steve Earle
Position:
Vocals, Guitar

No.

Name: Ben Gibbard
Band: Death Cab for Cutie
Position:
Vocals, Guitar

Who cares?  Pitchers' wins are a virtually meaningless stat. Anyone with even an elementary knowledge of advanced metrics knows wins say nothing about the skill or efficiency of a pitcher. Why should it matter if someone gets 300 of them? 

Name: Scott McCaughey
Band:
The Baseball Project, The Minus 5, Young Fresh Fellows
Position:
Guitar, Vocals

Yes. In the future there will be bionic arms – the obvious next step from steroids. (See Rick Moody's prescient novel The Four Fingers Of Death.) I mean, really, in this day of great advancements in medicine, why should pitchers' arms be less likely to be durable than they were a hundred years ago?

Dan Epstein's book, Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s, is now available in paperback.

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