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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Joe Posnanski Blog: The 300 Workout Plan

In 1962 Wynn Hawkins won one game for Cleveland.
In 1963 Early Wynn won one game for Cleveland.
In 1964 Keenan Wynn won nothing for Col. ‘Bat’ Guano.

So, how do you get to 300? Well, this will sound blindingly obvious, I know, but in order to win 300 games in the big leagues, you pretty much have to win a lot of games as an old man. Blindingly obvious, yes, but this might gets at the question Bill James and I began to talk about in our co-column: Why is it that every time someone wins 300 games (as Randy Johnson should do in the next couple of weeks) people assume that he will be the last one ever to do it?

The reason, I think, is that you can’t project 300 because you have absolutely no idea who is going to win a lot of games from ages 35-44 — and having looked hard at the 12 pitchers who have won 300 (I’m already counting Randy Johnson), winning in those later years is the key to winning 300.

That is, nobody since World War II has clinched 300 victories with dominating performances in their 20s. One way to look at it is to take a look at the winningest pitchers, by age, since the war:

Most wins to 25: Dwight Gooden with 119 (career wins 194), Denny McLain with 114 (career wins 131) — none of Top 17 won 300.

Most wins to 27: Gooden with 142, Don Drysdale with 141 (career wins 209) — none of Top 10 won 300.

Most wins to 29: Catfish Hunter with 184 (career wins 224), Robin Roberts with 179 (career wins 286) — none in Top 6 won 300.

Most wins to 31: Catfish Hunter with 210, Robin Roberts with 206 — none in Top 5 won 300.

Repoz Posted: May 21, 2009 at 10:17 PM | 33 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, history

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   1. Alberto Gilardino Posted: May 21, 2009 at 10:37 PM (#3188327)
The next pitcher (after Randy) to win 300 games - Tim Wakefield... about 10 more years of 12 win seasons and he will be there.
   2. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: May 22, 2009 at 12:29 AM (#3188439)
Why is it that every time someone wins 300 games (as Randy Johnson should do in the next couple of weeks) people assume that he will be the last one ever to do it?

Because individual pitchers are involved in fewer and fewer decisions. There simply aren't any pitchers out there any more that get the kind of work load that Randy Johnson has in his career, for lots of reasons.

Randy Johnson has started 594 games (and has 10 relief appearances). He has averaged a bit under 7 innings per start. He has 100 career complete games, the most by far of any active pitcher (the #2 guy, Tom Glavine, has 56).

Even the workhorses among the younger pitchers (say, Roy Halladay) aren't getting that sort of work, or being asked to pitch that deep into close ballgames.
   3. AROM Posted: May 22, 2009 at 12:42 AM (#3188451)
Halladay won his 300th game in 2020 after joining the Angels. I've already played it out on Playstation.
   4. John DiFool2 Posted: May 22, 2009 at 12:43 AM (#3188452)
The percentage of starts with a decision, for elite pitchers, has not fallen as steeply as their innings would let you think-but they have fallen. '04-'08, Santana has a decision in 75% of his starts, Unit '99-'04 is at 79%. Seaver by point of comparison was at 84% in '69-'74, Maddux '92-'98 was 79.6%.
   5. Rafael Bellylard: The Grinch of Orlando. Posted: May 22, 2009 at 01:01 AM (#3188457)
I've been on the 300 Workout Plan for about a month, and it's working. I'm almost down to 300.
   6. AROM Posted: May 22, 2009 at 01:29 AM (#3188487)
Interesting with the lists. I'd have to check play index, but my guess is the leaders at comparable ages for homers and hits will show more players who eventually got to 500 or 3000.

For the age 31 list, here are the ranks of the pitchers who did wind up at 300:

6. Maddux
7. Seaver
10. Sutton
12. Clemens
15. Carlton
24. Glavine
27. Ryan
83. Spahn
91. Perry

Niekro must be way down the list.
   7. Roy Hobbs of WIFFLE Ball Posted: May 22, 2009 at 01:36 AM (#3188496)
Why is it that every time someone wins 300 games (as Randy Johnson should do in the next couple of weeks) people assume that he will be the last one ever to do it?

Because individual pitchers are involved in fewer and fewer decisions.


Randy Johnson has 14 seasons of 30+ starts, averaging 25.9 decisions per year. Roger Clemens had 16 seasons at 25.3 decisions per, and Maddux averaged 27 decisions in his 19 30+ start seasons.

Some of today's guys to watch:

Mark Buehrle, with eight seasons of 30+, averaging 25.5. Johan Santana, five seasons at 25 per. Roy Oswalt, six seasons at 26.8.

JoePo is right; it's longevity that tells the tale. We do, after all, live in a world where Jamie Moyer has 249 wins.
   8. AROM Posted: May 22, 2009 at 01:37 AM (#3188497)
Tried another approach, strikeout leaders through age 31:

Ryan
Drysdale
Pedro
McDowell
Koufax
Blyleven
Seaver
Clemens
Lolich
Carlton
Sutton

5 300 game winners out of the top 11. Except for McDowell they all had at least 150 wins through that age too.

Best bet to pick your 300 game winners is look who has a strong start in wins, and project longevity from their strikeout ability. This would speak well for Santana.
   9. Greg Pope Posted: May 22, 2009 at 01:46 AM (#3188506)
Why is it that every time someone wins 300 games (as Randy Johnson should do in the next couple of weeks) people assume that he will be the last one ever to do it?


Is this even true? I mean, I know that people were assuming it back when Ryan won his 300th, and a decent number when Clemens was approaching, but did we see these articles when Glavine was approaching 300? If there are such people, I'd bet they're in the minority. It seems pretty obvious now that in the 5-man rotation we can still have 300-game winners, so I don't recall a lot of people saying that it's the last.
   10. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 22, 2009 at 01:57 AM (#3188514)
Comment: See, Buehrle is exactly the kind of guy who might sneak up on everybody in five or six years. He’s off to a great start in 2009 too … Buehrle does seem like the kind of guy who might just win and win, and then have a late 30’s resurgence and suddenly, voila, a potential 300-game winner.


If I had to pick one starter among the sub-200 crowd most likely to make it, Buehrle would be the guy. He's durable and I could see easily see him pitching effectively into his 40s, like Wells and Moyer, but with the added advantage of 122 wins before turning 30. On the other hand, I do think his oft-stated desire to retire early for family considerations is not quite the BS line as it is when others spout it.
   11. RJ in TO Posted: May 22, 2009 at 02:05 AM (#3188518)
If I had to pick one starter among the sub-200 crowd most likely to make it, Buehrle would be the guy. He's durable and I could see easily see him pitching effectively into his 40s, like Wells and Moyer, but with the added advantage of 122 wins before turning 30. On the other hand, I do think his oft-stated desire to retire early for family considerations is not quite the BS line as it is when others spout it.


I'd pick either him or Halladay - Buehrle's profile just screams crafty lefty, and we all know those guys get about 50 chances to stick around. Halladay, on the other hand, just has that high level of pitch efficiency, so that he can go deep in so many games (in theory, meaning that he's around for a higher percentage of decisions). Also in his favour is that he seems like the sort of hyper-competitive person who wont retire until he can't find anyone to sign him, and that (assuming the Jays aren't able to extend him) some big market, big offense team is likely to sign him to a long, long deal after 2010.
   12. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 22, 2009 at 02:15 AM (#3188527)
For the age 31 list, here are the ranks of the pitchers who did wind up at 300:

6. Maddux
7. Seaver
10. Sutton
12. Clemens
15. Carlton
24. Glavine
27. Ryan
83. Spahn
91. Perry

Niekro must be way down the list.


Niekro's tied for 417th, with Bob Shirley, and Frank Castillo.
   13. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 22, 2009 at 02:21 AM (#3188532)
If I had to pick one starter among the sub-200 crowd most likely to make it, Buehrle would be the guy.


Sabathia is 16 months younger than Buehrle, has seven fewer wins, gets a lot more K's than Buehrle, and is just as durable. His only drawback would seem to be that he's fat.
   14. Shock Posted: May 22, 2009 at 02:42 AM (#3188546)
I can't believe nobody here has mentioned Sabathia. Only 7 back of Buehrle and 2 years younger.

edit: Damn it!
   15. Barnaby Jones Posted: May 22, 2009 at 02:51 AM (#3188550)
but did we see these articles when Glavine was approaching 300?


Yes. And Maddux before him.
   16. Shock Posted: May 22, 2009 at 02:57 AM (#3188552)
   17. Delorians Posted: May 22, 2009 at 03:18 AM (#3188569)
I'd say there's a good chance that Johnson is the last guy to get 100 career completer games.
   18. RJ in TO Posted: May 22, 2009 at 03:26 AM (#3188576)
Considering that Halladay is the closest guy to 100 who has an at all realistic chance of getting there, and he only has 41, you're probably right. After him, the next guy who might be a viable option is Sabathia, and he's only at 28.
   19. JRVJ (formerly Delta Socrates) Posted: May 22, 2009 at 03:29 AM (#3188577)
Pretty easy to see there — the 300-game winners averaged more victories from 35-39 than they did in their supposed prime of 25-29.


I'm not sure (and I'm too darn tired to check it out) if Pos meant year 35 to year 39 seasons versus year 25 to year 29 seasons, versus actual chronological age.

In any case, I'm surprised that Mike Mussina didn't get mentioned in this thread. Yes, Mussina only got 90% of the way to 300, but he had a pretty good chance to get to 300 if he had decided that he wanted to play baseball for 3 more seasons (perhaps, if he pitched like he did in 2008, just 2 seasons).

And Mussina kind of screws up Pos's quoted statement above, since he won 86 games during his year 25 to year 29 seasons, and only 71 from 35 to 39 (the aforementioned win difference is sufficiently great that I think that Mussina would still be an outlier if Pos meant chronological age).

Damn you for retiring early, Moose!!! (though having earned $144MM in his career, I doubt Mike cares what I think).
   20. 2ndedition Posted: May 22, 2009 at 03:40 AM (#3188591)
I remember TSN proclaiming quite definately that Early Wynn was the last of the 300 game winners.
   21. Baldrick Posted: May 22, 2009 at 03:59 AM (#3188609)
And Mussina kind of screws up Pos's quoted statement above, since he won 86 games during his year 25 to year 29 seasons, and only 71 from 35 to 39 (the aforementioned win difference is sufficiently great that I think that Mussina would still be an outlier if Pos meant chronological age).

But...Mussina didn't win 300. So he doesn't enter the equation. Also, it's an average not a hard-and-fast rule.

I have no idea what distinction you're trying to draw on the seasons vs. chronological age thing. Are you suggesting that anyone would calculate literally the number of wins from birthday to birthday? Because no one does that, do they?
   22. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 22, 2009 at 04:06 AM (#3188613)
I remember TSN proclaiming quite definately that Early Wynn was the last of the 300 game winners.


Supposedly, when Warren Spahn beat Early Wynn to 300 wins, Wynn said that he was glad because it meant that he (Wynn) would be the last 300-game winner ever.
   23. Good cripple hitter Posted: May 22, 2009 at 04:09 AM (#3188614)
And, just for fun:

Easy-going Burroughs a sure thing for Padres.


That thread's amazing, if only for this post:

"My pick for the AL ROY is Eric Hinske. It looks like he will bat 2nd in the Jays line-up, which will give him more AB's to help his HR, RBI's, RS. As well, he could steal up to 20 bases. The voters might look at him as a more complete player."

Spot on, except for the stolen bases, he only had 13.
   24. Chokeland Bill Posted: May 22, 2009 at 04:12 AM (#3188617)
Hudson has a chance if he comes back well from the injury. Big if, of course. Losing a season-plus really hurts though; his chances before the injury were about as good as anybody's.
   25. Mark S. is bored Posted: May 22, 2009 at 04:33 AM (#3188625)
From the Maddux thread:

I think Pedro will make it with room to spare. At 32, he's far younger than all the pitchers ahead of him on the active wins list. His health problems, while real, are greatly exaggerated; he's only had one season in which he missed more than a handful of starts.
   26. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 22, 2009 at 05:08 AM (#3188641)
From the Maddux thread:

Post 58. I would be beyond shocked if Willis came anywhere near 300.

1. Prior
2. Zambrano
3. Hudson
4. Mulder
5. Oswalt

Post 59. ...

5. Oswalt

He'd need to get a hell of a lot healthier to stick until 300 Ws.


A list with Prior and Mulder on it, and OSWALT! needs to get healthier!? Man that was a long time ago.
   27. JRVJ (formerly Delta Socrates) Posted: May 22, 2009 at 12:09 PM (#3188651)
But...Mussina didn't win 300. So he doesn't enter the equation. Also, it's an average not a hard-and-fast rule.

I have no idea what distinction you're trying to draw on the seasons vs. chronological age thing. Are you suggesting that anyone would calculate literally the number of wins from birthday to birthday? Because no one does that, do they?


I pointed out that Mussina hadn't reached 300, but realistically, he didn't because he chose not to keep on pitching. I mentioned Mussina because he would have been an interesting counterpoint to Pos' theory (and Pos is well-known for his digressions. You think a digression about Mussina would have been out of place?).

As to age, I assumed that Pos was using seasons (for the very reasons you state), but he doesn't say it, so I made the proviso that even if he was using B-Day to B-Day, Mussina would have been an outlier to his theory.
   28. Swoboda is freedom Posted: May 22, 2009 at 12:12 PM (#3188652)
Did any of the 300 game winners ever lose a season? (except maybe to strike)
   29. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: May 22, 2009 at 12:34 PM (#3188660)
Did any of the 300 game winners ever lose a season? (except maybe to strike)
At a quick glance, Wynn lost 1945, presumably to WWII. Spahn has a several year gap from his first cup of coffee but I don't know how much of that time prior to 1946 would have been major league time for him.
   30. Repoz Posted: May 22, 2009 at 12:35 PM (#3188661)
Did any of the 300 game winners ever lose a season?

Spahn - 3 war years.
   31. The District Attorney Posted: May 22, 2009 at 12:35 PM (#3188662)
I've been on the 300 Workout Plan for about a month
This is madness!
   32. Kid Charlemagne Posted: May 22, 2009 at 12:46 PM (#3188670)
This is SPARTA!

Seriously, am I the only one stunned that Jon Garland is only 29? I've had him on my APBA team for five years, and I just kind of assumed he was 4-5 years older. I'd forgotten just how early he came up.
   33. villageidiom Posted: May 22, 2009 at 12:58 PM (#3188676)
This thread is also funny. Oh woe is the Red Sox in 2004.
I come off looking pretty good in retrospect, for once.

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