In Major League Baseball, the 300 win club is an informal term applied to the group of pitchers who have won 300 or more games in their careers. There are currently 22 pitchers to have accomplished this feat.
The club's "founding member" was Pud Galvin in 1888. Six pitchers entered the club in the 19th century, with a seventh (Cy Young) joining in 1901. Early in the history of professional baseball, starting rotations of two men were commonplace, giving the best pitchers far more chances to earn wins than in today's game. Conversely, the rigor required for a two-man rotation meant that most pitching careers didn't last more than a decade or so (Cy Young being the major exception). In addition, the medical treatments then available were minimal; if a pitcher 'blew out his arm' then his career was over. Four more pitchers would join the club in the first quarter of the 20th century.
However, only three pitchers scored their 300th win between 1924 and 1982; for two of them (Early Wynn and Lefty Grove), it was the final win of their career and they both struggled in their last season to achieve it. This dearth of 300-game winners may be explained by the offensive explosion due to the abolition of the spitball in 1921, later changes in the baseball, and the advent of the home run as a major part of the game, thanks mainly to Babe Ruth. Once the home run became commonplace, physical and mental demands on pitchers dramatically increased, leading to the creation of the four-man starting rotation.
Between 1982 and 1990, the 300-win club gained six more members. This may be partly explained as a consequence of the era of free agency that began in the mid-1970s. Free agency led to unheard-of player salaries, which encouraged many older pitchers to stay in the game longer than they might have in the past. Another part of the explanation is increasing sophistication of training methods and sports medicine, which allowed players to maintain a high competitive level for a longer time. A very good example of this is Phil Niekro, who was still under 200 wins at his 40th birthday, yet finished his career in his late 40s with 318 wins. Many of the pitchers who joined in this era, such as Nolan Ryan, Don Sutton, and Phil Niekro, only had a couple of 20+ win seasons and mainly achieved the feat by pitching well into their 40s (however, all 3 pitchers are in the Baseball Hall of Fame).
Recent Decline in New MembershipEdit
However, other changes in the game in the last part of the 20th century have made the 300-game winner an endangered species again, perhaps more so than it was during the mid-20th century. The four-man starting rotation has given way to a five-man rotation, which gives starting pitchers still fewer chances to pick up wins. The physical and mental demands on starting pitchers have also increased yet again, thanks to the explosion in offense that has taken place since the 1990s. As a result, managers are much quicker to put in relief pitchers than in the past, even when the starting pitcher is winning the game, increasing the likelihood that a pitcher loses a chance at a win in ways that are beyond his control. To put it in perspective, the 2006 season was the first time in a non-strike-shortened season that neither league had a 20-game winner .
Potential New MembersEdit
As of June 2007, the two active pitchers who appear to have the best chance of finishing their career at or over 300 wins are Tom Glavine and Randy Johnson. Glavine currently has 299 wins and should achieve the mark before the end of the 2007 season. Johnson has 284 wins; he turned 43 near the end of the season, but could still reach 300 if he successfully pitches past his mid-40s as Phil Niekro and Nolan Ryan did. Johnson has not pitched effectively in 2006 and 2007, compared to his past standards due to reoccurring back injuries that have plagued him, requiring two surgeries to fix herniated disks. If he manages to stay healthy, he could achieve the mark at the end in the 2008 season. Another pitcher with a chance at the mark is Mike Mussina, at 37 years old, who has 245 wins. Pedro Martinez has 206 wins and was expected to have a chance at reaching 300, but injuries have greatly reduced his chances of doing so. Curt Schilling has surpassed 200 wins and turned 40 in November 2006, but recent injury problems will likely halt his career well shy of the total. The other active pitchers with over 200 career wins are David Wells, Jamie Moyer, Kenny Rogers, and John Smoltz. However, their ages (all are in their 40s) coupled with their relatively low win totals (as of July 17, 2007, Wells has 235, Moyer has 225, Rogers 210, and Smoltz 203) make it unlikely they will reach 300 wins. In fact, if the current philosophy of micro-management of pitch counts and frequent use of relief pitching continues or accelerates, it is likely that even achieving 200 career wins will become less common, perhaps occurring as often as 300-win careers did during the 1980s.
Future club possibilitiesEdit
Several young pitchers under the age of 30 could eventually join the club, such as Dontrelle Willis, who is the winningest pitcher at the age of 25. Roy Oswalt was the only NL pitcher to win 20 games in 2004, and posted back-to-back 20-win seasons in 2004-05, becoming only the third pitcher in the new millennium to do so. Cleveland Indians' ace C.C. Sabathia has 94 wins as of July 28, 2007, most among active pitchers under age 27. Other potential candidates include Cy Young Award winners Barry Zito, Roy Halladay, and Johan Santana. However, many believe that it may take decades if ever to produce another 300 game winner unless changes occur along the way that increase potential win totals (such as a de-emphasis on relief pitching).
|Pitcher||Wins||Date of 300th||Teams|
|Cy Young||511||July 3, 1901||Cle (NL), Bos (AL), StL (NL), Bos (NL), Cle (AL), Bos (NL)|
|Walter Johnson||417||May 14, 1920||Was (AL)|
|Grover Cleveland Alexander||373||September 20, 1924||Phi (NL), Chi (NL), StL (NL)|
|Christy Mathewson||373||June 28, 1912||NY (NL), Cin|
|Warren Spahn||363||August 11, 1961||Bos/Mil, NY (NL), SF|
|Pud Galvin||361||June 4, 1888||Buf, Pit (Amer. Assoc.), Pit (NL), Pit (Players League), StL (NL)|
|Kid Nichols||361||September 7, 1900||Bos, StL, Phi (NL)|
|Roger Clemens†||353||June 13, 2003||Bos, Tor, NY (AL), Hou (NL), NY (AL)|
|Greg Maddux†||342||August 7, 2004||Chi (NL), Atl, Chi (NL), LA (NL), SD|
|Tim Keefe||342||June 4, 1890||Troy, NY (Amer. Assoc.), NY (NL), Phi|
|Steve Carlton||329||September 23, 1983||StL (NL), Phi, SF, Chi (AL), Cle, Min|
|John Clarkson||328||September 21, 1892||Worc, Chi (NL), Bos (NL), Cle (NL)|
|Eddie Plank||326||September 11, 1915||Phi (AL), StL (Fed. League), StL (AL)|
|Nolan Ryan||324||July 31, 1990||NY (NL), Cal (AL), Hou (NL), Tex(AL)|
|Don Sutton||324||June 18, 1986||LA (NL), Hou, Mil, Oak (AL), Cal|
|Phil Niekro||318||October 6, 1985||Mil/Atl (NL), NY (AL), Cle, Tor|
|Gaylord Perry||314||May 6, 1982||SF, Cle, Tex, SD, NY (AL), Atl, Sea, KC|
|Tom Seaver||311||August 4, 1985||NY (NL), Cin, Chi (AL), Bos|
|Charles Radbourn||310||May 14, 1891||Prov, Bos (NL), Bos (Players League), Cin|
|Mickey Welch||307||August 11, 1890||Troy, NY (NL)|
|Tom Glavine†||301||August 5. 2007||Atlanta, NY (NL)|
|Early Wynn||300||July 13, 1963||Was, Cle, Chi (AL)|
|Lefty Grove||300||July 25, 1941||Phi (AL), Bos (AL)|
Closest Active PlayersEdit
|Randy Johnson||284||Mtl, Sea, Hou, Ari, NY (AL), Ari|
|Mike Mussina||247||Bal, NY (AL)|
|David Wells||235||Tor, Det, Cin, Bal, NY (AL), Tor, Chi (AL), SD, Bos, SD|
|Jamie Moyer||227||Chi (NL), Tex, StL, Bal, Bos, Sea, Phi|
|Curt Schilling||214||Bal, Hou, Phi (NL), Ari, Bos (AL)|
|Kenny Rogers||210||Tex, NY (AL), NY (NL), Oak, Min, Det|
|Pedro Martinez||206||LA (NL), Min, Bos, NY (NL)|
|Andy Pettitte||197||NY (AL), Hou|