Could Andy Pettitte win 300?

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Just after the Giants secured Randy Johnson’s 300th career victory, Keith Law said: “Next up: Three days of articles on how Randy Johnson will be the last 300-game winner we ever see. My advice is that you ignore them.” Amen, Keith. Not only are there a few current pitchers who can get to 300 wins. As Mike later noted, CC Sabathia has 122 wins at age 28, which is just slightly behind the pace of Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens, and a bit ahead of Tom Glavine. However, the most important comparison is Randy Johnson himself, who had just 49 wins at age 28. Longevity, not a bevy of 20-win seasons, is the key to getting to 300.

This is true of most baseball records. Just look at Pete Rose and his record 4,256 hits. Through his age-34 season he had 2,547 hits, just 12 more than Derek Jeter at that point. Rose had to accumulate 1,709 hits from age 35 on to attain his record. Likewise, Randy Johnson had to pick up 157 wins, or more than half of his total, from age 35 on. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these players had to stick around for a long time to attain these lofty marks. Even as someone who won four straight Cy Young awards, Johnson had to last through age 45 to get 300 wins.

There certainly could be more 300 winners in baseball’s future. There won’t be as many, of course, given the way teams manage their pitchers’ workloads. But there will always be talented people who remain relatively healthy throughout their career and are able to pitch into their late 30s and early 40s. Those pitchers certainly have a shot to pick up 300 wins along the way, just like Johnson and Glavine did, despite not having stellar win totals in their late 20s.

Dave Pinto wonders if Andy Pettitte could be the next to 300. This might seem outlandish, and in a way it is. Pettitte is 80 wins away from 300 and is 37 years old. Even if he somehow picked up 15 wins this year (which would be possible if his back calms down), he’d still need 70 wins from age 38 on to attain that 300 mark. Combine that with the decision Pettitte has to make after every season, and it would seem foolish to even consider him for 300. Yet, consider the circumstances.

Starting pitching is hard to find. If Andy Pettitte is effective and wants to continue pitching, the Yanks would have to strongly consider keeping him around. Even if they decided to move on and go with the younger pitchers, Pettitte could certainly find a job elsewhere — perhaps while remaining in New York. He’d have to average 15 wins per year if he played through his age-42 season, though, which makes this seem unfeasible. Not impossible by any means. Just highly improbable.

Pinto admits this, though he does finish off with a strong point:

In the mid-1990s stories circulated about the end of the 300 game winner. Those stories turned out to be extremely wrong. There will be more 300 game winners, and I think some of them will surprise us.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is why I continue watching baseball every day from April through October. Anything can happen in any at bat, on any day, in any season, and over the course of any career. I’m sure we’ll see another 300 game winner, and as Pinto says, it might not be someone we expect.

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  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    My Twitter response to KLaw’s excellent tweet comment:

    http://twitter.com/tsjc68/status/2036439870

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      I think 5,000 strikeouts is pretty unbreakable.

      • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

        Consecutive games played.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    One more point: Andy is a lefty.

    Lefties pitch FOR-EV-ER. Jamie Moyer says hello.

    • Evan

      The guy has been flirting with retiring for the last 3 years. No way he pitches for another 5.

      • JP

        Word.

  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    I don’t think Pettitte will get it-I could see him retiring if the yankees win the World Series…it’s just too much time.

    My vote for the next 300 game winner goes to Halladay who seems like he pitches a complete game every time he goes out there…

    • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

      My vote for the next 300 game winner goes to HalladaySabathia who seems like he pitches a complete game every time he goes out there …and plays for a team that doesn’t suck, like that guy Halladay.

  • Slu

    Two things are certain:

    1. There will be more 300 game winners.

    2. At this point, it is next to impossible who the next 300 game winner is. There are many candidates, but they all need too many wins to be able to predict anything.

    • Slu

      ..next to impossible to predict..

  • Bryan

    Doubt he’ll make it there, but I think he’s got a fair shot at 250.

  • http://yankees.lhblogs.com Pete Abraham

    Considering he has nearly retired in each of the last two offseasons and he wants to see his sons play on a daily basis, I wouldn’t invest too heavily in the idea of Andy winning 300.

    • Evan

      Agreed. Pettitte pitches next year at the most, and only if the Yankees bring him back.

    • Rob in CT

      Of course not. It’s unlikely to happen. It is, however, not impossible.

      • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

        Of course you should never say never…but it does seem entirely unlikely.

    • KW

      The other thing is, he’ll need to be on good, winning teams to make this happen, ala Glavine or Moyer. Like the, he pitches to a lot of contact.

    • John

      Is that really PeteAbe?

      • Joe R

        Yes.

        • Brendan

          If it were really Pete Abraham his handle would be “Interested Reader”.

    • http://farm1.static.flickr.com/153/413671602_daded72a81_m.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      I don’t think anyone is saying that it’s likely. The point is that the media noise about Johnson being the last 300 game winner paints an inaccurate picture of the attainability of the 300-win mark. If a player as unlikely as Andy Pettitte (who has had a great career but has never been considered one of the best pitchers in the game) could, if he was determined to play into his mid-40s, reach the 300-win mark, then it’s a bit inaccurate to proclaim that the era in which a pitcher could get to 300 wins is over.

      • Peedlum

        every time there’s a 300 game winner since nolan ryan they say its the last one. they probably said it before then to but i don’t remember. there will be more. pettitte could do it, but he won’t stay around long enough to do it. if he went to the no-hit NL (imagine what he could do on the dodgers in the NL West) he could do it in at least a year less. his numbers in houston were much better than in NY. if he had played in the NL his whole career he would be a hall of fame candidate.

    • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

      Sure, but doesn’t that also proof that A-Rod was tipping pitches?

  • Doug

    He’d have to pitch at least another 4 years….it’s not happening

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    Yes.

    Wait–300 what?

  • Doug

    CC’s got an outside shot. 13 more Ws this season gives him a “round” 135. 165 more over 9 seasons (18+/season) gets him to 300 at age 38.

  • daneptizl

    King Felix will do it with the Yanks.

    • UWS

      My Mo, I hope not.

      King Felix can certainly get to 200+ with the Yanks.

    • RustyJohn

      He has to do it with the Yanks cause he ain’t going to do it with the M’s getting shut out by assey Liriano.

  • EvoLuTioN

    Andy won’t even win 10 games this year, forget about 300 :lol:

    • Bo

      he already has 5 on june 5 and hes supported by a great offense and a pen that should get better. plus hes a 2nd half pitcher.

      • EvoLuTioN

        last year he was pretty ATROCIOUS in the 2nd half :lol:

        • andrew

          …Pitching injured :)

  • Bo

    I’ll believe Andy retires when he actually does. Hard to turn down 8 mill a yr when hes going well and hes healthy.

    • UWS

      Keywords here are “well” and “healthy.” He most certainly hasn’t been going well so far this season, and he appears not to be particularly healthy, either (shoulder last year, back this year).

    • JP

      …I don’t think that’s his motivation. He’s very family/church oriented, and I’ll be shocked if he pitches next year.

  • thebusiness

    I think there is one thing you are overlooking.

    ANDY PETTITTE IS A STARTING PITCHA!

    • JP

      Correction. The correct phonetic spelling would be: “STAWWWWW-TING PITCHUH”

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    is Glavine tangentially related enough for me to ask if we’ll be picking him up for couch change just so he can pitch one more time?

    would love to see him pitch against Smoltz!!!

  • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

    Say by the grace of Mo Moyer and/or Pettitte gets to 300 wins. What do the HOF voters do then?

  • Drew

    With so many young pitchers out there, along with teams like us and the sox who plan on having a lot of winning seasons in the future. I don’t see why it’s fair to say no one will ever win 300.

  • Andrew

    5 more years of Pettitte in NY… no thanks. I respect what Andy has done for us and all, but at this point, he’s brutal.

    • Brendan

      Brutal?

      I think that’s a tad strong.

  • Thomas

    My personal favorite possibility for 300 wins is Jeremy Bonderman Through their age 24 seasons Clemens had 60 wins, Maddux had 60, Glavine had 33, Johnson had 3, and Bonderman had 56 wins (at the end of last season). 56 wins all while having only one season (not counting this year) with an ERA+ over 100, which was 112, and never having a WHIP below 1.299.

    If he ends this season with only 60 wins total (he is already at 59), he would only need to average 16 wins for the next 15 years to get to 300 wins by age 40. Now, I highly doubt this will happen, but it is just another way to show how wins are horrible statistic.

    • andrew

      If Jeremy Bonderman averages 16 wins per season for the next 15 years, chances are he’s not a bad pitcher. Wins aren’t a horrible statistic. There might be better statistics, but you can’t win 300 games if you aren’t good.

    • Drew

      haha. I l’edol at ONLY average 16 wins over the next FIFTEEN years. Wow.

  • Kel

    Andy Pettitte will probably retire, as he has already threatened to more than once. I don’t see him playing long enough.

    I am getting sick and tired of hearing every other talking head on Baseball Tonight say Johnson is the last 300 game winner we will see in 50 years. Coming on Kurkjian, you are smarter than that.

    RAB, you article was one the money and I couldn’t agree more. Players today, thanks to medical advances, can play well into there 40’s. Who’s to say Santana or Sabathia won’t stick around that long.

    As for Jamie Moyer, if he wins 300 he will become the first non-Hall of Famer in the group.

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  • Doug

    He’s absolutely right that it’s lots of seasons, rather a few big-number seasons, that lead to career records. Henry Aaron never even had a 50 home run season. He got 755 home runs by playing until he was 42, as well as never having an injury-shortened season. That gave him over 12,000 at-bats. Combine that with a .305 lifetime batting average, and you get nearly 4,000 hits. Some of those are bound to land in the seats.