Tuesday, July 31, 2007

No More 300 Game Winners? Phooey. Only MSM Sportswriters Are Going the Way of the Dodo

Tony Massarotti, as many an ignoramus before him, declares that after Glavine wins his 300th, "We are not likely to see his kind again." How does this old canard get past the editors anymore?

Massarotti, in an effort to prove his faulty hypothesis, describes the conditions he believes will work against any pitcher who would dare challenge 300 wins after Glavine supposedly closes the door on the milestone:

In this day and age, with five-man rotations and specialized bullpens, most major league starters make 32-33 starts a season;

Hey Tony!
Glavine pitched his entire career in a five man rotation. Not counting this season, he has averaged 31.75 starts a year. How are today's usage patterns any different than that Glavine was subjected to?

The best pitchers win roughly 45 percent of their starts and an inordinate number of games are decided by the bullpens in the late innings;

Hey Tony! Glavine has won 45.5 percent of his starts and only completed 8.5% of them. If anything, Glavine's career began at almost exactly with the same time La Russa-inspired bullpen specialization did. How does that make him any different than today's pitchers?

Starters get more money to do less, and the sizable salaries inspire shorter careers;

Hey Tony! On salary alone, Glavine has made over $123 million in his career, and is a mortal lock to pitch enough innings to cause his player option to vest which will bring him at least $11.5 million more in 2008. Clemens and Maddux have made more than that, yet continue to pitch well into their third decade. If anything, doesn't there seem to be a positive relationship between high salary and a long career?

In short, Massarotti points to no institutional factor that makes it any less likely for any current or future pitcher to reach 300 than it was for Glavine, Maddux, or Clemens. All he has on his side is the fact that, after Glavine retires, there doesn't appear to be too many pitchers who are both close enough to 300 and young enough to make a serious run any time soon.

The problem with Massarotti using this as the basis for his proclamation is that such a thing could often be said throughout baseball history about any number of milestones. For example, in 1948 the active wins leader was 40 year-old Bobo Newsom who was 95 short. In 1968 the active wins leader was Don Drysdale -- 96 short of 300 at the time -- and he would retire the next year. In 1936, 1942, and 1957-59 there wasn't anyone within a thousand strikeouts of 3000.

Moving to hitters, Massarotti -- who writes for a Boston paper -- surely remembers that an aging Dewey Evans was the active home run king in 1990 with 379. In 1952 there was only one player within a thousand of 3000 hits. Don't even get me started on the active stolen base leaders.

I'll admit that I don't see any shoe-ins to win 300 game on any major league rosters right now, but that's just because the game's strongest young pitchers -- Santana, Zambrano, Sabathia, etc. -- are so far away. All it will take for any of them or any other pitcher who has yet make the big leagues to win 300 will be to (a) pitch well; (b) pitch for strong teams; and (c) remain healthy.

These three things will coincide again, even if it takes a decade or two for it to come to pass.


Diesel said...

Other factors that are going to prevent another 300-game winner:

- There's a pool in a baseball stadium!
- Beer: $10 in most parks these days.
- Tom Glavine doesn't throw a breaking ball.
- Windows Vista caused Massarotti's computer to crash.
- Kids have no respect these days.
- Michael Vick may have killed dogs, which is wrong.

I fail to see how anyone can argue with the logic, here. It's science, Shyster.

Shyster said...

Careful Diesel, or else some sportswriter is going to sue you for using all of their material without paying a royalty.