Will there ever be another 300 game winner? Baseball Hall of Fames standards have changed


Will there ever be another 300 game winner? Baseball Hall of Fames standards have changed While 3,000 hits, 500 homers and 300 wins used to be virtual yardsticks for , the electorate of writers now realizes the game has changed, as have their voting patterns. Every 300 game winner not named Roger Clemens has a plaque in Cooperstown, but that 24 man club hasnt had a new member since Randy Johnson joined it in 2009. He could be the last. this year, his sixth on the ballot, with 270 wins, while the , an eight time All Star who won Cy Young Awards in both leagues, got in on his first ballot with 203. Its difficult to foresee somebody getting to 300 wins based upon how pitching has changed, says MLB Network analyst John Smoltz, a 2015 inductee who excelled at both starting and closing 213 wins and 154 saves . The way the game is played now, the length of pitchers careers will be shortened and the expectation of their role will be lessened. Were seeing more strikeouts and lower earned run averages but fewer wins. At some point, it might self correct and things will turn around. Theres an outside chance that someone with a unique style and mind could do it. Justin Verlander age 36 could be the guy who pitches beyond what he has to or needs to. Atlanta starter Dallas Keuchel, like Smoltz a Cy Young Award winner, also mentioned the Houston ace. Verlander is 214 127 in his career with a 3.37 ERA and already ranked 18th on the all time strikeout list with nearly 3,000. Joe DiMaggios hitting streak or Cal Ripkens streak of consecutive games wont be broken, he says, but we could see a 300 game winner – somebody whose team has a great offense for a long time. Like Verlander, my former teammate with the Astros. Hes been incredible his whole career for 14 years. He just got his 200th win last year. Thinking about how hard that is, its a pretty good number. And it makes Mussinas 270 look so much better. It takes a long, long time to get that many. Its as if Cooperstown has changed with the times. But is the bar for starting pitchers coming down? I dont know if standards are coming down, said Keuchel, one of a number of big name free agents who signed late this offseason. The Braves signed him in June. Times change and stats change but the quality of work is just as good, Keuchel says. The game has gotten progressively harder, with the strike zone shrinking and the hitters getting bigger, stronger and faster. You could argue that the ball is juiced too. Keuchel, 31, also says teams are coddling younger pitchers, restricting their pitch and innings limits. With younger pitchers in the league now, teams need to take care of them, to lessen their innings and loads, he says. All of that correlates to what the game has turned into now. HALL OF FAME:  When CC Sabathia started his career with Cleveland in 2001, things were different. Oh, yeah, it was all about wins, says Sabathia, now finishing up his 19 year career with the Yankees at 39. The idea was to pitch as many innings as you could pitch, keep your team in the game, and win it. I always prided myself on being the guy who goes out there and finishes the game. I just have a closer connection to the older generation. With the retirement of Bartolo Colon, Sabathia has more wins 251 to go along with a 3.71 ERA than any other active pitcher. Even though he wont come close to 300, he has 3,000 strikeouts, an achievement that might be enough to vault the Cooperstown hump. The value of wins in baseball is going down, says the lefty, who won the 2007 AL Cy Young Award. I think 300 was the number for many years. But theres a lower value being placed on wins these days. The 6 6, 300 pound left hander put in personal plugs for Andy Pettitte, a former Yankees teammate, and Jim Kaat, a longtime broadcaster for the ballclub. I definitely think Jim Kaat should be considered, says Sabathia of Kaat, who finished with 283 wins and 16 Gold Gloves but not enough Cooperstown votes. His strikeout total 2,416 ranks 42nd all time despite him ranking 25th in innings pitched, resulting in 4.9 strikeouts per nine innings. He also lost 237 games. Hes a Hall of Fame person more than a Hall of Fame player, Sabathia says. He was always great to me in my career, so I would love to see him get in. As for Andy Pettitte, he was one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time a record 19 wins in the playoffs and World Series to go along with a 3.81 ERA . We felt like he would always come through. To me, hes a 100 percent first ballot Hall of Famer. Pettitte, however, also carries a cloud of HGH use, which he admitted taking twice in 2002 to help an injury heal. Clemens, his friend and former teammate, is widely suspected of taking performance enhancing drugs, though he hasnt admitted doing so. Kaat, Clemens and Tommy John, who had even more wins 288 than Kaat despite losing a year after elbow surgery that now bears his name, remain the only men with more wins than Mussina not enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Kaat 3.45 ERA and John 3.34 also have better ERAs than Mussina 3.68 . Pitching has changed, Sabathia says. Theres a pitch count, usually 100 pitches. Then theres the way bullpens are put together and starters are used. You see a lot of openers relievers used as starters and things like that. Everybody is making adjustments and wins are going by the wayside. Author and sabermetrician Bill James agrees. In the 2019 edition of The Bill James Handbook, he says only three pitchers have even a 25 percent chance of reaching 300 wins: Max Scherzer 38 percent , Verlander 25 percent and Zack Greinke 13 percent . Its been 30 years since I started, Mussina says, and were looked at a little different ly today. They wanted us to get to 200 innings. Its not quite When I first came up, the Orioles pitching staff had five starters and five relievers. Now they carry 12 or 13 pitchers. It used to be that 300 wins was the automatic for Cooperstown, just like 3,000 hits. But we got out of the four man rotation and went to the five man. Now you have games where the starter doesnt go more than a couple of innings and thats the plan from the beginning. The voters today are looking at longevity, consistency and awards for pitchers. There were guys who got in before I did who didnt win 270 games but had a lot of hardware to back up their careers. I know I had a pretty decent career. I didnt win 300 games, a Cy Young or a World Series ring. But once I got on the Hall of Fame ballot and made it through the first year, I was paying attention. I started at 20 percent and worked it up from there. The first couple of years, I thought, Im not going back to playing just to change my numbers. They are what they are. And well see if people think theyre good enough. Always consistent, Mussina never suffered a serious injury or had surgery. He finished with a flourish, posting his only 20 win campaign in his final season. When I got to 250 wins, he says, somebody asked me if I thought that was enough to be considered. I said my best pitching is behind me so hopefully I put myself in the conversation. A Pennsylvania native who rooted for the Yankees because he watched them on television as a kid, Mussina helped himself immensely with his fielding. Quick off the mound, he won seven Gold Gloves. Playing other positions when youre growing up helps, he laughed. Fielding bunts and comebackers, getting off the mound to make a play, and not just standing there waiting for some infielder, I probably helped myself more than I can remember. Mussina never thought of himself as an obvious Hall of Famer. Some guys had to wait longer than I did, he says. Im just glad people kept revisiting the possibility and ultimately felt I deserved to get in. Halladay didnt have to wait at all. Hes an example of a guy who won Cy Youngs and did things in a shorter period of time, Mussina says. When you had to pitch against Halladay, you knew it was going to be tough to score runs. You had to be on your game or you wouldnt get yourself or your team a win. He was tough, he knew how to pitch and was always prepared. He knew what he was doing and was very good at it. Halladay, who died in a 2017 plane crash, won 66 percent of his decisions, fanned 200 hitters five times and had the most complete games in the majors 67 since his 1998 debut. He won Cy Youngs for both the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies even though both his home parks favored hitters. Though Mussina faced the same problem, nearly two thirds of his 270 wins came in hitter friendly ballparks: Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. He won at least 15 games and pitched 200 plus innings in nine seasons, winning 117 games more than he lost. Playing for the Yankees meant working ahead of the games best closer, fellow 2019 Cooperstown inductee Mariano Rivera. He saved a bunch of games for me over the years, Mussina says, and I appreciated that. Now a high school golf and basketball coach, Mussina helps out with his local baseball team, too. But the strong family man is not interested in coaching or broadcasting in the majors. Thats not my thing, he said. I went home because I was missing my kids growing up and it was about time to stop playing. Mussina credits Mike Flanagan as his best pitching coach and Joe Torre as his best manager. Mike was a really good listener, he said, and its important for a pitching coach to listen to what a player is trying to tell him. And Joe was really good dealing with the players, the media and all the stuff that goes on in New York. I spent seven years with Joe and we were in the playoffs every time. This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Related slideshow: Best of the British Open Provided by imagn

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