We — most of us, anyway — spend much of our lives chasing round numbers. We look forward to them: 20th wedding anniversary; 40th high school reunion, age 50. We look back at them: Look at what happened 10 years ago, 40 years ago, 100 years ago.
Athletes chase round numbers most of all — .300 average, 30 points in a game, 100 rushing yards, 40 home runs, 5,000 passing yards in a season.
And so, even though I do not particularly care about pitcher wins, I’m fascinated by the idea of 300-game winners. There are only 13 of them since Deadball. Some are all-time great pitchers like Mad Dog, Spahn, Unit and Lefty Grove. Some are fine pitchers who are most famous BECAUSE they won 300 games — Early Wynn and Don Sutton are good examples.
And every few years, people will predict: There will never be another 300-game winner.
We are in another one of those times where many predict that the 300-game winner is extinct. It is true that no one is even close to 300-wins now. The closest, technically, is Bartolo Colon with 233 victories, but he’s not really close. I would say the closest is probably Justin Verlander, but he’s still 127 victories away, which is exactly how many games he has won over the last eight seasons.
If he could repeat those eight seasons, he would win 300 at age 41. But, of course, he can’t repeat those eight seasons — they include his Cy Young/MVP year, and the three or four dominant seasons surrounding it. He would almost certainly have to pitch until age 43 or 44 to get to 300, if he even could do that.
And this leads to my thought on 300-game winners: Will anyone want it badly enough to actually do it?