View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



November 2011



Has the 300-Game Winner Become Extinct?

Written by , Posted in Stat of the Week

It seems like every time a pitcher reaches the magical mark of 300 wins, many fans and baseball people wonder aloud: “Is this the last time we’ll see someone reach 300 wins?”  That was a popular sentiment after Greg Maddux reached the mark in 2004, then Tom Glavine (2007), and most recently Randy Johnson (2009).

At the end of the 2011 season the closest active pitcher to 300 wins was Tim Wakefield, Boston’s 45-year old knuckleballer.  Wakefield notched career win number 200 on September 13.  Of course, the seemingly immortal Jamie Moyer has 267 career wins and is attempting to come back from Tommy John surgery, but Moyer turns 49 in four days (November 18).  It seems unlikely that either of these two veterans will reach 300 wins. Is the 300-game winner an extinct breed?

Not at all.

Each year, in the Bill James Handbook¸ Bill lists the players he thinks are the most likely to reach 300 wins based on a formula he devised to measure a pitcher’s chances for this sacred milestone. The key to the formula is the pitcher’s momentum (wins in recent seasons) matched up with his win total thus far in his career.

Here are the top-five 300 win candidates heading into 2012:


2011 Age


Chance at
300 Wins

Roy Halladay




CC Sabathia




Justin Verlander




Cliff Lee




Dan Haren




Roy Halladay and CC Sabathia each have around a 50-50 shot at winning 300 games.  Justin Verlander only had a 10% chance at 300 wins entering the 2011 season, but after a 24-win season, his chances skyrocket to 31%.  The chance that one of these five gets 300 wins in his career is about 90%.

For the complete list of 300 win candidates, check out the Bill James Handbook 2012, in stores and available at now.

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®,

  • Buddy

    Clayton Kershaw already has 47 wins at age 23. He’s another one to watch, if he stays healthy of course.

  • I think of all the MLB records it’s 300 wins that impresses me most. Ichiros 10 x 200 hit seasons comes real close.

  • Doc Raker

    Two records impress me most and I can’t decide which one would be harder to break.
    1) Nolan Ryan’s 7 no hitters. Most pitchers won’t get 7 complete games in a career let alone 7 no hitters.
    2) Johnny Vander Meer’s 2 consecutive no hitters. Mark Buerhle came close but this is also a near impossible feat.
    I don’t see either one of these records ever being broken. Which one do you think will never be broken?

  • Norm

    It’s definitely going to get more rare with 5 man rotations and pitch counts. But not extinct. It’s impossible to predict injuries, so you never know. The pitcher has to remain effective to nearly 40 years of age…tough to do!

  • Buddy

    So you’re saying Rodrigo Lopez won’t win 300 games?


    If Moyer pitches 3 more years he will do it. I think Sabathia has a better chance than Halladay at 300 because he is 4 years younger and only has 12 less wins. Then again, he needs to lay off the cheeseburgers and cheesecakes after cutting out the Cap’n Crunch.

  • Shark’s only 288 shy of 300.

  • lizzie

    Shark’s only 288 shy of 300.