Only 103 pitchers in Major League history have won at least 200 games. Sitting atop 199 career wins, Curt Schilling will be next to join them. And that could come as soon as tonight, against the Devil Rays at Fenway.
The crop of current major league pitchers with 200 wins includes Greg Maddux (323), Tom Glavine (282), Randy Johnson (269), Mike Mussina (230), David Wells (227), Jamie Moyer (207) and Pedro Martinez (202). With 341 victories, Roger Clemens has not pitched this season and has yet to declare if he intends to return or retire. Interestingly, MLB has not removed Clemens' name from the active career leaders list.
The most recent member of the 200 win club is Martinez, who became the seventh current major league pitcher to accomplish the feat on April 17. The three-time Cy Young Award winner is 202-84, the fewest losses for any of the 103 pitchers with 200 wins.
Over the course of his 17-year career, playing for five different teams, Schilling has pitched with three of the pitchers in that elite, and still active, cadre -- Johnson, Martinez, and Wells.
When Schilling notches his next win, he will become just the fourth pitcher to earn his 200th career victory in a Red Sox uniform, joining Lefty Grove (Aug. 8, 1938, over Philadelphia), Ferguson Jenkins (July 27, 1976, against Cleveland), and Luis Tiant (Aug. 16, 1978, against California). But no pitcher has ever won 200 games playing for the Red Sox; Cy Young and Roger Clemens each won 192 playing for the club.
Most pitchers would be extremely fortunate to pitch 10 years in the Majors. The mean career length for pitchers is just 4.8 years. Obviously, a pitcher would have to win 20 games a year for ten years to reach the 200 plateau -- an incredible feat. The point is that as rare as it is for a pitcher to win 200 games, it's just as rare for most of them to ever pitch enough seasons to even begin approaching the milestone. In fact, only 31 pitchers have had careers of 20 years or longer, which explains why so few (22) have reached baseball immortality by earning 300 career victories.
But Schilling's effectiveness is not relegated to the past. The 22 hurlers in the "300 club" had an average age of 38.5 the last time each won 10 or more games in a single season. Schilling is going for win number eight tonight, and it's only late May. The big righty is 39.5 and still going strong, even after major reconstructive surgery just a year-and-half ago.
Because of the modern five-man rotation, an adherence to 100 pitch outings, and relief pitchers, 300 wins is a milestone that has become evermore difficult to reach. A cursory look at the active wins list, and you'll see that the Mets' Tom Glavine may well be the last pitcher to ever reach 300 victories.
Even 200 wins is hard to come by these days. Kenny Rogers (197) will get there, as will John Smoltz (181), and perhaps even Andy Pettite (175) -- but don't count on it. And after that, it's anybody's guess. So enjoy Schilling's accomplishment for what it is; an extraordinary feat in the modern era.
Copyright © 2006 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.