Who takes the baton from Wakefield?

Tim Wakefield announced his retirement last week, joining Chuck Finley and George Uhle as pitchers who finished with exactly 200 wins, and Dennis Martinez & Milt Pappas as those who got there without ever winning more than 17 in a season. Wakefield also wound up 6 wins shy of the Red Sox franchise record, shared by a couple of no-names, Cy Young and Roger Clemens.

At the end of 2011, Wakefield was MLB’s active leader in nine pitching categories:

The first 5 of those crowns were already slated for recovery by comeback kid Jamie Moyer, as soon as the 49-year-old appears in a real game for Colorado. Moyer’s totals: 267 Wins, 204 Losses, 4,020.1 IP, 1,892 ER, 511 HRs (the all-time record) and 17,102 Batters Faced. He’ll also be the leader with 628 Games Started, 4,156 Hits and 5,600 Baserunners.

Until Moyer officially regains the status, the active leaders are:

Some leadership posts were already held by others; the starred ones are not threatened by Moyer:

If Moyer doesn’t make it to Opening Day, Halladay’s 188 wins will be the lowest active leading total since 1949, when Bob Feller began the year with 177 wins. No other season in modern history has begun with the active leader having fewer than 190 wins.

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38 Comments on "Who takes the baton from Wakefield?"

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Evil Squirrel
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And if Miguel Batista doesn’t make the Major League roster of the Mets, there will be no active Major League players this year who can say they played for a Pirates team that had a winning record….

vivaeljason
Guest

Does this include players who were traded mid-season whilst the Pirates had a winning record? I mean, it’s probably still just Batista, but I’d be curious if there were some deals done right before the ship sank in other years (i.e. someone who was traded before August 1st of 2011).

Dr. Doom
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Javier Vazquez is one of the most interesting players to talk about, especially comparing fWAR to rWAR. Baseball-Reference has him at 39.4. Fangraphs has him at 55.2 WAR. For example, in 1998 alone, B-R has him at -2.3 WAR; Fangraphs has him at .5 WAR. Now, it’s not like .5 WAR in over 30 starts is anything to write home about, but it sure beats saying that you’re not only sub-replacement level, but well below replacement level. He’s just one of those guys for whom one’s impression of him depends largely on one’s acceptance of DIPS. Interesting stuff.
Doug
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With Wakefield’s retirement and if Moyer does not return, 2012 will be the sixth straight season with a different active leader (Clemens, Maddux, Johnson, Moyer, Wakefield, Halladay) in career wins.

In 1965-69, there were different active leaders (Spahn, Roberts, Ford, Drysdale, Bunning) in 5 straight seasons.

vivaeljason
Guest
One would think that Halladay would stabilize the leader and hold it down for several years, but I’m curious as to how many more wins Doc has left in the tank. He’ll be 35 in May. His contract is up in 2013, and while I don’t see him getting a super-long deal due to his age, one would think that given his track record he could probably get three years somewhere. If that’s the case (and he tails off), then he’s got about five seasons left. Will he get to 250, or is that slightly out of reach? Or am… Read more »
Doug
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I give Sabathia the best shot. 8 seasons averaging 15 wins would get him to 296 after his age 38 season.

For Felix, 13 seasons averaging 16 wins gets him to 293 after his age 38 season (assuming his age is accurate). But, he’ll need to start pitching for better teams to do that.

Clayton Kershaw, with 15 seasons averaging 17 wins, gets to 302 wins after his age 38 season.

Ed
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I agree that Sabathia has the best shot. Though obviously weight is an ongoing concern it hasn’t affected him so far. And pitching for the Yankees will give him plenty of opportunities to win games.

What I find fascinating it that whenever we have a 300 game winner, the media immediately starts proclaiming “enjoy it now, cause this is the last time”. And then 5 years later, we have another one and they go through the same charade again, completely forgetting what they said last time. They’ve been doing this for at least 20-30 years.

Lawrence Azrin
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Ed – make it nearly 50 years, they were saying the same thing when Early Wynn won 300 in July 1963.

Interesting that Clemens and Maddux and Glavine AND Johnson all won 300+ entirely in the five-man rotation era, when that was supposed to make 300-game winners extinct…

Ed
Guest

Wynn predates me so I didn’t realize that.

It is interesting how the 300 game winnners tend to come in bunches. There was along gap after Lefty Grove followed by Spahn and Wynn reaching it within 2 years of each other. Another long gap and then we get Perry, Carlton, Seaver, Niekro, Sutton, and Ryan all close together. Another long gap and then we get Clemens, Maddux, Glavine, Johnson. We’re definitely due for another long gap though I’m not sure we’ll get multiple 300 game winners next time around.

Richard Chester
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Wynn does not pre-date me, I remember what a struggle it was for him to get number 300. He was released by the White Sox at the end of the 1962 season with 299 wins. That last win came on 9/8/62. He finally caught on with the Indians on 5/31/63. He managed to get win #300 on 7/13/63 with a 5-inning stint as a starting pitcher. It was the longest gap between a pitcher’s 299th and 300th wins.

Doug
Guest

Interesting the number of guys who finished a season at 300 Wins on the nose.

Plank (1916) if you don’t include his FL wins
Alexander (1924)
Grove (1941)
Wynn (1963)
Calton (1983)
Niekro (1985)

That’s more than a third of the 300 game winners since 1901.

Doug
Guest

Among pitchers who retired after their age 44 season, Wakefield ranks 5th in wins after age 40.

Young (75), Spahn (75), Clemens (61), Wells (54), Wakefield (49)

Jimbo
Guest

I pick Halladay to get to 300 wins, and no other active player to do it. I predict Sabathia’s weight problems will catch up to him. Halladay seems to have the discipline and mindset and doesn’t seem to get injured anymore. He’s also head and shoulders above the rest in terms of year to year consistency.

Dr. Doom
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The pic Andy just posted shows CC lookin’ pretty trim. I’m not saying he’s got the weight problem beat, but perhaps better under control. And, even with the weight issues last year, CC had the top fWAR in the AL – ahead of even Verlander!

ps – Andy, I’m writing this here so I’m not the first commenter on the latest post.

topper009
Guest

When Randy Johnson was Roy Halladay’s age (after age 34 season) he only had 143 career wins. Of Course the unit did win 4 straight CYs the next 4 seasons and skyrocketed up to 224 wins by the time he was 38.

Maybe Halladay’s 188 ism’t such a long shot.

kds
Guest

If you look at active leaders at the end of a season, Wakefield’s 200 Wins is the lowest since Tommy Bond had 195 in 1879! His innings pitched total is the lowest since Bobby Matthews finished the season with 3056, also in 1879!

Jimbo
Guest

I am also very sad to see Wakefield retire. It should be a rule taht MLB always has at least one mid-forties knuckler.

nightfly
Guest
Does he have to be any good? Because I can throw a knuckleball. I even actually use my knuckles, not my fingertips. Of course, I’m also only 39. I always like Charlie Hough’s attitude about it. When once asked why he became a knuckler, and he replied, “I could throw more fastballs, but I enjoy being in the major leagues.” Has anyone else noticed that pro knuckleballers tend to the image of being avuncular, self-deprecating, humble sorts of players? I’ve no idea if the reputation is deserved, but they all seem very down-to-earth. There’s something about the pitch itself that… Read more »
Tristram12
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Nightfly – good observation. My guess is that you have to have that kind of humble personality to admit to yourself you are not good enough, but you might be if you try this oddball pitch.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest
Generally, pitchers don’t turn to the knuckleball until after they have failed to succeed at the MLB level using more conventional pitches. I don’t recall any young pitcher having immediate success in the bigs using mostly a knuckleball (if I’m wrong, please correct me). In other words, they were desperate and turned to the knuckleball as a last resort to stay in MLB. Going through some “ups and downs” in their baseball career would make knucklebalers much more likely to have the kind of personality nightfly refers to (nice analysis…). I now see that #16/Tristam also made reference to this.… Read more »
Ed
Guest
Wakefield was actually quite successful as a 25 year old in the bigs. Thirteen starts, 8-1 record, 2.15 ERA, 161 ERA+, 2 complete game victories in the playoffs. He then “lost it” the following year and it took him a while to reestablish himself. Interestingly, Wakefield was not a failed pitcher. He was a failed first baseman who took up the knuckleball in the minors as a last gasp attempt to prolong his career. I guess you could say it worked. 🙂 Charlie Hough also had his first success in the majors as a knuckleballer at age 25.
Smithyy
Guest

Someone should sign me then. Ha-ha

Ed
Guest

BTW, here’s some random trivia for the day…former knuckleballer Tom Candiotti is a member of the Hall of Fame. The International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame. I kid you not.

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