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03/27/2007 Archived Entry: "2007 Milestones Preview, Part III: Pitchers"
By Michael Toeset
First-ballot Hall of Famers Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux already are in the top 10 in wins all time, and this season they look to solidify their places in history. Clemens, No. 8 with 348 wins, needs 14 to move past Kid Nichols into seventh place. Assuming Rocket pitches only a partial season again, those 14 probably aren’t going to come this year, but you can’t discount Clemens, who at age 43 still is one of the most sensational pitchers in the game. Maddux is No. 10 with 333 wins, and he needs 10 to move past Tim Keefe. Maddux, 40, conceivably could catch Clemens on the list, but he’s not nearly as effective as Rocket at this stage, although he remains one of the most trust-worthy pitchers in the game.
Other pitchers shooting for higher spots on the top-50 list are Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina. Glavine ended 2006 with 290 wins and stands to become the 23rd pitcher ever to reach 300 wins. The crafty lefty won 15 last season, so it should be attainable this year. In front of Glavine on the list – but not a 300-game winner – is Bobby Mathews. Glavine needs eight wins to pass him. Johnson, who’s becoming more of a crafty lefty these days himself, is 31st on the list with 280 wins. If he can win another 17 (highly doubtful, given his health), he would jump eight spots on the list; just nine would get him to No. 25. Mussina looks to join his fellow veteran pitchers in the top 50. He currently is in 54th place with 239 wins. Ten wins would move him up to No. 45.
Trevor Hoffman, already the all-time leader in saves, is gunning to put his record out of reach. Hoffman passed Lee Smith last season and at the moment has 482 saves (Smith had 478). Hoffman doesn’t strike out as many batters nowadays, but he still knows how to get the outs, as evidenced by his 46 saves last season. Mariano Rivera, two years younger than Hoffman, is No. 4 with 413 saves. He should pass John Franco (424) this year, and if Hoffman falters, Rivera could end up No. 1. Billy Wagner, No. 11 with 324 saves, should pass former closers Troy Percival and Roberto Hernandez early on, and another year like 2006 (40 saves) would move to him to No. 7 on the list. The more dubious candidates to move up the list include Percival, Hernandez, Armando Benitez, Todd Jones, Jason Isringhausen and Bob Wickman (all of them being in the top 30 already).
Along with wins come many innings pitched, and Clemens, Maddux, Glavine and Johnson look to move further up the top-50 list, of which they all are members. Johnson is No. 50 with 3,798.7 innings. Even if he only pitched 100 innings, he’d move to No. 44. Glavine, No. 37 with 4,149.7 innings, would move to 31st place with another 198 innings. Maddux is in 21st place with 4,616.3. He tossed 210 innings last year, and another season of the same would move him to No. 16 (assuming Clemens adds to his total). Clemens presently is 15th with 4,817.7. He needs more than 113 innings to move up, so it probably won’t happen. And just to put some perspective on all this, the all-time innings leader is Cy Young, who logged an ungodly 7,354.7 innings.
The same names – and a couple new ones – here. Clemens is No. 2 all time with 4,604 Ks. He struck out 102 last year – nearly a batter an inning – and at this point is just hoping to ward off the Big Unit; No. 1 is Nolan Ryan with 5,714 strikeouts. Johnson is No. 3 with 4,544 Ks. He struck out 172 batters in 205 innings last year, and he just might catch Clemens this season. Maddux, never an overpowering strikeout pitcher, nevertheless stands at No. 12 with 3,169. He only stuck out 117 batters last season, but more of the same would boost him past Fergie Jenkins into 11th place. Curt Schilling is at No. 14 with 3,015 Ks, and he should pass Bob Gibson (3,117) this year. Pedro Martinez is No. 15 with 2,998, but he likely won’t move up the list at all. John Smoltz is 19th with 2,778. He stuck out 211 last year in 232 innings, and a similar season will put him squarely behind Pedro. Mussina is 25th with 2,572, and Glavine is 30th with 2,481. Both should easily move up a couple spots.
In this odd category, several active pitchers have a chance to move up the all-time list, but Johnson possibly could become the all-time leader here. With 178 hit batsmen, he ranks fourth, behind Joe McGinnity (182), Eddie Plank (196) and Walter Johnson (203). Randy hit 10 batters last season and has averaged about 12 a year since 2001, so he has a good shot at setting the record. An interesting stat for the enterprising fan to look up: how many times has Johnson plunked Craig Biggio (soon to be the all-time hit-by-pitch batter)? They’ve only played in the same league six years, but you’d think that when these two get together, wild things happen.