erik lundegaard

Tuesday May 20, 2008

Quick Quiz: Baseball

Name the five active pitchers with the most career wins.

I was checking out the numbers recently at Greg Maddux just got his 350th career victory, so there’s been a lot of talk lately about his place in history, and, indeed, if you look at the guys ahead of him, it’s rarefied company:

  1. Cy Young: 511
  2. Walter Johnson: 417
  3. Christy Mathewson: 373
  4. Grover Cleveland Alexander: 373
  5. Pud Gavin: 364
  6. Warren Spahn: 363
  7. Kid Nichols: 361
  8. Roger Clemens:
  9. Greg Maddux: 350

Once Maddux passes Clemens, the only pitchers ahead of him, chronologically, are two from the 19th century (Nichols and Galvin), a pitcher who straddled the centuries (Young), the three greatest pitchers from the early days of modern baseball (Johnson, Mathewson and Alexander), and one, from the middle of the century, who kept pitching and pitching and pitching (Spahn), and who, lest we forget, still retired over 40 years ago.

So I wondered “After Maddux, who?” and scrolled down.

I found the usual suspects: Tom Glavine at 304, Randy Johnson at 288, Mike Mussina at 256. Mussina, at 39, is having a good year. Could he make it to 300?

The next guy on the list is the name that blew me away: Jamie Moyer at 233.

Moyer pitched for the Seattle Mariners most of his career, and, back in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, I wrote the player profiles for The Grand Salami, an alternative fan publication in Seattle. Here’s something I wrote about Jamie in June 2001:

When Jamie Moyer wins his 10th game this season he'll pass Mark Langston for second on the all-time Mariner win list with 75. If there's one thing Jamie Moyer knows how to do, it's win games. Since he arrived in our evergreen state in the middle of the 1996 season he's gone 6-2, 17-5, 15-9, 14-8, and 13-10. Even this season, with his strikeout-walk ratio a not-so-hot 23-14, and his ERA an unhealthy 5.28, and the ball flying out of the yard at an alarming rate (11 dingers in 44+ innings pitched), he's still standing tall at 6-1. Which is fine, but we fear some of the other numbers might catch up to him. Has he healed completely from his shoulder injury last April? Is it age? He still worries us. As for becoming the winningest pitcher in Mariner history, well, that'll take some work yet: Randy Johnson holds the mark with 130.

Sure, I may have written that Moyer knows how to win games, but, you can tell, I didn’t think he had a chance at RJ’s mark. Yet, in 2005, when I was living in Minneapolis, he passed it. Halfway through the 2006 season he was traded to the Phillies. He’s still there. He's still winning games with his smarts and that tantalizing change-up.

But fifth on the active list? Here's what's so incredible. By the time Jamie turned 30, which is generally midpoint in a  pitcher's career, he’d notched only 34 career wins and was being groomed for a coaching job. Only he thought he still had something left.

Apparently he did: 200 more wins.

Posted at 07:54 AM on Tuesday May 20, 2008 in category Baseball  
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