Blog Entry

Can Justin Verlander get to 300 wins?

Posted on: November 15, 2011 3:16 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 7:35 pm

By Evan Brunell

Justin Verlander is coming off one of the most successful seasons of his career -- or really, of any pitcher's career. The right-hander unanimously won the AL Cy Young Award on Tuesday.

Verlander's credentials to win the award lie on his low ERA, his dazzling strikeout numbers and the ability to pitch deep into games. But he no problem showing up in the wins department for those who still value wins. His 24 victories are the most since Randy Johnson won 24 in 2002. Before that, you have to go all the way back to John Smoltz in 1996, who also won 24.

Award Season
Verlander's dazzling season handed him the AL Cy Young Award victor for the first time in his career.
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Johnson, of course, is a member of the 300-win club, winning his 300th as a member of the Giants two seasons ago. But through his age 28 season, Johnson had won just 49 games. Verlander? He's sitting pretty at 107. That seems to suggest Verlander has a very real chance at 300 victories, but there's a lot more to winning 300 games than just comparing Verlander and Johnson's win totals.

(Earlier this summer,'s Danny Knobler discussed the possibility of 300 wins with Verlander -- click here to read).

There are several reasons why Johnson won 300 games, and a large part of it is his dominance extending into his later years. The man won four straight Cy Young Awards from age 35-39, and he was a feared pitcher until the day he retired, also racking up 4,875 strikeouts. He pitched until he was 46 before finally hanging it up, more than offsetting his slow start to his career. But Johnson is the exception -- there aren't many pitchers out there who don't separate themselves as an elite pitcher until their late 20s or early 30s, then morph into one of the best pitchers in history throughout his 30s. Johnson is the exception, not the norm.

Verlander is the norm -- a dominant pitcher who debuted at a young age and has held that dominance through his prime years. A better comparison might be Nolan Ryan, who tucked 105 victories under his belt through his age 28 season. But Ryan was another pitcher who pitched late into his career, hanging up his spikes at the age of 46. It's impossible to predict if Verlander will be pitching 20 years from now, let alone 10, but like Ryan, Verlander boasts no-hitter stuff, with each pitcher tossing multiple no-hitters in their career.

Roger Clemens had 134 wins in his career by the age of 28, but he also pitched late into his career, ending his career at age 45. And of course, there's the possibility that Clemens helped himself along by using steroids once he joined the Blue Jays.

One thing's clear -- if Verlander hopes to reach 300 victories, he's going to have to stay elite well into his 40s. If you do a simple projection of doubling his wins along with his years of service, Verlander will be sitting at 214 wins come age 35. He'd need at least five more seasons to reach 300, putting him into his 40s.

But can one even predict 214 wins in the next seven seasons? Fortunately, the argument about whether a pitcher's wins are a value state is largely dead. Most people these days understand that a win is not an acceptable way to judge pitchers. Baseball clubs moved on from wins quite a while ago, and most of the media has come around in recent seasons. You can't judge a pitcher on wins because it is so heavily dependent on the team. How is their defense -- can it prevent balls from dropping in or unearned runs from scoring at a clip enough to harm the pitcher? Is the bullpen good enough to hold leads? Does the manager have a quick hook? Is the offense capable of supporting the pitcher?

The fact that Verlander has 107 wins at this point in his career is rare, no matter the pitcher, because of all the variables that go into winning a game. Verlander has lucked out in pitching for a contender his entire career, and within that, having his team rack up the victories for Verlander. That's not easy to do. For comparison, let's look at a list of players since the new millennium that reached 100 or more wins by the age of 28, just like Verlander:

CC Sabathia, Carlos Zambrano, Jon Garland, Mark Buehrle, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Pedro Martinez, Andy Pettitte.

Other than Sabathia, none of these players are thought to have any shot at winning 300. The latter two, of course, are now out of baseball and thus have zero chance. The 90's are kinder to Verlander's chances. Those pitchers who won at least 100 games by age 28 in the 90s are: Mike Mussina, Ramon Martinez, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Dwight Gooden, Bret Saberhagen and Clemens. Madduz and Glavine have won 300 along with Clemens. Glavine needed into their 40s to get win No. 300, while Maddux grabbed his at age 38... and he is a transcendent pitcher in baseball history. When you're talking about a starting pitcher with tons of miles on his arm pitching at an elite level into his 40s... it's simply too unpredictable to guess whether or not Verlander will get 300 -- or if he'll even still be playing.

If Verlander stays healthy, if he stays elite, if he lasts into his 40s and if he continues to pitch for a contender the majority of his career, the odds do seem good that Verlander will win 300. But that's a lot of ifs. Too many ifs, actually. Right now, let's bask in Verlander's historic season, the likes of which haven't been seen since the mid-1980s, and worry about Verlander's chances to win 300 in a decade.

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Since: Sep 5, 2011
Posted on: November 22, 2011 8:34 pm

Can Justin Verlander get to 300 wins?

I think JV is an outstanding pitcher and love watching him pitch i am a huge tigers fan BUT i dont think he will reach 300 wins with the Tigers. They pitch him way to many innings and are going to burn him out. They better pull back the reins a little and not have him pitch almost 300 innings every year, but at least he isnt all fastballs now and is learning how to use all his picthes instead of trying to strike every batter out. But you have to have a good team every year backing you up to win 300 games in this time and age and the every 5th day start hurts to. hope he does that would be a great mile stone for him but i think he would trade those 300 wins if he gets it for a world championship anyday. GO TIGERS!!!!!!

Since: Mar 27, 2008
Posted on: November 22, 2011 1:11 pm

Can Justin Verlander get to 300 wins? article about nothing.

Since: Feb 1, 2009
Posted on: November 21, 2011 10:40 pm

Can Justin Verlander get to 300 wins?

you better sit back and wait another ten years AT LEAST before comparing the two. Nolan Ryan would have won 400 games if had gotten some run support. Thats the fact!  Verlander is very impressive I must admit though, but so was Pedro Martinez.

Since: Jul 27, 2008
Posted on: November 21, 2011 3:18 pm

Can Justin Verlander get to 300 wins?

CC Sabathia has the best chance of any active player to reach 300 wins. If he can keep his weight in check and pitch into his late 30s/early 40s, he should get to 300. Helps that he will most likely be playing for the Yankees, which always gives him a chance to win, even if he doesn't have his best stuff.

Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: November 21, 2011 3:04 pm

Can Justin Verlander get to 300 wins?

Yes and if a frog had wings he wouldnt bump his azz on the ground.

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: November 20, 2011 4:51 pm

Can Justin Verlander get to 300 wins?

Even Nolan Ryan favorably compares Verlander to himself ... a great article in Baseball Stats by him in August told that story. And imho I agree. I think Verlander is more like Ryan than any other Hall of Famer. Incredible speed late in the games, drop off the table junk to go along with that power and the right mindset and self discipline to take care of himself to go the long haul.

Remember ... Justin Verlander was a child prodigy raised to accomplish this very thing.


Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: November 20, 2011 4:48 pm

Can Justin Verlander get to 300 wins?

Clayton Kershaw has the best chance to get to 300 wins. Consider Kershaw already has 47 wins and is only 23   LOL. HE HAS 47 WINS AND HE HAS THE BEST CHANCE?

Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: November 19, 2011 3:53 am

Can Justin Verlander get to 300 wins?

Clayton Kershaw has the best chance to get to 300 wins. Consider Kershaw already has 47 wins and is only 23. It's very possible he has as many wins at 26 as Justin Verlander has at 28. All Kershaw would have to do is average 20 wins over the next 3 years. Even if he doesn't get it by 26, it would almost be a given he'd get it by age 27. I'm not implying Kershaw would get 300 either but if anyone has a chance at 300 wins I think Kershaw would have the best chance.

Since: Nov 16, 2011
Posted on: November 16, 2011 12:54 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Jan 13, 2011
Posted on: November 16, 2011 10:07 am

Can Justin Verlander get to 300 wins?

So...basically what this article is saying is that, no, Justin Verlander will not reach 300 wins.
Ummmm ... no that's not what the article is saying. The following from the article:
If Verlander stays healthy, if he stays elite, if he lasts into his 40s and if he continues to pitch for a contender the majority of his career, the odds do seem good that Verlander will win 300.
I think those are all fair considerations and ones that are well within his reach.

He's 26 now and 107 wins
Actually he's 28 ... not to be all facty on you but those two years matter in the discussion.

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