Milestones are an important part of pro baseball. The sport has been around for more than 100 years, so statistics and records allow fans to remember the sport's history. There are certain benchmarks that only the greatest players in baseball reach. One pitcher is about to reach one of those marks.
Randy Johnson: For more than 20 years, Randy Johnson has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. Now, the San Francisco Giants' lefty is one step away from showing that he's one of the all-time greats. Johnson won his 299th career game on Tuesday night, as the Giants beat the Braves 6-3.
300: Johnson is now one win away from 300 wins for his career. Throughout baseball history, 300 wins means that a pitcher is a lock to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Only 23 pitchers in Major League history have won 300 games; all are in the Hall of Fame. Some of the members of the 300-win club are legends, like Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Warren Spahn, Greg Maddux, Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver. Tom Glavine of the Atlanta Braves is the only member of the 300 club who is currently playing.
Why is it so hard?: Reaching 300 wins is extremely difficult because pitchers have to be very good for a very long time. Good pitchers win about 15 games per year. That means that a pitcher has to win 15 games for 20 years! The very best pitchers win 20 games per year, meaning that a pitcher would have to win 20 games for 15 years in order to reach 300. A 300-game winner can't get injured very often, which is hard because pitching puts a lot of stress on a player's arm.
The Future of the 300-Win Club: Many baseball experts think that Johnson could be the last 300-game winner for a long time. The way baseball is played today, it is more difficult to win a lot of games than it used to be. Managers rely heavily on relief pitchers coming out of the bullpen. Starting pitchers are taken out of the game earlier, so they have fewer opportunities to collect wins. A player like Nolan Ryan, who pitched from 1966-1993, would sometimes throw over 150 pitches in a game and usually finished the games he started. Now, it's rare that a starter throws more than 120 pitches and usually comes out of the game in the fifth or sixth innings. All of these factors mean that starting pitchers don't collect as many wins as they used to.
The next time Randy Johnson wins a game, he will join a club full of Hall-of-Fame legends. It is truly a remarkable accomplishment, one that might not happen again for a very long time.
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