300, 500, 755

To Paraphrase Bill James, what is so compelling about certain stats and numbers is that they have acquired the power of language among baseball fans.

300, 500, 755.

300 seems all the more remarkable these days. It’s a dying number. How many more pitchers will reach 300?

500 shows how quantity affects quality. Remember when 500 meant more? But now so many sluggers are getting to that magic number, making 500 more like 400. Still, the man who will possibly reach the number tonight is only 32, a number remarkably low for such a feat.

755 suggests integrity and dignity, and their opposites.

By the end of the night, there’s a possibility all three numbers will have been reached.

6 comments… add one
  • I certainly hope 500 happens tonight – I’ve got tickets to the game!

    yankeemonkey July 31, 2007, 12:07 pm
  • I’m hoping for #300, but I hope the other two take a while.

    Max (sf) July 31, 2007, 12:17 pm
  • Interesting thought, Nick; I hadn’t really considered the convergence of those three stats. Alex reaching 499 (and hopefully 500 tonight) as quickly as he did is remarkable, but there’s a chance we will see that again. Some crusher from the mold of ARod/Eddie Matthews/Tony Conigliaro that gets enough PAs early in his career and remains durable will eventually come along. Regarding 755+, same story and there are too many what-ifs regarding home runs, and that’s completely discounting the PED side story, which I frankly don’t care about. The real head-turner if we want to look at arbitrary goals is Glavine. Consider the top 15 active player win totals:
    Name (age) wins
    Roger Clemens (44) 351
    Greg Maddux (41) 340
    Tom Glavine (41) 299
    Randy Johnson (43) 284
    Mike Mussina (38) 244
    David Wells (44) 235
    Jamie Moyer (44) 225
    Curt Schilling (40) 213
    Kenny Rogers (42) 210
    Pedro Martinez (35) 206
    John Smoltz (40) 203
    Andy Pettitte (35) 192
    Tim Wakefield (40) 163
    Aaron Sele (37) 148
    Bartolo Colon (34) 146
    Mark Buehrle (28) is the youngest player with more than 100 wins (105). Sabathia (26) is at 94 wins. Out of the list above, who makes 300? If you asked me last year, I would have said Randy will make it and Moose has an outside shot. Now, with Randy having back surgery and Moose apparently in decline, who else gets there? Maybe Wake will be fluttering knucklers in for another 20 years, but seriously, nobody else on that list has a shot. Sabathia averages 15 wins a year. If he pitches like that until he is *40*, he makes it by a nose.. Yes, 300 is an arbitrary number, but it’s the most interesting one in my mind, since it looks like the one number that may never again be reached.

    attackgerbil July 31, 2007, 1:58 pm
  • Back when Clemens looked like he was injured/in dcline, I remember people saying the exact same thing you did, AG. Now we have Glavine and Maddux, and Johnson shoulda gotten there and still may.

    Paul SF July 31, 2007, 2:16 pm
  • To infer, I hope that you are right, and that we do see it again, Paul.

    attackgerbil July 31, 2007, 2:20 pm
  • I meant to add this, but then I saw the Gagne trade news:
    Also, I notice three names not on that list who could be big players in the “300” discussion — Josh Beckett, Chien-Ming Wang and Johan Santana. The first two play for high-powered teams that win lots of games, allowing them, in turn, to win lots of games, even if they off days (or off seasons). Beckett and Santana, for example, have won more games than anyone else in the past three eyars, IIRC. Also, it’s difficult to project because, as James noted in this year’s handbook, those who win a lot of games early tend not to reach 300, while those who get started around age 30 have a better chance of pitching longer. That mightactually be bad news for the pitchers I listed and good news for Buehrle.
    I’m skeptical when people talk about unbreakable records because we don’t know when a player will come along that blows us all away. Outside of Cy Young’s 511 wins, of course, which are safe thanks to fundamental changes in the game. Ted Williams’ .406 avg. might also be safe for the same reason.

    Paul SF July 31, 2007, 2:25 pm

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