Best Group of Old Pitchers Ever
May 18, 2007 Leave a comment
Last season, pitchers 40 and over won 107 games. That is the highest figure in the history of baseball, breaking the record of 89 set the season before. I’m using seasonal age, so if a pitcher was 40 or older before July 1st, all wins from that year count. The 2005 figure was 20 more wins than the previous year, 1985.
The 1985 season featured strong seasons from Don Sutton, Tom Seaver , and a pair of Knuckleballing brothers. For 2005, you had power pitchers Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens in addition to crafty lefthanders Jamie Moyer, David Wells, and Kenny Rogers.
In 2006, Wells was injured most of the time, but the other main contributors refused to retire, and kept winning games. They were joined by 3 pitchers just turning 40, Orlando Hernandez (well, at least according to the Lahman database) and future Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, who won 15 each.
We can all but guarantee that the 2007 group will smash the record once again. Of the double digit winners from 2006, not a single one retired. Kenny Rogers is out for the first half of the season, but David Wells is healthy so far, and Rogers + Wells might come close to the 20 wins they combined for last season. Maddux, Glavine, Johnson, Moyer, and Hernandez show few signs of slowing down, and Roger Clemens couldn’t stay retired when the Yankees offered him 28 million. As a group, these guys probably will fall short of the 107 wins they had last year, but reinforcements are on the way to set up another record breaking season.
The reinforcements are John Smoltz, Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield and Woody Williams. This isn’t a trend that will continue forever, the only top starter this year between ages 37-39 is Mike Mussina. Eventually the Braves 1990’s big 3, the big unit, and Schilling will retire. One of these days Roger will retire and actually stay retired. When that happens the 40 year old ace starter will once again become a rarity.