Commentary

Glavine could be last to reach 300 for years

Originally Published: August 5, 2007
By Tim Kurkjian | ESPN The Magazine

If you want to start a good argument, try this: Tom Glavine is the ninth-best left-hander of all time, slightly ahead of Sandy Koufax. Here's the ammunition you'll need.

In beating the Cubs on Sunday night, Glavine became the 23rd pitcher to win 300 games, 135 more wins than Koufax. Glavine has the fifth-most wins among left-handers and the sixth-most wins in the National League since 1900. He made 10 All-Star teams, won two Cy Young awards and has five 20-win seasons, more than Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Barry Zito, Carlos Zambrano and Mike Mussina combined.

The common denominator of the greatest pitchers of all time is durability: Glavine has never been on the disabled list. He has made at least 25 starts in 19 consecutive seasons; only Greg Maddux, with 20, has a longer streak in baseball history.

Glavine also has 14 postseason victories; only Smoltz, with 15, has more. Glavine did all this without throwing 95 mph, but few pitchers have commanded a fastball and changeup better than he has.

Every 300-game winner who's eligible for the Hall of Fame is in. So 300 is the benchmark, but who will be next to get there?

Randy Johnson has 284 wins, but he's 43 and has a back injury. After Johnson, no one else with at least 200 wins seems likely to make it, and no young pitcher is off to such a sensational start that he's a threat to 300 even with mass statistical projection.

So, Glavine might be the last one for a while. And that's appropriate in every way.

Tim Kurkjian is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.