I read this article title and kind of shook my head. 756 home runs will make Barry Bonds the face of professional sports in America, whether we like it or not. At this moment picking Barry over Glavine and A-Rod is a no-brainer. However, with the advent of pitching specialists, the role of a starting pitcher has evolved in a way that is not statistically advantageous. The changes have been subtle over the last few years, but if you look back to the glory era of the starting pitcher, these differences are startling...
Steve Carlton once went 27-10 with a last place team. How? 27-10...that's 37 starts right there, and that doesn't take no decisions into consideration. The Phillies ace closer during the Carlton era was Tug McGraw. If Tug got 25 saves, that was a phenomenal year. Complete games were more of the norm than the exception, and Carlton usually hung around until he got a decision, and a 1.9 ERA will get you a lot of wins.
The 1972 Baltimore Orioles had three twenty game winners. All 30 MLB teams aren't likely to produce that many this year. Another anomaly of the day was Wibur Wood. The White Sox knuckleballer once lost both games of a doubleheader and actually had seasons with 20 wins AND 20 losses. Most notable among these was a 24-20 season. That's 44 decisions, which actually account for more than 25% of the Sox decisions that season! Does anyone remember the four man rotation?
There have been three 300 game winners in the last 2-3 years, but many baseball experts have speculated that Glavine could be the last of the breed. I'm not sure that I buy this completely, but consider this: if Randy Johnson doesn't make it back from surgery and Mike Mussina doesn't have four more VERY productive years, who's next? I would bet against either Johnson or Mussina reaching the magic number, but as even 200 game winners become scarce, these two and John Smoltz all seem to be destined for the Hall of Fame. That's another feather in Glavine's cap.
If another 300 game winner is unlikely in the future, you can also bet that Nolan Ryan's strikeout record will be even more unreachable. Pitching milestones may become a once in a generation thing-except of course for the overvalued save! When A-Rod breaks Bonds' record and Ryan Howard-possibly-tops them both, the career marks of the great pitchers will seem that much more impressive. For now Bonds is the king. Ask the same question in 20 years Glavine may be the answer.