- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 20, 2006

For the past three seasons, Tom Glavine’s decision to sign with the New York Mets not only looked like a poor one but one that would keep him from winning 300 games, maybe even keep him out of the Hall of Fame.

This season, Glavine became the first pitcher to 10 wins, giving him 285 in his career. He won’t reach 300 this year, but it looks like a sure thing next year.

This raises a few points:

1. Glavine will be just the third 300-game winner to spend his entire career in a five-man rotation.

The others are Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux.

Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro, Gaylord Perry and Tom Seaver ended their careers as part of five-man rotations, but spent most of it in a four-man.

Of these pitchers, Sutton probably spent the most time in a five-man rotation, because the Dodgers were the first team to change to a five-man.

By the way, that generation of pitchers, the ones who spent most of their careers in the 1970s, also includes Tommy John (288 wins), Bert Blyleven (287), Fergie Jenkins (284) and Jim Palmer (268).

2. Since pitchers’ workloads gradually changed in the late 1970s and early 1980s — from almost 40 starts a season to about 32 — maybe their defining milestone should too.

Maybe 250 wins is the new 300.

If that’s the case, then Glavine already is a Hall of Famer.

Glavine has won 20 games in a season five times, which is hard to do in this era. He has won 15-plus in four more seasons.

Using Bill James’ win shares statistic — a catch-all statistic used to evaluate a player’s season with one number — Glavine was among the top five starting pitchers in the league in seven seasons and just outside the top five in two more.

3. Glavine has been overshadowed.

He’s not a sexy pitcher. He doesn’t overpower hitters. He nibbles, works the corners. He’s sneaking up on 300 wins.

Clemens, Maddux, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson are all better pitchers. But that doesn’t mean Glavine isn’t a Hall of Famer.

Forget about the era. Glavine was overshadowed on his own team.

With the Atlanta Braves from 1987 to 2002, Glavine pitched in the same rotation with Maddux, John Smoltz — another probable Hall of Famer with 181 wins, 154 saves and postseason success — Steve Avery, Denny Neagle and Kevin Millwood.

The Braves’ rotation from 1993 to 1999 was probably the best of all time.

Glavine deserve some credit for that — and a plaque in Cooperstown.


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