The list is not long, but it includes names like Randy Johnson, Cy Young, Nolan Ryan, Warren Spahn and Roger Clemens along with 19 others to form the 300-win club. One current pitcher thought to have a chance to write his name on the list someday is Felix Hernandez.
Hernandez currently sits at 143 wins through 11 seasons in the big leagues which is an average of 13 wins a season. Pitching for a typically weak Seattle Mariners team has no doubt cost Hernandez plenty of wins to date. Note his win-loss record of 40-35 from 2010 to 2012 despite a 2.92 ERA. ‘King Felix’ will turn 30-years-old in April, so what are his chances at getting to 300 wins? That will depend on a couple of factors.
The first factor will be how long can his right arm hold up. Hernandez has thrown 2,262 innings so far in his career to reach his current win total. Another 11 seasons is pretty unrealistic even for a King to pitch. If Hernandez can hold up for another eight seasons he would need to average just under 20 wins per season. For comparison, Randy Johnson, the last 300 game winner, averaged just over 17 wins from 1994-2002, his age 30 to 38 seasons. Johnson pitched 22 seasons to get 303 wins. I have no doubt Hernandez can pitch eight or ten more years but averaging close to 20 wins a season will be a challenge.
A second factor that has really held him back over the years is the poor overall performance of the Seattle Mariners. The M’s haven’t made the playoffs since 2001, four years before Felix made his debut. When your team isn’t winning it’s hard to rack up wins as a pitcher. The M’s are set-up to be a contender for the next several seasons, which should give Felix plenty of opportunities to finally reach the 20-win mark. Since 2006 he has started at least 30 games every year, if he can repeat that feat for the next four or five years a couple of 20-win seasons is very possible.
The 300-win club might be in the back of Felix’ mind, but first and foremost is leading the M’s to multiple playoff appearances and trying to bring a World Championship to Seattle. If King Felix can continue on his current path, he may not join the 300-win club, but he will have a spot set aside for him in Cooperstown, New York at the Hall of Fame.