Sunday, May 04, 2008
One of the Major League Baseball records that no current player will ever even remotely approach belongs to the immortal Cy Young, for who the award given to the best pitcher in each league every year is named. The mark in question is Young's complete game total of 749, however, even if Young had thrown a quarter of that amount of complete games, his record would stand forever. Incredibly, or perhaps not so, in this age of relief specialists, the highest active player on the all-time complete game list is New York's Roger Clemens. The Rocket has thrown just four complete games in the last nine full seasons, and his 118 puts him at 327th place on the career roster.
Young had 103 more complete games than the number two hurler behind him, James "Pud" Galvin, who pitched from 1875 until 1892 and finished 646 of his starts. Galvin in turn completed 92 more games than Tim Keefe, another pre-1900 mounds-man who possesses the third most all time. Then comes Walter Johnson and Kid Nichols tied at 531; Johnson toiled for the Senators during the first quarter of the last century, while Nichols bridges the gap from the 1800s to the 1900s.
The only pitcher in the top twenty-one on this list that can be considered part of the modern era is the great lefty Warren Spahn, who retired after the 1965 campaign with 382 complete game efforts. The disparity between the way the game was played prior to the advent of the dominating closers and set-up men and the way it is now is obvious in the statistics. Jack Morris is the most recent pitcher to retire that was able to make the top two-hundred career wise in finishing games he started. Jack retired in 1994 with 175, a sum that today would almost seem to be unassailable, yet that put him at only 181st on this inventory.