I previously wrote a little bit about Jamie Moyer here, although my purpose for writing was more to describe something on one of his old cards than to talk about him. So now, on the occasion of my 300th post on this blog, I’ll return to Jamie Moyer for a few more comments.
This would be considered Jamie Moyer’s rookie card because it’s the first time he ever appeared on one of these things. He made his major league debut a few weeks after I graduated from high school, back when Ronald Reagan was president. This means that before anyone named George Bush had ever been president, Jamie Moyer was pitching in the major leagues.
I like the idea that somebody who was in the big leagues during that transitional summer when I couldn’t wait to get out of my parents’ house could still be playing the game. Everybody else from the pre-steroid era is long gone from the game, but Moyer still pitches on, possibly.
Moyer had elbow surgery and missed all of the 2011 season, and he’ll turn 50 at the end of this year. Yes, Jamie Moyer is presently 49 years old. But if he gets an offer from a big league team, and he is reported to be working towards one, then he gets back in the game needing just 33 wins to get to 300 for his career.
What’s so important about that? It’s pretty simple: win 300 games as a pitcher, and you’re in the Hall of Fame. No debate, no discussion, nobody bringing up stats like ERA+ or WAR, which didn’t even exist when Moyer began his pitching career. Moyer won’t get to 300 wins, which would take three or four seasons to accomplish. But it’s fun to think about it anyway, especially since we won’t see another pitcher approaching 300 wins for a long, long time.
Moyer has more wins than several pitchers who are in the Hall of Fame right now, including Bob Gibson. With one more win, Moyer will match Jim Palmer with 268 career wins. But Palmer is enshrined in Cooperstown already, while Moyer won’t get a whiff of the place unless he reaches 300 wins.
Wins and losses for a pitcher are the easiest stat to understand. That’s what baseball is all about, isn’t it? 18 players take the field, with umpires keeping watch over the game and fans in attendance in the grandstand, not to see who can hit the most doubles or record the most putouts in the outfield. The bottom line, for every baseball game ever played, is who scored more runs than their opponent did. Some pitcher’s going to take the win for that game, and some other pitcher is going to take the loss.
It has taken Moyer a quarter of a century to pile up 267 career wins, and only 35 men who have ever played the game can lay claim to having more wins than Moyer does. And yet, somebody somewhere made winning 300 games the bright line between an automatic Hall of Famer and somebody who we’ll have to argue over ad infinitum.
I hope Moyer does sign with somebody this year, and gets a spot in their starting rotation. I’d love to go to a game and watch a 49 year-old do battle with players who weren’t yet born when he made his big league debut, such as the Cubs’ Starlin Castro and the Braves’ Jason Heyward. And the closer he gets to 300 wins, the more foolish that arbitrary line will appear. If you can still pitch at age 49, that’s a pretty remarkable feat, Hall of Fame or no Hall of Fame.