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20 wins is the new 25?

Angel Oracle

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After Scherzer's 19 wins, the next best in the AL is 15 wins (3 pitchers).


Verlander is one of only 2 pitchers with at least 24 wins since 2000.

I remember 1990, when Bob Welch won 27 games and Dave Stewart won 22 for the same team (A's).   Teams already had 5 man rotations by 1990.

Edited by Angel Oracle
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AO, check out this link. Just scanning that page and it looks like 20-game winners are relatively consistent over the last 20 years or so. Scherzer looks to be the only one to get there this year, but there were 4 last year, and 3 the year before. Compare that to the year you pointed out - in 1990 there were 6, but the year before only 3.


I'll make a chart in a moment.

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I can't seem to be able to upload images to this forum, so I can't show you the chart i made. Basically I charted number of 20-game winners from 1971 to the present. There's a huge drop-off from an average of 12 a year from 1971-74, to an average of 7.3 per year from 1975-80, as all of MLB had transitioned to the five-man rotation.


In the strike-shortened 1981 there were no 20-win pitchers, and only one the following year. From 1982 to 2013--assuming Scherzer is the only one--it has ranged from 0 to 7, with a total of 109 20-win seasons. If we take out 1994 and 1995, both strike-shortened and with 0, the average per year has been 3.6 per season.


The overall tendency has been one of decline. The last year there were five or more 20-win pitchers was 2003. In the ten years since, two years have seen 0 20-win pitchers, two have seen 1, and the other six have seen 3-4.


As for win-leaders, the trend has also been downward. In the early 70s and before the leader was usually in the mid-20s, sometimes upper 20s, with Denny McLain famously being the last player to win 30 games (31 in 1968).


The league leader dropped a bit in the mid-70s but it was usually in the 23-25 range until 1984, when the leader was 20. Since then it has ranged widely, with Welch's 27-wins in 1990 being the last time a pitcher has won 25 or more games. 24-game winners in that period include Verlander in  2011, Johnson in 2002 (Zito and Schilling both won 23 that year), and Smoltz in 1996.


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Relief pitching has become even more important over the past decade, which may also factor in when a lead is given up by the pen that the starter may have protected in years past before the 2000s.


The number of innings pitched by starters was still somewhat large in 1990.

Stewart made 36 starts and averaged nearly 7.5 innings/start.   No one averages that anymore.

Welch made 35 starts and averaged almost 7 innings/start.   Not many starters today average that even.

Edited by Angel Oracle
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