In Major League Baseball, the 300 win club refers to the group of pitchers — 24 as of 2009 — who have won 300 or more games. While the "300 club" is an informal group, becoming a member is among the highest accomplishments a starting pitcher can achieve. Several members retired soon after winning their 300th game; two retired with exactly 300 victories. All eligible pitchers with 300 wins have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Many observers expect the club to gain few, if any, members in the foreseeable future.


The first player to win 300 games was Pud Galvin in 1888. Six pitchers entered the club in the 19th century, with a seventh, Cy Young, joining in 1901. Early in the history of professional baseball, starting rotations of two men were commonplace, giving the best pitchers far more chances to earn wins than in today's game. Conversely, the rigor required for a two-man rotation meant that most pitching careers didn't last more than a decade or so (Young being the major exception). In addition, the medical treatments then available were minimal; if a pitcher 'blew out his arm' then his career was over. Four more pitchers joined the club in the first quarter of the 20th century.

However, only three pitchers scored their 300th win between 1924 and 1982: Lefty Grove (1941), Warren Spahn (1961), and Early Wynn (1963). For Grove and Wynn it was the final win of their careers and each struggled in his last season to achieve it. This dearth of 300-game winners may be explained by the offensive explosion following the abolition of the spitball in 1921, changes in the ball itself, World War II military service (in the cases of Bob Feller and Red Ruffing), the growing importance of the home run in the game, and the lowering of the pitching mound following the 1968 season. As the home run became commonplace, the physical and mental demands on pitchers dramatically increased, leading to the use of a four-man starting rotation.

Then, in a mere eight years, between 1982 and 1990, the 300-win club gained six members — an increase of over 40%. This may be partly explained as a consequence of the era of free agency that began in the mid-1970s. Free agency led to unheard-of player salaries, which encouraged older pitchers to stay in the game longer than they might have in the past. Another part of the explanation is the increasing sophistication of training methods and sports medicine (such as the Tommy John surgery), which have allowed players to maintain a high competitive level for a longer time. Examples include Phil Niekro, who was still under 200 wins at his 40th birthday, went on to win a record 121 games after his 40th birthday and finished his career, at the age of 48, with 318 wins and Randy Johnson, who has won more games in his 40s than he did in his 20s. Many of the pitchers who reached 300 wins in this era, such as the aforementioned Niekro, Nolan Ryan, and Don Sutton, each had just a couple of 20+ win seasons and achieved the 300 mark by pitching well into their 40s.

Recent historyEdit

Changes in the game in the last decade of the 20th century have made the 300-game winner an endangered species again, perhaps more so than during the mid 20th century. The four-man starting rotation has given way to a five-man rotation, which gives starting pitchers still fewer chances to pick up wins. The physical and mental demands on starting pitchers have also increased yet again, thanks to the explosion in offense that has taken place since the 1990s. As a result, managers are much quicker to put in relief pitchers than in the past, particularly after the starting pitcher has thrown more than 100 pitches, even when the starting pitcher is winning the game. This increases the likelihood that a pitcher not get a win because of circumstances beyond his control. The 2006 season was the first time that no pitcher won 20 games in a non strike-shortened year.


Out of all the members, only Roger Clemens is not in the Hall of Fame.

PitcherWinsDate of 300thTeams
Cy Young511July 3, 1901Cle (NL), Bos (AL), Stl (NL), Bos (NL), Cle (AL), Bos (NL)
Walter Johnson417May 14, 1920Was (AL)
Grover Cleveland Alexander373September 20, 1924Phil (NL), Chi (NL), StL (NL)
Christy Mathewson373June 28, 1912NY Giants (NL), CIN
Pud Galvin365September 4, 1888Buf, Pit (Amer. Assoc.), Pit (NL), Pit (Players League), Stl (NL)
Warren Spahn363August 11, 1961Bos/Mil, NY Mets (NL), SF
Kid Nichols362June 13, 1900Bos, StL, Phi (NL)
Greg Maddux355August 7, 2004Chi (NL), Atl, LA (NL), SD
Roger Clemens354 June 13, 2003Bos, Tor, NY (AL), Hou (NL)
Tim Keefe342June 4, 1890Troy, NY (Amer. Assoc.), NY Giants (NL), Phil (NL)
Steve Carlton329September 23, 1983StL (NL), Phil, SF, Chi (AL), Cle, Min
John Clarkson328September 21, 1892Worc, Chi (NL), Bos (NL), Cle (NL)
Eddie Plank326September 11, 1915Phi (AL), StL (Fed. League), StL (AL)
Nolan Ryan324July 31, 1990NY Mets (NL), Cal (AL), Hou (NL), Tex (AL)
Don Sutton324June 18, 1986LA (NL), Hou, Mil (AL), Oak, Cal
Phil Niekro318October 6, 1985Mil/Atl (NL), NY (AL), Cle, Tor
Gaylord Perry314May 6, 1982SF, Cle, Tex, SD, NY (AL), Atl, Sea, KC
Tom Seaver311August 4, 1985NY Mets (NL), Cin, Chi (AL), Bos
Charles Radbourn309May 14, 1891Prov, Bos (NL), Bos (Players League), Cin
Mickey Welch307August 11, 1890Troy, NY Giants (NL)
Tom Glavine305August 5, 2007Atl, NY Mets (NL)
Randy Johnson303June 4, 2009Mtl, Sea, Hou, Ari, NY (AL), SF
Early Wynn300July 13, 1963Was, Cle, Chi (AL)
Lefty Grove300July 25, 1941Phi (AL), Bos (AL)

Stats as of April 24, 2019.

Closest Active PlayersEdit

PitcherWinsTeams Age
CC Sabathia 247 Cleveland Indians (2001-2008), Milwaukee Brewers (2008), New York Yankees (2009-Present) 38
Justin Verlander 207 Detroit Tigers (2005-2017), Houston Astros (2017-Present) 36
Zack Greinke 190 Kansas City Royals (2004-2010), Milwaukee Brewers (2011-2012), Los Angeles Angels (2012), Los Angeles Dodgers (2013-2015), Arizona Diamondbacks (2016-Present) 35
Jon Lester 178 Boston Red Sox (2006-2014), Oakland Athletics (2014), Chicago Cubs (2015-Present) 35
Felix Hernandez 169 Seattle Mariners (2005-Present) 33
Max Scherzer 160 Arizona Diamondbacks (2008-2009), Detroit Tigers (2010-2014), Washington Nationals (2015-Present) 34
Cole Hamels 159 Philadelphia Phillies (2006-2015), Texas Rangers (2015-2018), Chicago Cubs (2018-Present) 35
Clayton Kershaw 153 Los Angeles Dodgers (2008-Present) 31

Stats as of April 24, 2019.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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