Will the Nationals franchise finally end their 33-year 20-game winner drought?
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.
Forty percent of the major league teams (12 of the 30 teams) have not had a 20-game winning pitcher on their staff this century. Two teams, Colorado and Tampa Bay, have never had a 20-game winner in their history.
Of those teams that have had a 20-game winner in their franchise’s history, two teams, San Diego and Washington (previously Montreal) have not had a 20-game winner since 1978. The Nationals, however, are knocking at the door to end this drought. Through games of August 29, the Nationals have two pitchers with 15 or more wins, Gio Gonzalez (16) and Stephen Strasburg (15), although there is quite a bit of discussion that Strasburg will be shut-down sometime in September and will likely not have a shot at 20 wins.
In 2011, two teams ended long droughts of not having a 20-game winner. American League Cy Young Award winner and league MVP Justin Verlander won 24 games last year, giving the Tigers their first 20-game winner since Bill Gullickson won 20 in 1991. In the National League, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw won the league Cy Young Award and 21 games, giving Los Angeles their first 20-game winner since 1990 when Ramon Martinez won 20.
Following are the teams that have the longest drought since their last 20-game winner.
Team, Last 20-game winner year, pitcher
San Diego: 1978-Gaylord Perry
*Washington: 1978-Ross Grimsley
Baltimore: 1984-Mike Boddicker
Milwaukee: 1986-Teddy Higuera
Cincinnati: 1988-Danny Jackson
Kansas City: 1989-Bret Saberhagen
NY Mets: 1990-Frank Viola
Pittsburgh: 1991-John Smiley
Colorado: 1993-Never had a 20-game winner
San Francisco: 1993-Bill Swift/John Burkett
Tampa Bay: 1998-Never had a 20-game winner
Texas: 1998-Rick Helling
* Previously Montreal
With just about a month to go in the 2012 season, a couple of other teams on the list above may be close to ending their drought like the Nationals. In Cincinnati, Johnny Cueto leads the N.L. with 17 wins and three more victories for him would give the Reds their first 20-game winner since 1988. The Mets have not had a 20-game winner since 1990 with Frank Viola. R.A. Dickey has 16 victories and will have a good shot at reaching that 20-win mark for the Mets. Pittsburgh’s A.J. Burnett has 15 wins this season and could end the Pirates more than two-decade drought of 20-game winners.
In the A.L., Tampa Bay’s David Price has 16 wins, and Texas Rangers’ starter Matt Harrison has 15 wins (he lost his attempt for number 16 on Wednesday versus Tampa Bay. Both have a shot at 20 wins.
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