As part of the Kansas City Star‘s well-done, blowout coverage of Zack Greinke winning the AL Cy Young yesterday, Sam Mellinger put together a list of all the pitchers since 1985 who also won the award in or before their age-25 season.
Greinke joins Dwight Gooden, Bret Saberhagen, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, Barry Zito, Roger Clemens, Johan Santana, and Tim Lincecum in the 25-and-under Cy Young club, which is some pretty interesting company. At least three of those eight guys are headed to the Hall of Fame and five of them won multiple Cy Young awards.
Looking at that list got me curious about what each of those pitchers did after the age of 25, because Greinke actually turned 26 a few weeks ago and … well, I’m sure everyone is wondering what the future holds for him after such a brilliant season.
I’ll leave Lincecum out of the picture because he hasn’t actually turned 26 yet, but here’s what the other seven 25-and-under Cy Young winners have done from age 26 on:
IP W L WIN% ERA+ CY1 CY3
Roger Clemens 3885 276 150 .648 143 5 8
Tom Glavine 3521 252 151 .625 122 1 5
Pedro Martinez 1915 154 61 .716 160 2 5
Dwight Gooden 1277 75 66 .532 99 0 0
Bret Saberhagen 1234 75 56 .573 123 0 1
Barry Zito 1231 72 77 .483 103 0 0
Johan Santana 1085 79 42 .653 148 1 3
* ERA+ stands for adjusted ERA, which puts pitchers from different years on an even playing field by factoring in run-scoring environments. CY1 stands for Cy Young wins and CY3 stands for top-three finishes.
Martinez, Zito, and Santana get short-changed because they’re not done pitching yet, but those numbers are still plenty interesting. Clemens, Glavine, and Martinez all won at least one more Cy Young after the age of 25, combining for eight awards and a total of 18 top-three Cy Young finishes from 26 on. Santana also has a post-25 award and two other top-three finishes, so even with his recent elbow problems he’s closer to the Clemens-Glavine-Martinez path than the Saberhagen-Gooden-Zito path.
Which path will Greinke (and Lincecum) follow? It’s certainly tempting to assume that he’ll go the way of Clemens, Glavine, and Martinez, but it’s at least worth noting that most people had similar expectations for Saberhagen and Gooden when they won the award at an even younger age than Greinke. Instead of becoming inner-circle Hall of Famers, they ended up combining for only 147 wins after the age of 26.
David Ortiz had a whale of a final season with the Red Sox. It was so good that he was asked, many, many times, if he was thinking of reversing his retirement decision and coming back for 2017. Ortiz always said no, he was still retiring, occasionally making mention of his aching feet and the physical grind his 40-year-old body was undergoing.
We now know just how much of a grind it was. Indeed, it was extreme. We know this because Dan Dyrek, the Red Sox’ coordinator of sports medicine services, tells it to Rob Bradford of WEEI. Dyrek says that the injuries to Ortiz’s feet, which were often referred to as achilles tendon problems, were way, way more complicated than that, affecting every muscle, bone and tendon in his feet in chain reaction fashion. Dyrek:
“He was essentially playing on stumps. Instead of having this nice, flexible, foot, ankle, calf mechanism to act as a shock absorber, he was playing on stumps. And you can do that for only so long. He was in warrior mode trying to play through this. Once we diagnosed him and saw what was going on and started explaining things to him, there was actually a sense of relief because now he had an explanation of what he was in such excruciating pain.”
That Ortiz was able to even walk through what Dyrek describes is pretty amazing. That he was able to put up a near-MVP season with all of that pain is incredible.
For all of the ups and downs of his personal and professional life, Charlie Sheen is and always has been a passionate baseball fan. Sheen once bought out an entire section of bleachers for an Angels game so he could catch a home run ball (he didn’t catch a home run ball). He starred in “Eight Men Out” and, more notably, “Major League.” That latter film earned him the love and admiration of Indians fans which lasts to this day.
Indeed, the love continues to be so great that, right after the Indians clinched the American League pennant, they began lobbying for Sheen to throw out the first pitch of a World Series game in Cleveland. Yesterday afternoon Sheen took to Twitter, posted a pic of his baseball alter ego, and said that, if called upon, he would serve:
While it’s a big broad comedy, the scene in “Major League” in which Sheen comes out of the bullpen to “Wild Thing” blaring and the fans going nuts is legitimately chill-inducing. The fans at Progressive Field are already going to be amped up for the World Series as it is, but imagine how nuts the place would be if they recreated that scene.
Do it, Indians!
UPDATE: Wait, on reflection, don’t do it, Indians. Sheen is sort of a Trumpian figure in that his high profile craziness often causes us to momentarily forget his legitimate badness. We don’t need a guy like that tossing out the first pitch at the World Series.