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.