Adam Wainwright shut out the Cubs for seven innings last night and notched his 20th win of the year. He joins Clayton Kershaw in that club. If it wasn’t for Kershaw, Wainwright would probably be picking up a Cy Young award too. Going 20-9 with a 2.38 ERA for a division winning team will do that for you most years.
It seems like Wainwright has had a lot of those years. As Bob Nightengale noted this morning, he is one of the greatest pitchers to never win a Cy Young award. In an era where 20-game winners are a lot more rare than they used to be, Wainwright has won 19 or 20 games in four of his last five seasons. That’s made all the more special given that those seasons wrap around a year lost to Tommy John surgery. No, wins aren’t everything. But when you get enough of them, consistently over time, it does tell you something.
Maybe even more than people who tend to like wins as a stat will even give Wainwright credit for:
@BNightengale The Jack Morris os his era.
— Tracy Ringolsby (@TracyRingolsby) September 23, 2014
I’m sure Ringolsby meant that as praise, but really, that’s a slight to Wainwright when you look at all of the other stats those two have. He’s more like the Dave Stieb of his era. Or Mike Mussina. Like those guys, he may end up as a guy who is widely considered a top ace during his career, only to become somewhat under-appreciated after he retires due to the lack of hardware.
Actually, Wainwright is better than Stieb and probably Mussina too. And his World Series rings and heroics will make up for the lack of hardware. But I do feel like people are going to forget how good Wainwright is when they assess his career after the fact.