Baseball analysts have said for years that the art of the complete game was gone in baseball and the league was now full of relief specialists. The fear that your stud starter will undergo Tommy John, Rotator Cuff, or elbow surgery is felt around the league. I always believed what the analysts said to be true, but what I have missed over the last few years is how the complete game (let alone the shutout) is even more dead.
Check out these numbers: When Tom Glavine won the NL Cy Young award in 1991, he was the 1st pitcher in MLB history with fewer than 10 complete games (9) to lead his league in complete games. While the numbers of complete games continued to drop a bit after that, we still saw big years like Curt Schilling's 15 CG's in 1998 and Pedro Martinez's 13 in 1997. Philly didn't have much choice on that dreadful '98 team though, with bootleg brother Mark Leiter as their closer. By the turn of the century, the new king of fewest-complete-games-to-actually-lead-your-respective-league was David Wells with 7 in 1999.
In that same 1999 season, Randy Johnson went the distance 12 times in winning another Cy Young Award. Why is this significant? This is the last time any pitcher compiled double digit complete games in a season. The numbers dropped even more and just about bottomed out last year with our NL leader Brandon Webb and his 4 CG's.
So, why the drop in CG's? Most likely the reason is the fear of injury. Not too many teams have studs up and down their bullpen and don't want a starter to hurt themselves by (gasp!) throwing more than 100 pitches. Managers want their starters to go 7 innings and then turn it over to their "8th inning guy" and then to their closer.
Another interesting number when it comes to complete games is the league leaders in shutouts. The only guy to reach double digits the past 20 years? Tim Belcher in 1989. Look at some of the guys that have led the league in shutouts the past 20 years. If you don't believe me, look it up.
96-Ken Hill/Rich Robertson (MIN)???
04-RIP Cory Lidle
Nobody even wants Weaver this year. He is as washed up as Dina Lohan. Goes to show you bootleg pitchers can blow up 1 or 2 outings and lead the league in shutouts these days. When I write this blog again in 10 years, look for Hiroki Kuroda's name to be added to this list.
Who is Rich Robertson??????