Hudson’s tremendous worth comes into focus as he nears his 200th win
There will not be a tremendous amount of fanfare if Tim Hudson is fortunate enough to notch the one more victory he needs to become the 110th pitcher in Major League history to record 200 career victories. But this milestone will at least give us reason to take a closer look at how valuable the 37-year-old right-hander has been throughout his career.
Hudson’s first opportunity to notch his 200th victory will come during Friday night’s game against the Pirates at PNC Park.
“(Winning 200 games) is really nothing I ever thought of.,” Hudson said. ‘The first time it ever really crossed my mind was when I got my 150th win. I thought man I’m just 50 from 200. That’s not really that long if I stay healthy. Those are just things you think about. Anything can happen. But you’ve got to have a little luck go your way and keep your preparation level at a high level and you’ve got to be on some teams that win.”
Hudson’s first career win came on June 13, 1999 against a Dodgers team that was skippered by current Nationals manager Davey Johnson. His 100th victory came against the Cardinals on Aug. 6, 2005 — his first season with the Braves. The 150th career victory was notched against the Astros on May 1, 2010, in what was just his 10th start after returning from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.
Based simply on raw memory, I do not remember a lot of the conversations that developed when Hudson blew he elbow out during the middle of the 2008 season. I remember television cameras catching him pointing to his elbow a few minutes before he did not return to pitch the seventh inning of his July 23 (OK, the date was not raw memory) start in Miami. I remember Hudson standing in front of his locker about a week later confirming that he would need TJ surgery.
But I don’t remember ever thinking too much about the potential pitfalls of undergoing TJ surgery at 32 years-old. But that probably had everything to do with the fact we were dealing with Tim Hudson, the man who had made a career out of proving his doubters wrong.
Staying true to form, Hudson has gone 53-27 with a 3.20 ERA in the 105 starts he has made since his right elbow was reconstructed. Justin Verlander (65), CC Sabathia (62), Roy Halladay (56), Gio Gonzalez (55), David Price (54) and Jered Weaver (54) are the only other Major League pitchers with more wins during this span.
Despite missing the first month of the 2012 season while recovering from offseason back surgery, Hudson still entered this year with at least 16 wins in each of the three full seasons he has completed since TJ surgery.
Hudson’s only real rough year with the Braves came in 2006, when he posted a career-high 4.86 ERA. He has compiled a 3.22 ERA in the 161 starts that have followed. Felix Hernandez (3.05), Halladay (3.05), CC Sabathia (3.12) and Adam Wainwright (3.12) are the only other pitchers who have compiled a lower ERA while also notching at least 80 wins in this span.
Halladay has enjoyed some much more dominant seasons on the way to winning multiple Cy Young Awards. But his career numbers look quite similar to those tallied by Hudson.
HALLADAY: 200-102, 3.33 ERA, 380 career starts, .662 winning percentage
HUDSON: 199-104, 3.41 ERA, 408 career stars, .657 winning percentage.
Whatever happens to Hudson over the remainder of his career, he will always be recognized as an incredible competitor who has managed to win almost as consistently as any other Major League pitcher who has notched at least 200 victories.
The only modern 200-game winners with a better career winning percentage than Hudson are Whitey Ford (.690), Pedro Martinez (.687), Lefty Grove (.680), Christy Mathewson (.665), Halladay (.662) and Roger Clemens (.658).
Regardless of what you think about the wins and losses assigned to pitchers, that is pretty impressive company.