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Greinke in great company with Cy Young at 25

Nov 18, 2009, 12:36 PM EDT

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.

  1. Frank - Nov 18, 2009 at 6:04 PM

    You forgot Tom Seaver, who was 24 in 1969 for the Miracle Mets and won the Cy Young award in 1969. It makes the company even stronger.

  2. johnnynewguy - Nov 19, 2009 at 1:05 AM

    Actually he didn’t forget. You can’t read. “Sam Mellinger put together a list of all the pitchers since 1985 who also won the award in or before their age-25 season.” See where it says [since 1985]? Yeah that means from 1985 on; not before hand.

  3. jeff - Nov 19, 2009 at 9:41 AM

    Your stats are off by one – Bret Saberhagen won the Cy Young in 1989. Per your stats he never won but was just a top 3 finisher one year

  4. ecp - Nov 19, 2009 at 10:30 AM

    The stats aren’t off for Saberhagen – they are listed for age 26 on. The Cy Young he won in 1989 came in his age 25 season. He was never a winner again after that.

  5. jeff - Nov 19, 2009 at 3:13 PM

    my bad

  6. MikeyR - Dec 3, 2009 at 2:52 AM

    I am still trying to figure out who the third hall of famer on that list of 8 pitchers is. You have Pedro, and Glavine then who else? Santana might make it to the hall of fame though I think he is on the decline and is going to have a rough time coming back from his injury. I don’t think zito is ever going to put up numbers to deserve a hall nod, and i think its a bit early to say lincecum should be in the hall. So I am really trying to figure out who the third person is. Unless you meant that STEROID USING CHEAT clemens. If so he doesn’t deserve to be in the hall of fame, and should be banished from baseball along with barry, manny, a-roid and the rest of the cheats.

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