Obviously at age 47 even 33 more wins is a lot to ask for, but Moyer probably has a better chance than most people seem to believe. Which is basically to say he has some chance. Moyer is 9-6 with a 4.30 ERA this season and we're not quite at the halfway point, so he looks capable of another 6-8 wins in the second half. That would leave him about 25 wins short of 300.
He's not under contract for next season and that hurts, because 47-year-olds can collapse in a hurry and we've seen several elderly stars go unsigned in recent years. However, if Moyer finishes this year with 15 wins and a sub-4.50 ERA presumably the Phillies would welcome him back on a one-year deal that could get him into the 285-290 range heading into 2012.
At that point he'd be 49 years old and Moyer isn't exactly dominant enough that he can stand to see his skills decline much more and remain effective, but once a pitcher gets into the "countdown" range of 285-290 wins they usually stick around long enough to reach 300. In fact, only five pitchers since 1900 have more than 275 wins but fewer than 300 wins. Moyer as a 300-game winner? It's not as crazy as you might think.
You know what the difference is between Moyer last year -- when so many of us were nearly ready to give up on him -- and Moyer this year?
Seriously. That's it.
He's throwing the same pitches this year, with the same speed and roughly the same frequency. Maybe he's throwing a few more cutters or maybe he isn't (it's hard to tell from PITCHf/x, since there's really not much difference between the two pitches, at least when he throws them).
But the pitches are almost irrelevant, since the results are so similar. Last year Moyer struck out roughly five per nine innings; this year he's struck out roughly five per nine innings. Last year Moyer gave up one home run every six innings; this year he's given up one home run every six innings.
Now, his walk rate is down significantly, a full 33 percent. But in this case, what does "significantly" mean? If Moyer had walked just nine more hitters in his 96 innings, his walk rate would be exactly the same this year as last year. So that's the only real performance difference and it's really not so significant at all.
There's another difference
In his career, Moyer has given up a .290 batting average on balls in play. From 2007 through 2009, the figures were .309, .294 and .292.
Moyer has been ridiculously lucky this season, and his luck is going to change this summer.
Last night, someone on TV was wondering what the Phillies would do with Moyer if they qualify for the postseason. Right now he's got nine wins, tied for the team lead with Roy Halladay. Nobody else on the staff has more than six. Could they possibly leave him out of their postseason rotation?
Well, we'll see. Maybe he'll still be one of the club's three or four best starters this fall. I will respectfully submit that if he is their third-best starter, the Phillies won't have to worry about their postseason rotation because they won't be playing in the postseason.
To return to the original question, though. No, 300 wins isn't impossible. Moyer's skills have actually held quite steady for a number of years. He's a durable 5.00 ERA pitcher, and there's a place in the major leagues for pitchers exactly like him. If he stays in good enough shape to throw 82 miles an hour and field his position, he's got a reasonable shot at pitching when he's 50 (!) and winning 300 games. And if he does, won't it be interesting to see the Hall of Fame voters tie themselves in knots over that one?