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Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Where do winning pitchers come from?

By David Schoenfield

Paul Maholm
Paul Maholm has won 48 games for the Pirates, the most of any Pittsburgh pitcher since 2001.
Email from Page 2's DJ Gallo this morning, subject matter: Depressing Stat 'o the Day!
This got me thinking, first about the Pirates and how long it's been since they developed a really good starter (no offense to Paul Maholm), and then to how difficult in general it is to develop winning pitchers. (Yes, I used wins; I could've used WAR or some other saber superstat, but for this quick little study, wins works just fine.) I went back 2001 to find the five winningest pitchers for each franchise and then checked to see how they were originally acquired.

An asterisk notes a player who was originally drafted or signed by that organization. The only team with five homegrown pitchers was the Angels.

National League
Arizona: Brandon Webb* 82, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling 53, Miguel Batista 40, Dan Haren 37.
Atlanta: Tim Hudson 76, John Smoltz 53, Greg Maddux 49, Tom Glavine* 36, Russ Ortiz 36.
Chicago: Carlos Zambrano* 118, Kerry Wood* 56, Ryan Dempster 53, Ted Lilly 47, Mark Prior* 42.
Cincinnati: Aaron Harang 75, Bronson Arroyo 73, Johnny Cueto* 32, Edinson Volquez 27, Chris Reitsma 22.
Colorado: Aaron Cook* 69, Jason Jennings* 58, Jeff Francis* 55, Ubaldo Jimenez* 50, Jorge de la Rosa 37.
Florida: Dontrelle Willis 68, Ricky Nolasco 56, Josh Johnson* 48, A.J. Burnett 42, Josh Beckett* 41.
Houston: Roy Oswalt* 143, Wandy Rodriguez* 63, Wade Miller* 52, Roger Clemens 38, Andy Pettitte 37.
Los Angeles: Chad Billingsley* 61, Derek Lowe 54, Brad Penny 46, Odalis Perez 45, Jeff Weaver 38.
Milwaukee: Ben Sheets* 86, Dave Bush 46, Chris Capuano 44, Yovani Gallardo* 38, Doug Davis 38.
New York: Steve Trachsel 66, Tom Glavine 61, Al Leiter 49, Mike Pelfrey* 44, Johan Santana 40.
Philadelphia: Brett Myers* 73, Cole Hamels* 62, Jamie Moyer 56, Randy Wolf* 52, Vicente Padilla 47.
Pittsburgh: Paul Maholm* 48, Zach Duke* 45, Josh Fogg 39, Kip Wells 36, Ian Snell* 33.
San Diego: Jake Peavy* 92, Brian Lawrence* 49, Adam Eaton 40, Chris Young 33, Woody Williams 29.
San Francisco: Jason Schmidt 78, Matt Cain* 59, Tim Lincecum* 58, Kirk Rueter 49, Barry Zito/Noah Lowry* 40.
St. Louis: Chris Carpenter 84, Matt Morris* 79, Adam Wainwright 66, Jeff Suppan 47, Woody Williams 45.
Washington: Livan Hernandez 64, Tony Armas 41, Javier Vazquez* 39, Tomo Ohka 31, John Lannan* 30.

American League
Baltimore: Rodrigo Lopez 60, Daniel Cabrera* 48, Sidney Ponson* 44, Erik Bedard* 40, Jeremy Guthrie 39.
Boston: Tim Wakefield 108, Josh Beckett 73, Jon Lester* 63, Derek Lowe 57, Pedro Martinez 57.
Chicago: Mark Buehrle* 145, Jon Garland 88, Freddy Garcia 55, Jose Contreras 55, John Danks 46.
Cleveland: CC Sabathia* 103, Cliff Lee 83, Jake Westbrook 69, Fausto Carmona* 47, Paul Byrd 32.
Detroit: Justin Verlander* 85, Jeremy Bonderman 67, Nate Robertson 51, Mike Maroth 50, Kenny Rogers 29.
Kansas City: Zack Greinke* 60, Brian Bannister 35, Kyle Davies 29, Gil Meche 29, Runelvys Hernandez* 25.
Los Angeles: John Lackey* 102, Ervin Santana* 76, Jered Weaver* 70, Jarrod Washburn* 58, Joe Saunders* 54.
Minnesota: Johan Santana 91, Brad Radke* 70, Scott Baker* 56, Kyle Lohse 51, Carlos Silva 47.
New York: Mike Mussina 123, Andy Pettitte 103, Roger Clemens 56, Chien-Ming Wang* 55, Mariano Rivera* 42.
Oakland: Barry Zito* 95, Mark Mulder* 72, Tim Hudson* 61, Joe Blanton* 47, Dan Haren 43.
Seattle: Jamie Moyer 80, Felix Hernandez* 73, Joel Pineiro* 57, Freddy Garcia 50, Gil Meche* 43.
Tampa Bay: James Shields* 58, Scott Kazmir 55, Victor Zambrano 35, Matt Garza 34, David Price* 32.
Texas: Kenny Rogers 50, Kevin Millwood 48, Vicente Padilla 43, Scott Feldman* 31, C.J. Wilson*/Joaquin Benoit* 30.
Toronto: Roy Halladay 135, A.J. Burnett 38, Shaun Marcum 37, Ted Lilly 37, Josh Towers 37.

Breaking down the 152 pitchers (note that this is NOT a list of the best 152 pitchers of the past decade) by various categories, we get:

Draft picks: 53 (26 were first-rounders)
Latin amateur: 12
Asian amateur: 1

That means 66 of 152 (43.4 percent) were developed from within.

Traded for while a minor leaguer or unproven major leaguer: 32
Traded for while a proven major leaguer: 25
Free agent signing: 19
Free agent signing after released/waived/not wanted: 9
Rule 5 pick: 1

(Note: Andy Pettitte was originally a Yankee draft pick, but was considered a free agent signing, since more of wins in this period came after returning to New York; Kenny Rogers originally came up with Texas, but his wins came after signing as a free agent; Woody Williams pitched twice for San Diego, but more came as a free agent signing.)

The Rule 5 pick was Johan Santana. He was actually selected by the Marlins from the Astros and traded to the Twins in a pre-arranged trade. Nine guys were picked up off the scrap heap. Not all of the minor leaguers/unproven guys were necessarily top prospects, but some like Scott Kazmir, A.J. Burnett and Jeremy Bonderman were.

Anyway, it's kind of fun to go through each team. It's also a reminder that winning major league ballgames is an amazingly difficult task and that developing pitchers who can succeed for a period of years is amazingly difficult.

Finally, back to the Pirates. Paul Maholm has 48 wins in a Pirates uniform, meaning he could become the first homegrown pitcher to win 50 games for the Pirates since ... John Smiley. Who was drafted in 1983.

(Research via

Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter at @dschoenfield. Follow the SweetSpot blog at @espn_sweet_spot.