Now that it looks as if St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright has dodged his first injury scare of 2015, I thought it would be interesting to daydream about the lofty place in Redbirds history he'll assume with another good season.
Since returning from elbow ligament replacement surgery three years ago, Wainwright has averaged nearly 18 wins a season with 194 strikeouts and 222 innings pitched. Those averages factor in his first year after having Tommy John surgery when he was pretty darn good -- but obviously a tick off of his usual standards.
Those were the days when a lot of folks were predicting Wainwright was done as a dominant pitcher and that the Birds would be wise to pass on a chance to sign him to a contract extension.
It may seem like it was just yesterday that Wainwright went from a prospect who was second banana to Anthony Reyes in the Cardinals farm system to a major reason St. Louis was able to capture its 10th World Series title in 2006. But somehow in that blink of an eye the lanky hurler has climbed from being a baby-faced kid to eighth on the list of Cardinals pitchers with the most career wins.
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With 10 victories in 2015, Wainwright would pass Harry Brecheen (128) for seventh all time. With 16 more wins he'll pass Hall of Fame hurler Dizzy Dean (134) for sixth. He needs 25 wins to catch Bill Doak (144) at fifth on the list, unlikely for this season. But certainly possible by 2016 if Wainwright can stay healthy.
Realistically, Wainwright could end up third on the Cardinals career wins list. If he notches 50 more to land at 169, that would leave him behind only the 210 of Jesse Haines and the 251 of Bob Gibson.
Wainwright's 1,306 career strikeouts are second in the St. Louis record book to Gibson's career number. But don't look for that record to be threatened any time soon. Wainwright's career total in his age 33 season is less than half of Gibby's 3,117.
For the record, when Gibson was 33, he had already amassed 2,119 strikeouts.
Sometimes it seems that it's difficult to truly appreciate players in their time. Especially when they have to be teammates with Chris Carpenter, a guy who would have been a sure-fire Hall of Famer if he would have been able to stay healthier.
But, as great as Carp was, it appears that he won't be able to hold a candle to his younger teammate by the time Wainwright finishes making his mark in the record books.