On Saturday afternoon, Bartolo Colon pitched eight scoreless innings to pick up a huge win for the Oakland Athletics over the Texas Rangers, as it sent the A’s 5.5 games ahead in the race for the AL West.
But while this was a huge win in the scope of the 2013 season and the race for the playoffs, Colon may have actually gone a long way to altering the history books, as he took one step closer to claiming the best season ever by a pitcher who is 40 years or older on June 30 of said season.
During the 2013 season, Colon has racked up a 16-6 record with a 2.73 ERA over 28 games started and 178.1 innings pitched. This win total gives him the best winning percentage, third most wins, the second-best ERA, 10th in innings pitched and leaves him one start shy of ranking in the top-10 of of games started for any pitcher over 40 years of age on June 30 of a season since the end of the dead ball era ended in 1919.
In fact, Colon’s season has been so dominant that the two closest players behind him in ERA are .38 and .59 behind, and his closest opposition in terms of winning percentage is .073 percent behind.
These are both exceedingly large numbers and leaves Colon with only one two true oppositions for the best ever season by a pitcher over 40 years of age: John Smoltz‘s 2007 season and Roger Clemens‘ 2005 season. They are only two other pitchers with a .524 or greater win percentage and ERA under 3.80.
When comparing Colon’s 2013 season to Smoltz’s 2007, season it sticks out that the two are very close in terms of innings pitched, games started, winning percentage and ERA. In terms of games started and innings pitched, Smoltz currently is beating Colon by four and 27.1 respectively, a slight edge, but one that will be narrowed by the three remaining starts that Colon has in 2013.
In terms of wins and winning percentage, Colon has the edge over Smoltz though, with two more wins and a .091 percent more in winning percentage, and both of these statistics will likely go up considering the A’s play the lowly Los Angeles Angels, Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners to close out the 2013 season.
Finally, the ERA provides the final dagger to Smoltz’s 2003 season, as the .38 advantage that Colon holds over Smoltz is quite sizable when one considers that Smoltz pitched in the NL, which is generally easier on pitchers than the AL.
Meanwhile, during the 2005 season, Clemens was 42 years of age and free of having to deal with the Mitchell Report, which came out in 2007 and effectively ended any chance of a comeback during the 2008 season. What he also did was post a 13-8 record with a ridiculous 1.87 ERA, 211.1 innings pitched, a .198 batting average against and an ERA + that led MLB at 226.
In short, this was a season that the 23-year-old Clemens, sans wins, wasn’t able to match. That made it almost impossible to view this season as one not tainted by performance-enhancing drug use.
One cannot make this conclusion without some questions being asked, as Clemens never has admitted to using PEDs and didn’t undergo testing for HGH in 2005, but it is hard to argue that Brian McNamee, Andy Pettitte and the Mitchell Report have made it undoubtedly clear that much of his late career was marred by PED use.
Some people will point out the fact that Colon has used PEDs in the past as a way to taint his own 2013 season, but when one concedes that he has undergone rigorous testing during the 2013 season for a multitude of performance-enhancing drugs, HGH included, this case is much harder to make.
One case that is not hard to make, though, is that Colon’s 2013 season will go down in history for being one of the best seasons of any pitcher 40 years or older, an accomplishment that far outweighs any regular season game and will live in the history books forever.