Astros pitcher Zack Greinke is somewhat quietly building a solid Hall of Fame case.
Yesterday I wrote about how Astros ace Justin Verlander is moving up the all-time leaderboards and further cementing his status as a future Hall of Famer. But somewhat quietly, Zack Greinke is also moving up the ladder and building a case for eventual induction.
Greinke earned his 200th career win last season after being traded to Houston. He’s now 36 but is coming off a strong year with a combined 18 wins and 2.93 ERA, capped off by a memorable performance in Game Seven of the World Series. Another few seasons could put him in some really elite company.
Greinke’s 2,622 career strikeouts rank 26th all-time and third among active pitchers, trailing only Verlander and Max Scherzer. He’s 378 shy of reaching the 3,000 strikeout plateau. His strikeout rate has dipped somewhat over the past three seasons, but they’re still in line with his career average.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
He struck out 187 batters in 2019, and he’d need to average 189 over the next two years to reach 3,000 before his contract expires. So it’s going to be close, but there’s always the possibility the Astros re-sign him after 2021 and let him finish his career in Houston. If so, he could be the second pitcher in the span of a few seasons to reach 3,000 career strikeouts in an Astros uniform.
Greinke’s 205 wins currently rank 107th all-time, which doesn’t sound all that impressive. But he’s second among active pitchers, trailing only Verlander. With a full healthy season, he could easily move into the top 80 on that list, passing names like Don Drysdale, Vida Blue, Kevin Brown, John Smoltz, Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez.
How high he can climb will largely depend on how long he wants to pitch, and that’s something of a mystery. He could move into the top 50 with another three full seasons, and even though the win stat doesn’t matter as much anymore, that would still be nice to have on a Cooperstown resume.
WAR (Wins Above Replacement) for Pitchers
By Baseball-Reference’s count, Greinke currently ranks 39th all-time among pitchers and second only to Verlander among active hurlers. A solid 2020 season could have him sniffing the top 30, and he could knock on the door of the top 25 in 2021.
Again, how high he’ll move just depends on how long he pitches. Verlander has said he wants to pitch well into his 40s, but I’m not aware of Greinke making any public statements to that effect. I suppose he’ll walk away whenever he’s ready. Until then, let’s enjoy watching him move up the lists alongside his rotation mate.