May 15, 2008
Answer: Smaller than you even think.
The fine folks over at Vegas Watch crunched Brandon Webb's numbers and, even considering his perfect 8 wins-in-8 starts so far, he still has only a 0.2% chance of becoming the first pitcher to win 30 since Detroit's Denny McClain did it in '68.
VW goes on to calculate that Webb's odds of winning 20 games in an eye-popping 89% and that the most likely end total for the sinkerballer is 23 wins (52%).
Not too shabby.
Webb will make his ninth start of the season against Colorado tonight and if he's going to even tease us with thoughts of a 30-win season (or at least one in the high-20s), there isn't much room to waste starts. He probably has about 26 starts left this year, so even a non-math major like myself can see the need to rack up wins every fifth day.
Not that we need to be starting such a bandwagon until Webb racks up some more serious numbers. McClain was 18-2 by mid-July in 1968 and given the good chance the D'backs might be running away with the division, perhaps Webb's work will be limited as the playoffs approach.
Still, one of the best things about watching baseball in April and May is being able to see a pitcher bursting out of the gate and looking like he's going to win every game he starts. Watching guys like Webb certainly beats the guys who start the season by looking like they've never picked up a bat in their lives (Andruw Jones and Jim Thome come to mind.)