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just win baby

if jason marquis keeps this up, he'll join a very select list of pitchers: guys who finished among the top 3 in wins in their league while posting an era of 5.00 or above. it has only happened 5 times since 1900:

name team year w-l era wins
ray kremer pit 1930 20-12 5.02 T1st 23/30
bobo newsom stl (a) 1938 20-16 5.08 2d 24/30
roxie lawson det 1937 18-7 5.26 3d 27/31
bartolo colon cle 2004 18-12 5.01 T3d 32/40
kevin ritz col 1996 17-11 5.28 T3d 37/41

in the "era rank" column in the table, the 2d number is the overall number of era-title qualifiers in the league -- to qualify, your innings pitched must be at least as high as the number of games your team played. so, for instance, ray kremer finished 23d in the league in era; there were 30 qualifiers overall. so his 5.02 era was still better than that of nearly 1/4 of the nl's pitchers.

this is not a terrible group of guys to get lumped in with. kremer didn't reach the major leagues until age 31 but still won 143 games in 10 years, plus 2 world series games (including the clincher in 1925); he twice led the league in era. newsom, one of the more colorful players of the 1930s and 40s, was on the 2d of his 3 tours of duty with the browns; he would follow this season with two more 20-win campaigns. he won 2 games in the 1940 world series and came within 9 outs of a 3d, but he took a 2-1 loss in a classic game 7. newsom led the league in losses four times and ranks 25th on the all-time list but still managed 211 wins, which ain't shabby.

colon you're familiar with; won a cy young award last season, is approaching 150 career wins and may well get to 200. finally there are lawson and ritz, neither of whom was much to speak of; marquis already has surpassed both of them in career wins. ritz's era, by the way, was very good; he was pitching at coors field at the height of its terror, so his park-adjusted era is better than league average.

marquis also has a shot at another, even more exclusive list: guys who won 15 or more games while finishing dead last in their league among era qualifiers. only two have achieved this honor: wayne lamaster in 1930 (his rookie season) and dan spillner 50 years later. spillner that season set career highs in wins, innings, starts, winning pct, and complete games while posting the worst era of his life. marquis moved out of last place with his performance yesterday; he is now 47th among the national league's 48 qualifiers.

on a third list, marquis has nearly reached the summit: most wins in franchise history (post-1900) by a pitcher with a 5.00 era or higher. the current record is 13, shared by bret tomko in 2003 (5.28 era) and hall-of-famer jesse haines in 1929 (5.71). i note, however, that bob tewksbury rightfully deserves that record; he had racked up 12 wins with a 5.32 era in 1994 when they called off the season.

tough luck for tewksie. jason's a lock to set a new standard, less'n he ruins ev'ything and drags his era down into the 4s. . . . . which he can do by posting an era of roughly 3.80 from here on out. should he backslide instead, marquis still has a shot at breaking the all-time franchise mark for highest era by a qualifier -- 5.93 by bill sherdel, also in 1929. (he and haines must have anchored a hell of a staff.) as of yesterday morning jason actually had sherdel beat by 0.04; his 8 shutout innings yesterday dropped his era to 5.62, still good for 4th on the franchise's worst-era list.