If New York Mets starter Justin Verlander had retired before the start of the 2023 MLB season, he would be a Hall of Famer. But at this point in his career, Verlander, 40, is still suiting up for two reasons: to win another ring and to cross a few more milestones off his lengthy list of career accomplishments.
Verlander managed to do the latter during Wednesday's start against the Cincinnati Reds. Verlander threw seven strong innings against Cincinnati, giving up just one run on two hits. He issued two walks, struck out seven and helped the Mets pick up a 2-1 win.
With that win, Verlander became the 21st pitcher in MLB history to be credited with a win against all 30 teams. Prior to Verlander, Gerrit Cole was the most recent pitcher to accomplish the feat when he picked up a win against his former club, the Houston Astros, in 2021. That game gave Cole at least one win against all 30 MLB teams.
Being a member of this exclusive club doesn't guarantee a player will make the Hall of Fame. Verlander is a lock, and Cole is well on his way, but other players who did it, such as Javier Vazquez and Woody Williams, didn't come close.
The list does, however, indicate a few positive things about a pitcher. In order to notch a win against all 30 MLB teams, you have to be pretty decent, and you have to have longevity. Vazquez, for example, pitched 14 seasons in the majors and had an ERA better than the league average in eight of those seasons.
Cole and Verlander make up two of the four active pitchers who have beaten all 30 MLB teams. Kansas City Royals starter Zack Greinke did it in 2019. Greinke was with the Houston Astros at the time and notched a win against the Royals to accomplish the feat. Max Scherzer managed it in 2016, when he beat his former club, the Detroit Tigers.
There's a pretty obvious reason the list of players who accomplished this feat is littered with more recent names. MLB expanded to 30 teams in 1998, and the first player to beat all 30 MLB teams was Al Leiter, who started his MLB career in 1987. Free agency was decades old by that point, but it is also a necessary piece of the puzzle here.
There's a chance the list of pitchers with wins against all 30 MLB teams lengthens in the years to come. MLB introduced a balanced schedule in 2023, which enables teams to play more games outside their divisions.