In professional baseball’s 150-year history, the game has changed quite a bit. Long gone are the days when a team’s ace would pitch 350 innings per season over the course of 40 starts. That’s why Cy Young’s all-time record of 511 wins is impossible to break, at least the way pitchers are currently used. Young won 25 or more games 12 times in his career, which spanned from 1890 to 1911. But it’s been nearly 30 years since a pitcher reached that mark. The last to do so was Bob Welch, who went 27-6 with the 1990 A’s despite being the third best pitcher on his team. (One game Welch could not win, however, was Game 2 of the World Series, in which he allowed 2 doubles and a triple to Billy Hatcher in a 5-4 loss.) It’s safe to say that no pitcher will ever come close to winning 511 games ever again. Unless, that is, we push the boundaries of what it means to win a game.
I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that the win statistic is pretty dumb. It largely rewards a pitcher for having a good offense around him. One interesting wrinkle is that starting pitchers are required to pitch at least 5 innings to be eligible for the victory. If the starter is pulled with the lead before the end of the fifth inning, then his replacement is in line for the victory instead. This rule is a major reason why Tampa Bay “bulk guy” Ryan Yarbrough was able to win 16 games in 2018 despite making just 6 starts. I decided to take this rule to the absolute extreme. With the singular goal of maximizing his win total, I believe that even a mediocre relief pitcher could blow past Cy Young’s record of 511 wins.
The easy choice for my guinea pig is Phil Coke, former middle reliever for the Tigers and Yankees, among other teams. Choosing Coke was a no-brainer not just because I’ve written about him in the past, but because he is statistically a very average pitcher, with a 101 ERA+ for his career.
So now that we’ve decided on the player, let’s figure out how this simulation will work. I placed a 20-year-old Coke on the Red Sox, the team that scored the most runs in the league in 2018. I will then manually play each game. If his team has the lead with two outs in the 5th inning, I will pull the starting pitcher and insert Coke for the third out. And that’s it! As long as the bullpen doesn’t blow the game, Phil Coke gets the win. It’s that simple. Additionally, Coke may come into a tie game if I have reason to believe his team will take the lead by the time he comes out. The AI will decide when to pull Coke and what pitchers to insert for the rest of the game. Coke will do this from age 20 until he burns out. And we will be with him every step of the way. I will control the Red Sox and whatever other teams bring Coke in for his services. In my role as GM, I will acquire bullpen arms to preserve the lead (so long as they do not displace Coke), and I will insert our hero into the game at the proper time. Other than that, I will be completely hands off. The computer assistant GM can make any additional transactions that it sees fit, including cutting ties with Phil or immediately reversing any of my moves.
It probably isn’t a good baseball strategy: the bullpen will be absolutely gassed by the middle of the season. But I don’t care. Even if the Red Sox win 60 games, it’ll be a successful year if Coke wins 50 of them. One of the most interesting things to see will be how Coke is regarded. Will his absurdly high wins total be enough for him to receive awards at the end of each year? Will it be enough for voters to give him a Hall of Fame nod? And will he be able to stick around long enough to break Cy Young’s unbreakable record? Let’s begin.
2018: 50-2, 3.09 ERA
Determined to create a super-bullpen behind Coke, I acquired Aroldis Chapman and his contract as my first move in exchange for Eduardo Núñez. Then, I traded prospects Tanner Houck and Bobby Dalbec for Josh Hader. As a result, the bullpen seemed to get a little too good. After a 5-0 start and 0.96 ERA, Coke was placed on waivers just 15 days into the season. After being claimed by the Kansas City Royals, his time in Boston came to a quick end. Winning became significantly more difficult. After I traded for Joakim Soria and Sergio Romo, Coke won AL Pitcher of the Month for his 9-0 record. But from May 1st to May 17th, Coke failed to win a single game. With the Royals in the midst of a 12-game losing streak, I decided I had seen enough. On May 26th, after just over a month with the Royals, I made the executive decision to trade Coke back to the Red Sox. His 7 wins in Kansas City were still the second most by any Royals pitcher.
For the rest of the season, it was smooth sailing. Coke was named pitcher of the month every month except for May. Yet for some reason, he didn’t receive a single Cy Young vote. In August, he received the award thanks to a 10-0 record, despite his 6.97 ERA, 2.42 WHIP, and -0.4 WAR. The game simply didn’t know what to make of him. The AI made a series of strange moves for the team as well, trading Craig Kimbrel for Evan Gattis, and even more surprisingly trading Chris Sale for Paul Goldschmidt in a 1-1 deal. But despite Coke’s 50 wins, the Red Sox were bumped by Cleveland in the ALCS. Now with a season under his belt, Coke looks forward to getting back out there and winning games.
2019: 41-4, 2.56 ERA
Despite a 50-victory campaign for the Sox in 2018, it didn’t take long for Coke to be on the move again. After a 3-0 start in 5 games, Coke was waived and claimed by the Milwaukee Brewers on April 13th. To assist Coke at the back end of the bullpen, I acquired Raisel Iglesias and Adam Warren. The season was mostly a slog. The Brewers won just 68 games, but Coke was the winning pitcher in over half of them. I have also noticed that Coke will pick up a hold any time his bullpen blows a game in which he would have gotten the win. He had 13 holds in 2019. In exactly 100 appearances, Coke pitched just 84.2 innings, enough to pick up 41 wins. Though he missed the All Star Game and did not place in Cy Young voting, Coke was named NL Pitcher of the Month four times. It also was not enough to give him NL reliever of the year, as Reds closer Austin Brice (?!) saved 43 games with a 1.77 ERA. Regardless, Coke improves to 91-6 for his career, despite relatively pedestrian numbers in every other way. After signing a 1-year extension, Coke hopes to have some job security in 2020.
2020: 51-4, 3.66 ERA
The Brewers got out to a hot start, and so did Phil Coke. Through the first two months, his team was in first place, and Coke was a league-best 17-1 with a 2.90 ERA. However, things fell apart a bit in June. Though he went 7-0 and won pitcher of the month, Coke posted a 5.54 ERA and 1.69 WHIP for the month. Though his actual performance doesn’t matter in Coke’s quest to beat Cy Young’s record, it clearly bugged the Brewers. On July 6th, Phil Coke was waived once again. This time he was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays, who slotted him right into the bullpen. It was Coke’s 4th team in just 2.5 seasons. Though the Jays somehow had Paul Goldschmidt and Bryce Harper in the lineup, along with Guerrero and Bo Bichette, they were just 41-45 when Coke joined the team. But things turned around quickly north of the border after this acquisition, as they rallied to take the Wild Card. Coke had a terrific August, going 7-0 with a 0.55 ERA. But his team won despite him in September, as Coke went 11-1 but had a 7.62 ERA and 1.69 WHIP. He won Pitcher of the Month both months. Ultimately, they ended up losing to the Angels in the Wild Card game. Overall, Coke set a new career high in the victory column, but had his worst season in many ways. His 3.66 ERA and 1.31 WHIP were pedestrian. The game seems to be eager to give a high-win, low-everything else pitcher certain awards, while shying away from giving him others. Coke was named Pitcher of the Month in all six months this year, yet he was not an All Star. He now has received 15 Pitcher of the Month awards, yet he did not receive a single vote in either Cy Young or Reliever of the Year voting. Phil Coke is an enigma. An enigma who has won 142 games in 3 seasons.
2021: 44-1, 2.80 ERA
After a rough end to the 2020 season, Coke came into 2021 with his Toronto future in jeopardy. He immediately silenced his doubters with one of the most remarkable months anyone has ever seen. In April, Coke was a perfect 10-0 with a 0.44 ERA and 0.74 WHIP, as the Jays jumped out to a 17-8 start despite the fact that 5 different starting pitchers were on the DL by the end of the month. But Coke’s brilliance wasn’t meant to last. He blew a 15-appearance scoreless streak on May 11th by allowing a home run to Cristian Pache, though he did end up winning that game. By the end of the month, his ERA was over 4 after a 7-run disaster against the Orioles on May 29th. The team fell apart shortly thereafter, going 6-21 in June. With all the injuries to the staff, the Jays targeted pitching at the deadline. Unfortunately, that means Coke was once again crowded out of the bullpen. I’m not sure why this keeps happening, but Coke was on the move once again at the All Star Break, this time heading back to the Kansas City Royals, with whom he pitched 18 games in 2018. His new team struggled, largely due to the rotation’s 5.87 ERA, but Coke went 17-0 with a 2.25 ERA down the stretch. He continues to be used more and more frequently, as his 109 appearances led the league. There were 19 games this season in which he left the game with the lead, only to see it frittered away by the bullpen. In four seasons, Coke now has 186 wins. His 63 wins in Milwaukee are 11th in team history, and his 53 wins in Toronto are 12th. Coke seems to be on pace to break Cy Young’s record, so long as he has his health and his playing time.
2022: 36-4, 4.15 ERA
The Royals got out to a hot start in 2022, going 16-11 in April and taking a 7-game lead in the AL Central by June. But as you could have guessed, this meant that they unfortunately had no use for Coke. He was waived on June 10th, despite his 17-0 record and 2.25 ERA. Three days earlier, he had won his 200th career game. Luckily, the 24-year-old Coke was able to quickly latch onto another team, as he was claimed by the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels became Coke’s fifth team. Coming into this project, I expected Coke to just pitch 20 seasons with the Red Sox and rack up a whole bunch of Ws. Somewhere down the line, the game decided to make it a lot more complicated. After just four games in Anaheim, Coke suffered the first injury of his career: a back injury that cost him two weeks. He came back to a team in the midst of a huge losing streak, and as a result went nearly a full month between wins. The Angels went 7-18 in July, and Coke was just 3-1, the fewest games he’s ever won in a month. The AI opted to sell at the deadline, sending Shohei Ohtani to Baltimore. The Angels still somehow managed to finish just one game out of the playoffs despite going 80-82. Coke had the worst season of his young career, and with the Angels he had a 5.95 ERA and 1.82 WHIP in 44 appearances. A free agent after the season, Coke’s future is in jeopardy. His 222 career wins are tied with Tim Hudson for 61st most all-time. His 5.2 WAR equals Kyle Davies.
2023: 45-3, 2.48 ERA
This offseason, free agent Phil Coke decided to sign with the Boston Red Sox again, going back to where it all began. The Sox gave him a 3-year, $11 million deal, which was a little lower than I was hoping for. These were not the Red Sox of a few years ago. Their starting first baseman was Daniel Vogelbach, and their best starting pitcher was someone named Tyler Blomster. But as the team struggled, Coke was able to pick up wins at a record pace. At one point, he had 17 of the team’s 21 wins. In May, he won 11 games despite a 2.05 WHIP. But despite some hiccups, it was a banner year for Coke. For the first time in his career, he played an entire season with the same team. He was named to his second All Star team and was the runner-up for AL Reliever of the Year. Though he missed three weeks with back tightness again, Coke pitched in 100 games and won 45. His 267 career wins rank him 35th all-time, just behind Jim Palmer.
2024: 49-7, 4.60 ERA
If you thought Coke’s successful 2023 would give him job security going forward, you’d be mistaken. After a rough start that saw the Sox begin 6-12 and Coke post a 10.38 ERA in his first 10 appearances, Boston DFA’d their star reliever. This time, he was claimed by the Houston Astros, fresh off an 81-81 season and their first playoff miss since 2016. Coke picked up the W in his first game in Houston, and he won 46 more by the end of the season. On August 17th, he won his 300th career game. Clearly thanks to this marquee acquisition, the Astros excelled down the stretch. After a 17-10 September, they went back to the playoffs before falling to the Angels in the ALDS in 4 games. But despite all the winning, Coke had easily his worst statistical season. He saw his rating fall to just 2 stars, and his 4.60 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and 6.1 K/9 were all career worsts. Coke has one more year with the Astros (or whomever he ends up with) before he becomes a free agent again. His 316 career wins now rank him 16th of all time, just behind Phil Niekro. His 6.6 WAR ties him with Tommy Milone.
2025: 53-2, 3.12 ERA
Coke had a bounceback season in 2025, setting a career high with 53 victories and posting a solid ERA. His 112 appearances were not just a career high, but an all-time record. Here is what that leaderboard now looks like in the Coke era.
Brett Cecil won 4 games and posted a 4.44 ERA in his historic 2020 campaign. Coke began the season the wrong way, taking the loss after giving up two runs to the Indianapolis Rattlers (formerly the Oakland Athletics). He bounced back quickly, but when closer Jandel Gustave came off the Injured List in mid-May, the Astros had no room in their bullpen for Coke. Once again, he was forced to be on the move, this time being claimed off waivers by the Chicago White Sox. Coke immediately thrived in his seventh organization, picking up the win in 7 of his first 8 appearances as his team surged. The Sox were 23-25 before picking him up, but they quickly fought their way into wild card contention before struggling down the stretch and finishing at 82-80. Coke was named AL Pitcher of the Month all 6 months but finished a distant 5th in Reliever of the Year voting. It’s clear that Player of the Month voters value different statistics than season-end award voters, but what will Hall of Fame voters think of Phil when the time comes? After 8 seasons, Coke is 5th all-time in wins with 369. But as he hits free agency again this offseason, his future is up for grabs.
2026: 54-4, 2.16 ERA
For much of the offseason, Coke remained unsigned. But finally, on the first day of Spring Training, Coke signed with the Detroit Tigers. Continuing his tour around the AL Central, he signed a 1-year, $1.2 million deal with the team he’s perhaps most closely associated with in real life. Joining Coke in the Tigers’ bullpen is 38-year-old Aroldis Chapman, who will be making upwards of $16 million despite his lowly ratings. Coke began the season hot, going 6-0 without surrendering a single run in his first 12 appearances. But it wasn’t meant to last. On April 16th Coke sprained his ankle, the first major injury of his career. After 5 weeks on the sidelines and two games in Toledo, Coke came back at the end of May. And when he came back, he seemed devoted to making up for lost time. In the month of June, Coke went an absurd 16-1, pitching in 23 of his team’s 27 games. The success of his team helped quite a bit, too. From June 2nd to the 14th, the Tigers won 11 straight games, and Coke picked up the W in 9 of those games. He was named an All Star for just the third time, pitching a scoreless 2nd inning for the American League. Despite the injury, 2026 may have been the apex of Coke’s career. His 54 wins, 2.16 ERA, and 1.06 WHIP are career bests to this point, and he still led the league with 96 appearances despite missing a full month. He finally won his first Reliever of the Year Award, and he finished third in Cy Young voting. This was also the season that saw Coke surpass Walter “The Big Train” Johnson for second place on the win leaderboard, finishing the year at 423. The only pitcher he has left to beat is Cy Young himself, and at his pace, Coke could pass him in just two seasons.
2027: 0-0, 0.00 ERA
After posting the best season of his career, the 29-year-old Coke signed a 3-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays worth $20.7 million. He had previously pitched with the Jays in parts of the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Unfortunately, he underwent elbow surgery at the end of March, forcing him to miss the entire season. Hopefully this setback doesn’t hurt his quest too much.
2028: 22-2, 2.58 ERA
The injury bug strikes again. On March 19th, Coke injured his hamstring, sidelining him until late May. After three rehab appearances with Buffalo, Coke finally returned to the majors on May 28th with the Jays in the middle of a 6 game losing streak. Following an 8-17 June for the team, Coke had just three victories to his name. With such a dreadful team surrounding him, Coke had very few opportunities to pad his stats. His Jays finished the season 5th in the AL East, ahead of only the expansion Columbus Flight. Though he didn’t reach his usual standard, Coke did lead the league still with 22 wins. His other statistics were in line with his career averages, and he is still just 30 years old. Coke has another year in Toronto before becoming a free agent yet again. His 445 wins are second in MLB history, and the 75 games he won in a Jays uniform places them 8th on their all-time list. The 2029 season will be very important for Coke if he wants to get back on pace to beat Cy Young’s record.
2029: 51-2, 2.48 ERA
Finally healthy, Coke put together one of the best seasons of his career. He pitched in an even hundred games, his third time hitting that milestone on the nose. He was able to put together his first 50-win season in three years while setting personal bests with 1.5 WAR and a 1.00 WHIP. Coke very nearly won his second Reliever of the Year award, finishing second only to Bikichi Kobayashi, a Yankees rookie who won the award unanimously. The 31-year-old Coke is a free agent yet again. His three year deal with the Jays was more like 1.5 years thanks to injuries. But he was able to see it through without being DFA’d, a rarity in his career. Coke is now 4th in Blue Jays history with 126 wins, and he is second in MLB history with 496 of them. Assuming he signs on with a team this offseason, Phil Coke should become the all-time leader early next year.
2030: 42-5, 3.79 ERA
Up to this point, Phil Coke has spent his entire career in the American League, save for 153 appearances with the Brewers in the early ‘20s. That changed this offseason, when Coke signed a 1 year, $2.04 million deal with the San Francisco Giants, his ninth major league team. Just 16 wins away from the record, Coke got out to a hot start. His first 8 appearances with the Giants, he went 5-0, giving up just 2 hits and 0 runs. On April 8th, he won his 500th game, pitching a perfect 1.1 innings against the Padres. Though his ERA was above 5.00 just 10 days later, the wins kept coming. On May 27th, he beat the Padres again for his record-tying 511th career win. For reference, Cy Young’s final victory came in a complete game shutout of the Pirates. 119 years later, Coke tied him with a slightly less gutsy performance; the only batter he had to face was opposing pitcher Erick Perez, and he struck him out on 5 pitches. All eyes were now on the Giants and Phil Coke, who was just one win away from glory.
Three days later, he entered the game against the El Paso Steelhounds, who joined the NL East in 2028 as an expansion team. With a 4-3 lead, the Giants inserted Coke into the game with two outs in the 5th inning. He allowed a Ronny Mauricio single and walked Dane Courson, but he got Kellum Clark to pop out to end the inning. Phil Coke was in line to make history, so long as the bullpen could hold El Paso off for the rest of the game.
They couldn’t. Luis Soriano immediately gave up a base hit, which was followed by two wild pitches and a sac fly. El Paso walked the Giants off in the 9th, and Coke picked up a hold, but not the elusive No. 512.
It only took one more day for Coke to get another shot. With a 5-4 lead, Coke entered the game once again with two outs in the 5th inning. It took him only one pitch to force a Bobby Zmarzlak groundout. He had done everything he needed to do. In the top of the 6th, the Giants scored 3 runs. With Coke’s record all but guaranteed, manager John Shelby decided to bring Coke back out for a victory lap. His second inning didn’t go according to plan. After a leadoff walk, he allowed a Seth Halvorsen single and hit Jacob Campbell with a pitch. With the bases loaded, Coke was pulled from the game for Luis Soriano. Soriano allowed two of Coke’s baserunners to score, but the score was still 8-6. After another run scored in the 7th, it was just a one run game. As it turns out, that was all Coke needed. When closer Humberto Aguilar struck out the side in the 9th, history was made. It wasn’t a good outing by any means, but it was good enough for Phil Coke to win his 512th career game. It took 13 years and collaboration from 9 different teams, but Coke was able to break baseball’s most unbreakable record without making a single start. He was worth just 11.6 WAR to this point. If you include his 6-79 line at the plate, that number drops to 10.1. It’s been a remarkably unique career. But his journey was not over yet. Phil Coke was just 32 years old. Could he make it to 600, 700, even 1000 wins? He knew he had to find out.
2031: 35-1, 2.51 ERA
Coke decided to stay in the National League for the 2031 season, signing a 1-year, $2.8 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, his 10th team. Many thought Coke’s career was in its twilight prior to the season, but he was able to prove them wrong with a little help from Cardinals’ Devil Magic. At the All Star Break, Coke was having his best season yet with a pristine 23-0 record and 1.01 ERA. Remarkably, he didn’t allow a single run in the months of May and June. (He did give up a solo home run to the only batter he faced in his 4th All Star Game, though.) But the underlying numbers showed that his hot start wasn’t meant to last. His K/9 was a career low 5.7, and he allowed 15 inherited runners to score, none of which counted to his ERA. Still, he was able to lower it to 0.89 before allowing 2 runs to the San Antonio Archers (formerly the Miami Marlins) on July 7th. Three days later, he suffered a shoulder strain that sidelined him for a month and a half. After coming back, he just wasn’t the same. As the Cardinals blew a 3-game division lead on the Reds, Coke posted a 6.28 ERA in September. He looked solid in the postseason, as the Cardinals took the Dodgers to 7 games in the NLCS, but it wasn’t enough to overcome his weak September. Coke failed to receive a single vote for reliever of the year. His rating has dropped to 1.5 stars, and he will be 34 on Opening Day. It may be difficult for him to find work next year. With 573 wins, he has won twice as many games as Bob Feller.
2032: 4-0, 3.45 ERA
Despite his diminished skills, there’s still a place in the Majors for Phil Coke. The Cleveland Indians signed him to a 1 year, $2.9 million deal to join their bullpen, becoming his 11th franchise. Wins were hard to come by; Coke was just 4-0 through his team’s first 24 games. But he had a reliable spot in the bullpen. Until, that is, closer Andy Murray came off the DL and Coke was designated for assignment. He passed unclaimed through waivers, and after refusing a demotion to AAA, he was released on May 4th. Phil Coke was without a home.
It didn’t take long for Coke to get snatched back up, though. Three weeks later, the St. Louis Cardinals gave him a minor league deal. It was just a year ago that he was putting up the best numbers of his career with the major league squad. He was assigned to High-A Palm Beach, where he pitched in a traditional role for the first time in his career. He thrived. Though he only won three games, he posted a 2.51 ERA with 16 “saves,” a novel concept to him. Unfortunately, he never got the call back up. The minor league season ended, and there was no room for him on the Major League roster. Phil was used to being crowded out despite his accomplishments, but this time no one was there to scoop him up. This time was different. Coke mulled retirement at the end of the season, but he ultimately decided to dedicate himself to making it back to the majors.
2033: 1-3, 3.89 ERA (MiLB)
Unfortunately, there is no happy ending to this chapter of Phil Coke’s career. But that certainly doesn’t mean it wasn’t interesting. On February 19th, the Rockies gave him a major league deal, presumably with the intention to bring him into their bullpen. However, for some unknown reason they decided to release him six days later. A few days passed, and that signing felt like a fluke. Until the Dodgers, Yankees, and Cubs all decided to do the exact same thing. Phil Coke received 4 identical $1,080,000 contracts, only to pitch in a couple preseason games and be released in two or fewer weeks each time. It was absolutely bizarre. Teams must have signed Coke for his reputation only to quickly realize that he’s terrible now. Finally, the Pittsburgh Pirates gave him a minor league deal in early April and assigned him to AA Altoona. There, he posted a 3.89 ERA and struck out just 14 batters in 39 innings. The writing was on the wall, and everyone except for Coke could see it clearly. But he was so used to being the best that he simply couldn’t let it end this way.
2034: 2-11, 4.96 ERA (MiLB)
Coke latched on with the Rangers on a minor league deal immediately after the free agent signing period began. Unfortunately, they too released him prior to the start of the season. Luckily, San Antonio swooped right in, becoming the 17th team to own the rights to Phil Coke. They assigned him to High-A Jupiter, where he looked like his old self again. He pitched 7 shutout innings without walking a single batter, earning a call-up to AA Jacksonville as the team’s closer. The hitters there weren’t nearly as kind to him. Though he saved 21 games, Coke posted a 5.64 ERA and 1.75 WHIP. Despite all this, the organization decided to give him a chance to prove himself in AAA in early September. He was just one step away from returning to the majors as long as he impressed enough people. He didn’t. Coke made just two appearances with AAA New Orleans and allowed a run in each of them. And then that was it. There was no retirement tour, no walk into the sunset. The winningest pitcher baseball has ever seen went out with a whimper. He announced his retirement on September 18th, 2034. He had pitched 15 seasons in the majors and accomplished everything he set out to do. Though he couldn’t quite get back to the big leagues at the end, Phil Coke could retire happy knowing that he truly had left his impact on the game of baseball.
It didn’t happen quite the way I envisioned, but I was able to make Phil Coke the all-time wins leader in baseball history. He led the MLB in wins every season except his last, and in 2020 he was the leader in both the AL and the NL with 25 and 26 in each league respectively. He won 50 or more games 5 times, although he never topped Old Hoss Radbourn’s record of 59. It’s undeniable that this experiment was a success. But how would the Hall of Fame voters view him? His JAWS is pretty terrible as are just about all of his non-counting stats. But his Black Ink and HOF Monitor are off the charts. Pundits argued both sides of his case ad nauseum in the five years after his retirement. Traditional voters loved the wins, but they hated the fact that he won just one major award and never pitched in the World Series. In 2037, it was finally time for judgment. Was he a first ballot shoo-in, or would he fall off the ballot unceremoniously?
It turns out the answer is somewhere in the middle. Coke received 65.3% of the vote his first year on the ballot, the first man out of a class that included Manny Machado, Carlos Correa, and Alex Claudio. The next year he was a little closer with 67.1%. Then finally, in his third year on the ballot, Phil Coke got the call. Receiving 83.4% of the vote, he was the one and only member of the Hall of Fame class of 2040. On that stage in Cooperstown, Phil Coke will stand alone, much like he had for his entire career. In typical OOTP fashion, the announcement made no sense:
That quote from Coke is just too perfect. “All the starters loved having me come in after one of their good performances because they knew they’d get a win that day.” Whoever generated that quote couldn’t be more wrong if they tried. And that raises the question as to what type of clubhouse presence Phil Coke actually was. No teammate of his ever won more than 8 games in a season, so I could see many starters being angered by his presence on the team. He was almost exclusively pitching on short or no rest, so I imagine he was always grumpy. In the early part of his career he was constantly on the move, so he may have been less willing to make friends. And finally, his teams were generally unsuccessful. He never once reached the World Series, and he only played in the LCS twice. His teammates could criticize him and the manager for sacrificing on-field results for novelty, and they would be 100% right. But their opinions don’t matter. Phil Coke is the all-time wins leader and a Hall of Famer. And all it took was dramatically pushing the envelope and forever changing the game of baseball.
Stats and Achievements:
Seasons: 14 (plus one lost to injury)
Innings Pitched: 1124.1
Blown Saves: 53
All Star Appearances: 4
Pitcher of the Month Awards: 52
Reliever of the Year Awards: 1
Teams Pitched For: 11
Career Earnings: $51,190,000
Phil Coke was never named the league’s greatest pitcher at the end of a season, but after his induction, he had a far greater honor bestowed upon him. On January 4th, 2040, the Cy Young Award was officially renamed the Phil Coke Award. After all, he was the new Cy Young now.