While I agree that using wins as the stat to rank the best of pitchers in this era is a foolish thing to do, there is no doubt that the W in past eras was one of the best ways to determine the best from the above average. Especially before the times where the total of strikeouts by pitchers started to grow. I understand how the critic can talk about the benefits certain pitchers had for being on good teams. However, when a pitcher was completing the majority of the games they were starting, it clearly put them in more of a position of control whether their team won or lost the games they pitched. If my last statement was not true, then why will their not ever be a member of the 300 win club not enshrined in Baseball's Hall of Fame. (Roger Clemens will eventually get in, even if it is not for many, many years.)
Other than Cy Young, only Walter Johnson won over 400 MLB games in his career (417). There is no question MLB has seen the last of its 400 game winners. And because of the pitch count, we have likely seen the last of 300 game winners as well. I hope someday there will be enough information available so that we can have a better idea of how many games some of the great Negro Leagues pitchers won. It would be great to compare win totals, strikeouts, total innings and seasons of all the great pitchers to throw a baseball. Satchel Paige pitched 23 seasons professionally before he made his MLB debut with the Cleveland Indians in 1948. It is likely Paige won over 300 games over the course of his professional career. It would not be shocking if he won over 400.
The only other known pitcher to win 400 games over the course of his professional career was longtime Japanese League LHP Masaichi Kaneda. Kaneda pitched for the Kokutestu Swallows from 1950-1964 and finished his Japanese Baseball career with the Yomouri Giants from 1965-1969. Arguably the most dominant pitcher to ever pitch in the country, he won 400 games, losing 298, had a 2.34 ERA and 4490 strikeouts for his career. In MLB history, only Nolan Ryan (5714), Randy Johnson (4875) and Clemens (4672) had more. You can make a case that Kaneda's won/ loss record was less than stellar- and the fact that he walked a lot of batters at the beginning of his career leaves a little bit to be desired. However, there was not a more dominant pitcher over the course of his career than Kaneda was for his 20 seasons.
Kaneda was actually born via Korean parents and his birth name was Kim Kyung-Hong. He was naturalized in Japan is 1959, during his 9th Japanese League season. Though there was no evidence of any type of radar gun being used during the time Kaneda pitched, it was said that he possibly topped 100 mph on some of his fastballs. The fastball and a drop curve ball were the only two pitches that Kaneda threw. I find that fascinating considering the amount of pitches contemporary Japanese pitchers throw. His team, the Swallows, were one of the worst teams in the league when he got there and they struggled for the majority of the time he pitched there. However, when he signed as a free agent with the Yomouri Giants, he embarked on a four year Japanese World Series Championship streak (they won win another 5 more in a row after he retired, the first being his last season as a pitcher). While a manager for 9 seasons, he won another Japanese League Championship (in 1974 with the Lotte Orions (Chiba Lotte Marines). Ironically, his Championship as a manager ended the Giants 9 year winning streak.
In the days of the top Japanese pitcher pitching in the US, I wonder how Kaneda would have fared in the big leagues. The fact that he had only two pitches gives me mixed feelings on how successful he would have been. He certainly would have been serviceable, but I would think he would have been more successful as a relief pitcher, perhaps like Kazuhiro Sasaki did for the Mariners from 2000-2003. Especially considering the time he pitched, since he would have been great pitching multiple late innings.