The game of baseball is exciting for a number of reasons. You’ve got your diving catches, your double plays, your home runs, and of course – your outstanding pitchers. Over the years, the MLB has delivered us a number of exceptional pitchers, and these right and left handed flingers have been the bane of every timid batter’s existence every time they walk up to the plate. Even when it comes to the great sluggers of the league, there is nothing quite as unnerving as having to face a pitcher who is known for striking people out. For this reason, we have taken it upon ourselves to decide exactly which pitchers we find to be the best of all time. What do you think?
There are stats, and then there is the experience. Let’s be real, so much of what we do in life is all about the experience itself, and baseball is no different. Let us explain further…. There have been countless amazing pitchers over the years, and yet people are still having debates these days over who the best of the best are. There are some obvious names, but at the end of the day, the matter tends to be vaguely subjective. Still, there is nothing quite as fun as compiling a list such as this, and we think you’ll enjoy the ride just as much as we did.
You didn’t have to be a Red Sox fan to know just how impactful Pedro Martinez was on the game of baseball. It’s one thing to talk about how amazing his ERA was, but it makes it even more impressive when you point out that this was during a time when more batters in the league were hitting homers more than ever before. In 2000, he had an absurdly low ERA of 1.74, one of the lowest of all time. He also won three Cy Young awards, beating out some serious competitors at the time. When people came to Fenway, it wasn’t the Green Monster they were afraid of… it was Pedro Martinez.
Back in the 90s, if you were a fan of any team in the National League, Greg Maddux was a name that you both feared and revered. Along with Tom Glavine, the Braves pitching staff was one of the best of all time, and Maddux was the kingpin. He was an extremely dominant pitcher, and very consistent as well. Since we’re discussing the 90s, his stats throughout that time period boasted an outstanding record of 176-88 and a 2.54 ERA! He also helped the Braves get to three World Series, winning one of them. A four time Cy Young winner, he also became known for throwing a complete game shutout, with less than 100 pitches.
Roger Clemens’ nickname, the “Rocket,” wasn’t given to him for no reason. It was because he made it his business to hit those weights and make sure he could give the heat when it was needed. In fact, he was a huge influence on future pitchers hitting the weight room. But it wasn’t all brawn for Roger – throughout his illustrious career, which spanned a total of 24 years, he won five Cy Young awards, and led his league in ERA seven times.
Considered to be one of the greatest of all time, this old school pitcher won a total of 417 games throughout his career, and it is believed that his astounding record of 110 shutouts will probably never be broken. In fact, he was the only pitcher to reside in the 3,000 K club for a staggering time period of 50 years! No wonder this man was the winner of two MVPS, 12 strikeout titles, and three triple crowns.
Having accolades isn’t always the best way to measure success, but they certainly don’t hurt. In Tom Seaver’s case, he has garnered a heap of admiration and respect from fans for the outstanding work he did during his MLB stint, winning Rookie of the Year, three Cy Young awards, nine straight seasons of at least 200 strikeouts, and five season of winning over 20 wins. Talk about a man who cemented himself in the record books!
We think it goes without saying that when you have an award literally named after you, it means you did something right. One might even say that he was the Cy Young award. It certainly would reflect accurately on all of his records. Indeed, he still holds the record for all time wins, losses, innings, and complete game, starts, hits, and ERA. Yeah, that’s right, his accomplishments are as timeless as the Cy Young award itself, and people will always remember him for it.
There is something about having an intimidating presence on the mound, regardless of how talented you actually are. Randy Johnson had both of these elements. It wasn’t just his ability to throw a 100 mph fastball consistently. It was the snarl he gave the batter before every pitch. It was his handlebar mustache and long hair. It was the fact that he was 6 foot 10. Add them all together, and you’ve got yourself the one they called the Big Unit.
Even the ones who don’t follow baseball know quite well who Nolan Ryan is. He’s just a name that you hear in baseball circles, regardless of content – but there is a good reason for that. With 5,714 strikeouts to his name, this guy was known for his lightning bolt of a pitch, that he was not afraid to place in the deepest corners of the batter’s strike zone. His unpredictable attack gave hitters an uneasy feeling when they stepped up to the plate, making him a truly scary pitcher.
Many people don’t know this, but Bob Gibson was actually a member of the Harlem Globetrotters for a short period of time – but when he decided to pitch for the Cardinals, it was the start of a long and beautiful career that folks are still talking about to this day. This two time Cy Young winner was the second to reach 3,000 strikeouts in his career, and also the first to pick up 200 Ks in a season. He also won two World Series MVPs.
This guy goes as far back as you can imagine, into the MLBs deep wells of ancient history, when he absolutely tore things up and made a place for himself in history. Nicknamed the “Gentleman’s Hurler,” among other things, he currently ranks in the top ten in a number of key pitching categories such as wins, shutouts, and earned run average. What’s even more impressive is that he’s the only player to hold top ten all time records both in career wins and ERA.
Throughout a 21 year career, this left handed pitcher won a total of 363 wins, which is even more impressive when you consider that he also served three years in the U.S. military. He was able to accomplish this by logging in at least 20 wins in 13 separate seasons, an exceptional accolade to write home about. It’s pretty commonly agreed that this guy is definitely one of the greatest pitchers of all time, and a huge influence on baseball.
How cool is Lefty Grove? Isn’t his name enough to make you a fan of him? Of course, this wasn’t his birth name. He was given the name “Lefty” because it was common knowledge that this guy was clearly one of the greatest left throwing pitchers of all time. Not only did he give the A’s two World Series titles, but he was the league leader in strikeouts for the first seven seasons of his career.
Satchel Paige is a legend in the world of baseball for his outstanding longevity, playing in the African American League for 22 years, before finally making the jump to the MLB when he was at the remarkable age of 42, becoming the oldest rookie of all time. Even though he was older, he was still good enough by the time he reached the MLB to win a World Series title with the Cleveland Indians, giving him a title in both leagues, a respectable feat.
Steve Carlton was known for a lot of things, and one of them was that snarky slider of his. He also had a way of getting under the skin of his opponents, whether or not it was on purpose. Regardless, his antics allowed him to win a total of four Cy Young awards as well as All Star appearances. There are some who saw him as an “artist,” an odd description for a professional athlete, but it seems that there was a method to his madness.
Grover Cleveland Alexander
There is no doubt that this man deserves to be on this list, given that he’s tied for third on the all time list for wins, at 373. His most notable time period in the MLB occurred when he pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies, and even won them a World Series. In addition, he’s got his share of other accolades as well, such as being a three-time Triple Crown winner, and a six-time champion of both wins and strikeouts in the National League.
Sometimes a player comes along and makes such a strong impact in such a short period of time that people are convinced that they are in the presence of sheer greatness. Roy Halladay is one of those players, logging in a plethora of impressive accolades before his tragic passing. Not only was he an eight-time All Star and a winner of two Cy Young awards, but he was also the 20th pitcher to ever throw a perfect game.
Any time you have a player that won multiple World Series with two different teams, you know you have someone special. It’s one thing to be able to log in notable stats during the regular season, but the ability to come through when it counts is an intangible quality that not every player has – and Schilling’s got it. In addition to his titles with the Diamondbacks and Red Sox, respectively, Curt was a six-time All Star.
You can’t really avoid it, but there will always be those who say that you can’t put a closer or a reliever on this list. But this is exactly why Rivera is just that good. It’s not just his MLB all time record of 652 career saves, or his 13 All Star appearances, or his five World Series titles with the Yankees. It’s the fear that he induces in his opponents when they face him – and it’s that psychological killer instinct that solidifies his place in baseball history.
Mr. Clayton Kershaw, by far the youngest man on this list and actually the only one still active in the league. This should be enough of enough of an indication regarding how good we believe he is, and how great he is regarded already. The man only just reached the age of 30, and he’s already got a ton of accolades to his name, including three Cy Young awards, an NL MVP, and a 6.61 career hits per innings pitched average – the second lowest of all time.
Sandy Koufax is certainly one of the all time great pitchers, and there are some who consider him to be the best. This Dodger pitcher managed to get his hands on four World Series titles during his time with the team, and was the Series MVP for two of the four. A seven-time All Star and three-time Cy Young winner, Koufax was also remembered for his historic decision to not pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because of Yom Kippur, a Jewish high holiday.