Since the start of professional baseball in America in 1869 there have been many, many great pitchers, but there is only that can be the best of all-time. I will be ranking the top 10 pitchers of all time and breaking down why each player belongs. My list is based off of career stats and some of my opinion has nothing to do with postseason success.
Here is my subjective list:
10. Bob Gibson 1959-1975
Gibson spent all 17 years of his career with the same team, the St. Louis Cardinals. Gibson has 2 Cy Youngs and 1 MVP to go along with his 8 all-star appearances and 9 gold-gloves. Gibson ranks in the top 50 in the all-time wins list at 47 with 251 wins and has a career .591 winning percentage. Gibson led the league 3 times in shutouts and had back-to-back years with 28 complete games. Gibson doesn’t have the best resume but he had the ability to blow it by almost every player.
9. Tom Seaver 1967-1986
Seaver became an instant force in the league winning a Rookie of the Year in 1967 by winning 13 games. Seaver a 3 time Cy Young winner and 11 time all-star has quite the resume to go along with his 20 year career. Seaver ranks 18th on the all-time win list with 311 wins as he was averaging 16 wins per year. Seaver led the league 3 times in both wins and ERA and 5 times in strikeouts. Seaver has 61 career shutouts and a career .603 winning percentage.
8. Greg Maddux 1986-2008
Maddux was just recently added to the Baseball Hall of Fame and that just puts a cherry on top to his 23 year career. Maddux ranks 8th on the all-time wins list with 355 wins and led the league 3 out of 4 years in wins from ’92-’95. Maddux a 4 time Cy Young winner, 8 time all-star and 18 time gold-glove winner just shows that he could do it all. Maddux rarely got injured leading the league 7 times in games started. Maddux appeared 13 times in the postseason and always helped his team to a victory.
7. Christy Mathewson 1900-1916
Out of Mathewson’s 17 seasons in the major leagues 16 and a half of them were with the New York Giants, which goes to show you how loyal he really was. Mathewson ranks tied for 3rd on the all-time win list with Pete Alexander at 373 wins and he led the league 4 times in wins. Mathewson was in the MVP voting 4 times and almost won the MVP but lost to Ty Cobb in 1911. Mathewson led the league 5 times in ERA and 4 times in WHIP. Mathewson is regarded as one of the best pitchers in history but gets very overlooked when it comes to other players to play during his time in Cy Young, Walter Johnson, and Pete Alexander.
6. Roger Clemens 1984-2007
Clemens was involved in a PED case but was never convicted of using them, therefore he is eligible to be on my list. Clemens pitched 24 years in the big leagues with four different teams. He is ninth on the all-time career wins list with 354 wins and is one of the only four pitchers to win the Cy Young and MVP in the same year since Sandy Koufax did it in ’63. Clemens a 7-time Cy Young winner has quite the legacy. Clemens was affective his whole career winning a Cy Young in ’86 and 2004 and never had down season. Clemens led the league 4 times in wins and 7 times in ERA. Boston fans will never forgive him for going to the Yankees but they were lucky enough to see one of the best pitchers in MLB history.
5. Sandy Koufax 1955-1966
Although Koufax only lasted 12 years, he made those 12 years very, very affective. Koufax led the league in WHIP (Walks+Hits per IP) 4 years in a row, and he has a career 1.10 WHIP. Koufax has a .655 winning percentage as he only won 165 games and lost only 87. Koufax’s most notable season was 1963 when he was an all-star and won both MVP and Cy Young, which has only been done 4 times since he did it. Koufax also led the league 5 years in a row in ERA, and has a career 2.76 ERA. Koufax was the youngest player ever to be inducted in the HOF at the age of 36. Koufax was also the first to pitch 4 no-hitters in the MLB. Koufax is probably most known by the guy who wouldn’t pitch game one of the 1965 World Series because of a Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, but that is not why he is on this list. Koufax is the probably the best lefty of all time.
4. Pete Alexander 1911-1930
Alexander is more known by Grover Cleveland, so I will refer to him as Cleveland. Cleveland is tied for 3rd in all time wins with Christy Mathewson at 373 Ws. Cleveland never did win a MVP but he was in the voting 6 times. He led the league in ERA 5 out of 6 times from 1915-1920 and has a career 2.56 ERA. Cleveland has a career winning percentage of .642 winning 165 more games than he lost. Cleveland had the ability to go very deep into games very often with 436 complete games and almost 21,000 batters faced.
3. Nolan Ryan 1966-1993
Ryan is tied with Cap Anson for the record of most seasons played with 27 in MLB history. Ryan isn’t only famous for his longevity but his ability to pitch and win! Ryan had 16 consecutive seasons of double-digit wins and holds the record for most strikeouts in a career with 5,714 KOs! He had a career .526 career winning percentage, and a career 3.19 ERA. Ryan had the ability to blow it by some of the best hitters to ever play and that is why he ranks 3rd all time on my list.
2. Walter Johnson 1907-1927
A 2-time MVP champion and arguably the best pitcher to ever live. Johnson had a 20 year career and started 666 games in his career. Johnson has the record of most career shutouts in 110! Johnson has 20 shutouts more than the Grover Cleveland who is 2nd behind Johnson in career shutouts. Johnson led the league 5 times in ERA, that is ¼ of his whole career! Johnson is second in career wins with 417 only second to Cy Young. Many could make a case for Johnson as the best pitcher of all-time.
1. Cy Young 1890-1911
Who was the best pitcher to never win a Cy Young award? Obviously Cy Young! Not only will his record of 511 Wins stand forever but his record of 749 Complete Games will stand forever. Now I know people say that was back then when pitchers pitched 50 games a year and that is why he won so many games. But, he started on average around 45 games a year and he did it for 21 years! He didn’t just win games because he had a monster offense he won games because he shut down other teams, he had a career 2.63 ERA over 21 years! There isn’t anything else I can say, his numbers show for itself.
That is how I list my top 10 best pitchers of all time, how do you rank yours?