The 50 Best MLB Pitching Coaches of All Time

Doug MeadCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2012

The 50 Best MLB Pitching Coaches of All Time

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    Major League Baseball has certainly seen an evolution in terms of coaching over the past several decades. With the advent of modern technology, the birth of sabermetrics and the development of bullpen specialists, the need for more advanced coaching was necessary.

    Pitching coaches have become an integral component for each MLB team. Managers rely heavily on their assessment of each pitcher and are tasked with the responsibility of working with each pitcher to tweak mechanics, act as a mentor/adviser and in some cases act as a psychologist.

    Very few teams employed pitching coaches before the 1960s, and when they did, they were often former catchers. In the book The Evolution of Pitching in Major League Baseball, author William F. McNeil noted that catchers could help out with evaluating a pitcher’s stuff, but not much else. Forty or 50 years later, the pitching coach has become the manager’s “right arm.”

    With the evolution of pitching, hundreds of pitching coaches have tried their hand at transforming pitching staffs with varying degrees of success. Each coach is vastly different in their approach, some strong on mechanics, others focus more on game preparation and others with various techniques and strategies developed over time.

    Here is a list of 50 MLB pitching coaches who could be considered the most successful in their craft.

     

50. Charlie Root

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    After a stellar 17-year career during which he won 201 games for the Chicago Cubs, pitcher Charlie Root took what he learned and put it to practice, becoming one of the most successful pitching coaches of the 1950s, most notably for the Milwaukee Braves.

    Root preached what he called the "9 Commandments," stressing the key points that he believed would lead to long-term success for each of his pitchers.

    It worked out pretty well for the Braves, who captured two National League pennants and one World Series title during his tenure in the late 1950s.

49. Herm Starrette

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    Herm Starrette's career in the majors lasted only three seasons and 27 total games, however, his fame came later as a pitching coach for over 25 years.

    Starrette worked with seven different MLB clubs in that role, most notably with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1979-1981, playing a key role in the Phillies' first-ever World Series championship.

    Starrette was also instrumental in evaluating and developing pitching talent at the minor league during his fabulous 28-year coaching career.

48. Lee Stange

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    When Lee Stange retired in 1970 following a 10-year career in the majors, he immediately went to work as a coach, first for the Boston Red Sox under manager Eddie Kasko, and returning years later under manager Ralph Houk.

    During Stange's second tenure in Boston, he was instrumental in helping develop young pitchers such as Bobby Ojeda, John Tudor, Bruce Hurst and future Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens.

    After Stange's last year as pitching coach in 1984, he continued working with the Red Sox for the next nine seasons as a roving minor league pitching instructor.

47. Dave Wallace

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    Pitching coach Dave Wallace has enjoyed a long and successful career, dating back to his days with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995.

    As the Dodgers pitching coach, Wallace was instrumental in the development of future Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez, Cy Young Award winner Orel Hershiser, Ramon Martinez, Pedro Astacio and many others. Hershiser has often said that Wallace had a huge influence on his career.

    "In a way, I am the extension of (Sandy) Koufax and Wallace on the mound," Hershiser said in a Sports Illustrated interview.

    In 2003, Wallace joined the Boston Red Sox as pitching coach, and one year later became part of history as the Sox finally broke their 86-year World Series drought in a four-game sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals.

    Today, Wallace is still working his craft, helping develop minor league pitching prospects in the Atlanta Braves organization.

46. Billy Muffett

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    In a coaching career that spanned 18 seasons, Billy Muffett earned recognition as a stellar pitching coach, first for the St. Louis Cardinals (1967-1970), where he influenced the careers of pitchers Steve Carlton, Dick Hughes and Nelson Briles.

    Employing an idea first adopted by famed pitching coach Jim Turner, Muffett convinced several of his pitchers to employ a no-windup delivery, resulting in better control and command.The Cards finished in the top two in ERA during Muffett's first three years as pitching coach.

    In 1974, Muffett became the pitching coach for the California Angels, working with star pitcher Nolan Ryan and helping to develop the career of young left-hander Frank Tanana.

    Muffett also worked for the Detroit Tigers from 1985-1994.

45. Brad Arnsberg

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    As a young pitching coach hired by the Florida Marlins in 2002, former pitcher Brad Arnsberg was the guiding force behind a pitching staff that included Josh Beckett, A.J. Burnett, Brad Penny, Ryan Dempster, Carl Pavano and later, Dontrelle Willis.

    Under Arnsberg's guidance, the Marlins' vastly improved in 2003, lowering their ERA from 4.36 (13th in NL) in 2002 to 4.04 (7th in NL) in 2003, leading the Marlins to an improbable six-game victory over the New York Yankees in the 2003 World Series.

    Arnsberg moved to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2005, and over the next five seasons presided over the development of pitchers Shaun Marcum, Jesse Litsch and Ricky Romero.

    In 2010, Arnsberg took over as pitching coach for the Houston Astros, and despite his popularity with the pitchers there, was let go in June 2011 due to philosophical differences.

44. Wilbert Robinson

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    Former catcher Wilbert Robinson is largely credited with being one of the first full-time pitching coaches in MLB history, working with manager John McGraw of the New York Giants for 11 seasons, from 1903-1913.

    Robinson served as player/manager of the Baltimore Orioles for the team's first two years in the fledgling American League in 1901-1902. After retiring as a player, Robinson joined McGraw with the Giants, and the McGraw/Robinson tandem would win five National League pennants in their 11 years together.

    Among the pitchers that Robinson helped guide to greatness were Hall of Famers Joe McGinnity and Rube Marquard, and later, as manager of the Brooklyn Robins, Dazzy Vance and Burleigh Grimes.

43. Rick Anderson

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    In 2002, former pitcher Rick Anderson was asked to take on the role of pitching coach for the Minnesota Twins. Anderson had some monumental shoes to fill, taking over for the wildly successful Dick Such, who guided the Twins' pitching staff for 16 seasons.

    Anderson, however, has been pretty good in his own right. While the 2011 season ended in disaster for the Twins with a league-leading 99 losses, the Twins' pitching staff has boasted the third-lowest ERA in the American League, at 4.11, during his time as coach. Anderson has expounded upon the teachings of Such, preaching a theory based on control, pitching to contact and allowing the defense behind the pitchers to do their job.

42. Chuck Hernandez

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    Chuck Hernandez earned his coaching stripes in the minors for several years in the California Angels farm system, moving up to the big club in 1992 as bullpen coach. He took over as pitching coach the following year, working in that capacity until 1996.

    In 2004, Hernandez was named pitching coach of Tampa Bay Devil Rays by manager Lou Piniella, who was more than impressed with Hernandez's work with young pitchers in the Devil Rays' farm system over the previous couple of seasons.

    Hernandez continued cultivating a young Devil Rays pitching staff for two seasons before moving on to the Detroit Tigers, where he oversaw a pitching staff that helped lead the Tigers to the 2006 World Series.

41. Ray Rippelmeyer

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    When former pitcher Ray Rippelmeyer took over as pitching coach for the Philadelphia Phillies, he inherited a pitching staff that for years had been inept. By the time he was finished in 1978, he had transformed into one of the best in baseball.

    Over his nine years as coach, Rippelmeyer presided over the development of Dick Ruthven, Ken Brett, Larry Chistenson and Steve Carlton, and the Phillies had won three straight NL East Division titles in Rippelmeyer's last three years.

    It was Rippelmeyer who suggested to Carlton that he use his famous slider more often after his trade from the St. Louis Cardinals. Carlton rode that pitch to two Cy Young awards under Rippelmeyer's watch.

40. Don Cooper

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    For 23 seasons, Don Cooper was an integral part of the Chicago White Sox, serving in several capacities since his hiring in 1988, working as the minor league pitching coordinator for 10 seasons before becoming pitching coach, first under Jerry Manuel and staying on when new manager Ozzie Guillen arrived in 2004.

    For 10 seasons, Cooper presided over the White Sox pitching staff, helping develop the careers of Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and several great relievers, including Bobby Jenks and Sergio Santos.

    Cooper presided over the No. 1 staff in the American League in 2005, helping the White Sox win their first World Series championship in 88 years. 

39. Mark Wiley

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    Mark Wiley had a very brief and nondescript career as a pitcher, appearing in just 21 games between 1975 and 1978, however, he gained much more success as a pitching coach.

    Wiley has worked with four different teams during his career as pitching coach: the Baltimore Orioles (1987, 2001-2004), Cleveland Indians (1988-1991, 1995-1998), Kansas City Royals (1999) and Florida Marlins (2005, 2008-2009).

    During his career, Wiley worked with manager Mike Hargrove on staffs in both Cleveland and Baltimore.

    "Mark may be the most creative person I've been around in this game," Hargrove said of Wiley. "He comes up with a lot of different ideas and ways to do things. They accomplish the same goals as all the other things, but he does it just with a little bit of a different twist."

38. Roger McDowell

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    After a successful 12-year career as a relief pitcher, notching 159 saves and a lifetime ERA of 3.30 in 723 appearances, Roger McDowell hung up the spikes in 1996. However, exactly 10 years later, he was back in the majors, replacing a legend.

    McDowell took over as pitching coach of the Atlanta Braves in 2006, replacing long-time coach Leo Mazzone, who left to take a similar position with the Baltimore Orioles.

    In McDowell's seven seasons, the Braves continue to boast one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. McDowell has presided over the development of Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor, Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters, and will be tasked with nurturing much-hyped youngsters Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran.

37. Frank Shellenback

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    During a stellar career in the Pacific Coast League, pitcher Frank Shellenback won a stunning 295 games, by far the most in PCL history. He pitched briefly for the Chicago White Sox in 1918 and 1919 before returning the PCL.

    Shellenback was the player/manager of the San Diego Padres of the PCL when he discovered a young 17-year-old hitter by the name of Ted Williams, who would sign for and debut with the Boston Red Sox three years later in 1939.

    Shellenback himself made it to the majors as well, becoming a pitching coach for the St. Louis Browns (1939), Red Sox (1940-44), Detroit Tigers (1946-47) and New York Giants (1950-55). Shellenback won two pennants alongside manager Leo Durocher with the Giants, winning a World Series title in 1954.

36. Ray Berres

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    Ray Berres was primarily a backup catcher during his 11-year career that ended in 1945, hitting just .216 with three home runs. However, he became legendary in Chicago with his 20-year association with the White Sox.

    Berres became the pitching coach for Chicago in 1949, a position he held for the next 18 seasons until 1966, and briefly coming back in 1968 and 1969 at the request of manager Al Lopez.

    During Berres' tenure, he was instrumental in turning around the careers of Virgil Trucks, Gerry Staley, Turk Lown and Don Mossi, and was a tremendous help to a young Tommy John. John had been traded to the Sox by the Cleveland Indians after a disastrous rookie season in which he went 2-9.

    Under Berres' tutelage, John was 14-7 in his first season with the White Sox, crediting Berres with working on his overall approach to hitters.

35. Joe Kerrigan

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    Joe Kerrigan started his coaching career with the Montreal Expos in 1983, serving as bullpen coach and minor league and minor league pitching coach in the farm system before taking over as pitching coach in 1992.

    For the next five seasons, Kerrigan guided the Expos pitching staff, helping in the development of young pitching superstar Pedro Martinez. In 1997, following the recommendation of former Expos GM and current Boston Red Sox GM Dan Duquette, Kerrigan joined the Red Sox coaching staff under manager Jimmy Williams.

    Kerrigan guided the Red Sox staff until August 2001, again working with Martinez during the best years of his career. Kerrigan took over as manager after the firing of Williams, but was let go when new ownership took over in early 2002.

    Kerrigan worked with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2003-2004, then with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2008-2010.

34. Al Widmar

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    For 10 seasons following a lackluster major league career as a pitcher, Al Widmar made his way through the minor leagues as a very successful manager before finally making it back to the majors as a pitching coach.

    Widmar joined the Philadelphia Phillies' staff in 1962, aiding the development of young pitchers Ray Culp and Chris Short. Widmar served under manager Gene Mauch for two seasons, and returned again as pitching coach in 1968, this time helping youngsters Rick Wise and Grant Jackson.

    Widmar toiled as the pitching coach for the Milwaukee Brewers for two years in the mid-1970s, but in 1980 Widmar took his talents to the Toronto Blue Jays, spending the next decade north of the border.

    During Widmar's time in Toronto, he oversaw the development of pitchers Dave Stieb, Jimmy Key, Doyle Alexander, Tom Henke, Mark Eichorn and David Wells.

    Under Widmar's guidance, the Blue Jays went from expansion team cellar-dwellers to contenders, posting seven straight winning seasons and two AL East titles.

33. Carl Willis

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    In 2010, the Seattle Mariners thought so highly of the work turned in by Carl Willis that they hired him as their minor league pitching coordinator.

    That's pretty heady stuff for a guy who had just been fired by the Cleveland Indians.

    However, it was Willis' body of work during his seven-year tenure as pitching coach of the Tribe that caught the Mariners' eye. Willis oversaw the development of pitchers CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee, who captured back-to-back Cy Young Awards in 2007 and 2008. Lee's 22 wins in 2008 were the most by an Indians pitcher in 34 years.

    Willis was promoted to the Mariners' coaching staff in August 2010.

32. Tom House

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    Many people associate relief pitcher Tom House with home run king Henry Aaron. It was House who caught Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run in the Atlanta Braves' bullpen on April 8, 1974. However, House was also a pretty fine pitching coach as well.

    During an eight-year stint with the Texas Rangers from 1985-1992, pitcher Nolan Ryan credits House for helping prolong his career.

    In his induction speech during Hall of Fame ceremonies in 1999, Ryan said, "While I was [with the Rangers] I was very fortunate to have a pitching coach by the name of Tom House. And Tom and I are of the same age and Tom is a coach that is always on the cutting edge. And I really enjoyed our association together and he would always come up with new training techniques that we would try and see how they would work in to my routine. And because of our friendship and Tom pushing me, I think I got in the best shape of my life during the years that I was with the Rangers."

31. Dick Pole

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    An eye injury sustained in 1975 shortened the pitching career of Dick Pole, however, he went on to become a well-respected pitching coach in a career that spanned over 20 years.

    After finishing his career with the Seattle Mariners in 1978, Pole began working for the Chicago Cubs as a minor league pitching instructor, debuting as a major league pitching coach with the Cubs in 1988.

    For the next four seasons Pole worked with the Cubs pitching staff, and was instrumental in the development of four-time Cy Young Award winner and future Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux.

    Pole left the Cubs after four seasons, moving on to the San Francisco Giants (1993-1997), Anaheim Angels (1999), Cleveland Indians (2000-2001) and Cincinnati Reds (2007-2009). Pole also served as bullpen coach for the Boston Red Sox and as bench coach for the Cubs.

30. Norm Sherry

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    Norm Sherry worked as a pitching coach under manager Dick Williams for three different teams (the California Angels, Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres), and later with manager Roger Craig and the San Francisco Giants. However, Sherry was most famous for what he did as a backup catcher.

    Languishing on the bench behind starting catcher John Roseboro, Sherry continually watched left-handed pitcher Sandy Koufax struggle through start after start in the early 1960s. Koufax was blessed with an outstanding fastball, but often had trouble controlling it.

    Sherry took Koufax aside and convinced him that if he took a little something off his fastball, he could control it better. With Sherry's advice in hand, Koufax went on one of the most dominating five-year runs of any pitcher in modern baseball history, winning three Cy Young Awards and leading the Dodgers to three National League pennants and World Series titles in both 1963 and 1965 before finally retiring due to arthritis in 1966.

29. John Farrell

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    After his pitching career, John Farrell quickly gained the favor of the Cleveland Indians, who admired his eye for talent and named him Director of Player Development in 2001. Farrell served in that role for six seasons, however, when old friend and former teammate Terry Francona came calling, Farrell answered the call.

    Farrell took over as pitching coach for the Boston Red Sox to start the 2007 season, and immediately gained the respect of the pitching staff. In his very first season, the Red Sox led the American League with a 3.87 ERA and won their second World Series championship in four seasons.

    Farrell was instrumental in the development of pitchers Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, leaving in 2010 to become the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.

28. Cal McLish

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    Pitcher Cal McLish fashioned a 15-year career with seven different teams, winning 92 games before retiring in 1964. McLish gained even more fame as an outstanding pitching coach.

    McLish worked with three different teams—the Philadelphia Phillies (1965–66), Montreal Expos (1969–75) and Milwaukee Brewers (1976–82), helping to develop the careers of Steve Rogers, Bill Stoneman, Bob McLure, Larry Sorenson and Jim Slaton.

27. Larry Jansen

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    In the 1950s and early 1960s, pitching coaches were playing a much more prominent role in Major League Baseball, and San Francisco Giants pitching coach Larry Jansen was one of the best at his craft during that time.

    For 11 seasons, Jansen guided the Giants' pitching staff, helping to mold the careers of Future Hall of Fame stars Gaylord Perry and Juan Marichal. Under Jansen's guidance, the pitching staff helped the Giants capture the 1962 National League pennant.

    Jansen left the Giants following the 1971 season, guiding the Chicago Cubs for two seasons before retiring from baseball in 1973.

26. Bill Fischer

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    After a nine-year career as a pitcher for five different teams in the American League, Bill Fischer retired and went behind the scenes, working for several years in the Kansas City Royals' minor league system as a roving pitching instructor.

    Fischer made it back to the majors as a coach in 1979 with the Cincinnati Reds, working with manager John McNamara and a solid pitching staff that included Tom Seaver, Charlie Leibrandt, Mario Soto and closer Tom Hume.

    Fischer later became pitching coach for the Boston Red Sox, and under his guidance the pitching staff thrived, leading the Red Sox to three division titles and an American League pennant during Fischer's tenure (1985-1991).

    Roger Clemens, who won three of his Cy Young awards in Boston, often credits Fischer for having a positive influence on his career.

25. Don Gullett

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    Pitcher Don Gullett enjoyed great fame as a player, winning two World Series titles with the famed "Red Machine" Cincinnati Reds in 1975 and 1976, and following up with two more titles with the New York Yankees in 1977 and 1978 before retiring due to shoulder issues in 1980.

    In 1993, Gullett returned to the majors, becoming the pitching coach for his original team, the Reds. Gullett was immensely popular with his pitching staff, lasting for 13 seasons and working with six different managers during his tenure.

    Generally, new managers like to bring in their own pitching coaches when taking over a new team, but that was the respect that Gullett received during his coaching career.

24. Mike Roarke

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    Mike Roarke retired in 1964 after a four-year career as a catcher for the Detroit Tigers, honing his skills as a coach in the bullpen with the Tigers and California Angels for six years before his first job as pitching coach with the Tigers in 1970.

    Roarke moved on to become pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox. Roarke's greatest success came with the Cardinals under manager Whitey Herzog, guiding two staffs to help lead the Cardinals to National League pennants in 1985 and 1987.

23. Bud Black

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    After a 15-year career in which he won 121 games with a 3.84 lifetime ERA, Bud Black put his skills to use as a pitching coach, first working with the Anaheim Angels in 2000.

    During his seven years in Anaheim, Black helped mold a staff that would help the Angels win their first-ever World Series in 2002. Black helped in the development of pitchers such as John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Francisco Rodriguez and Jered Weaver.

    Black has been the manager of the San Diego Padres since 2007, where his pitching staffs have finished in the top three in ERA in the National League three times.

22. Larry Rothschild

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    In 1995, Larry Rothschild started his coaching career with the Florida Marlins, and by the time the 1997 season was over, the Marlins had their first-ever World Series title and Rothschild had a new job—manager of the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

    Rothschild guided a group in Florida that included Kevin Brown, Al Leiter, Alex Fernandez, closer Robb Nen and 22-year-old Cuban star Livan Hernandez, who would go on to win the NLCS and World Series MVP awards.

    After his three-plus year stint as manager of the fledgling Devil Rays, Rothschild moved on to become the pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs, guiding the staff for nine seasons from 2002-2010. Currently, Rothschild is in charge of the pitching corps for the New York Yankees.

21. Marcel Lachemann

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    Many people associate the name of Marcel Lachemann with the California Angels' famous collapse in 1995, losing a one-game playoff to the Seattle Mariners at the end of the season after blowing a 10.5-game lead in mid-August to finish out of the playoffs.

    However, Lachemann was much more successful as a pitching coach. He began with the Angels, serving as pitching coach from 1984-1992 before moving on to the Florida Marlins when his brother Rene became the team's first-ever manager. He would then become the Angels' pitching coach again in 1997 under new manager Terry Collins.

    Lachemann finished his coaching career with the Colorado Rockies in 2000.

20. Mel Queen

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    From 1996-1999, former pitcher Mel Queen guided the pitching staff for the Toronto Blue Jays, presiding over three straight Cy Young Award winners—Pat Hentgen in 1996 and Roger Clemens back-to-back in 1997 and 1998.

    But Queen's biggest achievement came behind the scenes in 2000, when Toronto Blue Jays management asked Queen to work with struggling right-hander Roy Halladay. Halladay was coming off a disastrous season in which he posted a 10.64 ERA.

    Queen put Halladay through a rigorous offseason training program, working on building his stamina and tweaking his mechanics. Just two years later, Halladay won 19 games, and in the following season won his first Cy Young Award.

    “There’s no one I made that drastic a change to and verbally abused the way I did Doc,” Queen said at the time.

    “There aren’t many people that would have gone through what I put him through. I had to make him understand that he was very unintelligent about baseball. He had no idea about the game.”

19. Galen Cisco

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    For almost 30 seasons, pitching coach Galen Cisco used his knowledge to help pitchers for five different teams, culminating in two World Series championships.

    Ending his pitching career in 1969 with the Kansas City Royals, Cisco started his coaching career with the same team in 1971, working with young Royals pitchers through 1976 and helping to shape the careers of Paul Splittorff, Dennis Leonard and Steve Busby.

    Cisco then went to the Montreal Expos, working with pitchers Steve Rogers, Bill Gullickson and Scott Sanderson. Next stop, the San Diego Padres, where Cisco worked from 1985-1987. He then went on to assist the Toronto Blue Jays from 1990-1995, guiding a pitching staff that helped the Blue Jays win three consecutive AL East Division titles and back-to-back World Series championships.

    Cisco ended his coaching career under manager Terry Francona and the Philadelphia Phillies, retiring in 2000 after a 27-year career.

18. Roger Craig

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    Following an 11-year as a pitcher during which he became famous for throwing a split-fingered fastball, Roger Craig taught his signature pitch to many others during his career as a pitching coach.

    Craig became known as a great teacher, first with the San Diego Padres (1969–1972; 1976–1978), then the Houston Astros (1974–1975, and later with the Detroit Tigers (1980–1984). One of Craig's pupils, Jack Morris, mastered the split-fingered fastball during his career, helping to lead the Tigers to the World Series championship in 1984.

17. Art Fowler

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    If Billy Martin were considered a good manager, as he is by many leading experts and pundits, then it stands to reason that his trusty sidekick, Art Fowler, would be considered one of the better pitching coaches as well.

    Fowler was Martin's pitching coach for five different teams, the Minnesota Twins (1969), Detroit Tigers (1971–1973), Texas Rangers (1974–1975), New York Yankees (1977–79, 1983, 1988) and Oakland Athletics (1980–1982).

    Four separate times Fowler came back to the Yankees along with Martin, guiding Ron Guidry during his incredible Cy Young Award season in 1978.

16. Dick Such

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    Dick Such only appeared in 21 games in the majors, all in 1970 for the Washington Senators. However, his niche in baseball has been carved with his fabulous career as a pitching coach.

    First honing his skills for three years with the Texas Rangers in the mid-1980s, Such took over as pitching coach for the Minnesota Twins in 1986, and for the next 16 seasons oversaw a Twins' staff that didn't always lead in major categories, but through his guidance and theories based on control and command, kept Twins' teams in games longer than most.

    Such helped guide pitching staffs that were instrumental in World Series championships in 1987 and 1991, and nurtured pitchers such as Scott Erickson, Kevin Tapani, Eddie Guadardo, Brad Radke and Johan Santana.

15. Mike Maddux

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    While Mike Maddux may have won 316 less games in the major leagues than his brother Greg, he has carved out a niche as one of the most respected pitching coaches in Major League Baseball.

    Starting his coaching career with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2003, Maddux slowly but surely reworked attitudes and performance in Milwaukee. In previous years, the Brew Crew was based on hitting, but by the time Maddux left in 2008, he left behind a staff that posted a 3.85 ERA, second best in the National League.

    In Texas, Maddux had an even bigger challenge. He took over a pitching staff for the Rangers that posted a 5.37 ERA in 2008. He shaved off nearly a full run (4.38) in 2009, further shaving it to 3.93 in 2010, and a franchise-best 3.79 this past season.

    Maddux will be charged with helping Yu Darvish transfer his considerable skills to American baseball and helping Neftali Felix's transition into a starter much like C.J. Wilson in 2010.

    Considering the body of work submitted thus far, it could be a piece of cake for Maddux.

14. Jim Hickey

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    Jim Hickey may never have gotten past the minor leagues during his playing career, but he has more than held his own in the majors as a pitching coach.

    After spending 14 years toiling in the minors while honing his craft, Hickey took over as pitching coach for the Houston Astros in July 2004. The staff immediately responded, winning 48 or their remaining 84 games and reaching the NLCS before falling to the St. Louis Cardinals.

    The following season, Hickey guided the Astros' staff to a 3.51 ERA, second-best in the NL, and Houston made to their first-ever World Series.

    Hickey joined the Tampa Bay Rays for the 2007 season, and for the past five seasons has guided one of the best young pitching staffs in all of baseball.

13. Ray Miller

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    When famed pitching coach George Bamberger stepped down for the Baltimore Orioles following the 1977 season, manager Earl Weaver called upon a man who had guided the O's young pitching talent in the prior four seasons, Ray Miller.

    Miller had been signed by the Texas Rangers, however, and when Weaver came calling, the Rangers allowed Miller out of his contract to take the position. It turned out to be a pretty good decision for the Orioles, as Miller guided the pitching staff for the next seasons, winning the pennant in 1979 and a World Series championship in 1983.

    Under Miller's guidance, pitchers such as Steve Stone, Mike Flanagan, Scott McGregor and Mike Boddicker flourished, and Miller continued the pitching dominance previously established by pitching coaches Harry Breechen and Bamberger.

    Miller also guided the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff for 10 seasons between 1987-1996, helping manager Jim Leyland and the Pirates to back-to-back NLCS appearances in 1991 and 1992.

    Miller returned to the O's twice, for Davey Johnson in 1997, and again from 2004-2005.

12. Rick Peterson

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    During the Oakland A's run in the late 1990s and early 2000s that led to multiple playoff appearances despite a paltry payroll, the staff was led by the very capable hands of pitching coach Rick Peterson.

    Peterson helped develop the careers of Mark Mulder, Barry Zito and Tim Hudson, and is most noted for his belief in bio-mechanics, getting his pitcher to buy into a philosophy and system that was supported by GM Billy Beane.

    Peterson also served as pitching coach for the New York Mets in 2004-2008, helping guide the Mets to a third-best team ERA in 2005 and 2006.

11. Dave Righetti

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    As a pitcher in Major League Baseball for 16 seasons, Dave Righetti earned the nickname "Rags," and was the first pitcher in MLB history to pitch a no-hitter and later lead the league in saves, a feat since repeated by Dennis Eckersley.

    However, during his career as a pitching coach, Righetti has turned rags to riches.

    Righetti has served as the San Francisco Giants pitching coach since 2000, and in his 12 years by the bay, Righetti has overseen pitching staffs that helped the Giants win three NL West division titles, two pennants and one World Series championship.

    In the last three years alone, the Giants' pitching staff has finished second, first and second in ERA.

10. Joe Becker

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    One of the few catchers who went on to fame as a pitching coach, Joe Becker will best be remembered for his stint with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers.

    From 1955-1964, Becker oversaw a Dodgers pitching staff that was one of the best in baseball during his tenure. Working with pitchers such as Don Newcombe, Carl Erskine, Johnny Podres, Roger Craig, Sal "The Barber" Maglie, Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, Becker and manager Walter Alston worked magic together, collecting four National League pennants and three World Series titles before Becker's departure in 1964.

    Becker would later coach for the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs, helping along the development of Ferguson Jenkins, Ken Holtzman and Joe Niekro.

9. Ron Perranoski

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    Pitcher Ron Perranoski was one of the major league's early successful relief specialists, appearing in 457 games in relief over 14 seasons from 1961-1973, notching 179 saves, a lifetime 2.79 ERA and leading the AL in saves in 1969 and 1970 for the Minnesota Twins.

    However, Perranoski gained even more fame as a pitching coach, most notably for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1981-1994. In Perranoski's 14 seasons guiding the pitching staff, the Dodgers finished first or second in the National League in ERA nine times, winning the World Series title in 1981 and 1988.

    Perranoski brings his considerable knowledge of pitching to the San Francisco Giants, where he has served as director of scouting and player and development, pitching coach for two seasons, and now works as a special adviser for GM Brian Sabean.

8. Harry Breechen

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    During a 12-year career spent entirely in St. Louis, first with the Cardinals and his last year with the Browns, pitcher Harry Breechen won 133 games with a 2.92 lifetime ERA. But it was Breechen's work after the Browns left St. Louis for which he is most remembered.

    After his playing career ended in 1953 with the Browns, Breechen stayed with the club in its move to Baltimore, becoming the pitching coach for the Orioles for the next 14 seasons.

    During his career as coach, Breechen presided over the development of several great pitchers including Milt Pappas, Steve Barber, Jack Fisher, Dave McNally, Wally Bunker and Jim Palmer, winning a World Series title in 1966 over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    Breechen retired following the 1967 season and was succeeded by George Bamberger.

7. Johnny Sain

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    We've heard the famous phrase, "Spahn and Sain, and pray for rain," referring to the exploits of Sain and fellow pitcher Warren Spahn during the 1948 Boston Braves' pennant-winning season. However, after his career, Sain became noted for his outspoken views and cantankerous attitude as a pitching coach.

    Still, even with Sain's often irascible temperament, he was successful. In stints with the Kansas City Athletics (1959), New York Yankees (1961-1963), Minnesota Twins (1965-1966), Detroit Tigers (1967-1969), Chicago White Sox (1971-1975) and Atlanta Braves (1977, 1985-1986), Sain helped transform a multitude of pitchers into 20-game winners, several of whom had never achieved the feat before Sain's arrival or after his departure.

    Jim Bouton, Ralph Terry and Whitey Ford each achieved 20-win seasons under Sain with the Yankees, a feat they had never reached. The same thing happened in Minnesota, where Sain helped guide Mudcat Grant to a 20-win season. In Detroit, Sain guided Denny McLain and Earl Wilson to 20-win seasons, with McLain winning 55 games in two seasons and back-to-back Cy Young awards (McLain did win 20 in 1966, before Sain's arrival).

    In Chicago, Sain took a White Sox team that posted a league-worst 4.54 ERA in 1970 and improved it to a fourth-best 3.12 ERA in 1971.

    No less than Mickey Lolich himself credited Sain with turning around his career. Lolich won 19 games in 1968 and followed up with three huge victories in the World Series, including the series-deciding seventh game over Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson. Lolich would go on to become a two-time 20-game winner.

    "Without Sain's help I never would have done it," Lolich said at the time.

6. Mel Harder

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    Throughout the 1930s and early 1940s, Cleveland Indians pitcher Mel Harder was one of the best hurlers in the American League, with four straight All-Star Team selections from 1934-1937 and 223 lifetime wins in a 20-year career.

    However, after his career ended, Harder continued supplying the Indians with great memories as their pitching coach. From 1948 to 1963, Harder presided over pitching staffs that included Bob Feller, Early Wynn, Bob Lemon and Mike Garcia, and before his stint ended in 1963, he helped in the early development of pitchers Sam McDowell, Luis Tiant and Tommy John.

    Harder would later coach with the New York Mets (1964), Chicago Cubs (1965), Cincinnati Reds (1966-1968) and Kansas City Royals (1969), but for Indians fans, it's only his time in Cleveland that counts and matters.

5. Mel Stottlemyre

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    For 11 seasons, Mel Stottlemyre was consistent in his approach as a starting pitcher, and it worked to the tune of 164 victories and a 2.97 lifetime ERA for the New York Yankees. Stottlemyre took that knowledge and applied it very well during his career as a pitching coach as well.

    For two separate 10-year stints with two different New York-based teams (Mets, 1984-1993; Yankees, 1996-2005), Stottlemyre molded some pretty terrific pitching staffs in both cities, first with the Mets under manager Davey Johnson, culminating in a World Series championship in 1986, and then under manager Joe Torre for the Yankees, collecting another four World Series titles.

    Stottlemyre had shorter stints with the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners as well, but his time in New York was certainly well spent.

4. Jim Turner

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    Over an incredible 24-year career as a pitching coach, Jim Turner was famous for carrying around a little black book, and it wasn't for his dating career.

    ''He knew if one of them (pitchers) changed a blade in their razors,'' Phil Rizzuto once said.

    With Turner's fastidious note-taking, he guided the New York Yankees' pitching staff under manager Casey Stengel from 1949-1959, and again under manager Ralph Houk from 1966-1973, taking a break in between with a stint as the pitching coach for the Cincinnati Reds (1961-1965).

    Under Turner's first time around, the Yankees won nine pennants and seven World Series, with Turner helping develop the careers of Whitey Ford, Allie Reynolds, Vic Raschi and Eddie Lopat.

    Turner also helped in the Reds' pennant-winning season of 1961, guiding a staff led by unheralded pitchers Joey Jay and Jim O'Toole to a 3.78 ERA, third best in the National League.

3. Leo Mazzone

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    From 1990 to 2005, the Atlanta Braves were easily one of the best teams in the Major Leagues, winning 14 of 15 NL East Division titles, five National League pennants and one World Series title. They did it with a pitching staff led by Leo Mazzone.

    Mazzone was brought on board by the Braves after spending several years in the minors, and the results were almost immediate. Through his 16 years, Mazzone was instrumental in the development of pitchers Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, and after Greg Maddux joined the Braves, he easily enjoyed the best seasons of his career under the tutelage of Mazzone.

    Several pitchers resurrected their careers under Mazzone as well, including Denny Neagle and Russ Ortiz, and several relievers enjoyed their best years in Atlanta, including Mike Stanton, Mark Wohlers and Greg McMichael.

2. George Bamberger

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    As the steward of the Baltimore Orioles pitching staff between 1968 and 1977, George Bamberger certainly got the most out of his players, and the results were often astounding.

    Bamberger oversaw O's pitchers who accomplished 20-win seasons on 18 separate occasions, including four Cy Young Awards along the way (Jim Palmer three times, Mike Cuellar once).

    In 1971, the O's had four 20-game winners (Palmer, Cuellar, Dave McNally, Pat Dobson), the last time in history that feat has been achieved.

    Bamberger's game plan was simple: Put the ball over the plate.

    "My whole idea is to throw the ball over the plate," Bamberger told Dave Anderson of the New York Times back in 1979. "The most important pitch is a strike. But the trick is to change speeds. Trying to pinpoint a pitch is crazy. Throw the ball down the middle, but don't throw the same pitch twice. Change the speed.''

1. Dave Duncan

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    During the 33-year managerial career of Tony LaRussa, his teams won 12 division titles, six pennants and three World Series championships. For each one of those accomplishments, pitching coach Dave Duncan was right by LaRussa's side.

    Over his 29-year coaching career, Duncan has presided over four Cy Young Award winners, four separate pitching staffs that led the league in ERA and has helped to resurrect the careers of several pitchers along the way.

    Duncan did it all as a former catcher, rare in today's game where former pitchers rule the roost.

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.