Naming the top 5 MLB pitchers in history is a debate that can, and will, go on for ages. With so many great men to have stepped on to that mound, it’s impossible to narrow it down to a definitive list.
What even determines the best pitcher in baseball?
Some will say Cy Young is the best of all time because of his 511 wins. While that number is certainly impressive, you have to take in to account that over his 22 year career Young pitched in 906 games. Randy Johnson, who also had a 22 year career, pitched in a significantly less 618 games.
Nolan Ryan is undoubtedly the strike out king with his major league record of 5,714 Ks, and his 7 career no-hitters are an amazing feat, but he also holds the number three spot on the all-time loss list with 292.
Of all the Hall of Famers pitchers, Ed Walsh has the lowest ERA of 1.82, but he also only started 315 games. There are 17 other Hall of Fame pitchers with more wins than Walsh’s career starts.
Sandy Koufax was incredibly dominant for five years, but was that long enough to consider him one of the best of all time?
My point is that there will never be one ultimate answer to the question, “Who is the greatest pitcher of all time?”
I present the five that I consider the best of the best. I took more than just their statistics into account when I made this list. Agree or disagree with my rankings, I hope your mind is at least exposed to a viewpoint that you have yet to come across.
All statistics per baseball-reference.com.