Carlton, Palmer, Seaver?: The 10 Best Starting Pitchers From The 1970s

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Carlton, Palmer, Seaver?: The 10 Best Starting Pitchers From The 1970s
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There were 87 starting pitchers from the 1970s who pitched in at least 200 games. That is the highest number of any decade in the history of Major League Baseball, other than the 1980s and 2000s.

The 1970s is an interesting decade to write about, because it was chock-full of high-caliber pitchers.

In fact, there are eight starting pitchers from the 1970s that are in the HOF, and that is more than any other decade in the history of Major League Baseball, other than the first decade of the 1900s and the 1920s.

So, making this top 10 is harder to do than most decades, since there are eight HOFers. All eight HOFers made the top 10, so only two non-HOFers are in the top 10.  

If a player does not appear on the list of the 87 eligible players list, then they either didn’t reach 200 games or I consider them a pitcher from the 1960s or 1980s. The 1960s will be covered in a separate article, and I just wrote a collaboration article on 1980s starting pitchers.

Pitchers will only be in one decade. For example, Tom Seaver will appear in this article. So, he will not appear in my 1960s article, which I will write at a later date; and, of course, he did not appear in the 1980s article.


An Explanation of the Stats

The statistics used will be Games Pitched, Games Started, Innings Pitched, ERA, ERA+, W, W%+, H/9 (OBA), WHIP (OOB%), SHO, SHO/40 (per 40 games started), and K/BB (ratio). I will also letter-grade their length of career.

First, I will include their raw career numbers. These are simply their career numbers.

Second, I will include their adjusted career numbers, if they had a long career (which most have).

Adjusted career is this: Let’s take Jim Palmer, for example. Palmer had a long career. So in order to find his real numbers, I have to exclude some late seasons during his career to find the numbers that he really carried during his career, since he pitched past his prime.

With Palmer, I’d exclude his 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1984 seasons. That is his adjusted career. Again, this can only be done with long career players. If I don’t list an adjusted career under a player’s raw career numbers, then it means they didn’t play long enough to adjust for their long career or it means they didn’t have any bad seasons.

Third, I will include peak career numbers. Many like short peaks, not me. I include the best seasons equaling at least 200 games for a peak. It takes away the possibility of a pitcher having one or two lucky seasons. The 200-game peak will let us know how good the pitcher was at his best.

Note: W%+ is a statistic that I have invented. It takes the team's W% into account. It is very complicated as different weights are applied to seasons depending on how many games and innings pitched a pitcher accumulated during a single season. Having said that, here’s the simple version.

If a starting pitcher has a career .500 W% during the 2000s and that pitcher pitched for the Yankees. Well, .500 is not good. But, if that pitcher pitched for the Royals, then .500 is good. This is the reasoning behind W%+. It is to W% what ERA is to ERA+. It’s not foolproof, but either is ERA+, just another piece of the puzzle and far, far more important than raw W%.


The 87 Starting Pitchers

Here are the 87 starting pitchers from the 1970s that reached at least 200 games (listed in alphabetical order): Glenn Abbott, Stan Bahnsen, Jim Barr, Jim Bibby, Jack Billingham, Vida Blue, Bill Bonham, Dick Bosman, Ken Brett, Nelson Briles, Pete Broberg, Ron Bryant, Mike Caldwell, Steve Carlton, Bill Champion, Larry Christenson, Jim Colborn, Joe Coleman, Larry Dierker, Chuck Dobson, Pat Dobson, Dock Ellis, Ed Figueroa, Al Fitzmorris, Alan Foster, Dave Freisleben, Woody Fryman, Dave Goltz, Ross Grimsley, Don Gullett, Larry Gura, Bill Hands, Steve Hargan, Ken Holtzman, Burt Hooten, Catfish Hunter, Jesse Jefferson, Fergie Jenkins, Randy Jones, Clay Kirby, Bruce Kison, Jerry Koosman, Bill Lee, Mickey Lolich, Jim Lonborg, Jon Matlock, Rudy May, Lynn McGlothen, Doc Medich, Jim Merritt, Andy Messersmith, Bob Moose, Carl Morton, Joe Niekro, Phil Niekro, Gary Nolan, Fred Norman, Blue Moon Odom, Jim Palmer, Gaylord Perry, Fritz Peterson, Eric Rasmussen, Doug Rau, Steve Renko, J.R. Richard, Dave Roberts, Steve Rogers, Jim Rooker, Tom Seaver, Bill Singer, Jim Slaton, Paul Splittorff, George Stone, Steve Stone, Bill Stoneman, Don Sutton, Craig Swan, Luis Tiant, Mike Torrez, Bill Travers, Tom Underwood, Rick Waits, Milt Wilcox, Don Wilson, Rick Wise, Clyde Wright and Geoff Zahn.


The Honorable Mentions

Here are the 10 starting pitchers that just missed the top 10 for various reasons (listed in alphabetical order): Vida Blue, Larry Dierker, Burt Hooten, Jerry Koosman, Mickey Lolich, Jon Matlock, Rudy May, Joe Niekro, J.R. Richard and Steve Rogers.


The Top 10

 

10. Catfish Hunter (1965-1979) Career Length Grade: B+

Raw Career: 500 G, 476 GS, 3,449.1 IP, 3.26 ERA, 104 ERA+, 224 W, 106 W%+, 7.7 H/9, 1.13 WHIP, 42 SHO, 3.5 SHO/40 and 2.1 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 459 G, 435 GS, 3,201 IP, 3.12 ERA, 107 ERA+, 213 W, 111 W%+, 7.6 H/9, 1.11 WHIP, 41 SHO, 3.8 SHO/40 and 2.2 K/BB (exclude his 1977 and 1979 seasons)

Peak Career: 226 G, 225 GS, 1,731.1 IP, 2.68 ERA, 125 ERA+, 124 W, 120 W%+, 7.1 H/9, 1.04 WHIP, 30 SHO, 5.4 SHO/40 and 2.3 K/BB (include his 1967, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1975 seasons)

 

He began pitching in Major League Baseball as a teenager during the 1965 season.

Catfish threw a good fastball, slider and change-up and threw them with unbelievably good control.

He was a winner that ended up leading the League in wins twice and W% twice. He won over 20 games for five consecutive seasons from 1971-1975.

He ended up helping his teams to five World Series Championships and picked up the Cy Young award during his 1974 season.

His precision control also helped him lead the League in WHIP twice by the time his career was through.

There are certainly three or four starting pitchers on the honorable mentions list that actually have good arguments to take this 10th spot from Catfish. But when the numbers are stringently analyzed and studied, Catfish Hunter and his Hall of Fame career get this 10th and final spot.

 

9. Andy Messersmith (1968-1979) Career Length Grade: D+

Raw Career: 344 G, 295 GS, 2,230.1 IP, 2.86 ERA, 121 ERA+, 130 W, 116 W%+, 6.9 H/9, 1.14 WHIP, 27 SHO, 3.6 SHO/40 and 2.0 K/BB

Peak Career: 211 G, 178 GS, 1,402.1 IP, 2.57 ERA, 134 ERA+, 84 W, 120 W%+, 6.7 H/9, 1.09 WHIP, 19 SHO, 4.2 SHO/40 and 2.2 K/BB (include his 1968, 1969, 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1976 seasons)

 

Now, before you get your panties all in a bunch because I have a starting pitcher with a D+ length of career in the top 10 and ahead of HOFer Catfish Hunter in the 10th spot, let me throw these facts out there for you.

There are eight HOF starting pitchers from the 1970s: Catfish Hunter, Fergie Jenkins, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro, Gaylord Perry, Steve Carlton, Jim Palmer and Tom Seaver. Those aren’t just eight HOFers, those eight are kind of a who’s who of HOF pitchers; eight respected HOFers.

Out of the eight HOF starting pitchers from the 1970s, it’s Andy Messersmith that has the best H/9 on that list and his 2.86 ERA is not bettered by any of the eight HOFers.

If that’s not enough for you, he has the second best W%+, the third best ERA+, the third best SHO/40 and the third best WHIP of the eight HOFers.

That’s six of the most important starting pitcher stats in the history of Major League Baseball; and Messersmith is in the top three in all six categories out of eight HOFers and he’s the best in two of those categories.

Also, his 6.9 H/9 is the third best H/9 in the history of MLB for a starting pitcher; behind only Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan.

What else can you say, his numbers are better than most of the HOFers from this decade.

Hopefully that will loosen up your midsection.

So you may be asking yourself, why don’t I have him higher?

Well, I still have seven of those eight HOFers ahead of Messersmith. The only HOFer that I put Messersmith ahead of is Catfish Hunter. After all, Messersmith was a D+ in the length of career category and that’s why he’s not higher on this list. But his dominant numbers are what put him in the top 10.

It’s also why Messersmith is very arguably and quietly one of the 10 best starting pitchers in the history of MLB that is not in the HOF.

He had a large arsenal of pitches he threw and they were all good. Many historians will say that he had the best change-up in the history of MLB, period.

So, what caused Messersmith’s slightly below average length of career?

Here’s the short condensed answer to that question: He did suffer from some injuries during his career. But the main reason was mental fatigue, in my opinion. Messersmith paved the way for the free-agency that we see today. I’m assuming that most of you already know this.

If you don’t, I’ll just tell you this. Messersmith is easily one of the three or four most important players that made free-agency what it is today. He is celebrated by many today for what he did for free agency, but when he played, it was a different story; it got real ugly. He was dragged through the mud for what he was doing, to say the least.

I can only begin to tell you the mental exhaustion that this caused Messersmith while he played. I’m not making excuses because Jackie Robinson was the first African American player to play MLB during the modern era and I’m not comparing what Messersmith went through to what Robinson went through.

But different players react differently to mental fatigue and Messersmith didn’t deal well with it.

So, his mental exhaustion mixed with some physical injuries were the cause of his slightly below average length of career.

That was the quick condensed version of that story.

Back to Messersmith and his numbers.

I already told you that his 6.9 H/9 is third all time and he also led the League in H/9 three times during his career. At one time or another during his career he also led the League in wins, W%, SHO and WHIP.

Even comparing him directly to Catfish Hunter, he was better.

For their career’s, Messersmith had a better ERA, ERA+, W%+, H/9 and SHO/40 than Hunter. Catfish had a better WHIP and K/BB. That’s seven categories that most historians consider to be seven of the most important stats to look at and Messersmith is better in five of the seven; Hunter in only two of the seven.

 And of the 12 seasons they pitched together in MLB, Messersmith was better in seven (1968, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1975, 1976 and 1979) and Hunter in only five (1971, 1972, 1974, 1977 and 1978).

The three seasons that Hunter pitched before Messersmith joined the League; Hunter had a losing season during all three of those seasons. Though, he actually posted good numbers in one of those three seasons, other than his W%.

There’s no question that Messersmith has better numbers than Hunter and many of the HOF starting pitchers from the 1970s. Again, Hunter is the only HOF starting pitcher that I put Messersmith ahead of because of his slightly below average length of career.

Having said that, his incredible numbers are what put him in this top 10.

 

8. Fergie Jenkins (1965-1983) Career Length Grade: A

Raw Career: 664 G, 594 GS, 4,500.2 IP, 3.34 ERA, 115 ERA+, 284 W, 109 W%+, 8.3 H/9, 1.14 WHIP, 49 SHO, 3.3 SHO/40 and 3.2 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 575 G, 512 GS, 3,968.1 IP, 3.22 ERA, 119 ERA+, 257 W, 110 W%+, 8.2 H/9, 1.12 WHIP, 45 SHO, 3.5 SHO/40 and 3.6 K/BB (exclude his 1979, 1981 and 1983 seasons)

Peak Career: 208 G, 199 GS, 1,578.4 IP, 2.99 ERA, 131 ERA+, 114 W, 116 W%+, 7.8 H/9, 1.06 WHIP, 22 SHO, 4.4 SHO/40 and 4.5 K/BB (include his 1965, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971 and 1974 seasons)

 

He’s in the HOF, where he belongs.

He won at least 20 games during six consecutive seasons from 1967-1972. That is the longest streak of at least 20 wins during the last 45 seasons of MLB. He picked up the Cy Young award following his magical 1971 season during that streak.

By the time his career was through, he had led the League in K/BB five times and wins twice.

Fergie was just an incredible pitcher, year in and year out, that ended up recording almost 285 wins during his career. He ended up having a long career with almost 665 games pitched, 595 games started and over 4,500 innings pitched.

 

7. Luis Tiant (1964-1982) Career Length Grade: B+

Raw Career: 573 G, 484 GS, 3,486.1 IP, 3.30 ERA, 114 ERA+, 229 W, 106 W%+, 7.9 H/9, 1.20 WHIP, 49 SHO, 4.0 SHO/40 and 2.2 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 501 G, 413 GS, 3,074.1 IP, 3.12 ERA, 119 ERA+, 205 W, 110 W%+, 7.7 H/9, 1.17 WHIP, 46 SHO, 4.5 SHO/40 and 2.2 K/BB (exclude his 1977, 1980, 1981 and 1982 seasons)

Peak Career: 204 G, 174 GS, 1,367 IP, 2.62 ERA, 140 ERA+, 102 W, 124 W%+, 7.3 H/9, 1.10 WHIP, 33 SHO, 7.5 SHO/40 and 2.4 K/BB (include his 1964, 1968, 1972, 1974, 1976 and 1978 seasons)

 

He had one of the most unique deliveries in history. It’s hard to explain, if you’ve never seen it. But when he delivered the ball, he would point his chest toward the center fielder as if he were going to throw the ball to him. He would pause, and then, just as quickly, he would turn around and fire the ball toward the catcher.

You would swear he was going to fall off the mound during that delivery. It reminds me of Ray Charles. If you ever got the pleasure to see Ray Charles in concert, you would swear he was going to fall off that piano bench, the way he moved around. Of course, neither of them ever did fall off. Neither of them looked graceful, but they were.

As you can see, I have Tiant ahead of the HOFer Jenkins in the eight spot.

Let me compare the two of them. I’ll compare their adjusted career numbers, as they both had three or four bad seasons near the end of their career’s that need adjusting.

When I compare, I see that it is Tiant that has a better ERA, H/9, SHO and SHO/40. They are tied in ERA+ and W%+.

That’s six of the most important starting pitcher numbers that historians look at and Jenkins isn’t better than Tiant in any of them. Not a one.

Jenkins had a slightly longer career than Tiant, but they both had long careers and the slightly longer career for Jenkins doesn’t make up for the fact that he wasn’t better than Tiant in any of those six categories (ERA, H/9, SHO, SHO/40, ERA+ and W%+).

It’s why Tiant gets this spot over the HOFer, Jenkins.

By the time it was all said and done, Tiant had led the League in SHO three times, ERA twice and ERA+ twice.

All of these facts help lead to this: he’s one of the 10 best starting pitchers in the history of Major League Baseball that is not in the Hall of Fame.

 

6. Don Sutton (1966-1988) Career Length Grade: A+

Raw Career: 774 G, 756 GS, 5,282.1 IP, 3.26 ERA, 108 ERA+, 324 W, 104 W%+, 8.0 H/9, 1.14 WHIP, 58 SHO, 3.1 SHO/40 and 2.7 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 659 G, 643 GS, 4,557 IP, 3.12 ERA, 111 ERA+, 290 W, 106 W%+, 7.9 H/9, 1.13 WHIP, 57 SHO, 3.5 SHO/40 and 2.7 K/BB (exclude his 1979, 1983, 1987 and 1988 seasons)

Peak Career: 227 G, 225 GS, 1,660 IP, 2.55 ERA, 135 ERA+, 108 W, 110 W%+, 7.1 H/9, 1.02 WHIP, 28 SHO, 5.0 SHO/40 and 3.0 K/BB (include his 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1980 and 1981 seasons)

 

Included in his large arsenal of pitches were a good slider and an assortment of good curveballs and fastballs. Unlike many starting pitchers, Sutton was a starter that usually preferred to call his own game.

The catcher would give the signs, but if the sign wasn’t what Sutton wanted, then he would swipe his chest or swipe his thighs to tell the catcher to go to the previous pitch or to the next pitch. Sutton generally calling his own games obviously worked.

He’s in the HOF, where he belongs, and by the time his incredibly long career was through, he had posted almost 325 wins and 60 SHO.

During his career, he also led the League in WHIP four times and K/BB three times.

He was just an incredibly smart pitcher that had a great career.

Damn, could he pitch.

 

5. Phil Niekro (1964-1987) Career Length Grade: A+

Raw Career: 864 G, 716 GS, 5,404.1 IP, 3.35 ERA, 115 ERA+, 318 W, 109 W%+, 8.4 H/9, 1.27 WHIP, 45 SHO, 2.5 SHO/40 and 1.9 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 662 G, 519 GS, 4,123.4 IP, 3.10 ERA, 124 ERA+, 241 W, 112 W%+, 8.1 H/9, 1.21 WHIP, 39 SHO, 3.0 SHO/40 and 2.1 K/BB (exclude his 1980, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986 and 1987 seasons)

Peak Career: 213 G, 172 GS, 1,396.2 IP, 2.58 ERA, 145 ERA+, 88 W, 112 W%+, 7.7 H/9, 1.12 WHIP, 19 SHO, 4.4 SHO/40 and 2.5 K/BB (include his 1967, 1969, 1971, 1974 and 1978 seasons)

 

“Trying to hit Phil Niekro’s knuckleball is a miserable way to make a living.”—Pete Rose, the all-time hit leader

Many historians will tell you that Phil Niekro had the best knuckleball in the history of Major League Baseball.

Have you ever noticed, knuckleball pitchers tend to have long careers?

Likely and obviously because it puts less stress on the arm than many of the other pitches. Well, Niekro had the longest career of any of the starting pitchers from the 1970s; a decade with a lot of long careers.

He’s in the HOF, of course. He ended up recording 45 SHO and almost 320 wins by the time his career was through.

He led the League in wins twice and during his career, at one time or another, he also led the League in W%, ERA, Ks and ERA+.

“Trying to hit Phil Niekro is like trying to eat Jell-O with chopsticks.”—Bobby Murcer, respected Right Fielder from the 1970s

 

4. Gaylord Perry (1962-1983) Career Length Grade: A+

Raw Career: 777 G, 690 GS, 5,350.1 IP, 3.11 ERA, 117 ERA+, 314 W, 104 W%+, 8.3 H/9, 1.18 WHIP, 53 SHO, 3.1 SHO/40 and 2.6 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 692 G, 605 GS, 4,796.2 IP, 2.96 ERA, 121 ERA+, 289 W, 105 W%+, 8.1 H/9, 1.16 WHIP, 52 SHO, 3.4 SHO/40 and 2.6 K/BB (exclude his last 3 seasons)

Peak Career: 201 G, 172 GS, 1,489.2 IP, 2.42 ERA, 143 ERA+, 91 W, 108 W%+, 7.1 H/9, 1.06 WHIP, 17 SHO, 4.0 SHO/40 and 2.7 K/BB (include his 1964, 1967, 1969, 1972 and 1974 seasons)

 

Many historians will tell you that Gaylord Perry had one of the 10 best spitballs in the history of Major League Baseball.

The problem is, the pitch had been banned for about 50 years before Gaylord started pitching.

Most historians believe that he actually didn’t throw the pitch nearly as often as some believed. But it was the fact that most hitters thought that he was throwing it that was enough to send them to sports psychologists after facing Gaylord.

In interviews after he retired, Gaylord, more or less, said things to the same general ideology as those historians.

One of my favorite quotes is from Gaylord’s daughter. I believe she was four or five years old at the time she said this, while Gaylord was still playing.

The answer had obviously and apparently been rehearsed with her by Gaylord and the wife. Here’s what happened: a reporter had gotten to the little girl and asked her if Gaylord threw a spitball, and she quickly and adamantly replied, “It’s a hard slider.”

Love that old quote, it’s cute.

During his HOF career that collected two Cy Young awards, Gaylord led the League in wins three times. He also led the League in W%, SHO and ERA+ during his career.

Most historians rate him where his numbers say, like I do. But there are a small faction of historians that lower his rating because they feel that he cheated by throwing that spitball. I’m not one of those that lowers his rating, most aren’t, just wanted to point that out to you; some get bent of shape like a Stretch Armstrong doll when talking about Gaylord and his spitball.

I’m not one of them that does.  

Plus, his four year old daughter already told us, it was a hard slider.

I love Gaylord Perry, used to love to watch him pitch. Now, he started pitching long before I was born, before my Mom and Dad even met, I’m sure. But he pitched so long that I was already eating Big League Chew by the time his career was through.

He always looked old, didn’t he?

He looked old when he was young and he looked older when he was old.

Christ, I can’t believe I just said that, I sound like a dumb version of Yogi Berra.

 

3. Steve Carlton (1965-1988) Career Length Grade: A

Raw Career: 741 G, 709 GS, 5,217.1 IP, 3.22 ERA, 115 ERA+, 329 W, 109 W%+, 8.1 H/9, 1.25 WHIP, 55 SHO, 3.1 SHO/40 and 2.3 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 640 G, 622 GS, 4,650.1 IP, 3.02 ERA, 122 ERA+, 301 W, 111 W%+, 7.9 H/9, 1.22 WHIP, 55 SHO, 3.5 SHO/40 and 2.4 K/BB (exclude his 1984, 1986, 1987 and 1988 seasons)

Peak Career: 219 G, 206 GS, 1,631.3 IP, 2.38 ERA, 158 ERA+, 120 W, 128 W%+, 7.3 H/9, 1.11 WHIP, 19 SHO, 3.7 SHO/40 and 2.9 K/BB (include his 1965, 1969, 1972, 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1981 seasons)

 

He ended his career with over 4,135 Ks and that still ranks fourth all time in the history of Major League Baseball. He led the League in Ks five times by the time his career was through.

While collecting four Cy Young awards during his career, he also led the League in wins four times, ERA+ twice and K/BB twice.

He recorded 55 SHO and almost 330 wins during his career.

He was an easy pick for the Hall of Fame and he still remains one of the 10 best left handed starting pitchers to ever grace the fields of MLB.

There are eight HOF starting pitchers from the 1970s, but these top three really separate themselves from the others.

It’s why I’m keeping this Carlton write-up short and sweet.

 

2. Jim Palmer (1965-1984) Career Length Grade: A-

Raw Career: 558 G, 521 GS, 3,948 IP, 2.86 ERA, 126 ERA+, 268 W, 107 W%+, 7.6 H/9, 1.18 WHIP, 53 SHO, 4.1 SHO/40 and 1.7 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 483 G, 452 GS, 3,502.1 IP, 2.69 ERA, 132 ERA+, 240 W, 110 W%+, 7.4 H/9, 1.15 WHIP, 53 SHO, 4.7 SHO/40 and 1.8 K/BB (exclude his 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1984 seasons)

Peak Career: 216 G, 211 GS, 1,675.2 IP, 2.35 ERA, 150 ERA+, 123 W, 115 W%+, 7.2 H/9, 1.11 WHIP, 36 SHO, 6.8 SHO/40 and 1.9 K/BB (include his 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975 and 1978 seasons)

 

He began pitching in Major League Baseball as a teenager during the 1965 seasons. Incredibly, he recorded over a .555 W% during 16 of the 19 seasons during his career.

He was just a winner, plain and simple.

He won at least 20 games during eight of the nine seasons from 1970-1978, including leading the League in wins for three consecutive seasons from 1975-1977.

He also led the League in W% twice during his career.

Palmer still remains as the only pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball to pitch for a World Series Championship team in three different decades. His Oriole teams won a World Series in the 1960s, two in the 1970s and one in the 1980s.

During his Hall of Fame career, he captured the Cy Young award three times and led the League in ERA twice and SHO twice; collecting over 50 SHO by the time his career was through.

All of these facts lead to this: he is arguably one of the 20 best starting pitchers in the history of MLB, period.

What an incredible pitcher.

 

1.Tom Seaver (1967-1986) Career Length Grade: A

Raw Career: 656 G, 647 GS, 4,782.2 IP, 2.86 ERA, 127 ERA+, 311 W, 121 W%+, 7.5 H/9, 1.12 WHIP, 61 SHO, 3.8 SHO/40 and 2.6 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 513 G, 505 GS, 3,859.1 IP, 2.59 ERA, 138 ERA+, 265 W, 126 W%+, 7.2 H/9, 1.08 WHIP, 54 SHO, 4.3 SHO/40 and 2.9 K/BB (exclude his 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1986 seasons)

Peak Career: 214 G, 211 GS, 1,681.3 IP, 2.30 ERA, 160 ERA+, 125 W, 134 W%+, 6.8 H/9, 1.02 WHIP, 26 SHO, 4.9 SHO/40 and 3.4 K/BB (include his 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1975 and 1977 seasons)

 

He was a brilliantly smart pitcher. He was to starting pitching what Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking were to science. Seaver was a genius on the mound that would outthink even the best and smartest hitters. Along with his brains, he could overpower you, if needed.

Like Palmer in the two spot, Seaver was a winner. Seaver’s teams weren’t all that good, .500 ball clubs, give or take. But even being on mediocre teams, he still never posted a losing record during each of his first 15 seasons in the League.

In fact, he led the League in wins three times and W% twice on his way to posting over 310 wins during his career.

He led the League in H/9 three times and finished his career with 7.5 H/9. That 7.5 H/9 still ranks as the 20th best H/9 in the history of Major League Baseball for a starting pitcher.

Leading the League in pitching categories was one of the many good habits that he had. During his career, he also led the League in strikeouts five times, K/BB three times, WHIP three times, ERA+ three times, ERA three times and SHO twice.

He recorded over 60 SHO by the time his career was through.

It’s why he collected three Cy Young awards during his Hall of Fame career.

It’s why he’s the best starting pitcher from the 1970s and it’s why he’s arguably one of the 10 best starting pitchers in the history of Major League Baseball.

 

There you go; the 10 best starting pitchers from the 1970s.

 

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