MLBs 10 Best Starting Pitchers of All Time: Johnson, Mathewson, Walsh

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MLBs 10 Best Starting Pitchers of All Time: Johnson, Mathewson, Walsh
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There have been hundreds and hundreds of starting pitchers in the history of Major League Baseball.

The question is, who is the best ever?

Rating is a hard thing in a way, an easy thing in a way.

What statistical categories do you look at, which are important, which aren’t?

How much weight do you put on each category?

Is adjusted career more important than peak career?

How much weight do you put on each of those?

Length of career is of importance, how much weight do you put on length of career, or lack there of?

How much do I adjust for the decade they played in?

All of these things and many more have to be seriously considered when rating a player.

As most great historians do, this is a mathematical approach to the rating of every starting pitcher in the history of MLB, and these are the top 10.

I’m a great mathematician, and most good historians that I’ve run across are also, but many of them simply put the wrong weights on the above mentioned areas; too much on some, too little on others.

With all of the above things in mind, and more, this is what my mathematical formula tells me.

A purely scientific approach.

And when this list presented itself from my formula, it also made sense as a fan of the game.

 

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), Ks and K/BB (ratio). I will also letter-grade their length of career adjusted per their decade.

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 Walter Johnson, for example. Johnson 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 Johnson, I’d exclude his 1917, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1926 and 1927 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 late in their career.

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%.

By the way, my invented W%+ uses a linear equation, not a power equation. I’m not trying to over-inflate the numbers, like ERA+, which uses a power equation. OPS+ uses a linear equation, like my W%+ does. Like OPS+ and ERA+, 100 is the normal. Anything over 100 is good and anything under 100 is bad, like OPS+ and ERA+.

 

The Top 10

 

10. Tom Seaver (1970s) 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 out think even the best and smartest hitters. Along with his brains, he could overpower you, if needed.

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 Ks 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.

 

9. Cy Young (1890s) Career Length Grade: A+

Raw Career: 906 G, 815 GS, 7,354.2 IP, 2.63 ERA, 138 ERA+, 511 W, 120 W%+, 8.7 H/9, 1.13 WHIP, 3.7 SHO/40 and 2.3 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 791 G, 708 GS, 6,448.2 IP, 2.61 ERA, 143 ERA+, 459 W, 117 W%+, 8.6 H/9, 1.13 WHIP, 3.7 SHO/40 and 2.8 K/BB (exclude his 1900, 1909, 1910 and 1911 seasons)

Peak Career: 221 G, 208 GS, 1,877.1 IP, 1.94 ERA, 176 ERA+, 148 W, 127 W%+, 7.8 H/9, 1.03 WHIP, 4.6 SHO/40 and 2.6 K/BB (include his 1892, 1899, 1901, 1902 and 1908 seasons)

 

Most of you already know, the name of the pitcher of the year award is named after the guy. That tells us something. One of the first pitchers elected to the HOF.

He’s first all time in so many career categories that I won’t list them all. Here are some: 511 Wins, 815 GS, 7,354.2 IP and 749 Complete Games, to name a few.

By the time his career was over, he had led the League in K/BB eleven times, SHO seven times, WHIP seven times, Wins five times, W% twice, ERA twice, Ks twice and ERA+ twice.

His career 138 ERA+ is still 10th all time in the history of MLB for a starting pitcher.

He won over 20 games fifteen times during his career and he had at least a .525 W% during each of his first 10 seasons.

The number of games and innings he pitched during his career were mind boggling, especially for a pitcher that pitched so much in the 1890's. It’s why he’s the best pitcher from the 1890s, the best pitcher from the 1800's, period.

It’s easy to do. Cy used to write articles on rules for pitching success. I love this old Cy Young quote, here’s part of it:

 

 

“Let liquor severely alone, fight shy of cigarettes, and be moderate in indulgence of tobacco, coffee, and tea…A man who is not willing to work from dewy morn until weary eve should not think about becoming a pitcher.”

 

No wonder I can’t pitch worth a crud…wait…come to think of it, I don’t drink much tea. Old Cy Young quotes are among my favorites, he was a very quotable guy.

There you go.  

 

8. Randy Johnson (2000s) Career Length Grade: A (so far)

Raw Career: 618 G, 603 GS, 4,135.1 IP, 3.29 ERA, 136 ERA+, 124 W%+, 7.3 H/9, 1.17 WHIP, 2.5 SHO/40 and 3.3 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 481 G, 471 GS, 3,309.5 IP, 3.04 ERA, 147 ERA+, 130 W%+, 6.9 H/9, 1.16 WHIP, 3.1 SHO/40 and 3.3 K/BB (exclude his 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009 seasons)

Peak Career: 200 G, 198 GS, 1,457.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, 190 ERA+, 137 W%+, 6.8 H/9, 1.04 WHIP, 3.2 SHO/40 and 4.7 K/BB (include his 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 seasons)

 

His peak career is off the charts, just look at it again. Wow.

Randy Johnson is the best left-handed starting pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball, even better than Lefty Grove and Sandy Koufax. I'll admit, never been a Johnson fan.

Never got over that Yankee/reporter fiasco when he signed in New York. I'm probably being unfairly hard on the guy. Funny, the things that stick with you. The things you forget and the things you don't.

Like him or not, he's the best lefty of all time.

His 136 ERA+ is 12th all time in the history of Major League Baseball for a starting pitcher. The fact that he has put up these numbers during the single worst era in the history of Major League Baseball for starting pitcher numbers makes it even all the more impressive.

He hasn't pitched well during his last couple of seasons and he has made it clear that he is retired and will not pitch in 2010. We’ll see.

 

7. Roger Clemens (1990s) Career Length Grade: A+

Raw Career: 709 G, 707 GS, 4,916.2 IP, 3.12 ERA, 143 ERA+, 122 W%+, 7.7 H/9, 1.17 WHIP, 2.6 SHO/40 and 3.0 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 566 G, 565 GS, 4,018 IP, 2.91 ERA, 153 ERA+, 125 W%+, 7.4 H/9, 1.14 WHIP, 3.1 SHO/40 and 3.0 K/BB (exclude his 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2007 seasons)

Peak Career: 205 G, 205 GS, 1,469 IP, 2.27 ERA, 195 ERA+, 135 W%+, 6.9 H/9, 1.07 WHIP, 3.1 SHO/40 and 3.3 K/BB (include his 1990, 1992, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2005 and 2006 seasons)

 

Clemens is the only 7 time Cy Young award winner in the history of MLB and his numbers are great and his peak is off the charts, even better than Maddux peak, his peer from the 1990s.

It’s why his numbers belong in the HOF.

The fact that he was better than Maddux doesn’t really bother me.

But the possible reasons as to why he was better…that’s what bothers me.

This is where his numbers put him.

What would his numbers be without the orange juice?

He’s never failed an orange juice test and he’s always denied using orange juice, but he’s still highly suspected of taking orange juice.

Mark McGwire, arguably the best first baseman from the 1990s, recently admitted taking orange juice during his career.

The problem is, McGwire claims that he still would have hit 580 HR even if he’d never taken orange juice.

OK Mark.

You’re either still lying, or you’re the stupidest person that I’ve ever seen.

I don’t like either one of those choices, but they are the only two choices, unfortunately.

Stupid or a liar (or both); a stupid liar.

It’s at least one or the other.

With Clemens, I’ll use the word alleged orange juice use, for now, until we know 100% either way. That’s the word I used for McGwire before I found out from him that performance enhancers don’t work on him because he apparently had a God given talent.

OK.

Here’s a bit of advice for you Roger.

If you did it and you someday admit it, don’t lie during your confession.

That’s basically what Mark did, unless he’s really stupid enough to think that performance enhancers don’t enhance his performance.

  What I’m trying to say: I don’t necessarily like it, but mathematically speaking, this is where his numbers put him.

Next.

 

 6. Pedro Martinez (2000s) Career Length Grade: C+ (so far)

Raw Career: 476 G, 409 GS, 2,827.1 IP, 2.93 ERA, 154 ERA+, 125 W%+, 7.1 H/9, 1.05 WHIP, 1.7 SHO/40 and 4.2 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 424 G, 357 GS, 2,541 IP, 2.72 ERA, 166 ERA+, 129 W%+, 6.8 H/9, 1.02 WHIP, 1.9 SHO/40 and 4.3 K/BB (exclude his 2006, 2008 and 2009 seasons)

Peak Career: 206 G, 204 GS, 1,436 IP, 2.21 ERA, 212 ERA+, 140 W%+, 6.5 H/9, 0.95 WHIP, 2.2 SHO/40 and 5.6 K/BB (include his 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2007 seasons)

 

His 154 ERA+ is the best ERA+ in the history of Major League Baseball for a starting pitcher. What else can you say? His 1.05 WHIP is fourth all time in the history of Major League Baseball for a starting pitcher and his 7.1 H/9 is eighth all time in the history of Major League Baseball for a starting pitcher.

So he's in the top 10 all time in three of the most important stats for a starting pitcher and he's done it during the single worst era in history for starting pitcher numbers.

His peak career is up there with the best of all time...period.

He belongs on this list, even with his "C+" length of career, thus far.

He hasn't pitched well during his last couple of seasons and his days of dominance are likely over. He did go 5-1 last season, but his other numbers were down. He's still good, don't get me wrong, he's just not good compared to the Pedro of old. He'll likely pitch a couple more seasons and then hang it up.

 

5. Grover Alexander (1920s) Career Length Grade: A+

Raw Career: 696 G, 599 GS, 5,190 IP, 2.56 ERA, 135 ERA+, 373 W, 121 W%+, 8.4 H/9, 1.12 WHIP, 90 SHO, 6.0 SHO/40, 2,198 K and 2.3 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 567 G, 486 GS, 4,295 IP, 2.33 ERA, 142 ERA+, 317 W, 124 W%+, 8.1 H/9, 1.09 WHIP, 85 SHO, 7.0 SHO/40, 1,975 K and 2.4 K/BB (exclude his 1921, 1922, 1928, 1929 and 1930 seasons)

Peak Career: 213 G, 187 GS, 1,657.2 IP, 1.74 ERA, 175 ERA+, 130 W, 123 W%+, 7.4 H/9, 0.99 WHIP, 46 SHO, 9.8 SHO/40, 765 K and 2.9 K/BB (include his 1915, 1916, 1918, 1919, 1920 and 1927 seasons)

 

His career 135 ERA+ still remains as the 13th best ERA+ in the history of Major League Baseball for a starting pitcher.

He led the League in ERA+ during four of the six seasons from 1915-1920.

He was a winner that won over 20 games during six of his first seven seasons in the League from 1911-1917. He posted over 370 wins by the time his Hall of Fame career was through, which still remains third on the all-time wins list.

He ended up leading the League in wins six times during his career.

He had over a .525 W% during all 20 seasons of his career, except for his last season in 1930. That’s simply incredible.

He drank a good deal during the second half of his career. He reportedly drank because of shell shock from the War. He spent most of the 1918 season at War.

He still managed to arguably have three of his best seasons after the War; most notably, 1919, 1920 and 1927.

Like Vance, his peer from the 1920s, his League leading stats can just be rattled off.

Alexander led the League in SHO seven times during his career and posted 90 by the time he was done; which still remains second all-time.

He led the League in Ks six times during his career.

He led the League in WHIP five times during his career.

He led the League in ERA during four of the six seasons from 1915-1920.

He led the League in ERA+ during four of the six seasons from 1915-1920.

He led the League in H/9 three times during his career.

He led the League in K/BB three times during his career.

As you can see, he was dominant, hands down.

 

 

4. Mordecai Brown (1900s) Career Length Grade: C

Raw Career: 481 G, 332 GS, 3,172.1 IP, 2.06 ERA, 138 ERA+, 239 W, 112 W%+, 7.7 H/9, 1.07 WHIP, 6.6 SHO/40 and 2.0 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 399 G, 277 GS, 2,655 IP, 1.89 ERA, 149 ERA+, 206 W, 109 W%+, 7.6 H/9, 1.04 WHIP, 7.2 SHO/40 and 2.1 K/BB (exclude his last 3 seasons)

Peak Career: 210 G, 155 GS, 1,460.2 IP, 1.42 ERA, 182 ERA+, 127 W, 107 W%+, 6.7 H/9, 0.93 WHIP, 9.7 SHO/40 and 2.6 K/BB (include his 1906-1910 seasons)

 

His peak was incredible and it was during five consecutive seasons, from 1906-1910. Check out what he averaged during those five straight seasons: a 1.42 ERA, 182 ERA+, 6.7 H/9, 0.93 WHIP and 9.7 SHO/40. Wow!

He won at least 20 games during the six consecutive seasons from 1906-1911.

By the time his career was through, he had led the League in WHIP three times and SHO twice.

His 2.06 ERA still remains as the fourth best ERA in the history of Major League Baseball for a starting pitcher, his 1.07 WHIP still remains as the seventh best and his 138 ERA+ still remains as the 10th best.

 

3. Ed Walsh (1910s) Career Length Grade: C+

Raw Career: 430 G, 315 GS, 2,964.1 IP, 1.82 ERA, 146 ERA+, 195 W, 112 W%+, 7.1 H/9, 1.00 WHIP, 57 SHO, 7.2 SHO/40, 1,736 K and 2.8 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 400 G, 292 GS, 2,800.2 IP, 1.76 ERA, 150 ERA+, 185 W, 112 W%+, 7.1 H/9, 0.98 WHIP, 55 SHO, 7.5 SHO/40, 1,680 K and 3.1 K/BB (exclude his 1913, 1914, 1916 and 1917 seasons)

Peak Career: 201 G, 162 GS, 1,513.1 IP, 1.43 ERA, 167 ERA+, 100 W, 116 W%+, 6.6 H/9, 0.91 WHIP, 32 SHO, 7.8 SHO/40, 872 K and 3.3 K/BB (include his 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910 and 1915 seasons)

 

He led his 1906 Chicago team to a World Series championship in 1906. He pitched in two games, won both of them, posted a 0.60 ERA, 4.2 H/9 and 0.87 WHIP during those two games combined. Those are the kind of numbers he was capable of putting up.

In fact, he ended his career with a 1.82 ERA and that 1.82 ERA still remains as the best ERA in the history of Major League Baseball for a starting pitcher. He led the League in ERA twice during his career.

He ended his career with a 1.00 WHIP and that 1.00 WHIP still remains as the second best WHIP in the history of MLB for a starting pitcher. He led the League in WHIP twice during his career.

He ended his career with a 146 ERA+ and that 146 ERA+ still remains as the fourth best ERA+ in the history of MLB for a starting pitcher. He led the League in ERA+ twice during his career.

He ended his career with 7.1 H/9 and that 7.1 H/9 still remains as the eighth best H/9 in the history of MLB for a starting pitcher.

That puts him in the top 10 all time in four of the most important starting pitcher stats in history.

During his career, he also led the League in SHO three times, K/BB three times and Ks twice.

He ended his career with a slightly above average length of career. And during a career with 315 games started, he posted almost 60 SHO.

Why was this HOFer so dominant?

Some say it was the pitchers ballpark that he pitched in. But that’s not it. It was a pitchers ballpark, but how much are you going to take away.

I once heard a ballpark wizard say that his ERA+ that is fourth all time would actually be eighth all time if adjusted for the ballpark.

AND….eighth all time is bad now?

Holy sh*t, get your head out of you’re a*s, he was great.

No one has ever posted a 1.82 ERA, in any park, including that one.

So don’t buy into that pitchers ballpark stuff.

Was it a pitchers park?

Yes, but half of them are, right?

That’s almost like saying that Babe Ruth wasn’t the best hitter ever because he played in a hitters park.

Did he?

Yes, but he was the best hitter ever, hitters park or not. One things for sure, it was a hitters park when he played. It was a pitchers park when Walsh played.

For Ruth, sure the right field fence was closer than some other parks, but Ruth was the best offensive player ever, most historians agree (without bringing up the damn park he played in).

Historians will usually rank Walsh between 10-25 all time. Incredibly high, but not high enough. They refuse to put him in the top five because his career length was only slightly above average. They just bring up that pitchers ballpark sh*t to try and pull the wool over your eyes.

Trust me, it’s length of career that drags him out of their top five, not the damn ballpark he pitched in.

Hey, they still rank him as high as 10th all-time sometimes anyway, not too far from where he should be.

The reason he was dominant wasn’t the ballpark, it was him. His arsenal of pitches. Especially his spitball.

The pitch was legal back when Walsh played and most historians credit him with having the best spitball in the history of the game; and he threw it a lot.

 

“I think Ed Walsh’s ball disintegrated on the way to the plate and the catcher put it back together again. I swear, when it went past the plate it was just the spit went by.”—Sam Crawford, HOF right fielder

 

 

2. Christy Mathewson (1900s) Career Length Grade: A+

Raw Career: 635 G, 551 GS, 4,780.2 IP, 2.13 ERA, 135 ERA+, 373 W, 115 W%+, 7.9 H/9, 1.06 WHIP, 5.7 SHO/40 and 3.0 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 554 G, 485 GS, 4,208 IP, 1.99 ERA, 147 ERA+, 337 W, 114 W%+, 7.8 H/9, 1.05 WHIP, 6.0 SHO/40 and 3.0 K/BB (exclude his last 3 seasons)

Peak Career: 224 G, 185 GS, 1,621.2 IP, 1.59 ERA, 183 ERA+, 142 W, 113 W%+, 7.5 H/9, 0.96 WHIP, 7.0 SHO/40 and 4.2 K/BB (include his 1905, 1908, 1909, 1911 and 1912 seasons)

                             

He won at least 20 games 13 times during his career and he won over 20 games for 12 consecutive seasons from 1903-1914. By the time his career was through, he had won over 370 games and led the League in wins four times.

It’s not the only thing he led the League in. During his career, he also led the League in K/BB nine times, ERA five times, Ks five times, ERA+ five times, SHO four times and WHIP four times.

His 1.06 WHIP still remains as the fifth best WHIP in the history of Major League Baseball for a starting pitcher, his 2.13 ERA still remains as the sixth best and his 135 ERA+ still remains as the 13th best.

He’s one of the few that you can actually compare to Walter Johnson.

 

1.Walter Johnson (1910s) Career Length Grade: A+

Raw Career: 802 G, 666 GS, 5,914.2 IP, 2.17 ERA, 147 ERA+, 417 W, 122 W%+, 7.5 H/9, 1.06 WHIP, 110 SHO, 6.6 SHO/40, 3,509 K and 2.6 K/BB

Adjusted Career: 565 G, 472 GS, 4,271.1 IP, 1.75 ERA, 171 ERA+, 317 W, 128 W%+, 7.0 H/9, 1.00 WHIP, 87 SHO, 7.4 SHO/40, 2,692 K and 3.1 K/BB (exclude his 1917, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1926 and 1927 seasons)

Peak Career: 223 G, 170 GS, 1,668 IP, 1.37 ERA, 223 ERA+, 139 W, 130 W%+, 6.6 H/9, 0.91 WHIP, 40 SHO, 9.3 SHO/40, 1,058 K and 3.6 K/BB (include his 1912, 1913, 1915, 1918 and 1919 seasons)

 

He’s simply the best ever. Most historians would agree. Hey, no argument here.

The HOFer Johnson was almost to starting pitching what Babe Ruth was to hitting.

I wonder if anyone really knew if he were bound to be the best starting pitcher in history when he started pitching in MLB baseball as a teenager during the 1907 season?

He won at least 20 games during all 10 seasons of the decade of the 1910s. He ended his career with 417 wins, which still remains second all time.

By the time his career was through, he had led the League in wins six times, including four consecutive seasons from 1913-1916.

He also led the League in W% twice during his career, even though his teams were often times sub .500 teams.

His career 2.17 ERA still remains as the eighth best ERA in the history of MLB for a starting pitcher. He led the League in ERA five times during his career.

His career 147 ERA+ still remains as the third best ERA+ in the history of MLB for a starting pitcher. He led the League in ERA+ six times during his career.

His career 1.06 WHIP still remains as the fifth best WHIP in the history of MLB for a starting pitcher. He led the League in WHIP six times during his career.

His career 7.5 H/9 still remains as the 20th best H/9 in the history of MLB for a starting pitcher. He led the League in H/9 four times during his career.

He ended his career with 3,509 Ks and led the League in Ks 12 times during his career, including eight consecutive seasons from 1912-1919, the last eight seasons of the decade of the 1910s. He also led the League in K/BB nine times during his career, including six consecutive seasons from 1912-1917.

His career 110 SHO still remains as the most SHO in the history of MLB. He led the League in SHO seven times during his career, including three consecutive seasons from 1913-1915.

You can spend the rest of your life looking for better starting pitcher numbers and facts. But you won’t find them, this is it. He was it. He’s the best starting pitcher in MLB history, not to mention the 1910s.

 

  The Honorable Mentions

Here are the ten starting pitchers that just missed the top 10 for various reasons. I will list them in order from oldest to newest: Tim Keefe (1880s), Addie Joss (1900s), Eddie Plank (1900s), Smoky Joe Wood (1910s), Lefty Grove (1930s), Bob Gibson (1960s), Sandy Koufax (1960s), Juan Marichal (1960s), Jim Palmer (1970s) and Greg Maddux (1990s)

 

The 10 Highest Caliber Starting Pitchers of All Time

I consider this to be the Smoky Joe Wood section. Who’s the best pitcher, putting career values aside; putting length of career aside and putting some other things aside that affect a starting pitchers overall rating? So, these aren’t the best careers, these are the best pitchers, in a way.

Like Smoky Joe Wood in the 1910s, he was a starting pitcher that many historians feel is one of the 10 highest caliber starting pitchers in the history of Major League Baseball. But with his short overall career, he’s never rated that high when you see historians rate starting pitchers because they are almost always rating the best careers.

Don’t get me wrong, caliber is part of historians formula too, it’s just a smaller part of the overall equation; and smaller than it should be, if you ask me, but that’s another article.

Smoky Joe Wood’s overall rating and career value is lower because of his short career and some other factors. But if a highest caliber list were made, Smoky Joe Wood would appear on many historians all time top 10 lists. But almost never in the top 10 on their all time career list, which are the lists that we usually see.

I hope that makes sense. This is basically what I’m doing here with this list. Again, this list is not a list of the best careers, that list is the list you just read. This list is the highest caliber starting pitchers. Here it is.

10. Randy Johnson (2000s)

9. Roger Clemens (1990s)

8. Smoky Joe Wood (1910s)

7. Grover Alexander (1920s)

6. Pedro Martinez (2000s)

5. Addie Joss (1900s)

4. Christy Mathewson (1900s)

3. Mordecai Brown (1900s)

2. Ed Walsh (1910s)

1. Walter Johnson (1910s)

The Caliber Honorable Mentions (listed in order from oldest to newest): Tim Keefe (1880s), Cy Young (1890s), Rube Waddell (1900s), Eddie Cicotte (1910s), Lefty Grove (1930s), Sandy Koufax (1960s), Juan Marichal (1960s), Tom Seaver (1970s), Greg Maddux (1990s) and Johan Santana (2000s)

 

There you go, the best starting pitchers of all time. The 10 best careers and the 10 highest caliber starting pitchers.

 

 

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