MLB Power Rankings: The Greatest Pitcher In The History of Every Franchise
I spend way to much time at baseballreference.com. For real. There actually might be something wrong with me. I don't know what it is about baseball statistics and history that fascinates so much, all I know is that I've studied this stuff since I was eight years old and got my first pack of cards.
In one of my days of "research," I compiled a list of the greatest pitchers for each franchise. There were teams like Atlanta that had guys like Warren Spahn, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. Then there were teams like the Milwaukee Brewers that hadn't ever had a great pitcher in the history of their franchise. Guys like Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling didn't make this list, but others like Doug Drabek did.
So anyway, here are greatest pitchers in each teams history.
Writer's Note: Players had to be playing during or after Jackie Robinson's debut to be considered (for obvious reasons). Baseball has been around for ever, and you gotta draw the line somewhere.
LA/California/Anaheim Angels: Nolan Ryan
The Ryan Express was at his best during the nine seasons he played for the Angels. From 1972 to 1979 Nolan Ryan led the league in strikeouts six times, and finished in the top three of the Cy Young three different times, and four of his seven career no-hitters were during his Angel days.
Ryan blew heaters by batters for 27 years, but the nine years he spent in California were the best of his career.
Career Record with Angels: W-L:138-121 ERA:3.07 SO: 2416
Houston Astros: Roy Oswalt
Roy Oswalt might be starring in Philadelphia now, but he made his name with the Houston Astros.
Oswalt is second all-time in Astros history with 143 career wins (Joe Niekro, 144). Oswalt won 20 games twice and finished in the top five of the Cy Young five different times.
Career Record with Astros: W-L:143-82 ERA:3.24
Oakland A's: Vida Blue
The Oakland A's dominated the early '70s, and Vida Blue's left arm had a lot to do with it.
Vida Blue went 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA in 1971, and he would take home both the Cy Young and MVP awards. The A's won the World Series the following three years. During his seven seasons as a starter in Oakland, Blue made three All-Star teams and finished in the top 10 of the Cy Young four times (winning once, as mentioned earlier).
Career record with A's: W-L:124-86 ERA: 2.95
Toronto Blue Jays: Roy Halladay
Roy 'Doc' Halladay is the second pitcher on our list who currently pitches for the Phillies (So watch out for the Phillies this year).
Halladay spent 12 years in Toronto before he ever started throwing no-hitters and winning 'ships for the Phillies. Doc led the AL in wins in 2003 and won the Cy Young award. He made six All-Star teams and finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting five different times during his tenure in Toronto.
Halladay was arguably the best pitcher in the AL from 2002-2009. He is second all-time in wins for the Blue Jays organization with 148.
Career record with Blue Jays: W-L:148-76 ERA:3.43
Atlanta Braves: Greg Maddux
Warren Spahn, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz have all had Hall of Fame careers with the Braves, and all three of them have more wins than the pitcher who takes the crown.
Greg Maddux is the greatest pitcher to ever put on a Braves uniform. Maddux came to Atlanta after coming off a Cy Young season with the Cubs, and he didn't slow down. Maddux won three-straight Cy Youngs to start his Braves career. During his time in Atlanta, he led the league in ERA four different times, and was the ace when the Atlanta won in it all in 1995.
Career record with Braves: 194-88 ERA:2.63
Milwaukee Brewers: Teddy Higuera
Who is Teddy Higuera? He's the best pitcher the Brewers have ever had. Higuera finished second in the Cy Young back in 1986 when he won 20 games.
Career with Brewers: W-L:94-64 ERA:3.61
St. Louis Cardinals: Bob Gibson
Bob Gibson started with the Cardinals back in 1959 when he was 23 years old and he finished 17 years later in 1975. In between the 17 years, Gibson put together one of the greatest pitching careers in the history of baseball.
Gibson was the ace for St. Louis when they won the World Series in '64 and '67. Gibson won the first of his two Cy Youngs in 1968 when he went 22-9 with a 1.12 ERA. He also was the MVP that year. The Cards would return to the series that fall, but they would fall to the Tigers in seven games.
Gibson was so good the league lowered the pitching mound to try and even the playing field.
Career record with Cardinals:W-L 251-174 ERA:2.91
Chicago Cubs: Fergie Jenkins
Fergie Jenkins won at least 20 games for six straight years from 1967-72. He finished in the top three of the MVP three different years with the Cubs, and he took the award home in '71 when he led the league with 24 wins.
Jenkins left the Cubs in '74 and would spend eight seasons away, but would return in 82 to play out his last two seasons with the Cubbies.
Career record with Cubs: W-L:167-132 ERA:3.32
Tampa Bay Rays: David Price
David Price has only been a starter for two full season now, but he has already established himself as the Rays' greatest pitcher. The Rays have only been in existence since 1998, so they didn't have the longest list of guys to pick from
Price was the first pick in the 2007 draft and he's done what's expected of a top pick. He finished second in the Cy Young last year after going 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA.
Career record with Rays: W-L: 29-13 ERA: 3.31
Arizona Diamondbacks: Randy Johnson
In his first five full seasons the Big Unit played in Arizona, he won four Cy Youngs and finished second the other time. When the Diamondbacks defeated the Yankees in the World Series in 2001, Randy Johnson had three wins and closed out Game 7 to bring the title to Arizona.
After doing this list, I've come to believe that Johnson may very well be the greatest pitcher of all time. Enough said.
Career in Arizona: W-L 118-62 ERA: 2.83
Honorable Mention: Curt Schilling
LA Dodgers: Sandy Koufax
My dad's favorite player, Sandy Koufax.
Koufax left baseball when he was at his absolute best. In his last five seasons he led the league in ERA, won three Cy Youngs and led the league in wins three different times. His career World Series ERA is 0.95.
Who knows what he could have done if his arm would have held up for a couple more years.
Career record with Dodgers: W-L: 165-87 ERA: 2.76
San Francisco/New York Giants: Juan Marichal
The Hall of Famer spent 14 years in the Bay Area. During those 14 years with the Giants, he won over 20 games six times, posted an ERA under 3.00 eight different times and made nine All-Star teams.
Career record with Giants: W-L 243-142 ERA: 2.89
Cleveland Indians: Bob Feller
Bob Feller led the league in wins six different times in his career, the first time coming in 1939 and the last in 1951. That's a little over a decade of dominance.
Feller also was the American League's strikeout king seven different times throughout his 18-year career.
Career record with Indians: W-L 266-162 ERA: 3.25
Seattle Mariners: Randy Johnson
Randy Johnson is one of two players to make the list twice.
The Big Unit came into Seattle as a wild throwing strike out machine and left as one of the most polished pitchers in baseball history. Johnson led the league in strikeouts four times during his tenure in Seattle and took home the Cy Young in 1995.
Career record with Seattle: W-L:130-74 ERA: 3.42
Florida Marlins: Kevin Brown
The Marlins always seem to have great pitching, but their guys always seem to leave for bigger money elsewhere.
Kevin Brown only pitched two seasons in Florida, but they were amazing. In 1996, Brown led the league with a 1.89 ERA and finished second in the Cy Young. The following season he was the catalyst that led the Marlins to their first World Series championship.
Career record with Florida: W-L: 33-19 ERA:2.30
New York Mets: Tom Seaver
The Mets were awful back in the '60s, and then they got Tom Seaver.
Seaver came up in 1967 and won the Rookie of the Year award. By '69 he was the Cy Young and the Ace for the "Worst to First" World Champion New York Mets. Seaver won three Cy Youngs and finished in the top five of voting six different times during his days as a Met.
Career record with Mets: W-L:198-124 ERA:2.57
Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos: Steve Rogers
Rogers came up with the Expos in '73 went 10-5 with a 1.54 ERA and was second in the Rookie of the Year voting. The following year he led the league in losses with 22, but he still made the All-Star team.
He had his best year in 1982 going 19-8 with a league leading 2.40 ERA. He finished second in the Cy Young, and made five All-Star teams in his 13 seasons with the Expos.
Career with Expos: W-L:158-152 ERA:3.17
Baltimore Orioles: Jim Palmer
When he wasn't modeling underwear, he was hurling heaters.
Palmer spent all 19 years of his Hall of Fame career with the Orioles. He played in four World Series and has two rings to show for it.
Palmer won three Cy Youngs and finished in the top five eight different times (throughout three different decades). He won at least 20 games in eight seasons and had an ERA under 3.00 in nine seasons.
Career with Orioles: W-L:268-152 ERA:2.86
San Diego Padres: Trevor Hoffman
Baseball's save king had 552 of his record 601 with the Padres.
Hoffman spent 16 years with the Padres and became one the most beloved players in the history of the franchise. He finished second in the Cy Young twice ('98 and '06).
When Hoffman took the bump it meant game over for opponents.
Career with Padres: 552 Saves ERA: 2.76
Philadelphia Phillies: Steve Carlton
In 1972 the Phillies went 59-97 and finished in last place. Steve Carlton went 27-10 with a 1.97 ERA and won the Cy Young. That's unreal. Think about it.
Carlton would go on to win three more Cy Youngs during his days with the Phillies, and he was the anchor for the 1980 Phillies team that won the World Series.
Career with Phillies: W-L:241-161 ERA: 3.09
Pittsburgh Pirates: Doug Drabek
Doug Drabek my be the least impressive guy on the list. That's not a knock on him, but Pittsburgh hasn't been blessed with great pitching.
Drabek took home the Cy Young when he led the league with 22 wins in 1990.
Career with Pirates: W-L:92-62 ERA:3.02
Boston Red Sox: Pedro Martinez
Cy Young is way too old, and everyone in Boston hates Clemens.
Pedro Martinez in the greatest pitcher in the long history of the Boston Red Sox. Martinez won three Cy Youngs in the seven seasons he played in Boston. He finished second twice and was in the top four every year he played a full season.
Martinez led the league in ERA four times and strikeouts three different times. In 1999 he had pitching's version of the triple crown leading the league in wins, ERA and K's.
In his final year with the Sox he helped bring them their first title since 1918.
Career in Boston: W-L:117-37 ERA:2.52
Cincinnati Reds: Gary Nolan
Gary Nolan's best years were in '75 and '76 when the Big Red Machine won back-to-back titles.
Career with Reds: W-L:110-67 ERA:3.02
Colorado Rockies: Ubaldo Jimenez
The Rockies are still a fairly young franchise and their greatest pitcher is a young man who is still with the team.
Ubaldo Jimenez went 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA last season and finished third in the Cy Young. The Rockies ace also had a no-hitter and is one of the few pitchers in history to thrive in the thin air at Coors field.
Career with Rockies: W-L:50-36 ERA:3.52
Texas Rangers: Nolan Ryan
I know his best days were elsewhere, and he's not even among the Rangers all time pitching leaders, but come on. Would you rather have Kenny Rogers?
When you saw the Rangers in the World Series you saw Nolan Ryan. When I was a kid I had a "Ryan Express" poster in my room, and he was in a Rangers uniform. He's the first pitcher that comes to mind when you say Texas Rangers, so it's only fitting he be their representative.
Career with Rangers: W-L:51-39 ERA:3.43
Kansas City Royals: Bret Saberhagen
In 1985 Bret Saberhagen was 21 years old, and it was just his second season in the bigs. Saberhagen earned Cy Young honors that year.
Saberhagen spent eight years in Kansas City and would take home his second Cy Young in 1989.
Career with Kansas City: W-L:110-78 ERA:3.21
Detroit Tigers: Denny McLain
He's done time in prison, and he was the last major leaguer to win 30 games in a single season.
Denny McLain won back-to-back Cy Youngs in the '68 and '69 season. In '68, he won 31 games, had an ERA of 1.96 and also won the MVP on top of his Cy Young. His two years on top match up with any other all-time greats' best two years.
Career with Tigers: W-L:117-62 ERA:3.13
Minnesota Twins: Bert Blyleven
The latest member of the Hall of Fame will be wearing a Twins cap on induction day.
Bert Blyleven played 22 years in the majors, and half of those were in Minnesota. Blyleven played with the Twins from '70 to '76 and came back '86 and would finish in '88. He was pretty good in both stints. He won 20 games for the Twins in '73 and won 17 games for them in '86. That's basically the same production 13 years later. Not bad.
Career with Twins: W-L:149-138 ERA:3.28
Chicago White Sox: Billy Pierce
The seven time All-Star played 13 years in the White Sox organization, with his best years coming in the mid '50s. Pierce led the league with a 1.97 ERA in '55, and he had 20 wins in '56 and '57.
Career with White Sox: W-L:186-152 ERA:3.19
New York Yankees: Mariano Rivera
The Yankees are the most famous franchise in the history of sports.
They have 27 World Championships, and I would try and list you all of the Hall of Famers they have had, but there isn't enough time in the day. The Yankees have been around since 1913 and many legendary players have come through there. But who is their greatest pitcher?
We actually get to watch him today. It's Mariano Rivera, and it's actually not that close. Whitey For and Andy Pettitte were the next best guys.
Rivera's number 42 will be retired as soon as he finished in New York. He's slammed the door closed for the Yankees for the past 16 years and has won five championships in his career. When "Enter Sandman" comes out through the speakers at Yankee Stadium, it generally means victory is inevitable because Rivera is on the mound.
Career with Yankees: Five championships, 559 Saves, 2.23 ERA