MLB Power Rankings: Each Team's Greatest Pitched Season of All Time
To me, pitching is the most important aspect in the game of baseball. If you have good pitching, then your team will do well (see the 2010 San Francisco Giants).
A common debate among baseball fans is which player, throughout the entirety of baseball, has pitched the best season ever. Spinning off this debate, let's take a different look at this; instead of debating who had the single best season ever, let's debate the single best season ever pitcher for every team.
The biggest problem I came across when creating this list was what type of handicap, if at all, I should give to more modern pitchers. It's tough to compare pitchers from the dead-ball and modern ball era; aside from the numbers being skewed because of the difference in the game but also because pitchers were used differently (i.e. they pitched more innings, etc).
With that said, I will warn you in advance that if I found two pitchers who I felt were close, but one was pitching in more the modern era and the other in the dead-ball era, I gave the advantage to the modern pitcher.
In this list, you will find that two different pitchers grace this list twice. Can you think of who they are? Also, you will find that two teams had the best season pitched in their franchises' history in 2010; any guesses on which organizations these are?
Alright, enough talk. Let's take a look at each team's individual best-pitched season...
In 1968 Dave McNally pitched the greatest season in the history of the Baltimore Orioles' franchise.
McNally was fifth in the MVP voting this year. For his career, McNally spent 13 seasons with the Orioles and finished his career with 184 Wins.
Boston Red Sox
The season that Pedro Martinez pitched in 2000 is certainly one of the record books. While the debate goes on, I have to agree with the side that believes Pedro's 2000 season was the single best season pitched in baseball ever.
Look at the numbers, he was ridiculous. And during the modern era, WHILE many players were juicing! Incredible!
Pedro finished the season by winning the Cy Young Award and placing fifth in the MVP voting.
New York Yankees
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The Yankees have had some amazing pitchers on their team, but no one has had a better single season in a Yankees uniform than Ron Guidry did in 1978.
The year was made complete for Guidry by winning the Cy Young Award and just missing winning the MVP (he placed second in the MVP voting).
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays are a very young franchise so it should come as no surprise that the best season pitched by a pitcher wearing a Rays uniform was last year, 2010, by David Price.
Prie finished second in the Cy Young Award voting in 2010. I don't think any of us would be surprised if Price have an even better season than this and replaces his won stats for this title.
Toronto Blue Jays
For the Toronto Blue Jays, their best season came in 1997 in the person of the Rocket—Roger Clemens.
With a great season like that, it's not a surprise to hear that Clemens won the Cy Young in the AL that year.
Chicago White Sox
Ed Walsh, of the White Sox, is the first pitcher on our list that comes from the dead-ball era. His exceptional season, which stands as the best season pitched in White Sox history, came all the way back in 1908.
Admittedly, pitchers stayed in the games a lot longer than they do today, but this is still really impressive (regardless of what era he he pitched in): in 1908, Walsh had 42 complete games, 11 of which were shutouts.
I was flip-flopping between Bob Feller and Gaylord Perry, but ultimately, decided upon Perry's 1972 season. Here are the stats:
Perry won the Cy Young this year and placed sixth in the MVP voting.
In 1968, Denny McClain pitched an amazing season. Not only did he win the Cy Young Award but he also won the MVP that year. Here are his stats for that phenomenal year:
Kansas City Royals
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Bret Saberhagen's 1989 season will forever be remembered by Kansas City Royals fans. He won himself a Cy Young award and finished eighth in the MVP voting that year.
The best season pitched for the Minnesota Twins actually goes all the way back to when the team was known as the Washington Senators. Sure, the Twins have had and seen some great pitching seasons in more modern times, but it's hard to argue with the success of Walter Johnson; after all, he is one of the best ever.
Naturally, Johnson won the MVP award this year.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
In 1964, Dean Chance, a pitcher for the Angels, had an amazing season; he won the Cy Young Award and finished fifth in the MVP voting.
A lot of fans would expect to see Lefty Grove's 1931 season as the best single-season ever pitched for the Oakland Athletics. Not taking anything away from Grove's season in 1931 (because it certainly was VERY impressive) but, in my opinion, Vida Blue had a better year in 1971.
Here are Vida's stats:
Vida not only won the Cy Young Award in '71, but he also won the MVP as well.
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The Big Unit! In 1995, for the Seattle Mariners, Randy Johnson had one of his most infamous seasons:
Johnson went on to win the Cy Young and placed fifth in the MVP voting in '95.
You can make a case that Nolan Ryan should be taking the place of Fergie Jenkins here, however, I will argue that Jenkins' 1974 season is better than any other season a pitcher has every thrown while wearing a Rangers' uniform.
Jenkins was second in the Cy Young voting and fifth in the MVP voting that year.
New York Mets
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Tom Seaver was great, absolutely, but Dwight Gooden's 1985 season was off the charts. He finished the year with a Cy Young Award and was fourth in the MVP voting.
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Kevin Brown's 1996 season marks the best season ever pitched by a Marlin. For his performance this year, Brown finished second in the Cy Young Awards.
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No surprise here, Maddux is clearly the man who holds the honor of having pitched the best single season ever in a Braves uniform. Maddux had so many great years, but 1995 was his best. Here are his stats:
Maddux won the Cy Young in 1995 and finished third in the MVP voting.
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Another team that had a few suitors that were worthy of this title. Nonetheless, the 1972 season by Steve Carlton is the best among them all.
Carlton won the Cy Young and finished fifth in MVP voting that year.
Pedro Martinez makes his second appearance on the list. First, he made an appearance for his 2000 season with the Boston Red Sox, and now, he is on the list for his 1997 season with the Montreal Expos (the soon to be Washington Nationals).
Whether you like him or not, it's hard to argue Pedro isn't one of the best.
This year led to another win for Pedro in the Cy Young Award.
Mordecai, Three-Finger, Brown. The Cubs have a very long history, but no Cub has ever pitched a better season then Brown did in 1906.
A 1.04 ERA?! I don't care what era you are pitching in, anytime you are flirting with an ERA under 1.00 and you're a starter who has pitched the whole season, you're automatically considered one of the greats.
The best season ever pitched for the Cincinnati Reds was actually not for an entire season.
Statistically, the best season ever thrown by a man in a Reds uniform was by Tom Seaver in 1977. However, the interesting fact about this is that Seaver was traded from the Mets to the Reds in 1977; so, Seaver did not spend an entire year with the Reds—and he still managed to have the best numbers.
Here are his stats from only his games played in a Reds uniform in 1977:
Seaver finished third in the Cy Young Award that year.
The best season ever pitched by a Houston Astro came back in 1986 by Mike Scott. He was awarded with the Cy Young award that year.
Another team that had it's best single season performance by a pitcher in 1986 is the Milwaukee Brewers. This came from Teddy Higuera. Higuera finished second in the Cy Young Award that year, behind the Astros' Mike Scott.
Here's another interesting case on our list. Not only did this pitcher only pitch for the Pirates for one season, but he wasn't even a starter! The one and only reliever that makes our list is Rich "Goose" Gossage. His 1977 season was the best by a pitcher on the Pirates ever.
St. Louis Cardinals
Another no-brainer, the 1968 season pitched by Bob Gibson is well-known for being the best season pitched by a Cardinals pitcher.
In this infamous season, Gibson won the Cy Young, he won the MVP Award and threw 13 shutouts. Dominant!
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Just like the Tampa Bay Rays had their franchise's best season in 2010, so too did the Colorado Rockies. For the Rockies, it was thrown by none other than Ubaldo Jiminez.
In 2010, Jiminez finished third in the Cy Young Award.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Another obvious one, Sandy Koufax's 1965 season is one of the most famous in baseball.
Koufax won the Cy Young that year and finished second for the MVP.
San Diego Padres
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Jake Peavy holds the title of pitching the best single season for the young San Diego Padres organization. It is his 2007, Cy Young Award winning season that gives him this honor. He also finished seventh in the MVP voting that year.
San Francisco Giants
To find the best single season pitched for the Giants organization, you have to go back to when they were in New York, and Christy Mathewson was pitching for them. Mathewson's 1908 performance is a classic and is the clear choice to be the Giants' best performance.
Although, I guess if there was some competition, it would be between Mathewson and...Mathewson; he had so many great years for the Giants.
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And appearing for the second time on our list is Randy Johnson—the Big Unit. Johnson is also on the list for having pitched the best season of the Seattle Mariners' history in 1995. He makes his second appearance on the list for this 2001 season with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Johnson is another pitcher that the argument should not be over whether he is deserving but rather which one of his seasons should be named the best. I decided to go with the 2001 season because that was the year he helped the Diamondbacks win the World Series.
Johnson won the Cy Young this year, but that shouldn't be too big of a surprise because he won it four years in a row with the Diamondbacks (from 1999-2002).