MLB Power Rankings: Tim Lincecum and the 25 Best Strikeout Pitchers in Baseball

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MLB Power Rankings: Tim Lincecum and the 25 Best Strikeout Pitchers in Baseball
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Unlike my recent attempt to rank the 25 craftiest pitchers in baseball, it's a lot easier to quantify the best strikeout pitchers in the game.  One statistic in particular, the K/9 rate (strikeouts per nine innings), will get us most of the way there.

That doesn't mean this will simply be a list of the 25 pitchers with the best K/9 rates in 2010, though.  A couple other factors will also be at play.

First, there is the starter versus reliever question.  We've seen enough pitchers transition from reliever to starter (and vice versa) over the years to know that it is a lot easier to maintain a high K/9 when you are pitching one inning at a time than when you have to conserve your stuff for the whole game. 

Some pitchers defy that trend (see Morrow, Brandon), but generally speaking, pitching in relief allows for an extra two-to-three strikeouts per nine innings, something that will be factored into these rankings.  It's also simply more impressive to maintain a high K rate over 200 innings than it is over 60 innings, so the list with be fairly starter-heavy.

Which brings me to the second factor: This list won't just consider 2010.  While a pitcher won't get credit for a strikeout rate they haven't achieved since 2004, performances over the last three seasons (2008 to 2010) will be considered, as long as a pitcher hasn't seen a dramatic drop-off in strikeouts during that time.

Finally, while there will be no strict innings limit for inclusion on the list, pitchers with longer track records will generally be given preference over young pitchers who haven't yet proven that they can maintain a high K rate over the long haul.

But enough with the ground rules!  Here are the 25 best strikeout pitchers in baseball today.

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