MLB Power Rankings: The Best Pitching Duo in Each Team's History
Pitching is what wins championships. At least that's what the performance of the 2010 San Francisco Giants would have you believe.
Now, more than ever, it seems that baseball, its executives, the fans and the journalists are placing a greater emphasis on the a team's pitching staff. The Phillies and Red Sox were thought to be favorites in their leagues because, but not limited to, their pitching staffs and the Yankees were being questioned because of the lack of depth in their own staff.
Pitching is turning into the hot commodity in baseball right now, and with the new excitement about pitchers, let's take a look back and see each team's best pitching duo in a single season within the entire franchises' history.
Let's start with the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. The Orioles' best, single season pitching duo came back in 1968 with the combination of Dave McNally and Jim Hardin.
Just by looking at the stats you can see why these two guys can be considered the best pitching duo in Orioles' history. Just amongst themselves they were able to put up 40 wins for their team!
New York Yankees
The Yankees have had their fair share of great ball players, both pitchers and hitters, but, in the pitching department, no two Yankees have been better than the combination of Ron Guidry and Ed Figueroa in the 1978 season.
Guidry also holds the honor, in my opinion, of pitching the Yankees best single-season ever. Of course, this occurred in 1978 as well.
As you can see below in the stats section of the post both pitchers won at least 20 games in 1978 and both posted a sub 3.00 ERA.
Boston Red Sox
When looking for the picture shown, I realized that I had never seen a photo of Babe Ruth in a Red Sox uniform. I'm not a Yankee fan, nor a Red Sox, but it feels weird to see him wearing anything but pinstripes.
In my opinion, the 1916 season pitched by Babe Ruth and Dutch Leonard constitutes the best pitching duo, for a single season, in Red Sox history. However, much like the Yankees, the Red Sox's have had a lot of All-Stars on their team throughout the years as well, so this was not the easiest choice.
Ultimately, I probably gave it to Ruth/Leonard because how can you not incorporate the greatest player of all time?
Toronto Blue Jays
In 1991, with the duo of Todd Stottlemyre and Jimmy Key, the Toronto Blue Jays had their best one-two punch in franchise history.
While these names are not as sexy as others on this list, like Ruth or Guidry, the numbers these two guys put up that season are nothing to disrespect.
I'll admit that you'll find some more eye-popping numbers throughout this article but these two guys put up some solid performances that would have definitely helped give their team a chance to win a lot of games. Take a look:
Tampa Bay Rays
When you have such a short history, like the Tampa Bay Rays, it can be tough to find a really good pitching duo to put on the list.
While David Price's 2010 season was exceptional I have no doubts that it won't take long for a better single-season duo to come along; probably involving Price as one of the two pitchers.
Although Garza's numbers could be better, they're not terrible, and one important thing to note is that he pitched over 200 innings; always appreciated by a manager and a team's bullpen.
Here are the 2010 numbers for David Price and Matt Garza:
Chicago White Sox
For the Chicago White Sox, the best single-season pitching duo came all the way back in 1908 with the one-two punch of Ed Walsh and Don White.
Ed Walsh's numbers are amazing! I recognize it was a different era in baseball but still, anyone who pitches 460-plus innings and has an ERA in the 1.50 area is insanely good. Case closed.
Just a mere 60 years after the White Sox had their best single-season pitching duo, the Tigers would be blessed with their own.
In 1968, Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich were pitching some of the best baseball in their entire careers. Mclain would go on to win 30 games that season and Lolich would pitch an excellent season by posting an ERA just slightly above the 3.00 mark.
Kansas City Royals
1989 was the season and the pitchers were Bret Saberhagen and Mark Gubicza.
Kansas City Royals' fans should remember the 1989 season well as it was the year that Saberhagen won the Cy Young Award. Furthermore, Gubicza was an All-Star that year.
In route to winning the Cy Young, Saberhagen completed a league leading 12 games while also having the best winning percentage.
In 1956 Early Wynn and Bob Lemon were both 20 game winners, pitched over 200 innings, and although they were not close to winning, they both got votes for the MVP award.
Obviously, with numbers like that, it was an easy to choice to name this season as the best pitching duo season for the Indians organization.
The Minnesota Twins is an organization that is constantly being praised for their development of young pitchers, and for good reason. In 2006, two of their young pitchers performed as well as the franchise had ever seen.
In 2006, 27-year-old Johan Santana won the Cy Young Award and 22-year-old Francisco Liriano finished third the the Rookie of the Year voting. It'd be an understatement to say they both had great seasons.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
In 1964, with the combination of Dean Chance and Fred Newman, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim had two exceptional top of the rotation guys.
Also, in the year, Dean Chance won the Cy Young Award and had a league best 1.65 ERA.
The Oakland Athletics best pitching duo came back when the franchise was in Philadelphia, and Lefty Grove was the ace of the staff.
In addition to Lefty Grove, the Athletics also had a 20-game winner in their No. 2 pitcher who was George Earnshaw.
Grove and Earnshaw, in 1931, combined for 52 wins!
This one suprised even me, but the stats don't lie. The best pitching duo in the Texas Rangers' organization came in 1983 between Rick Honeycutt and Charlie Hough.
One note about this season was that Honeycutt only spent part of the season with the Rangers (25 games to be exact), but the numbers he put up during that time were fantastic.
The Mariners best single-season pitching duo came back in 2001 under the helm of Freddy Garcia and Jamie Moyer. Probably, like many of you, I was expecting one of the pitchers for the Mariners to be Randy Johnson, but none of the second pitchers were good enough to earn the title.
However, in 2001, Freddy Garcia and Jamie Moyer pitched more than well enough to give themselves this title.
New York Mets
Moving on from the American League to the National League, let's start with the NL East and specifically the New York Mets.
For the Mets I was debating between two tandems: Seaver and Koosman or Gooden and Darling. Ultimately, I think Seaver and Koosman are better.
In 1969, the tandem of Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman combined for 40-plus wins, an average ERA of 2.245 and an average WHIP of about 1.04! Those numbers are ridiculous.
Here are the individual numbers so you can take a closer look at just how good they were in 1969:
OK, so I know this is suppose to be an article about duos—meaning two—but I just couldn't leave one of these guys out. All three are so great that it would be wrong to exclude one of them.
Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz are names that are synonymous with superb pitching. These guys are truly the epitome of a pitcher, in my eyes. The reason I say that is because these guys didn't throw 100 mph but rather relied more upon pitch movement and control over anything else.
And so to say they were successful would be a severe understatement. Individually these guys have had some of the best years in the modern era, but here is one particular year (1998) that all three pitched really well.
It's also worth mentioning that although Maddux and Smoltz have had better years individually than 1998, they still tied for fourth in the Cy Young voting. Of course, Glavine won the Cy Young that year.
The Philadelphia Phillies have four great starters set to anchor the rotation in 2011, which leaves open the possibility for any pair of them to replace these two guys but, for the time being, Robin Roberts and Curt Simmons 1952 season remains as the best pitching duo season in Phillies history.
And, if the current Phillies want to replace these two guys, they better be prepared to have a great season. Take a look at the stats Roberts and Simmons accumulated in 1952:
The Washington Nationals' best pitchng duo came back when the team was in Montreal, during the 1988 season.
Again, much like a few other team's we've seen, this duo does not contain a big name you'd expect to see (i.e. Pedro Martinez) but rather consists of Pascual Perez and Bryn Smith.
However, with guys like Stephen Strasburg coming up through the Nationals organization, I suspect Pascual and Bryn will soon be trumped of this honor. But, for the meantime, here are their stats from 1988:
Kevin Brown and Alex Fernandez hold the honor of being the best pitching duo that the Florida Marlins organization has ever had. This feat came back in 1997.
Although Brown actually had a better year, himself, in 1996, the other pitchers in the rotation were not as good as Alex Fernandez was when he arrived in Florida in 1997.
The Chicago Cubs have a long and rich history with plenty of great pitchers to choose from for this title, but, in my opinion, no two pitchers on the Cubs were more dominant in a single season than Mark Prior and Kerry Wood in 2003.
In particular, the strikeouts these two guys were able to amass over the 2003 season is just amazing! Combined it's over 500 strikeouts!
Another example where one of the players was only with the team for half of the season, but Sabathia pitched so well during his shortened time in Milwaukee, I think it should still count.
Since this is only a few years ago, I think we can all remember just how amazing Sabathia was for the Brewers during the season and in the playoffs that year.
Just as a reminder, here are the numbers:
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals best single-season pitching duo came in the same year as the New York Mets' in 1969.
With Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton, it's easy to see how this was the Cardinals' best year; two pitchers like that aren't on every team's rotation.
An interesting fact about the 1969 season is that during the course of that year Gibson threw a league-best 28 complete games.
The Colorado Rockies are much like the Tampa Bay Rays in that they don't have a long history to look to fill a title like this, so, much like the Rays, the Rockies best season came last year, in 2010, with the combination of Ubaldo Jiminez and Jhoulys Chacin.
You'll notice that Chacin doesn't even have a winning record; his other numbers are good but we can expect this to be quickly changed, perhaps even this season.
San Diego Padres
Another organization that doesn't have a deep history to look at for this title, but, nonetheless, the combination of Jake Peavy and Chris Young in 2007 was a very solid duo.
Both Peavy and Young were All-Stars that year but Peavy also won the Cy Young as he led the league in wins, WHIP, K/9 and ERA.
San Francisco Giants
Christy Mathewson would have been a likely choice for one of the two pitchers to make up the best duo, but actually, he isn't.
Instead the honor goes to Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry for their 1966 season, in which they were nothing short of dominant. Both posted a sub 3.00 ERA and won at least 20 games.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Just one year earlier than the Giants best season was the Los Angeles Dodgers best season. In 1965, with the talents of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, the Dodgers were basically playing with two aces at the front of their rotation.
At the end of the season, Drysdale would finish fifth in MVP voting while Koufax would finish second.
No need to drag on about how awesome they were, the stats can speak for themselves:
1981 with Nolan Ryan and Bob Knepper; this was the best pitching duo the Houston Astros have seen since the franchise was born.
In this season, Ryan finished fourth in the Cy Young voting and finished with the best ERA in the league, and Knepper's ERA was nothing to be ashamed of either.
What an accomplishment! Tom Seaver makes the list twice on two different teams. As we've seen in a few examples before, this is a case in which one of the pitchers (Seaver) did not pitch an entire season with this organization.
But, once again, he was dominant, so it should be counted. In this example the year is 1977, and the two pitchers are Fred Norman and Tom Seaver.
Going way back to 1909 to find the best single-season duo for the Pittsburgh Pirates, which was made up of Howie Camnitz and Vic Willis.
Now even though the game was played differently, the numbers are still really impressive.
I saved, what is to me, the most fun duo for the end: the Arizona Diamondbacks 2001 duo of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.
While the Diamondbacks are another young organization, they were still able to create one of the best single-season duos baseball has seen. We all remember the great run of the Diamondbacks in 2001 and most of that was due to these two guys.
In 2001, Johnson won the Cy Young while Schilling finished second in the voting. Not bad to have the first and second highest vote getters for the Cy Young award.