Major League Basesball's Top 40 Pitchers and Eight Best Rotations Possible

Kevin JackmanContributor IIIMay 4, 2011

Major League Basesball's Top 40 Pitchers and Eight Best Rotations Possible

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    SEATTLE - APRIL 08:  Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners is flanked by CEO Howard Lincoln (L) and COO Chuck Armstrong after receiving his American League Cy Young Award trophy prior to the Mariners' home opener against the Clevela
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Last season was tabbed the "Year of the Pitcher" due to the high volume of no-no's and perfecto's.

    This year hasn't changed that trend with Twins' Francisco Liriano throwing the year's first no-hitter against the White Sox.

    So with teams focusing more on young, power pitching staffs, let's take a look at how the top eight rotations would look like if you took the best 40 pitchers the Majors has to offer.

    Also, for a look at the best possible lineup, check out my previous baseball post.

8. The Worst of the Best

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    The electric but inconsistent Edison Volquez
    The electric but inconsistent Edison VolquezAndy Lyons/Getty Images

    1.RHP Jair Jurrjens
    ATL, 1.52 ERA

    2.RHP Edison Volquez
    CIN, 5.67 ERA

    3.RHP Ryan Dempster
    CHI(C), 8.05 ERA

    4.LHP Jaime Garcia
    STL, 2.48 ERA

    5. RHP Kyle Lohse
    STL, 2.44 ERA

    The Breakdown:

    Jair Jurrjens has been a very good top-of-the-rotation starter for the entirety of his young career, but lacks power stuff... Edison Volquez is the exact opposite. He can be one of the most feared pitchers in baseball if he just knew where the strike zone was. He needs to talk to Charlie Sheen... Ryan Dempster has been horrific this year, but he should bounce back with the weather turning and his splitter coming back... Jaime Garcia is a terrific, underrated talent that was buried in the Cardinal rotation by Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, but not anymore... Kyle Lohse is solid and having a very good year, just wonder how long it will last.

7th Best Rotation

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    Mr. Perfect had been far from it before his May 3rd start
    Mr. Perfect had been far from it before his May 3rd startGreg Fiume/Getty Images

    1. RHP Brandon Morrow

    TOR,  3.97 ERA

    2. LHP Francisco Liriano

    MIN,  6.61 ERA

    3. RHP Chad Billingsley

    LAD,  3.92 ERA

    4. LHP Ted Lilly

    LAD,  4.45 ERA

    5. RHP Dan Hudson

    ARI,  5.30 ERA

    The Breakdown:

    Brandon Morrow has incredible stuff that translate to a very high number of strikeouts. The only problem for him is staying on the mound for a full 32 starts... Francisco Liriano has the ability to dominate, he just overthrows from time to time, even during his no-hit game... Chad Billingsley is consistently average, but that is what makes him good... Ted Lilly is just a savvy veteran who knows how to change speeds and hit spots... Dan Hudson has only two NON-quality starts with the D-backs dating back to the trade that sent him to Arizona last year.

6th Best Rotation

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    Matt Garza is compiling strikeouts at a rate that impresses even Kerry Wood
    Matt Garza is compiling strikeouts at a rate that impresses even Kerry WoodJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    1. RHP Brett Myers
    HOU, 3.72 ERA

    2. LHP Jonathan Sanchez
    SF, 2.73 ERA

    3. RHP Hiroki Kuroda
    LAD, 3.10 ERA

    4. RHP Matt Garza
    CHI(C), 3.96 ERA

    5. RHP Matt Latos
    SD, 4.55

    The Breakdown:

    Brett Myers has dominated for a couple years while remaining under the radar.... Jonathan Sanchez can strike out just about anyone, but it takes him five or six pitches to do it, leading to short outings.... Hiroki Kuroda has a funky wind-up, but the surprising thing is how Major League hitters have yet to figure him out... Matt Garza has a 11.8 k/9 so far this year and isn't slowing down now that he is in the NL... Matt Latos started the year with an injury but what he did last year was impressive.

5th Best Rotation

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    At his best, he is one of the elite, but he is wildly inconsistent
    At his best, he is one of the elite, but he is wildly inconsistentGreg Fiume/Getty Images

    1. RHP Justin Verlander
    DET, 3.75 ERA

    2. RHP Tim Hudson
    ATL, 3.48 ERA

    3.RHP Roy Oswalt
    PHI, 3.33 ERA

    4. RHP Yovani Gallardo
    MIL, 6.10 ERA

    5. RHP Josh Beckett
    BOS, 2.65 ERA

    The Breakdown:

    Justin Verlander is a rare pitcher in the way that he hits 100 mph on the gun, and stays relatively healthy. He has some of the nastiest stuff I have ever seen... Tim Hudson has just mastered the mental aspect of the game and continue to dominate... Roy Oswalt was considered done after a down seaosn two years ago in Houston, but he's back and still intimidating... Yovani Gallardo needs to stop walking people, he is too good... Josh Beckett is back and his curveball is ridiculous, better than it ever has been. This is vintage Beckett.

4th Best Rotation

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    He has yet to pitch, but he will soon, and he will.. he will.. rock you.
    He has yet to pitch, but he will soon, and he will.. he will.. rock you.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    1. RHP Chris Carpenter
    STL, 3.89

    2. LHP Cole Hamels
    PHI, 2.66

    3. RHP Zack Greinke
    MIL, ---------

    4. LHP C.J. Wilson
    TEX, 3.35

    5. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
    COL, 7.20

    The Breakdown:

    Chris Carpenter has gone from being a nice surprise for the Cards to their best pitcher over the last few years... Cole Hamels is now hidden behind Lee and Halladay but he has one of the filthiest changeups... Zack Greinke struggled last year, but he is moving to the NL and looks to return to his Cy Young form... C.J. Wilson was a no-namer last year, but is now the Rangers' ace and has good stuff... Ubaldo Jimenez has a lightening quick arm, but his control is spotty.

3rd Best Rotation... Almost There...

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    He is basically a better version of Freddy Garcia in his prime with that wind up
    He is basically a better version of Freddy Garcia in his prime with that wind upEzra Shaw/Getty Images

    1. RHP Trevor Cahill
    OAK, 1.88 ERA

    2. LHP David Price
    TB, 3.95 ERA

    3. RHP Matt Cain
    SF, 3.28 ERA

    4. LHP Brett Anderson
    OAK, 2.95 ERA

    5. RHP Tommy Hanson
    ATL, 2.57 ERA

    The Breakdown:

    Trevor Cahill is relatively unknown among general baseball fans, but that shouldn't be the case- this guy is special... David Price has accomplished the unlikely feat of living up to his hyped prospect status, he is sensational... Matt Cain has also lived in the shadows of Tim Lincecum, but he is rock solid and very rarely goes on a cold streak... Brett Anderson is the yang to Cahill's yin. He just needs to stay on the mound and they could become the new Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder/ Barry Zito... Tommy Hanson has such an interesting wind-up in which he shows the ball very early, but his stuff is so good it doesn't matter.

Next to Best Rotation

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    He is a freak. Period.
    He is a freak. Period.Rob Carr/Getty Images

    1. RHP Tim Lincecum
    SF, 2.90 ERA

    2. LHP Jon Lester
    BOS, 2.33 ERA

    3. RHP Felix Hernandez
    SEA, 3.21 ERA

    4. RHP Dan Haren
    LAA, 1.76 ERA

    5. LHP Clayton Kershaw
    LAD, 3.37 ERA

    The Breakdown:

    Tim Lincecum has truly lived up to his nickname as "the freak". His consistent motion, velocity and movement are all exceptional... Jon Lester belongs among the elite pitchers now that he has become the Red Sox ace.... King Felix Hernandez has the nastiest stuff around and he is only 25, but has been in the league for 6 years now... Dan Haren had an off year in 2010, but this year is a different story in Anaheim... Clayton Kershaw has a good old fashion uncle Charlie, and a very live fastball that he can throw for a strike in any count.

The Best of the Best

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    He is the best pitcher of his time and is final in position to consistently win
    He is the best pitcher of his time and is final in position to consistently winRob Carr/Getty Images

    1. RHP Roy Halladay
    PHI, 2.14 ERA

    2. LHP C.C. Sabathia
    NYY, 2.68 ERA

    3. RHP Jered Weaver
    LAA, 1.39 ERA

    4. LHP Cliff Lee
    PHI, 3.66 ERA

    5. RHP Josh Johnson
    FLA, 0.88 ERA

    The Breakdown:

    Roy Halladay is the best pitcher of his generation. He has unfathomable stamina defies the modern day pitch counter... C.C. Sabathia is almost the same way, and he's a lefty which is even better. He just knows how to win games... Jered Weaver is the front runner for the American League Cy Young award so far. His curveball and changeup are virtually untouchable.... Cliff Lee just doesn't walk people, that is honestly why he is so good... Josh Johnson is just a monster, if he can maintain this level of performance for a whole year, he'll join Weaver on the Cy Young stand.