Ranking Roy Halladay Among Top 10 MLB Starting Pitchers of the Last 20 Years

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2013

Ranking Roy Halladay Among Top 10 MLB Starting Pitchers of the Last 20 Years

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    The first day of the winter meetings brought very little in the way of transactions, but it did see one of the greatest pitchers in recent memory call it a career when Roy Halladay signed a one-day contract with the Blue Jays and announced his retirement.

    A dominant force through the 2011 season, Halladay battled injuries the past two years and went just 15-13 with a 5.15 ERA in 38 combined starts, leading to his decision to hang it up at the age of 36.

    There is no question Halladay was one of the top pitchers of his generation and is a decent bet to make the Hall of Fame five years from now. Here's a look at where he ranks among the top starting pitchers of the last 20 years.

    *All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.

10. John Smoltz

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Career Stats

    G/GSW-LERAERA+WHIPKIPrWARfWAR
    723/481213-1553.33 1251.1763,0843,473 66.5 78.7

    Had it not been for the four seasons he spent as the Braves' closer, a span of time in which he racked up 154 saves, Smoltz would likely rank higher on this. Even with him spending those years in the bullpen, he still ranks as one of the top 10 starts of the past 20 years though.

    He won the NL Cy Young in 1996 when he went 24-8 with a 2.94 ERA, while piling up a total of 143 wins during the 1990s. He's one of just two players in MLB history with at least 150 wins and 150 saves, with Dennis Eckersley being the other.

    Hall of Fame Odds: 80 percent

9. Curt Schilling

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Career Stats

    G/GSW-LERAERA+WHIPKIPrWARfWAR
    569/436216-1463.46 1271.1373,1163,261 80.7 83.2

    Entering his age-30 season, Curt Schilling was just 52-52 with a 3.49 ERA in 232 career games, 121 of which were starts. That was followed by three terrific seasons with the Phillies before he was traded to the Diamondbacks, where is career really took off.

    From 2001-2004, he won 20-plus games three times and finished second to teammate Randy Johnson in NL Cy Young voting in each of those seasons. His 3,116 career strikeouts rank 15th on the all-time list, and he had three 300-plus strikeout seasons to his credit.

    Hall of Fame Odds: 75 percent

8. Mike Mussina

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Career Stats

    G/GSW-LERAERA+WHIPKIPrWARfWAR
    537/536270-1533.68 1231.1922,8133,562.2 82.7 82.5

    Mike Mussina won 15 or more games 11 different times during his career, and he was the definition of a staff ace during his time with the Baltimore Orioles. He never won a Cy Young award, but finished in the top 10 in voting nine different times as he was consistently one of the top arms in the game.

    His name is not often brought up among the all-time greats, but from a sabermetrics standpoint, he certainly belongs in the discussion. He ranks in the top 25 all-time among pitchers in both rWAR (24th) and fWAR (19th), and that may be his strongest Hall of Fame argument.

    Hall of Fame Odds: 75 percent

7. Roy Halladay

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Career Stats

    G/GSW-LERAERA+WHIPKIPrWARfWAR
    416/390203-1053.38 1311.1782,1172,749.1 65.6 67.6

    Roy Halladay was an old school pitcher in the modern era, as he led the league in complete games seven different times, topped 15 wins eight different times and captured the Cy Young award in both leagues. He won one for the Blue Jays in 2003 and Phillies in 2010.

    His 2010 season was one for the ages, as he went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA during the regular season. He threw a perfect game against the Marlins on May 29, then twirled a no-hitter against the Reds in what was the first postseason start of his career.

    Hall of Fame Odds: 80 percent

6. Roger Clemens

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Career Stats

    G/GSW-LERAERA+WHIPKIPrWARfWAR
    709/707354-1843.12 1431.1734,6724,916.2139.4139.5

    Were it not for the PED issues, Roger Clemens would rank in the top three on this list and perhaps land the top spot here. Even with the accusations against him, it's impossible to ignore what he accomplished during his 24-year playing career.

    Clemens peak seasons stretch back to the 1980s, but he was still a stud during the 1990s and on into the 2000s to close out his career. The right-hander won seven ERA titles and seven Cy Young awards, and he ranks ninth on the all-time wins list and third on the all-time strikeout list.

    Hall of Fame Odds: 20 percent

5. Tom Glavine

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Career Stats

    G/GSW-LERAERA+WHIPKIPrWARfWAR
    682/682305-2033.54 1181.3142,6074,413.1 74.0 64.3

    Though he played second fiddle to teammate Greg Maddux for much of his career, Tom Glavine was one of the best pitchers of the era in his own right.

    The left-hander won 20 games five times, and took home NL Cy Young honors during the 1991 and 1998 season. There's a good chance he'll join Maddux as a first-ballot inductee this coming year, as he certainly ranks as one of the best left-handers of all-time.

    Hall of Fame Odds: 100 percent

4. Clayton Kershaw

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Career Stats

    G/GSW-LERAERA+WHIPKIPrWARfWAR
    184/18277-462.60 1461.0921,2061,180 32.2 28.4

    Clayton Kershaw made his big league debut as a 20-year-old back in 2008, and after spending the first three years of his career as a plus starter who showed flashes of being a dominant force, he has emerged as the best pitcher in the game today.

    Over the past three years, he's gone a combined 51-23 with a 2.21 ERA and 0.971 WHIP, winning three straight ERA titles and two NL Cy Young awards. The fact that he's still just 25 and could conceivably get better is hard to fathom, and once the Dodgers decide to lock him up, he'll no doubt be the highest-paid pitcher of all-time.

    Hall of Fame Odds: 70 percent (and climbing)

3. Pedro Martinez

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Career Stats

    G/GSW-LERAERA+WHIPKIPrWARfWAR
    476/409219-1002.93 1541.0543,1542,827.1 86.0 87.1

    While he does not have the win total of of some of the other all-time greats, Pedro Martinez was nothing short of phenomenal from 1997-2003. During that span, he averaged a line of 17-5, 2.20 ERA, 252 Ks and won five ERA titles.

    He won three AL Cy Young awards and won the pitching Triple Crown in 1999 when he went 23-4, 2.07 ERA, 313 Ks. Later, he fronted the Red Sox staff that broke the Curse of the Bambino in 2004, and while his peak was relatively short, it was nothing short of dominant.

    Hall of Fame Odds: 90 percent

2. Randy Johnson

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Career Stats

    G/GSW-LERAERA+WHIPKIPrWARfWAR
    618/603303-1663.29 1351.1714,8754,135.1104.3111.7

    Arguably the most intimidating mound presence of all-time, Randy Johnson was a dominant force throughout his career. The left-hander took home five Cy Young awards and finished in the top five in voting four other times.

    The big 6'10" hurler ranks second on the all-time strikeout list behind Nolan Ryan, and coupled with his 303 wins, he is perhaps the greatest left-handed starter in baseball history. The fact that he didn't really put it all together as a starter until the age of 26 makes his career numbers that much more impressive.

    Hall of Fame Odds: 100 percent

1. Greg Maddux

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Career Stats

    G/GSW-LERAERA+WHIPKIPrWARfWAR
    744/740355-2273.16 1321.1433,3715008.1104.6113.9

    A case can certainly be made for Greg Maddux ranking as one of the five best pitchers in the history of the game, and he is comfortably in the top 10. Unlike many of the other all-time greats, he relied on fantastic control of all of his pitches as opposed to overpowering stuff.

    He won four-straight Cy Young awards from 1992-1995 and posted one of the best single-season pitching performances of all-time in '95 when he went 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA and 0.811 WHIP. Add in 18 Gold Glove awards and the eighth-highest win total in baseball history at 355, Maddux tops the list of the best pitchers of the past 20 years.

    Hall of Fame Odds: 100 percent

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