Picking Each MLB Franchise's GOAT Pitcher
Now it's time for the GOAT pitchers.
The first step was to set some parameters for inclusion. In order to be eligible for consideration, a pitcher had to have amassed the following during his time with a team:
- At least 800 innings pitched
- At least 20.0 WAR
- At least 115 ERA+
- At least 75 Adjusted Pitching Runs
It's also worth noting that stats accumulated before 1893 were disregarded. Prior to that, there was no pitcher's mound, and the flat box where the pitcher stood was just 55½ feet from home plate.
Baseball Reference was our go-to resource to pull the requisite stats. Any player who failed to meet those minimums was excluded from consideration, although in the case of a couple of teams, the bar had to be lowered.
From there, a greatest of all-time for each team was selected from the field of qualified candidates, based on a mixture of subjectivity and stats, with significant stock placed on ERA+ since it's the best tool for comparing across eras and WAR/100.
What is WAR/100?
Simple. We took a pitcher's WAR and divided it by his innings pitched, then multiplied that number by 100, thus giving us his WAR per 100 innings pitched. That made it easier to compare value across different sample sizes.
Let's get started.
The GOAT: Randy Johnson
Other Qualified Pitchers: Brandon Webb
The only real rival to Randy Johnson for the title of best pitcher in Arizona Diamondbacks history is his World Series teammate Curt Schilling.
However, since Schilling fell short of the requisite 800 innings—he tossed 781.2 frames in his three-and-a-half seasons with the D-backs—Johnson was a no-brainer.
During his first six-year run with the team, the "Big Unit" went 103-49 with a 175 ERA+ and a staggering 1,832 strikeouts in 1,389.2 innings. He won four Cy Young Awards during that span and was an All-Star five times.
He returned for two more seasons at the age of 43 and was still productive, posting a 119 ERA+ over 240.2 innings.
The GOAT: Greg Maddux
Other Qualified Pitchers: Tom Glavine, Tim Hudson, Kid Nichols, Phil Niekro, John Smoltz, Warren Spahn, Vic Willis
Teammates John Smoltz and Tom Glavine both took a backseat to Greg Maddux during the trio's time together with the Atlanta Braves. All three were deserving Hall of Famers, and Smoltz added an impressive run as a dominant closer to his strong work as a starter, but there's no question Maddux gets the nod among his contemporary teammates.
That left Hall of Famers Warren Spahn and Kid Nichols as the biggest competition for the No. 1 spot.
In the end, Maddux's six-year peak from 1993 to 1998 was the difference. During that span, he went 107-42 with a 195 ERA+ and 0.96 WHIP, winning three Cy Young Awards and finishing in the top five in voting three other times.
Spahn won 356 games in 20 seasons with the Braves, but with just a 120 ERA+. Nichols lost three seasons to our 1893 cutoff, leaving him with a 142 ERA+ over nine seasons. In comparison, Maddux had a 163 ERA+ during his time in Atlanta.
The GOAT: Mike Mussina
Other Qualified Pitchers: Ned Garver, Jim Palmer, Urban Shocker
The Baltimore Orioles decision was a two-horse race between 1990s ace Mike Mussina and 1970s ace Jim Palmer.
Let's take a look at the side-by-side (get used to seeing these):
- Mussina: 2,009.2 IP, 130 ERA+, 47.8 WAR, 2.4 WAR/100
- Palmer: 3,948.0 IP, 125 ERA+, 68.0 WAR, 1.7 WAR/100
Palmer has the benefit of spending nearly twice as much time in Baltimore and of playing in a different era that makes his ERA look a little better than it actually is by comparison.
Here's where WAR per 100 innings becomes a useful tool, since we're looking at two very different sample sizes, and it helps paint Mussina as the clear winner.
Boston Red Sox
The GOAT: Pedro Martinez
Other Qualified Pitchers: Roger Clemens, Jo Dobson, Lefty Grove, Tex Hughson, Ellis Kinder, Dutch Leonard, Jon Lester, Mel Parnell, Babe Ruth, Bob Stanley, Frank Sullivan, Luis Tiant, Smoky Joe Wood, Cy Young
The choice for the Boston Red Sox comes down to what you value more: peak performance or longevity and counting stats.
If the answer is peak performance, Pedro Martinez is your guy, though Roger Clemens gets a second thought.
If the answer is longevity and counting stats, Cy Young is the choice.
- Martinez: 1,383.2 IP, 190 ERA+, 53.9 WAR, 3.9 WAR/100
- Clemens: 2,776 IP, 144 ERA+, 81.0 WAR, 2.9 WAR/100
- Young: 2,728.1 IP, 147 ERA+, 66.2 WAR, 2.4 WAR/100
Again, the WAR/100 stat declares a clear winner.
At the height of the Steroid Era, Martinez was absolutely dominant. He won four ERA titles and two Cy Young Awards during a six-year stretch from 1998 to 2003, posting a 2.26 ERA that registered as a ridiculous 212 ERA+.
In other words, he was 112 percent better than the league-average pitcher during that window.
The GOAT: Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown
Other Qualified Pitchers: Pete Alexander, Jake Arrieta, Clark Griffith, Bill Hands, Fergie Jenkins, Claude Passeau, Ed Reulbach, Hippo Vaughn, Lon Warneke, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano
Mordecai Brown went 49-15 with a 1.44 ERA (168 ERA+) in 545.1 innings for Chicago Cubs teams that won the World Series in 1907 and 1908, adding three wins and 20 scoreless frames during the World Series.
That performance for a pair of title winners, coupled with his full body of work in 10 total seasons with the team, earns the man best known as "Three Finger" Brown the No. 1 spot for the Cubs.
Cy Young winners Fergie Jenkins (1971) and Jake Arrieta (2015) both have compelling cases as well.
Jenkins was one of the most prominent pitchers of a 1970s golden age of hurlers, while Arrieta undoubtedly authored the greatest single-season pitching performance in team history.
In the end, a middling 119 ERA+ from Jenkins and a small and somewhat inconsistent body of work from Arrieta was enough to make Brown the choice.
Chicago White Sox
The GOAT: Chris Sale
Other Qualified Pitchers: Mark Buehrle, Eddie Cicotte, Red Faber, Thornton Lee, Ted Lyons, Jack McDowell, Gary Peters, Billy Pierce, Johnny Rigney, Jim Scott, Ed Walsh, Wilbur Wood
Can Chris Sale really be the best pitcher in 118 seasons' worth of Chicago White Sox history?
Yes. Yes, he can.
Red Faber, Ted Lyons and Ed Walsh are the three Hall of Famers among the qualified pitchers, while recent fans no doubt have an affinity for Mark Buehrle.
- Sale: 1,110 IP, 135 ERA+, 30.2 WAR, 2.7 WAR/100
- Faber: 4,086.2 IP, 119 ERA+, 68.5 WAR, 1.7 WAR/100
- Lyons: 4,161 IP, 118 ERA+, 67.6 WAR, 1.6 WAR/100
- Walsh: 2,964.1 IP, 146 ERA+, 64.0 WAR, 2.2 WAR/100
- Buehrle: 2,476.2 IP, 120 ERA+, 49.1 WAR, 2.0 WAR/100
Faber and Lyons both spent 20-plus seasons with the team and were more consistent compilers than elite starters. The same goes for Buehrle, who was essentially their modern-day equivalent.
On the other hand, Walsh has a strong case. He's the career leader in ERA (1.82) and FIP (2.01), and his 57 shutouts rank 11th all-time. Take that all with a grain of salt, though. It was a different game at the turn of the century.
Still, it was close enough that WAR/100 was the deciding factor, and Sale had the edge.
The GOAT: Jose Rijo
Other Qualified Pitchers: Ewell Blackwell, Johnny Cueto, Frank Dwyer, Bob Ewing, Noodles Hahn, Dolf Luque, Jim Maloney, Gary Nolan, Eppa Rixey, Bucky Walters
A lot of great hitters have worn a Cincinnati Reds uniform over the years. The pitching side of the franchise's long history is a different story.
Eppa Rixey is the only Hall of Fame pitcher who spent the bulk of his career with the Reds. So why wasn't he the easy choice over Jose Rijo?
The winner is clear.
While Rijo is rarely mentioned among the elite pitchers of his era—an elbow injury essentially ended his career at the age of 30—he was nothing short of dominant at his peak.
The 1990 World Series MVP Award is another point in his column.
The GOAT: Bob Feller
Other Qualified Pitchers: Bartolo Colon, Stan Coveleski, Wes Ferrell, Mike Garcia, Vean Gregg, Addie Joss, Corey Kluber, Bob Lemon, Gaylord Perry, Sam McDowell, CC Sabathia, Luis Tiant, Early Wynn
A pretty compelling case can be made that Corey Kluber is already the greatest pitcher in Cleveland Indians history.
For now, he still needs a few more seasons of top-tier production to pass Hall of Famer Bob Feller.
Feller had already established himself as one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball by the end of the 1941 season, despite still being just 22 years old. Between 1938 and 1941, he won the pitching Triple Crown in 1940 and went a combined 93-44 with a 3.15 ERA (136 ERA+) while leading the AL in strikeouts in each of his first four seasons in the rotation.
Had he not missed his age-23, -24, -25 and most of his age-26 seasons serving in World War ll, his career resume would have been considerably more impressive.
As it stands, he still won 266 games with a 122 ERA+ and 65.5 WAR.
For comparison, Kluber has a 137 ERA+ and 33.6 WAR. A few more peak-level seasons to bridge the WAR gap, and he'll take over the No. 1 spot.
The GOAT: Ubaldo Jimenez
Other Qualified Pitchers: None
There were no Colorado Rockies pitchers who met all of the requirements for inclusion in this article.
Ubaldo Jimenez came the closest. His 18.9 WAR in Colorado was just short of the 20.0 WAR parameter, but he met the other specifications.
His resume is largely propped up by a stellar 2010 season in which he posted a 161 ERA+ and 7.5 WAR to finish third in NL MVP voting
How many years will it take Kyle Freeland or German Marquez to knock him off his perch and claim the franchise top spot?
We shall see.
The GOAT: Justin Verlander
Other Qualified Pitchers: Tommy Bridges, Jim Bunning, John Hiller, Frank Lary, Hal Newhouser, Dizzy Trout
Hal Newhouser vs. Justin Verlander was one of the tightest competitions. Let's get right to the numbers:
- Newhouser: 2,944 IP, 130 ERA+, 59.4 WAR, 2.0 WAR/100
- Verlander: 2,511 IP, 123 ERA+, 55.8 WAR, 2.2 WAR/100
Verlander won the Cy Young and MVP in 2011 and was a six-time All-Star.
Newhouser won back-to-back MVPs in 1944 and 1945 and was a six-time All-Star.
In lieu of flipping a coin, WAR/100 served as the tiebreaker, so it was Verlander by a nose.
The GOAT: Roy Oswalt
Other Qualified Pitchers: None
Roy Oswalt was the only Houston Astros pitcher to meet all of the criteria for inclusion, so there was no decision to be made.
Nolan Ryan (110), J.R. Richard (108) and Mike Scott (107) did not meet the 115 ERA+ requirement.
Dallas Keuchel (18.2) did not meet the 20.0 WAR requirement.
Roger Clemens (539.0) did not meet the 800-inning requirement.
Kansas City Royals
The GOAT: Dan Quisenberry
Other Qualified Pitchers: Kevin Appier, Zack Greinke, Charlie Leibrandt, Jeff Montgomery, Bret Saberhagen
We have our first reliever selection.
Most would agree Dan Quisenberry was a better closer than Jeff Montgomery, that Zack Greinke had an up-and-down track record aside from his Cy Young season, and that Charlie Leibrandt is not on the same level as Kevin Appier or Bret Saberhagen.
So it came down to those two starters as Quiz's biggest competition for the top spot:
- Quisenberry: 920.1 IP, 160 ERA+, 25.5 WAR, 2.8 WAR/100
- Appier: 1,843.2 IP, 130 ERA+, 47.2 WAR, 2.6 WAR/100
- Saberhagen: 1,660.1 IP, 128 ERA+, 40.8 WAR, 2.5 WAR/100
Comparing starters to relievers is apples and oranges most of the time. In this case, Quisenberry averaged 115.1 innings per season during a seven-year span from 1980 to 1986, so it's a bit easier to do.
In the end, WAR/100 doesn't have a biased toward one role or the other. It simply tells who was most valuable per 100 innings pitched: Quisenberry.
Los Angeles Angels
The GOAT: Chuck Finley
Other Qualified Pitchers: Dean Chance, John Lackey, Nolan Ryan, Frank Tanana
The easy answer here would have been Nolan Ryan.
This was the only one of his four teams where he met all of the requirements for inclusion, and he threw four of his MLB-record seven no-hitters in a California Angels uniform.
Once again, though, the numbers don't lie:
- Finley: 2,675 IP, 118 ERA+, 52.1 WAR, 1.95 WAR/100
- Ryan: 2,181.1 IP, 115 ERA+, 40.4 WAR, 1.85 WAR/100
In his 12 full seasons in the Angels rotation, Finley averaged 212 innings and 31 starts with a 119 ERA+, making him one of the most durable and consistent starters in baseball.
A slight edge in ERA+ and the slightest of edges in WAR/100 earns Finley the top spot.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The GOAT: Clayton Kershaw
Other Qualified Pitchers: Kevin Brown, Watty Clark, Don Drysdale, Orel Hershiser, Sandy Koufax, Don Newcombe, Jeff Pfeffer, Preacher Roe, Nap Rucker, Dazzy Vance, Whit Wyatt
The decision for the Los Angeles Dodgers boiled down to the still-unfolding career of Clayton Kershaw versus the legendary Hall of Fame career of Sandy Koufax.
At his peak, Koufax was as good as any pitcher who has ever toed an MLB rubber.
In his final four seasons, he went 97-27 with a 172 ERA+ and 1,228 strikeouts in 1,192.2 innings, winning three pitching Triple Crowns, three Cy Young Awards and the 1963 NL MVP.
However, his career ended after his age-30 season.
Meanwhile, Kershaw enjoyed an equally impressive run as the best pitcher in baseball, and he's en route to putting together a more complete body of work:
- Kershaw: 2,096.1 IP, 159 ERA+, 62.1 WAR, 3.0 WAR/100
- Koufax: 2,324.1 IP, 131 ERA+, 53.2 WAR, 2.3 WAR/100
Kershaw already leads Koufax by a decent margin, and this figures to become less and less of a debate the longer he plays.
The GOAT: Josh Johnson
Other Qualified Pitchers: None
Josh Johnson was the only Miami Marlins pitcher to meet all of the requirements for inclusion, so he's the uncontested selection.
Injuries derailed his career in its prime, but for a few short years, he was one of the best in baseball.
His peak came in 2010 when he led the NL in ERA+ (180), ERA (2.30) and FIP (2.41) for 7.0 WAR to finish fifth in NL Cy Young voting.
Jose Fernandez (471.1 IP) and Kevin Brown (470.1 IP) both had elite runs with the Marlins but fell well short of the 800-inning mark.
The GOAT: Teddy Higuera
Other Qualified Pitchers: Ben Sheets
Teddy Higuera and Ben Sheets were the only two pitchers to meet the stipulations, so this immediately became a head-to-head battle.
It was extremely close, as the numbers show:
If not for injuries, Sheets would have run away with the title of best pitcher in Milwaukee Brewers history. He debuted as a highly touted 22-year-old, while Higuera didn't break into the big leagues until his age-27 season.
As it stands, he was still able to carve out his place in team history, one notch below the No. 1 spot.
The GOAT: Walter Johnson
Other Qualified Pitchers: Bert Blyleven, Dutch Leonard, Firpo Mayberry, Johan Santana
With all due respect to the terrific run Johan Santana had with the Minnesota Twins, this wasn't a contest.
Walter Johnson is arguably the greatest pitcher in baseball history, and he spent his entire career with a Washington Senators team that eventually moved to Minnesota and became the Twins in 1961.
During his 21 seasons in the majors, Johnson won five ERA titles and 12 strikeout titles, and he's still the all-time leader with 110 shutouts.
His prime spanned the entire 1910s, a decade in which he won 265 games while posting a 183 ERA+ and 108.5 WAR. For his career, his 417 wins and 152.6 WAR both trail only Cy Young on the all-time list.
This was a no-brainer.
New York Mets
The GOAT: Tom Seaver
Other Qualified Pitchers: Jacob deGrom, Dwight Gooden, Al Leiter, Jon Matlack
Dwight Gooden burst onto the scene as a teenager, while Jacob deGrom had a season for the ages on his way to NL Cy Young honors last season.
However, there's no debate as to who owns the title of best pitcher in New York Mets history.
Tom Seaver spent the first 10-and-a-half seasons of his Hall of Fame career with the Mets, helping transform the team from a laughingstock to a World Series champion in 1969.
He won NL Rookie of the Year in 1967 and took home the NL Cy Young in 1969, 1973 and 1975.
The decision to trade the best player in franchise history to the Cincinnati Reds in 1977 was a tough pill for the fanbase to swallow, and the fact he went on to play nine more seasons made it even harder.
"Tom Terrific" posted a 136 ERA+ with 76.1 WAR during his time with the Mets.
New York Yankees
The GOAT: Mariano Rivera
Other Qualified Pitchers: Spud Chandler, David Cone, Whitey Ford, Lefty Gomez, Ron Guidry, Waite Hoyt, Andy Pettitte, Dave Righetti, Red Ruffing, CC Sabathia, Bob Shawkey
This pick is sure to ruffle a few feathers.
Whitey Ford is the consensus best starting pitcher in New York Yankees history, so let's see how his numbers stack up against those earned by closer Mariano Rivera, who joins him in the Hall of Fame:
- Rivera: 1,283.2 IP, 205 ERA+, 56.3 WAR, 4.4 WAR/100
- Ford: 3,170.1 IP, 133 ERA+, 53.5 WAR, 1.7 WAR/100
Again, this is apples and oranges to some degree. Plenty of people would surely have excluded relievers from this entire conversation.
However, Rivera met all the requirements set up for inclusion in this article, and his numbers are simply on another level when broken down by overall value.
As the all-time leader in ERA+ (205), Rivera belongs in any conversation concerning the greatest pitchers in MLB history.
The GOAT: Lefty Grove
Other Qualified Pitchers: Chief Bender, Vida Blue, Tim Hudson, Eddie Plank, Eddie Rommel, Rube Waddell, Barry Zito
The Oakland Athletics decision came down to Lefty Grove and Eddie Plank, two of the greatest left-handed pitchers in MLB history:
That Grove checks in just 7.3 WAR behind Plank despite playing five fewer seasons and throwing more than 1,400 fewer innings should tell you all you need to know.
During his nine seasons with the Athletics, Grove led the AL in wins four times, ERA five times, ERA+ five times and strikeouts seven times. He won AL MVP in 1931 and helped lead his team to three AL pennants and two World Series titles.
The GOAT: Pete Alexander
Other Qualified Pitchers: Jim Bunning, Steve Carlton, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Curt Schilling
Steve Carlton would be the popular pick here.
However, we're approaching this from a statistical standpoint, not treating it as a popularity contest. The numbers tell a different story:
- Alexander: 2,513.2 IP, 140 ERA+, 60.5 WAR, 2.4 WAR/100
- Carlton: 3,697.1 IP, 120 ERA+, 64.8 WAR, 1.8 WAR/100
Carlton does deserve credit for pitching at a consistently high level on some truly awful Philadelphia Phillies teams. His 12.1 WAR in 1972 is the second-highest tally by a pitcher since 1913, trailing only Dwight Gooden (12.2 in 1985). He put up those numbers while earning a 27-10 record for a Phillies team that lost 97 games.
However, his overall body of work just doesn't quite stack up against one of the game's true pitching legends in Pete Alexander, who posted three seasons of his own with at least 10 WAR.
The GOAT: Babe Adams
Other Qualified Pitchers: John Candelaria, Wilbur Cooper, Doug Drabek, Pink Hawley, Sam Leever, Johnny Morrison, Deacon Phillippe, Jesse Tannehill
Wilbur Cooper or Babe Adams?
That was the question for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and it's one made even more interesting by the fact they were teammates for more than a decade.
It doesn't get much closer than that.
Adams put together a truly dominant run in the 1909 World Series, going 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA and three complete games to help Pittsburgh win the title.
That, coupled with his slight edge in WAR/100, was enough to earn him the top spot.
San Diego Padres
The GOAT: Trevor Hoffman
Other Qualified Pitchers: Jake Peavy
Only two pitchers qualified for the San Diego Padres.
One is a Hall of Famer who's among the best closers in MLB history. The other was the 2007 NL Cy Young and the best homegrown Padres player since Tony Gwynn:
In the end, this was a pretty easy decision.
Peavy was great for one season and really good for three more, with injuries and inconsistency intermixed. Hoffman was a consistent late-inning force for 14 of his 15 seasons, excluding an injury-shortened 2003 campaign during which he made just nine appearances while recovering from shoulder surgery.
Score another one for the relievers.
San Francisco Giants
The GOAT: Christy Mathewson
Other Qualified Pitchers: Johnny Antonelli, Madison Bumgarner, Carl Hubbell, Sal Maglie, Juan Marichal, Joe McGinnity, Gaylord Perry, Amos Rusie, Jason Schmidt
Juan Marichal is a deserving Hall of Famer. Madison Bumgarner is one of his generation's best pitchers and a postseason juggernaut.
Neither comes particularly close to unseating Christy Mathewson for the top spot in San Francisco Giants franchise history.
- Mathewson: 4,779.2 IP, 136 ERA+, 98.0 WAR, 2.1 WAR/100
- Marichal: 3,443.2 IP, 125 ERA+, 62.5 WAR, 1.8 WAR/100
- Bumgarner: 1,638.1 IP, 123 ERA+, 29.9 WAR, 1.8 WAR/100
Mathewson also started three games and threw three shutouts in the 1905 World Series.
So if you're going to give Bumgarner bonus points for his postseason performance, Mathewson deserves his fair share of credit.
The GOAT: Randy Johnson
Other Qualified Pitchers: Felix Hernandez
Only two pitchers qualified for inclusion from the Seattle Mariners—Felix Hernandez and Randy Johnson—and both no doubt have a large contingent in their corner.
- Hernandez: 2,658 IP, 120 ERA+, 51.0 WAR, 1.9 WAR/100
- Johnson: 1,838.1 IP, 128 ERA+, 39.1 WAR, 2.1 WAR/100
The "Big Unit" had his best seasons in Arizona, and he dealt with some command issues early in his time with the Mariners, but once things clicked in 1993 he was on another level.
In his final five full seasons in Seattle, Johnson posted a 162 ERA+ and had 3.3 WAR/100.
During his six peak seasons from 2009 to 2014, "King Felix" authored a 141 ERA+ and tallied 2.4 WAR/100.
The choice is clear.
St. Louis Cardinals
The GOAT: Bob Gibson
Other Qualified Pitchers: Al Brazle, Harry Brecheen, Chris Carpenter, Mort Cooper, Dizzy Dean, Max Lanier, Howie Pollet, Adam Wainwright
Faced with the task of naming each team's best pitcher, I had a lot of tough decisions to make.
This was not one of them.
Bob Gibson is unquestionably the GOAT when it comes to St. Louis Cardinals pitchers.
Gibson had a 127 ERA+ with 3,117 strikeouts in 3,884.1 innings over 17 seasons with the Cardinals. He was also 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA in nine World Series starts, tallying eight complete games and two shutouts along the way.
Tampa Bay Rays
The GOAT: David Price
Other Qualified Pitchers: None
David Price was the only pitcher to qualify for inclusion from the Tampa Bay Rays.
The No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, Price joined the team down the stretch the following season, playing a key role out the bullpen during the team's run to the 2008 World Series.
He entered the rotation the following season and posted a 122 ERA+ and 21.3 WAR over 1,143.2 innings in Tampa Bay before he was traded to the Detroit Tigers in a deal that included current Rays shortstop Willy Adames.
The GOAT: Kenny Rogers
Other Qualified Pitchers: None
There were no Texas Rangers pitchers who met all of the requirements for inclusion in this article.
Lowering the ERA+ requirement to 100 offered two options—knuckleballer Charlie Hough and left-hander Kenny Rogers.
Not exactly a GOAT-caliber resume by either hurler, but someone had to represent this notoriously offense-centric franchise.
Interestingly, both pitchers continued to pitch well past the age of 40, as they aged better than most.
Three trips to the All-Star Game and a slight edge in WAR/100 is enough to earn Rogers the nod.
Toronto Blue Jays
The GOAT: Roy Halladay
Other Qualified Pitchers: Jimmy Key, Dave Stieb
With all due respect to Jimmy Key, who was one of the better lefties in baseball during the late 1980s and early 1990s, this was a two-man race.
Dave Stieb was one of the marquee pitchers of the 1980s, a decade that was admittedly thin on top-tier starting pitching.
Roy Halladay was a mid-century workhorse trapped in the modern era, with the power stuff to match his contemporaries.
Who would come out on top?
- Halladay: 2,046.2 IP, 133 ERA+, 48.5 WAR, 2.4 WAR/100
- Stieb: 2,873 IP, 123 ERA+, 57.2 WAR, 2.0 WAR/100
This would be a lot more clear-cut if Halladay had spent his entire career in Toronto.
Still, even with a few of his best seasons coming in a Phillies uniform, he's the fairly obvious choice.
Halladay won the AL Cy Young Award with the Blue Jays in 2003, finished in the top five in balloting four other times and was named an All-Star six times.
The GOAT: Max Scherzer
Other Qualified Pitchers: Dennis Martinez, Steve Rogers, Stephen Strasburg
Max Scherzer has been worth every penny of the seven-year, $210 million contract he signed with the Washington Nationals prior to the 2015 season.
In his first four seasons with the team, he's won a pair of NL Cy Young Awards and finished second and fifth in the voting the other two years.
He has a 156 ERA+ and 29.0 WAR in 878.1 innings for a stellar 3.3 WAR/100.
That's enough to put him head and shoulders above the other three eligible players in a franchise history that also includes the Montreal Expos.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, unless otherwise noted.