Ok, so every time I do a “Top List” of any sort it takes a lot of thought, research, analysis, knowledge, understanding and obviously intangibles. When it comes to sports, it is always hard to rank certain players by position because of many different factors. Also, every expert has their own take on these lists and use different criteria when putting together such a list.
There are a few important notes to make when putting this particular list together. First of all, in my list the pitcher can be either a starter or relief pitcher. Of course, most of the pitchers that will make the list are starters, but there are a few relief pitchers that cannot be ignored. Secondly, it should also be noted that the 1990-Present Pitching Class occurred during the “Steroid/PED” era. However, although a lot of these pitchers have been linked to certain substances, it does not disqualify them from being in this List.
My Top 25 List will not be done in any set order, because of many reasons, one of which is that some of these pitchers are still active and have not completed their careers. As with any list, I am sure there will be disagreements and arguments against who made the list. This will always be true as each and every analyst has their own set of standards when it comes to athletes. The list will include certain players that have retired and some of them may have began their careers before 1990.
Best of the Best:
Greg Maddux- Greg Maddux probably makes the Top 10 List of all time…he was that good. He went 355-227, 3.16 ERA, 109 Complete Games, 35 Shutouts, 5008 Innings Pitched, 3371 Strikeouts and 999 Walks. Maddux pitched the majority of his career with the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves. His peak was in the mid nineties when he won Four consecutive CY Young Awards in a row from 1992-1995. Maddux was a master on the mound and rarely made mistakes. His control was exceptional and he definitely was one of the most dominant starters of this era.
Roger Clemens- Roger’s name has unfortunately been linked to steroids. However, Regardless of this black mark, Clemens was still one of the most dominant starters in MLB history. His numbers definitely support his place as one of the “Greats” but the PED allegations definitely sting. For his career which he pitched for the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, and Houston Astros. Roger Clemens won an unheard of six CY Young Awards during his illustrious career. He was 354-184, 3.12 ERA, 118 Complete Games, 46 Shutouts, 4916 Innings Pitched, 4672 Strikeouts and 1580 Walks. As I stated, if not for the steroid allegations, Clemens would be in the Top 10.
Randy Johnson- Randy Johnson began his career with the Montreal Expos. Johnson was a freak of nature standing at 6’10”. His nick name was the “Big Unit” which uniquely described his imposing figure on the mound. He pitched the majority of his career with the Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees and finished with the San Francisco Giants. He finished his career with a 303-166 Record, 3.29 ERA, 4135 Innings Pitched, 4875 Strikeouts, 100 Complete Games, 37 Shutouts, and 1497 walks. Johnson won 5 CY Young Awards, was a 10 Time All Star, threw a no-hitter as well as a perfect game, and was the World Series MVP of 2001. Johnson was definitely the best southpaw ever during this era.
Mariano Rivera- Rivera is the first Reliever to make this list. Rivera is still active and has spent his entire career with the New York Yankees. For his career he is 76-58, 2.21 ERA, 1130 Strikeouts in 1230 Innings Pitched, a MLB record 618 Saves in 691 opportunities, an amazing 14 (30 Save Seasons), 7 (40 Save Seasons) and 2 (50 Save Seasons), 12 Time All Star, 5 Time Rolaids Relief Man of Year, 5 Time World Series Champion including a World Series MVP in 1999, an unprecedented 42 Post Season Saves in 141 Innings Pitched, an 8-1 Record and 110 Strikeouts and only 21 Walks. Rivera in my mind has to receive some votes for the Top 10 Pitchers of all time and is definitely the most dominant reliever to ever don a baseball uniform. Rivera as mentioned has spent his entire career with the New York Yankees.
Pedro Martinez- Pedro Martinez is the wild card of the list as he is well under 300 Wins for his career, but had it not been for injuries, he may have eclipsed this mark and then some. Martinez played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, and Philadelphia Phillies. He ended his career 219-100, 2.93 ERA, 2827 Innings Pitched, 3154 Strikeouts, 760 Walks, 46 Complete Games, 17 Shutouts, and a .687 winning percentage which is the highest among pitchers with 200 wins in history. He won 3 CY Young Awards and was an 8 Time All Star. In 1999, Pedro went 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and 313 Strikeouts. He only had 37 Walks in 213 Innings Pitched. This may be one of the greatest seasons on the modern pitching era. In 1997, he went 17-8, with a minuscule 1.90 ERA, 305 Strikeouts and only 67 Walks in 241 Innings Pitched with an amazing 13 Complete Games and 4 Shutouts. In 2000, Martinez had a career best 1.74 ERA. Martinez could have been so much more.
Tom Glavine- Glavine was one of the three stars that dominated the nineties and 2000’s for the Atlanta Braves along with Greg Maddux and John Smoltz. Tom Glavine finished his career with a 305-203 Record, 5 (20 Win Seasons), 3.54 ERA, 56 Complete Games, 25 Shutouts, 4413 Innings Pitched, 2607 Strikeouts and 1500 Walks. Glavine was also a 10 Time All Star, World Series MVP in 1995, and a 2 Time CY Young Award Winner. Tom Glavine was never an overpowering pitcher, but instead painted the corners like a master. Glavine in his prime was top notch.
John Smoltz- The Third member of the vaunted Atlanta Braves rotation during the nineties and 2000’s. John Smoltz is the only Starter/Reliever to make this list. Smoltz finished his career 213-154, 3.33 ERA, 53 Complete Games, 16 Shutouts, another 154 Saves, 3473 Innings Pitched, 3074 Strikeouts, 1010 Walks, in 21 Seasons. John Smoltz may not have the wins and Noteriety of Maddux or Glavine, but he was money in the post season. In the Playoffs, Smoltz was a tremendous 15-4, 2.67 ERA, 209 Innings Pitched, 199 Strikeouts, 67 Walks. He was a 1Time CY Young Award Winner as well as a One Time Rolaids Relief Man of the Year, an 8 Time All Star, and a 3 Time 40 Save Closer. Smoltz easily makes this list.
Curt Schilling- Curt Schilling is one if those pitchers that peaked later in his career and may have had better stats if he started earlier. With that being said, Curt Schilling was still one of the most dominant starters if his time. During his career he pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Boston Red Sox while beginning his career with Baltimore and Houston. Schilling was 216-146, 3.46 ERA, 83 Complete Games, 20 Shutouts, 3116 Strikeouts in 3261 Innings Pitched, 711 Walks, 6 Time All Star and 3 Time World Series Champion. Schilling was a 3 Time 20 Game Winner, 3 Time 300 Strikeout Pitcher, and a 15 Complete Game Starter in 1998. In 5 Post Seasons, Schilling went 11-2, while posting a 2.23 ERA, 123 Strikeouts, 25 Walks in 133 Innings Pitched. He also finished with 4 Complete Games and 2 Shutouts. He won the World Series MVP in 2001 for the DiamondBacks and the NLCS MVP for the Phillies in 1993.
Mike Mussina- Mike did most if his damage as the most quiet pitcher on this list. First of all, he spent a majority of his career with the Baltimore Orioles and was their ACE during a time period where the team was really bad. During his 18 Year Career, Mussina was 270-153, 3.68 ERA, 3562 Innings Pitched, 2813 Strikeouts, 785 Walks, 57 Complete Games, 23 Shutouts, 5 Time All Star and one of the oldest pitchers to win 20 Games at age 39. Mussina only won 20 games once and that was as a Yankee. However, he was extremely consistent and put up some pretty darn good numbers.
David Cone- In 17 Seasons, Cone went 194-126, 3.46 ERA, 2893 Innings Pitched, 2668 Strikeouts, 1137 Walks, 56 Complete Games, 22 Shutouts, 2 (20 Win Seasons), 1 CY Young Award, 5 Time All Star and 5 Time World Series Champion. Cone also pitched a perfect game in 1999 as a New York Yankee. In his 17 Year Career he has an 8-3 PostSeason Record.
Orel Hershiser- Orel Hershiser finished his 17 Year Career with a 204-150 Record. He had a lifetime 3.48 ERA in 3130 Innings Pitched, 2014 Strikeouts, 68 Complete Games and 25 Shutouts, 1007 Walks. Hershiser was also a 3 Time All Star, 1 Time CY Young Award Winner, 1 Time World Series Champion as well as a World Series MVP. Hershiser holds the MLB record of pitching 59 Consecutive Scoreless Innings!
Ok, we’ll that was the Top 10. Now I will give you my 15 Remaining. Some of these pitchers are still active and some are retired.
1) David Wells (239-157, 2201K’s)
2) Kevin Brown (211-144, 3.28ERA)
3) Brett Saberhagen (167-117, 2xCY Young)
4) Dwight Gooden (194-112, 2293K’s)
5) Chuck Finley (200-173, 2610 K’s)
6) Jaime Moyer (269-209, 2441 K’s)
7) Roy Halladay (201-103, 67 Complete Games, 2x CY Young, 2097 K’s, 3.35 ERA)
8) CC Sabathia (195-104, 3.50 ERA, 1xCY Young, 2250 K’s)
9) Johan Santana (139-78, 3.20 ERA, 1988 K’s, 2xCY Young, 1st Mets No Hitter)
10) Justin Verlander (127-67, 1x CY Young, 1495 K’s, 2 No Hitters.
11) Billy Wagner- ( 422 Saves, 2.31 ERA, 1196 K’s, 9 (30 Save Seasons)
12) Roy Oswalt (163-96, 1818 K’s, 3x All Star)
13) Trevor Hoffman ( 601 Saves, 2.87 ERA)
14) Cliff Lee (127-79, 3.58 ERA, 1xCY Young, 1658 K’s)
15) Josh Beckett (132-98, 1xCY Young, 2x World Series Champion, 2x World Series MVP)