Pitching is very important in the majors and has a star on the mound improves your chance at a championship. Pitchers can dominate the other team and allow your team’s chances to win with not needing as many runs. Taking a look back at the best starting pitchers since 1990s (sorry Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman) and selecting my Top 10. Many pitchers have been one-year wonders and have won Cy Young awards. The Cy Young award goes to the best pitcher in each conference and can help improve your chances at making the Hall of Fame. The Cy Young award is an important part in making my list, as well as All-Star appearances, World series appearances and as well as if they are in the Hall of Fame already. Another award that many of these pitchers got was the Triple Crown (lead the league in Wins, Strikeouts, ERA for a year). The order is my selection of the most dominant during their career.
1. Pedro Martinez– Pedro Martinez pitched from 1992 to 2009 mostly for the Expos, Red Sox, and Mets. Pedro time with the Red Sox made him an automatic for any list in the best pitcher decisions. Pedro Martinez was an 8-time All-Star, World Series winner, 3 time Cy Young winner, Hall 0f Famer and Triple Crown winner. Pedro finished up with a 219-100 record, 2.93 ERA and 3,154 strikeouts in his career. With modern analysis showcase Martinez with the lowest Whip in the live-ball era, his ERA plus which takes in ERA and adjust it to the ballpark (hitter-friendly or not) is best in history and third-highest strikeout-walk ratio in history. He often dominated teams in a hitter-friendly park and the end of a steroid era which puts him at the top of this list.
2. Randy Johnson– “The Big Unit” pitch from 1988 to 2009 in the MLB for Expos, Mariners, Astros, Diamondbacks, Yankees, and Giants. Looking at one of my favorite players growing up, and seeing how dominant he was throughout his career. The Big Unit got his nickname for his 6’10 lanky frame who threw it so hard, it once killed a dove (video below). Randy Johnson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015. The Big Unit is a 10-time All-Star, 5 time Cy Young winner, Triple Crown winner, and a World Series MVP made him a first-ballot Hall of Famer (1st year eligible for the HoF). Randy Johnson is a lock for the top of this list with his 303-166 career record, 3.29 Earned Run Allowed (ERA), 4,875 career strikeouts. Randy Johnson the tall lanky pitcher will always be remembered as one of the best all-time.
3. Roger Clemens-“The Rocket” played 24 seasons with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees, and Astros. Roger Clemens is at the top of this list despite his name being linked to steroids and other accusations, as while as his fierce competitive behavior. While he was on the Blue Jays after winning the Cy Young award both years, he demanded a trade because he didn’t believe the Jays would be competitive enough. In The Rocket career, he was an 11-time All-Star, 7 time Cy Young winner (most all-time), won two world series and 2 time Triple Crown winner. Clemens finish with a 354-184 record, 3.12 ERA, 4,612 strikeouts (3rd All-time). Clemens is unique since he has won an AL MVP award, struct out 20 batters in a game twice, and the only pitcher in history to have more than 350 wins and 4,500 strikeouts. If Clemens named wasn’t followed by steroid user he maybe even higher on this list. His competitive behavior and powerful pitching allowed him to dominate his whole career.
4. Greg Maddux- Maddux played for 22 seasons mostly for the Cubs and Braves. He also finished up his career with the Dodgers and Padres. In Maddux career, he was an 8-time All-star, 4-time Cy Young winner (1st to achieve in 4 consecutive seasons, Randy Johnson matched) 18-time Gold Glove (most all-time), and 1st ballot Hall of Famer. During his stretch of 4 Cy Young, Maddux had a 75-29 record, 1.98 ERA, while allowing less than 1 baserunner per inning. Maddux is the only pitcher in history to win at least 15 games for 17 straight seasons. In Maddux career, he had a 355-227 record, 3.16 ERA, and 3,371 strikeouts. Maddux won more games in the 1990s than any other pitcher and is second in career wins. Maddux with all his wins and dominance during his Cy young wins makes him a shoe for the Top 5 of this list.
5. Clayton Kershaw– The best pitcher current in baseball cracks the Top 5 for best starters since the 90s. The longtime Dodger Kershaw has been in the Majors since 2008 which he was the youngest player in the MLB for a year. Kershaw has been an 8-time All-Star, 3 time Cy Young winner, Triple Crown winner, NL MVP (youngest pitcher since 1985), and has a no-hitter in his career. Kershaw also became the 1st pitcher to lead the MLB in ERA in 4 consecutive years, as well as his career ERA and walks and hits per inning (WHIP) are lowest among live-ball pitchers with 1,000 innings pitched. Kershaw currently has a career 161-71 record, 2.41 ERA and 2,383 strikeouts. Kershaw could move up past Maddux and Clemens if he has more success in the playoffs but landing at number 5 while you are still playing is pretty good for this future Hall of Famer.
6. Curt Schilling– The third and Last Red Sox on this list is Curt Schilling who also played for the Orioles, Astros, Phillies, and D-backs in his career. Schilling was a 6-time All-Star, 3 time World Series champion, World Series/NLCS MVP, won the Roberto Clemente Award (best exemplifies game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement). In Schilling Career, he had a 216-146 record, 3.46 ERA, and 3,116 strikeouts. Schilling didn’t win the most awards but often dominated batters, especially in the post-season. Schilling post-season record was 11-2 and his .846 winning percentage is highest of anyone with 10 decisions. Schilling is also part of the 3,000 strikeout club and the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio of anyone in the club. Schilling also is tied for 3rd for the most 300-strikeout season and has the second-highest JAWS (statistic for player career and merit for Hall of Fame) of any pitcher not in the Hall of Fame (Roger Clemens). Schilling postseason dominance helps him land at number 6 on this list and one day will be a Hall of Famer.
7. Roy Halladay– “Doc” played for the Blue Jays and Phillies from 1998 to 2013 and was their go-to guy every season. Halladay was an 8-time All-Star, 2 time Cy Young winner (both conference), pitch a perfect game, and pitched the second postseason no-hitter in history. When Halladay retired he was the active major league leader for complete games (67) including shutouts (20). Halladay was important to his team for his ability to go deep into games which allows the relief pitchers to rest for other nights. Halladay career record was 203-105, with a 3.38 ERA and 2,117 career strikeouts. Halladay is the newest first ballot of the Hall of Fame being inducted this season. Unfortunately, Halladay Died in 2017 when he crashed a helicopter into the Gulf of Mexico. An Autopsy reported that Halladay had “high concentrations of morphine and amphetamine along with an antidepressant, sleeping aid Zolpidem and a trace amount of alcohol in his blood” probably trying to deal with post-baseball life. Halladay legacy will always be remembered especially for Blue Jays and Phillies fan. His career numbers earn himself a spot in baseball Hall of Fame and will always be one of baseball best pitchers.
8. Tom Glavine– The Second Brave to make this list (sorry John Smoltz) Tom Glavine spent most of his career with the Braves, a few seasons with the Mets and ended up going back to Atlanta to retire. In his career, he was a 10-time All-star, World Series champion (MVP), 2-time Cy Young winner, and another first-ballot Hall of Famer. Glavine was unique being a quality batter in the National League and winning 4 Silver Slugger Award (best hitter by position). Glavine had a career 305-203 record, 3.54 ERA, and 2,607 strikeouts. He was 5-time 20 game-winner, one of 24 pitchers to have 300 wins, and was second in the 90s in wins to teammate Maddux. Glavine a talented athlete who was also drafted to the NHL deserves to be on this list. Often overshadowed by his teammate Maddux, I made sure he wasn’t left off my list.
9. Justin Verlander– Long-time Tigers ace and current Astros pitcher Justin Verlander lands at number 9 on the list. Verlander is an 8-time All-Star, World Series Champ, Al MVP, Cy Young Winner, Triple Crown winner, Rookie of the Year, ALCS MVP, and has 2 career no-hitters. Verlander has a career 216-127 record, 3.37 ERA and 2,878 strikeouts. This long-time Tiger has dominated for many years and help the Tigers win many conferences. Verlander is the 114th pitcher to win 200 wins, also becoming the 2oth fastest to reach the milestone (412 starts). This three-time Cy young runner up is often in the running for the title and deserve to be in the Hall of Fame one day.
1o. Max Scherzer– Next on the list is Verlander teammate manage to land one spot behind him and the Nationals ace, Max Scherzer. Scherzer started his major league career in 2008 with the D-backs, then the Tigers from 2010-2014 and the Nationals since. In Scherzer career, he has won 3 Cy Young awards, 7-time All-Star, led the league in strikeouts 3 times, pitched two no-hitters in 2015, and has two immaculate innings (9 pitches, 3 strikeouts). He has tied 2 MLB record for strikeouts (20) in 9-innings, and 250 strikeouts in 5 straight seasons. Scherzer currently has a 168-87 career record, 3.16 ERA, and 2,630 strikeouts. Scherzer was a key pitcher helping Detroit win 4 consecutive American League Central titles and as well as two for the Nats. Scherzer looks to continue to dominate and sure to reach the 3,000 strikeouts make and make himself a lock for the Hall of Fame.