Pitchers are the most important players in Baseball who also control the pace of the game. Their role is crucial in winning a game.
For many, Baseball is a game between the pitcher and the batter. To win a game, a team needs a combination of deadly pitchers who can pitch the ball like bullets. A team has little chance of winning if the pitchers fail to do well.
Over the years, MLB has showcased many pitchers who were great, but some of them defined generations. They became household names. And people still remember them even after their retirement or death. They are considered the best MLB pitchers of all time.
There have been many legendary pitchers in MLB., so it is not easy to list the best among the bests. However, after thoroughly comparing ERA, WAR, impact, and achievements, we have come up with the ten best MLB pitchers of all time.
Best MLB Pitchers of ALL time
Pitchers throw the pitch toward the catcher to retire a batter. The team that scores the most runs wins a game. Or we can say the team that concedes fewer runs wins the match. It’s a battle between the batter and the pitcher.
A pitcher needs to have velocity, aggression, good command, vision, strength, fitness, and mental toughness. A lot of requirements! That is why the pitcher is considered the most challenging position to play in.
There are players who had all these abilities and excelled in the game. They had to face some of the best MLB hitters of all time and gave them a tough time. Therefore, some of these pitchers are also regarded as the best MLB players of all time.
Here are our Ten Greatest MLB Pitchers:
These players are the prototypes of pitchers. They are inspirations and milestones for all the young players who want to cement their position in the history of the MLB.
1. Christy Mathewson
|Full Name||Christopher Mathewson|
|Date of Birth||August 12, 1880|
|Place of Birth||Saranac Lake, New York, U.S.|
|Debut||July 17, 1900 (New York Giants)|
|Teams||New York Giants and Cincinnati Reds|
|Last Game||September 4, 1916 (Cincinnati Reds)|
|Hall of Fame||1936 (90.7% Votes)|
|Death||October 7, 1925|
World Series Champion: 2 times (1905, 1921)
Wins Leader: 4 Times (1905, 1907, 1908, 1910)
ERA Leader: 5 Times (1905, 1908, 1909, 1911, 1913)
AL strikeout Leader: 5 Times (1903–1905, 1907, 1908)
Triple Crown: 2 Times (1905, 1908)
Some legends on this list will top Mathewson in terms of WAR, but don’t miss the point that Mathewson had played fewer seasons than Young, Randy Johnson, and others.
Mathewson was born in 1880 and made his MLB debut in 1900 at the age of 20. He quickly reached his peak and began dominating the game. In 1905 and 1908, he won triple crowns. Besides, he became a strikeout leader five times before playing the game for ten years.
The pinpoint control Mathewson had over his pitch was incredible. His famous “fadeaway” pitch would baffle many great batters. In his debut season, he won 20 games. From 1903 to 1905, he had at least 30 wins each season.
Career Stats of Christy Mathewson:
2. Walter Johnson
|Full Name||Walter Perry Johnson|
|Date of Birth||November 6, 188|
|Place of Birth||Humboldt, Kansas, U.S.|
|Debut||August 2, 1907 (Washington Senators)|
|Hall of Fame||1936 (83.63% Vote)|
|Death||December 10, 1946|
World Series Champion: 1 Time (1924)
Most Valuable Player: 2 Times (1913, 1924)
Wins Leader: 6 Times (1913–1916, 1918, 1924)
ERA Leader: 5 Times (1912, 1913, 1918, 1919, 1924)
AL Strikeout Leader: 12 Time (1910, 1912–1919, 1921, 1923, 1924)
Triple Crown: 3 Times (1913, 1918, 1924)
What do you expect from a pitcher? Walter Johnson could do it all. He had a win-loss record of 417-279, 3509 strikeouts, and 666 games he started.
Few pitchers dominated the game like Randy Johnson. He did not win any Cy Young award during his time because the award did not exist. Otherwise, he would have won plenty of it.
Johnson made his debut in the MLB in 1907, and in his first decade, he posted a 1.65 ERA and 1.86 FIP.In his 20-year-long career, he became the American League strikeout leader 12 times, six times win leader, and five times ERA leader!
But that is not all. In 1913 and 1924, he achieved the triple crown and was named the MVP. On July 1, 1920, Johnson pitched a no-hitter. Johnson had countless achievements in his long career. It is tough to decide whether Cy Young or Walter Johnson is the greatest pitcher.
After his retirement in 1927, he received the Hall of Fame honor in 1936.
Career Stats of Walter Johnson:
3. Cy Young
|Full Name||Denton True “Cy” Young|
|Date of Birth||March 29, 1867|
|Place of Birth||Gilmore, Ohio|
|Debut||August 6, 1890 (Cleveland Spiders)|
|Teams||Cleveland Spiders, St. Louis Perfectos / Cardinals, Cleveland Naps, Boston Americans / Red Sox, and Boston Rustlers|
|Hall of Fame||1937 (76.12%)|
|Death||November 4, 1955|
World Series Champion: 1 Time (1903)
Wins Leader: 5 Times (1892, 1895, 1901–1903)
ERA Leader: 2 Times (1892, 1901)
strikeout Leader: 2 Times (1896, 1901)
Triple Crown: 1 Time (1901)
Cy Young is the prototype of pitchers. He defined the role of pitchers and became a household name. Young had been a workhorse pitcher. He played for 22 seasons in the MLB, and his ERA never hovered above 4.00.
Young set the record for most career wins with 511, which is still unbroken. No other pitcher has secured even 450 wins. Young was a five times wins leader, two-time ERA leader, and two times strikeout leader. In 1901, he won a triple crown too.
Cy Young set several records as a pitcher, including most innings pitched, most career games started, and most consecutive hitless (25 1⁄3) innings pitched.
Young retired in 1911 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1937. After his demise in 1955, MLB wanted to honor the legend and so the “Cy Award” was introduced the following year. The award is given to the best pitcher of the year. The award carries the legacy of Young.
Cy Young is not just a great pitcher but also reigns among the best MLB players of all time.
Career Stats of Cy Young:
4. Randy Johnson
|Full Name||Randall David Johnson|
|Date of Birth||September 10, 1963|
|Place of Birth||Walnut Creek, California, U.S.|
|Debut||September 15, 1988 (Montreal Expos)|
|Teams||Montreal Expos, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Houston Astros, New York Yankees, and San Francisco Giants|
|Last Game||October 4, 2009|
|Hall of Fame||2015 ( 97.3% Votes)|
World Series Champion: 1 Time (2001)
Cy Young Award: 5 Times (1995, 1999–2002)
ERA Leader: 4 Times ERA leader (1995, 1999, 2001, 2002)
AL Strikeout Leader: 9 Times (1992–1995, 1999–2002, 2004)
Triple Crown: 1 Times (2002)
Randy Johnson had his debut in 1988 with the Montreal Expos. Johnson was a good player from the beginning, but perhaps no one suspected that Johnson would someday make the list of best MLB pitchers of all time.
Pitchers usually lose their flame with age, but Johnson was the opposite. With age, he was getting better. His peak time was from 1998 to 2002, which means he gave his best performances after playing the game for a decade.
During his peak time, he was impossible to hit. He dominated the stats from every aspect, whether it is ERA, strikeout, or Young award. In 2002, he also won a triple crown.
Johnson played for several teams in the MLB, but he found most success while playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks also acknowledged his contribution by retiring his jersey no.21 after his retirement.
With a 97.3% vote Johnson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015.
Career Stats of Randy Johnson:
5. Greg Maddux
|Full Name||Gregory Alan Maddux|
|Date of Birth||April 14, 1966|
|Place of Birth||San Angelo, Texas, U.S.|
|Debut||September 3, 1986 (Chicago Cubs)|
|Teams||Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Diego Padres|
|Hall of Fame||2014 (97.2%)|
World Series Champion: 1 Time (1995)
All-Star: 8 Times (1988, 1992, 1994–1998, 2000)
Gold Glove: 18 Times (1990–2002, 2004–2008)
NL Cy Young Award: 4 Times (1992–1995)
Wins Leader: 3 Times (1992, 1994, 1995)
ERA Leader: 4 Times (1993–1995, 1998)
Greg Maddux is the best pitcher fans have witnessed in modern times. During the 90s, he dominated the game with unrivaled savvy, pinpoint control, and a devastating arsenal of pitches.
Maddox won 4 consecutive Cy Young awards from 1992 to 1995. During this time, he became the win leader three times and the Era leader thrice as well. Maddux was also one of the best fielders and won 18 Gold Gloves.
Greg Maddux is the only player with 3,000-plus strikeouts, 300-plus wins, and fewer than 1,000 walks. In 1995, he played a key role in the Braves World Series Championship win.
Maddux retired in 2008 as one of the best MLB pitchers of all time and was inducted into both the Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame and Braves Hall of Fame. Both teams retired his jersey no. 31.
In 2014, he got inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame with a staggering 97.2% votes.
Career Stats of Greg Maddux:
6. Pedro Martinez
|Full Name||Pedro Jaime Martínez|
|Date of Birth||October 25, 1971|
|Place of Birth||Manoguayabo, Dominican Republic|
|Debut||September 24, 1992 (Los Angeles Dodgers)|
|Teams||Philadelphia Phillies, Montreal Expos, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, and Boston Red Sox|
|Last Game||September 30, 2009 (Philadelphia Phillies)|
|Hall of Fame||2015 (91.1% Votes )|
World Series Champion: 1 Time (2004)
All-Star: 8 Times (1996–2000, 2002, 2005, 2006)
Wins Leader: 1 Time (1999)
ERA Leader: 5 Times (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003)
AL Strikeout Leader: 3 Times (1999, 2000, 2002)
Cy Young Award: 3 Times (1997, 1999, 2000)
Triple Crown: 1 Time (1999)
Pedro Marinez is one of the finest modern-day pitchers. His MLB career began in 1992 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. But he was at his peak from 1992 to 2002. During this time, he was the most unhittable pitcher.
Martinez, at his peak, is easily one of the deadliest pitchers ever to pitch games in MLB. He is an eight-time all-star, five times ERA leader, won the Cy Young award five times and led the wins in 1999.
With over three thousand strikeouts in his career and a win-loss record of 219-100, he is surely one of the best pitchers of all time.
Career Stats of Pedro Martinez:
7. Sandy Koufax
|Full Name||Sanford Koufax|
|Date of Birth||December 30, 1935|
|Place of Birth||Brooklyn, New York, U.S.|
|Debut||June 24, 1955 (Brooklyn Dodgers)|
|Last Game||October 2, 1966 (Los Angeles Dodgers)|
|Hall of Fame||1972 ( 86.87% Votes)|
World Series champion: 4 Times (1955, 1959, 1963, 1965)
All-Star: 7 Times (1961–1966)
Most Valuable Player: 1 Time (1963)
Wins Leader: 3 Times (1963, 1965, 1966)
ERA Leader: 55 Times (1962–1966)
AL Strikeout Leader: 4 Times (1961, 1963, 1965, 1966)
Cy Young Award: 3 Times (1963, 1965, 1966)
Triple Crown: 3 Times (1963, 1965, 1966)
How good was Sandy Koufax? He played in the MLB for only 12 years and still made a position for himself amongst the best MLB pitchers of all time. You can guess from this how dominating he must have been.
Being a triple crown is a difficult feat to achieve. Many legendary players could do it only once or twice in their long careers. On the other hand, Koufax is a three times triple crown!
The sad part is that, before retiring from the MLB, Koufax won triple crowns in his last two seasons. He had to retire early because of pain and arthritis. Just imagine how many more triple crowns he would have made if he had played another seven to eight years.
After his debut in 1952, Koufax did well. But he saved his best performance for the 60s. He did not miss an all-star appearance for once in his last six seasons. He had to retire when he was at his peak.
Koufax won all the awards, including MVP in 1963, and he is a multiple times ERA and wins leader.
He started the game for 314 games and had a 165-87 win-loss record with 2396 strikeouts. Besides, he was also MVP in two world series championship games.
Koufax was named to the Major League Baseball All-Time Team, a feat that proves what a great pitcher he was! In 1972, he has voted a Hall of Famer.
Career Stats of Sandy Koufax:
8. Bob Gibson
|Full Name||Pack Robert Gibson|
|Date of Birth||November 9, 1935|
|Place of Birth||Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.|
|Debut||April 15, 1959 (St. Louis Cardinals)|
|Teams||St. Louis Cardinals|
|Last Game||September 3, 1975 (St. Louis Cardinals)|
|Hall of Fame||1981 (84.0% Vote)|
World Series Champion: 2 Times (1964, 1967)
All-Star: 9 Times (1962, 1962², 1965–1970, 1972)
Most Valuable Player: 1 Time (1968)
Wins leader: 1 Time (1970)
ERA leader: 1 Time (1968)
AL strikeout Leader: 1 Time (1968)
Cy Young Award: 2 Times (1968, 1970)
The right-handed pitcher is a two times World Series champion and also a Cardinals legend as he spent his entire career playing for the St. Louis Cardinals.
In his 16 years career, he had nine all-star appearances. But he delivered his best and one of the best-ever performances in 1968. He was the MVP, Cy Young award winner, strikeout, and win leader.
While retiring in 1966, Gibson stood second in the most strikeouts list, with 3117. Gibson received the Baseball Hall of Fame honor in 1981 when he received 84% Votes.
Career Stats of Bob Gibson:
9. Roger Clemens
|Full Name||William Roger Clemens|
|Date of Birth||August 4, 1962|
|Place of Birth||Dayton, Ohio, U.S.|
|Debut||May 15, 1984 (Boston Red Sox)|
|Teams||Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros, and New York Yankees|
|Last Game||September 16, 2007 (New York Yankees)|
World Series Champion: 2 Times (1999, 2000)
All-Star: 11 Times (1986, 1988, 1990–1992, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003–2005)
Most Valuable Player: 1 Time (1986)
Wins Leader: 4 Times (1986, 1987, 1997, 1998)
ERA Leader: 7 Times (1986, 1990–1992, 1997, 1998, 2005)
Cy Young Award: 7 Times (1986, 1987, 1991, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2004)
Triple Crown: 2 Times (1997, 1998)
With nearly 140 WAR and over 4500 strikeouts, how come, Clemens, is not a Hall of Famer yet? It is because of his name being engaged in steroid use. During the 80s and 90s, athletes were frequently taking steroids, and Clemens also got involved in the trend.
Barry Bonds, one of the best hitters of all time, has not received the Hall of Fame recognition for steroid use. Roger Clemens also shares the same misfortune. However, Clemens’s performance on the pitch was outstanding.
The two times World Series champion won the Cy Young award seven times because of his outstanding pitching. He is also a two-time triple crown. Clemens twice recorded 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game.
In 2007, Clemens decided that he was done with the game and retired.
Statistics of Roger Clemens:
10. Clayton Kershaw
|Full Name||Clayton Edward Kershaw|
|Date of Birth||March 19, 1988|
|Place of Birth||Dallas, Texas, U.S.|
|Debut||May 25, 2008 (Los Angeles Dodgers)|
|Teams||Los Angeles Dodgers|
World Series Champion: 1 Time (2020)
All-Star: 9 Times ( 2011–2017, 2019, 2022)
Most Valuable Player: (2014)
Cy Young Award: 3 Times (2011, 2013, 2014)
Triple Crown: 1 Time (2011)
Wins Leader: 3 Times (2011, 2014, 2017)
NL ERA Leader: 5 Times (2011–2014, 2017)
Strikeout Leader: 3 Times (2011, 2013, 2015)
Clayton Kershaw is the only player on this list who is still actively playing in the MLB. And perhaps by the end of his career, he may move higher on the list.
Clayton has been playing for the Dodgers since his debut. In 2022, he made 137 strikeouts, and his career total strikeout now is 2807. Pretty soon, he is going to join the elite club of 3000 strikeouts.
Kershaw had his peak time from 2011 to 2017. He became a triple-crowner in 2011 and was named the MVP in 2014. The left-hander has started a total of 398 games out of 401 games he played. In 2020, Kershaw won his first World Series Championship.
The three times ERA leader is still dominating the game. He appeared in the last year’s all-star too.
Career Statistics of Kershaw:
It was difficult to leave some names off the list as they were great at their own hard work. These players mentioned above are on the list as their achievements and impact on the game are unthinkable. They showed that pitchers could be the key players to winning a game.
They are remembered and will always be remembered with respect and get the honor of being the best MLB pitchers of all time.
People Also Read: