Baseball’s best pitchers of all time created the consistency a great baseball team needs. The game of baseball is about constants. It has been said that throughout American history, the one constant, has been baseball itself. Yet, through the many eras of our National Pastime, things have certainly changed. We've seen the rise and fall of the slugger, the "Steroid Era" and a wild change in stereotypical position players.
What hasn't changed, however, has been the old adage: Good pitching beats good hitting. Sluggers come and go — as do their records — but a great pitcher and his legend are immortal. Here are the 10 best pitchers to ever play the game:
1. Randy Johnson: The Big Unit struck fear into the eyes of countless batters throughout his 22-year career. A 10-time All-Star and five-time Cy Young Award winner, Johnson won a World Series in 2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. With 4,875 strikeouts, Johnson, who has won 303 games, trails on Nolan Ryan for the most in a career. Any list of best pitchers in baseball that does not include the Big Unit is clearly suspect.
2. Sandy Koufax: In 12 years as the Dodgers' ace, Koufax won 195 games, three Cy Young Awards and was named to five All-Star games. Koufax won the MVP Award in 1963, going 25-5 with 306 strikeouts and a 1.88 ERA in 311 innings pitched. Universally recognized as one of the best pitchers of all time, he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
3. Pedro Martinez: In 19 years with the Dodgers, Expos, Red Sox, Mets and Phillies, this candidate for best pitcher of all time has won 219 career games. Martinez has won three Cy Young Awards, one of which came in 1999 after arguably the best season a pitcher has ever had. Martinez was named to eight All-Star Games. He was named the mid-summer classic's MVP in 1999 after memorably striking out the first four batters for the National League, which included home run kings Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. Martinez accomplished his feats despite playing his career through what has been called the "Steroid Era."
4. Bob Gibson: A two-time Cy Young Award winner, Gibson is best known for striking fear into the eyes of batters. The hard-throwing right hander struck out 3,117 batters while earning eight trips to the All-Star Game. He won nine Gold Glove Awards and was the 1968 National League MVP. Gibson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1981, securing his spot amongst baseball’s best pitchers of all time.
5. Christy Mathewson: Mathewson is third on the All-Time wins list with 373. He struck out 2,502 batters throughout his career and held a 2.13 career earned run average. Mathewson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1936.
6. Roger Clemens: A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens is an 11-time All-Star and has 354 career wins, good for ninth all time. His 4,672 career strikeouts put him on this best pitchers of all-time list.
7. Cy Young: Young is the game's All-Time leader in wins with 511 over his illustrious 21-year career. Young is also the leader in innings pitched with 7,354. He had 2,803 strikeouts, which puts him in the top 20. Young was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. One of the most prestigious awards in baseball is named after Young. We think that’s reason enough to land him a spot as one of the best pitchers of all time.
8. Walter Johnson: The Big Train won two MVP Awards and finished his long career with an ERA of 2.16. Johnson is second on the All-Time wins list with 417 and ninth in strikeouts with 3,509. Johnson was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.
9. Greg Maddux: Known for his control over power, Maddux won four Cy Young Awards. He was named to eight All-Star teams and won a record 18 Gold Glove Awards not to mention his 355 wins.
10. Nolan Ryan: Ryan pitched 26 seasons, winning 324 games and striking out a record 5,714 batters. Ryan never won a Cy Young Award but recorded a record seven no-hitters. A seven-time All-Star, Ryan was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.