Few athletes can control a game more than a pitcher can, so finding the 10 best pitchers in baseball history requires a close look at how much they dominated their opponents. Here is a list of ten men who did just that.
- Sandy Koufax. First on our list of the best pitchers in baseball history is a man who put together arguably the most dominant four-season period by any hurler in major league history. From 1963 through 1966, the Dodgers lefty compiled a record of 97-27 with an ERA of 1.86 and 1,228 strikeouts. He also won three Cy Young awards including one in the final season (’66) of his Hall-of-Fame career.
- Walter Johnson. Blessed with a blazing fastball, “The Big Train” was the most feared hurler of his time and ranks second on our list of the best pitchers in baseball history. Walter Johnson ranks second all time with 417 wins and is the career leader in shutouts with 110. He also led the Washington Senators to their only World Series championship in 1924 while earning the American League’s Most Valuable Player award.
- Bob Gibson. One of the hardest throwers in baseball history, this Cardinals right-hander won 251 games with a career ERA of 2.91. His best season (1968) was among the greatest of all time when he won 22 games, tossed thirteen shutouts, and had an amazing ERA of 1.12 earning him both the National League MVP and Cy Young awards as well as a spot on our list of the best pitchers in baseball history.
- Christy Mathewson. In the “Dead Ball Era” of baseball, pitchers dominated the game and most dominant of all was this New York Giants right-hander. Christy Mathewson won 30 games four times and hurled 79 shutouts while winning 373 games. But it was three shutouts in the 1905 World Series—the best pitching performance in post season history—that is testament to his greatness.
- Warren Spahn. The winningest lefthander of all time with 363 career victories, Warren Spahn is next on our list of the best pitchers in baseball history. From the years 1947 through 1963, the Braves hurler won twenty games a staggering thirteen times, led the league nine times in complete games and fired two no-hitters.
- Juan Marichal. Pitching in the shadows of Koufax and Gibson, Juan Marichal was a six-time twenty game winner for the Giants while amassing 243 career wins. The man with the big kick threw a variety of pitches from a variety of arm angles baffling hitters for years and winning a spot on our list of the best pitchers of all time.
- Grover Cleveland Alexander. He won 373 games while hurling 90 shutouts and may have done even better had his career not been interrupted by World War I. After returning from the war, “Pete” Alexander was never quite the same pitcher he had been with the Phillies, constantly battling alcoholism and getting by on guile with the Cubs and Cardinals.
- Steve Carlton. With 329 wins and 55 shutouts, “Lefty” earns his spot on our list of best pitchers in baseball history. But Steve Carlton’s 1972 season with the Phillies is among the most remarkable of all time. On a team that won just 57 games, Carlton posted a 27-10 record, 1.97 ERA, and 310 strikeouts while capturing the National League’s Cy Young Award—one of four in his career.
- Greg Maddux. From 1992 to 1995, He won four straight Cy Young awards with the Cubs and Braves. Career totals of 355 wins, 3,371 strikeouts and just 999 walks make Greg Maddux one of the greatest control artists ever and one of the ten best pitchers in baseball history.
- Cy Young. When the award for the best pitcher in either league has your name on it, you must have been pretty good. Number one on the list of career wins with 511, Cy Young won 30 games five times and tossed 76 shutouts. He also won two games for the Red Sox in the first World Series ever played (1903) and holds the final spot on our list of the best pitchers in baseball history.