Greatest Pitchers of All Time

Granted, the list is primarily comprised of pitchers who played after World War II even though there are many pitchers who put up staggering numbers prior to that period, but it is hardly a fair comparison to include the earliest pitchers who played in a far less competitive era when many of the best players weren't even allowed to join the league.
The Top Ten
1 Walter Johnson

Walter Johnson was the best ever.
417 wins
ERA of 2.17
110 shutouts!

417 wins is especially amazing because he played most of his career with the Senators, who were a terrible offensive team (he got very little run support).
On one occasion, when the Senators were short on pitchers, Johnson pitched three straight games against the Yankees - all three shutouts.

He also had a blazing fastball.
Ty Cobb said of him,
"You knew you were going to get that fast ball every time you faced him. You never had to guess. You could get set for the fastball, but you still couldn't hit it. Walter was the fastest."

Also, umpire Bill Evans said,
"Johnson was the only pitcher who made me close my eyes instinctively as his pitch came at me…"

However, he never pitched hitters inside (he didn't want to hurt them). Maybe if he had, he would have been even better.

Set many pitching records some still stand after all these years. One batter said the best way to hit him was to swing when his arm came down. Ty Cobb called him the most fearsome he ever faced.

417 Career Wins - 2nd All-Time, but not following Cy Young is his loses. 2.17 ERA, one of the best ever. 110 SHUTOUTS. Pitchers today would be lucky to get 11 in a career. 12 time 20 game winner, 2 time 30 game winner, 2 time MVP, 3,509 strikeouts which held until Nolan broke it 60 years later, even has 34 saves. 24 Homers as a batter. For the time he pitched his fastball looked faster than Nolan's.

Not my most favorite, but definitely the best. I like and respect Big Train, but I also like Mathewson and Grove and Cy Young. I also like Gibson and Seaver and Ryan and Randy Johnson. I like starting pitchers who were still pitching in the late innings. I don't see how modern pitchers who average six or seven innings per game are going to get into the HoFame

2 Nolan Ryan Lynn Nolan Ryan Jr., nicknamed The Ryan Express, is a former Major League Baseball pitcher and a previous chief executive officer of the Texas Rangers. He is currently an executive adviser to the owner of the Houston Astros.

Just go body of work, Nolan Ryan is the greatest pitcher of all-time. He holds 55 major league pitching records. All-time strikeout leader, no-hitters with 7, and allowed fewest hit per nine innings all-time. Ryan was voted #1 in Master Cards pitchers of all-time in 1998.

Critics who are very jealous or just hate Ryan based on his strikeouts or even politics, will point to his win loss record. Ryan pitched on crappy teams. In 1987, Ryan was the ERA leader with an 8-16 record with Astros plus struck out the most, too at 270. So win-loss records are so deceiving.

It cracks me up people even put Sandy Koufax even at Ryan's level. Koufax didn't even have 200 wins and he is the Gale Sayers of pitchers. Enough of the romanticizing of pitchers who had their careers cut short.

Ryan was a.500 pitcher. 324 wins but 292 loses. He's 14th all time in wins, but THIRD all time in losses. His best season was 22-16, never won a Cy Young award. During the years he was on the Astros with Mike Scott, Scott pitched much better than Ryan (so much for the bad team theory). Strikeouts and no-hitters are great, but his job was to win and he wasn't a reliable winner.

Probably the best because of the longevity of his career. I mean, 27 seasons is pretty insane, especially compared to this modern era where pitchers will go a few years where they are really good, then blow out their arm, have Tommy John surgery, and struggle for a few more years before they fizzle out in the minors. Walter Johnson may be a close second, but you have to consider that his ERA was from a period when baseball was somewhat less offense-heavy.

This was a tough choice for me. If not for the steroid use I would've picked Clemens - 7 Cy Youngs with 4 teams? That's amazing... But! What Nolan Ryan accomplished is equally impressive: 7 No Hitters? First was when he was 26 and the final one he was 44! He also has the most 1-hitters of all time as well, with 12. 5,714 strikeouts? #2 is Randy Johnson at 4,875... And most importantly, every time a hitter from his era is asked who was the most intimidating pitcher they ever faced, the answer is always Nolan Ryan

3 Sandy Koufax

The date was September 9, 1965. The place was Dodger Stadium. The pitcher on the mound that evening for the Dodgers was Sandy Koufax. I remember it so well, even now almost 50 years later, there are times when it seems as it was yesterday, because you see, I was just a 15 year old lad who had the great fortune of sitting in the stands that night with my dad watching the game.

A grand total of 27 Chicago Cubs came to the plate that night, and every single one of them was retired in order that by the greatest pitcher of all time, Sandy Koufax. It was the southpaws first perfect game, but the forth in which he threw a no hitter, breaking the previous all time record of three by Bob Feller. Koufax also set a new all time record of 14 strikeouts by a pitcher hurling a no hitter, a record that to this very day has never been surpassed.

If the legendary Bob Feller believed Koufax was the best there ever was, that's good enough for me too, brother, for you see, on September 9, ...more

You know when a pitcher is great is when the best players cannot hit him. Pete Rose mentioned he was afraid to face him. Willie Mays and Hank Aaron couldn't hit against him. He will not show the best on career statistics because of his shorter career. But for a six year period he was in his prime(61-66), no other pitcher can compete for their best six year period. Koufax was pitching batting practice in about 1980 against the Dodgers before a world series game. This was about 11 years after his retirement. The Dodgers could not hit him and the batting coach asked Koufax to stop throwing batting practice, he was hurting their confidence. In a class by himself.

A fantastic pitcher, who is undoubtedly one of the best pitchers of all time. He probably would have had similar success had he not had to retire. HOWEVER, he did only pitch three years. There are some pitchers who have pitched comparably to Koufax their first three years, and were unable to sustain it afterwards. Aka, Matt Harvey, Johan Santana, Tim Lincecum(Kinda)...And aren’t on this list. With more to mention. There is no telling what else Koufax would have accomplished had he stayed in the league... but he didn’t, and there are other pitchers(Such as Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, and Bob Feller) who had similar or better stats, and pitched for a lot longer, and are therefore more reputable for #1. Sandy Koufax without a doubt deserves to be on the list, but with that in mind.

Three time pitching triple crown winner for all of baseball and 3 time Cy young winner for all of baseball and the only pitcher in modern history to strikeout 300 batters after misusing his walks at 307.
Koufax won 25 or more games 3 times in four years and his best season in 1964 was cut short or he would have won 30 games. 4 no hitters in 4 years in a row and a perfect game.
Koufax retired at 30 years old.
No other pitcher is close. During the 60's other pitchers stats are not close, by the way 61 world seris strikeouts and a.095 era.
JP

4 Cy Young

Yes he has the most losses. But he also has 200 more wins than losses. It is amazing how many times he pitched over 400 inings. Pitchers today would never be able to do that. He was the iron man of pitching I don't know how his arm didn't fall off pitching 40 cg in a season. Absolutely a freak of nature

Even among his peers at the time he was the best. Just a freak of nature. If around today would still be at the top. Great control and fantastic speed. Imagine nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens in one person

If he was pitching today, he wouldn't come even close to his numbers. He pitched in the dead-ball era, when the ball was harder to hit and the game was more pitcher-friendly. Also, back then, a team only had one or two pitchers. They pitched in every single game, so that's how Young was able to rack up all those wins. You know what other record is also completely unbeatable? His 316 losses.

Cy Young is amazing, as a matter of fact I am related to him, no joke. Best pitcher of all time, in my opinion.

Easily he should be number one Nolan Ryan wasn't as good as people think oh and go Detroit tigers

5 Tom Seaver

The first player ever to be referred to as "The Franchise", need I say anything more?

Tom terrific lost more 1-0, 2-1 games than any pitcher in history on some bad NY Mets teams...should of won 400 games...

The all American boy with the all American wife. How lucky can one guy get?

Only Seaver and Walter Johnson have 300 wins, 3000 strikeouts, and an ERA under 3.00.

6 Randy Johnson

THE BIG UNIT... Randy Johnson pitched a "PERFECT GAME" and also a "NO-HITTER"... and he was in the ALL-STARS 10X... and is a WORLD SERIES Champion... and a World Series MVP... and a MLB WINS Leader... and an ERA Leader 4X... and a STRIKEOUT LEADER winning the Strikeout Crown 9X... and Randy Johnson also Won the TRIPLE CROWN Award... and he also is the Winner of the CY YOUNG AWARD 5X... plus, he won the CY YOUNG Award 4 years in a row, consecutively, back to back to back to back... and he also won the Cy Young Award in 2 different DECADES 1990's & 2000's... and he also won the Cy Young Award in 2 different CENTURIES, 1900's & 2000's... and he also won the Cy Young Award in 2 different MILLENNIUMS, 1000's & 2000's... and he is also in the "4,000 STRIKEOUT CLUB"... and ''IF" he would've pitched the same number of innings as NOLAN RYAN... well then -- Randy Johnson would've been in the "6,000 STRIKEOUT CLUB"... and Randy Johnson played in an ...more

RANDY JOHNSON is the most un-appreciated and the MOST UNDER-RATED pitcher that ever stepped onto that baseball pitching mound -- HANDS DOWN the most under-rated pitcher that ever lived... of ALL-TIME! In the history of our sport, there has NEVER been a pitcher with the stats and the numbers like those of "The Big Unit" -- Take a look at his STRIKEOUTS... in approximately only 4,000 innings pitched, he was able to STRIKEOUT nearly 5,000 batters! Yep. He almost made the 5,000 STRIKEOUT CLUB in only 4,000 innings pitched! And in the process he won 9 STRIKEOUT titles, won the World Series Championship, won the World Series MVP, won the ERA title 4 times and also the MLB Most Wins title, Pitched a NO-HITTER, Pitched a PERFECT GAME, was in the All-Stars nearly a Dozen times, and he made the 300 wins club, and also, he won the CY YOUNG Award 5 times -- in 2 different Decades, Centuries & Milleniums (including 4 times in a Row, Consecutively), plus, he also won the TRIPLE ...more

Throwing that hard for that long, enough said. People compare Chapman to Johnson... Johnson was a starter who routinely threw over 100 mph, Chapman is a closer. Johnson still could hit the high 90's during last season he pitched, he was 46 years old! Plus his slider scared everyone, just ask Larry Walker.

His strikeout ratios were absurd. In my opinion, that's how you measure true dominance. I think the Unit is underrated. He was a beast and I'm saying that as a fan of the game and a Dodgers fan. He was an intimidator and we haven't seen one since.

7 Greg Maddux

In the book "The All Century Team" an argument is made as to why Greg Maddux was the greatest pitcher of the 20th Century. The author argued that to be the greatest pitcher ever one would need to establish the lowest era amongst his peers for at least 7 years. From 1992-1998 Maddux's era was 2.15, almost 2 runs BELOW the league average. The next closest margin was Walter Johnson! The fact that he did what he did in the steroid era without a blistering fastball and with out a single no hitter to his name is even more impressive. He probably is the all time leader in ground outs and is only one of four pitchers to strike out more than 3,000 and walk less than 1,000 batters in his career. I always learned something watching him pitch. How many players can you say that about? DW

Greg Maddux is my cousin and although you may think that my opinion is biased, it honestly is not. I KNOW that he was a phenomenal pitcher since he was a young boy like the child prodigy Mozart was to the piano. I also know his dedication and love for the game. He would have been a pitcher even if it had only paid minimum wage. He didn't do it for the money or fame. He had many offers to endorse products like so many others, but simply wasn't interested in that aspect. He pitched because he was a natural, loved what he did and for excellence in his own personal achievement. Holding the records for the most Cy Young and Golden Glove awards says it all for excellence in his consistency throughout his entire career and not just great feats in certain aspects of pitching over shorter periods of time in a career full of highs and lows. He truly went the distance in excellence during his entire career which is no small feat for a pitcher that very few accomplish. I never expressed this to ...more

I coached baseball for 18 years, 9 as an American Legion and summer college age coach. I sat in the first row directly behind the plate at Camden Yards one time when Atlanta was playing Baltimore and Maddux was pitching. It was like watching a pitching clinic. 89-90 mile an hour fastball and nothing over the center of the plate, just the four corners. It was almost unfair to the hitters. The closest thing today is watching Max pitch.

No Question Maddux was an absolute dominate pitcher for the reasons mentioned. I actually believed he did the things stated above. He pitched on brain power. That however does not make him the best Pitcher although I would consider putting him near the top of the list. If I was starting a dream team today, I may pick him first. The only issue I have with Maddux in that the Umpires were in love with him. I don't know why. But a lot of balls were called strikes when he was on the mound. Can't take anything from him but I never really understood why.

8 Bob Gibson

Great pitcher, but I believe Juan Marichal was better, among others. In fact, I believe that Marichal was the second best pitcher of the early to mid 60s, next to Sandy Koufax and yet he rarely gets recognized. Gibson had one amazing season with a slightly over 1.00 era, but check out his era for the following year. It was over 3.00 and into mediocrity.

Second best picture ever next to the freak cy young. How do you loose nine games with a 1.12 era. He hated everyone who dared to get in the box and face. I believe he would rather been you in the head than allow you to get a hit off of him

Remember great match ups with Fergie Jenkins of the cubs. Typically 1 or 2 to 0. The games took less than 2 hours. They both threw strikes and took little time between pitches. Pure baseball not like the Prima donnas that play today

Gibby's just a beast. When MLB has to alter the game to make it fair for the rest of the league, you know you have left your mark. He's 78 today and could probably still give them 7 strong innings.

9 Christy Matthewson

Mathewson was way better than Nolan Ryan. He tops him in everything but strikeouts. One overlooked aspect of his game is his postseason mastery. He pitched single-handedly won a World Series by pitching 3 shutouts in 5 days! His World Series ERA was 0.97 in 101.2 innings! Sorry Ryan, sorry Koufax, you guys shouldn't be close to Big Six.

How can he be so low. He dominated hitters and had some of the best seaons ever. I can only place him behind Cy Young. Then there's the forgotten greats of the 1800's, such as Pud Galvin and others.

2.13 career ERA, 2 time pitching Triple Crown, 373 wins. No question. He was the first great pitcher and still the best of all time.

Rating Matthewson #10 is absurd. He should be in your top 3 or 4. He was one of the two
pitchers (Matthewson & Johnson) of the five 1936 Immortals to enter the HOF. 373 wins! Come on!

10 Pedro Martinez Pedro Jaime Martínez, is a Dominican former professional baseball starting pitcher, who played in Major League Baseball from 1992 to 2009, for five teams - most notably the Boston Red Sox from 1998 to 2004.

Absolute best peak in his prime of any pitcher on this list in the midst of the Selig era which is possibly the toughest time to be a pitcher. This list needs to be shortened and some kind of ranked voting.

Pedro, Clemens, Walter Johnson are the pinnacle
then next tier in no particular order
Alexander, Young, Big Unit, Maddux, Seaver, Mathewson, Grove, Gibson, Koufax, Carlton, Feller, Paige

Valenzuela, Spahn, Lincecum, Ryan don't deserve consideration
Rivera, a one inning reliever hardly deserves mention

I am biased toward high peak rather than sustained nearly great or very good over a long career. I also find it difficult to rank dead-ball, pre-integration pitchers with the rest, though also difficult to ignore the dominance and comparables.

I agree... while you have to take into account that his arm failed him as he got older, you also have to take into account that his ERA was often well below other pitchers of his day, and he man-handled hitters during the heart of the steroid era.

In his prime he was THE best. There are very very few others that you could argue were better.

He has the single lowest WHIP in a season while still pitching 200+ innings, at 0.737... during the steroid era. Most Dominant peak of all time, may not be number one, but Pedro at his peak > All others, he was less consistent than others in his late years but holy cow he was nasty.

Pedro Martinez is the most dominat pitcher I have ever seen. He also has the best fastball in the history of baseball.

The Contenders
11 Lefty Grove

Grove was flat out the best starter ever, definitely of the live ball era. Consider this: his four best years Grove was 104-25; Sandy Koufax was 97-27. Grove's relative ERA was 56% of league average; Koufax ERA was 57% of league ERA over those four year. Grove was 300-140; Koufax was l65-87. After his peak Grove finished his career in Boston with its notorious Green Monster in left field. He won four ERA titles in his last five years pitching there; Sandy Koufax retired

In the time he pitched nobody was better. In his 13 year peak he had a 268-108 won-lost record, nine ERA titles a 164 ERA +.He led the league in strikeouts seven straight year He would have probably won eight or nine Cy Young Awards if it existed. Nolan Ryan did not even win one.

LeftyGrove was probably the best starting pitcher in MLB history. His season in 1931 was near perfection,along with Pedro Martinez in 1999 and Ron Guidry in 1978 prbably the finest yesrs a pitcher ever had. And Grove made it a habit This list is a disgrace Nolan Ryan coud not even carry water for lefty Grove. Total joke. if this is the product of baseball analytics than they are terribly flawed

This list is a disgrace. Nolan is nowhere near number one. He is more like number 75. Grove is the best. Look at his minor league stats. Read bill James

12 Satchel Paige

We can ponder this list all we want but the greatest pitcher has to be Satchel Paige. Every player of the era, pitcher, hitter, white or black said so. We can ponder all we want but the greatest pitcher ever was old Satch.

According to Bob Feller, Satch was the greatest pitcher ever. Bob even admitted that Paige taught him how to pitch when they barnstormed together back in the '30s.

Estimates put his total games pitched at over 2500, 1500 wins, 300 shut-outs, and 55 no-hitters at a time when all great athletes played baseball and little else.

They didn't let him pitch in the Mjor League for mosf of his career. A legend for sure! Arguably the greatest pitcher of all time

13 Roger Clemens

Somebody said they believe Clemens started doing roids after 220 wins, so they think he should be in the Hall. I disagree. I think the steady drop-off in innings pitched every year from 1991 to 1995 and then the resurgence to over 200 innings in 1996 and beyond shows that he started cheating in 1996. Clemens didn't have 220 wins until sometime during the 1997 season. Even if he hadn't been cheating during some of his 220 wins, there are lots of pitchers with 220 wins who aren't in the Hall of Fame! And there are lots of pitchers who NEVER "started doing roids." By my estimation, Clemens was cheating for at least half of his mlb career, and during more than half of his Cy Young Award years. Clemens sacrificed his reputation and polluted his stats to get money and fame. He does not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

Won more Cy Young Awards than any other pitcher
Won MVP award
Third all time in strikeouts
Ninth all time in wins
Shares record for most strikeouts in one game at 20
Led N.L. in ERA at age 40
One of greatest pitchers ever. Called Seaver "The Franchise" Called Roger "The Rocket"
Deserves to be in top 6 pitchers ahead of Seaver, Maddux, and Johnson.

Only on here because if this website is still in here in a few years, decades you know Aaron Carter was the original Justin Bieber, you can even see some similarities with some pictures, music videos.

Between his fastball and splitter he was good as anyone ever.. The steroid scandal ruined baseball for me considering to me Clemons was my favorite pitcher and Bonds was my favorite hitter lol

14 Grover Cleveland 'Pete' Alexander

A great pitcher with as many wins as Christy Mathewson. But Alexander pitched for worse teams. 373 wins. Period.

My dad said he was the best who ever was.

Should be ranked higher.His stats prove that.

15 Mariano Rivera Mariano Rivera is a Panamanian-American former professional baseball pitcher who played 19 seasons in Major League Baseball for the New York Yankees, from 1995 to 2013. Nicknamed "Mo" and "Sandman", he spent most of his career as a relief pitcher and served as the Yankees' closer for 17 seasons.

Best era in the live ball era and with the DH which adds 1/2 a run to your era-he would be even lower that anyone. Lowest WHIP except for addie Joss-dead ball era-no dh. And the 9th inning pitchers face the best hitters (PH) the team can put up. ERA plus-amazing check out those numbers-no one ever even close! Single most dominating pitch in history and no one can throw it like he has! You can argue that a starting pitcher might be more valuable to a team than a releiver or even a closer, but if the question is the best pitcher those stats don't lie. But look at the playoffs and world series and he has been even greater there-walter johnson is the closest and its not that close.

Who else DOMINATED for 19 years? Take ERA+ alone and case is made. Take post-season and the case is made. Take his career stats in all areas ranked against everyone else -- no one else comes close. Done!

I don't rate relievers in the same category as starters. Much harder to start.

To me Mariano Rivera is the best saver pitcher of all times

16 Bob Feller

Definitely in the top 10. First pitcher in modern era with 3 no hitters and missed 4 prime years to serving our country. He was the first major leaguer to volunteer 2 days after Pearl Harbor. Didn’t have to enlist. He was the sole support for his family. Probably would of had 4 or 5 career no hitters and 350 wins had he not done so!

Gave up four years of his prime to volunteer the war. And that causes him 300 wins. Bob is the best

Fastest pitch in history at 107.9 MPH, 3 no hitters, and he is awesome sauce

Great pitcher and man

17 Clayton Kershaw Clayton Edward Kershaw is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball.

What? He's the best pitcher in the whole league and I think ever! Cry Young is before him? Not even in his dreams! This list is BS.

Are you kidding? 32nd? His stats are probably the best in pitching history better than Koufax he should deserve that #2 Spot right under Cy Yung

The rankings on this website are absolutely whack-a-doodle.

He is simply the greatest pitcher ever, in my opinion

18 Steve Carlton

1972,best season I ever saw, especially considering he pitched for the worst team in baseball. Wickedest slider ever.

List is a joke. Seaver better than Carlton? Rivera, a part-time player, higher than Carlton?

When you win 29 and the rest of your team only wins 27. You are the greatest case closd

The Phillies won 60 games one season Carlton had 29 wins

19 Warren Spahn

I met him in Oklahoma shortly before his passing and I asked the question, what kind of money would you of got pitching in this era, he said quickly the same $100,000 I played for the love of the game. That summed up Warren Spahn, humble and loved his game. The best by all means and all comparisons

363 wins by a lefty! Most in the modern era. Very crafty and found ways to get those wins. He was Greg Maddux before game film. Lost 3 years in WWII by serving his country. Not only the greatest pitcher of all time, but a war hero. People always forget about Spahn.

Amazing pitcher. Didn't get his first win until he was 27 and ended up with 363.

Spahn I remember was also a fantastic hitter, beiing used as a pinch hitter many times

20 Justin Verlander Justin Brooks Verlander is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball.

Freak of nature. Dude doesn't mess around, and appears to only be getting better with age. Likely the next to 3,000 strikeouts and if he keeps playing the way he is, may have more Ks than innings pitched. HoF for sure.

The Greatest Pitcher ever, Cy Young and MVP both in the same year.

Great

MVP, that's all I'm saying'.

21 Babe Ruth George Herman Ruth Jr., better known as Babe Ruth, was an American professional baseball player whose career in Major League Baseball spanned 22 seasons, from 1914 through 1935.

In Babe Ruth's 1916 season as a pitcher, his record was 23 Wins and 170 Strikeouts, with a 1.75 ERA, 9 Shutouts and 23 Complete Games

He should've stayed a pitcher but he made a smart choice

Good pitcher, but didn't have many strike outs.

He could've been the greatest pitcher ever.

22 Fernando Valenzuela

Lasorda didn't use this guy properly. He could have lasted years if he wasn't kept in the game as much as he was.

Mediocre pitcher at best.

The legend
El toro

Who the hell is this bitch

23 Masahiro Tanaka
24 Yu Darvish

Young with lots of games to come. Fastest ever to reach 500 strikeouts. Given time, will be the BEST.

This guy belongs in the minors. Probably AA. Not sure if he can win a game at that level.

I think if he can win games at the MLB level, then he should definitely be able to win at an AA level.

Will be one of the best

He is a good Picher of 2014

25 Tim Lincecum

What no way is he number 20. He isn't even 20th in the league now. He isn't even a top 100 picture ever. That's got to be a joke

Wouldn't rank in my top 100.

He throw to no hitter

He sucks

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