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

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.

Struck out Cobb 3x in one game and 11 years with an era below 2 should be at least second best ever if not first

Nolan Ryan only beat Johnson here because of he leads in the most "glamorous" pitching stat, everybody knows Ryan, Johnson is so underappreciated. Johnson only beats him in wins, ERA, Shutouts, and Complete Games... Not that they're important.

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.

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.

I have nothing more to add than what Superman already proved.

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.

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.

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.

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

The best EVER! the Dodgers beat the Yankees 4 in a row in 1963 because of Koufax and his FAST ball

4 Cy Young

I did my wax museum on him and it was really interesting to learn about him and his life.

You are all idiots you should know that cy young is the best pitcher ever and just because walter johnson and christy mathewson aren't the best because they were in the first class

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. - MrSuicideShark

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

5 Greg Maddux

My name is James Filippi... I pitched against "the baby faced assassin" in 1985 in Peoria Illinois (mid west league Chisox) and before the first inning was over I knew it would be very difficult to beat him... This in itself was a great weapon! He had an exploding fastball and the hitters just could not get a good swing on his pitches! If we got one run against him that was an accomplishment... All game and all the time it was like this... Very tough! Great fielder too! Extremely smart pitcher... He had great command of everything he threw and he threw very hard and strode incredibly long at that time... I thought I had a long stride but when I took the mound I was landing at the back of his landing which I thought was unusual because it had never happened before! He only got better from there! I still think "POUND FOR POUND THE BEST PITCHER EVER TO PLAY THE GAME" I believe this! And he was maybe 6ft 150lbs at that point!

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.

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

6 Tom Seaver

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

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

awesome player this is my fav met of all time

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

7 Randy Johnson

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

If Johnson pitched as long as Ryan,...he would have Easily broke Ryan's record number of strikeouts!

No other pitcher in the history of MLB has ever blown a bird up with the style and grace of Johnson. #1

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.

8 Christy Matthewson

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.

Way to underrated. He got 373 wins despite playing only 17 years. great friend. once played 13 checker players at the same time blindfolded, won 7 and DREW 6. Here is my list:
1. Christy mathewson(by far)

2. Cy Young(by even more far)

3. Walter Johnson(just barely)

4. Warren Spahn

5. Gregg Maddux

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.

Underrated old times pitcher

9 Bob Gibson

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

yeah they did lower the mound because of him... he was unbelievable. he could hit too. he was amazing just amazing... two times better than pedro hahaha don't give me crap about pedro.. he was good but not gibson good, by any means

I was 9 years old, and remember stories that his catcher, Tim McCarver was scared to go to the mound to talk to 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

10 Lefty Grove

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.

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

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

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

The Contenders

11 Grover Cleveland 'Pete' Alexander

My dad said he was the best who ever was.

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

Should be ranked higher.His stats prove that.

12 Roger Clemens

Incredible command of the strike zone. Look at his strike out to walk ratio

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.

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

13 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.

if you look only at MLB numbers not too impressive. but he didnt pitch that long in the MLB. His numbers in the negro leagues...unreal.

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.

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.

14 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.

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.

by far the best ever, no doubt. From 1997-2003 no one could ever touch him! at one point his ERA was 1.74 and THE NEXT GUY (Clemens) was over two RUNS HIGHER! hands down the best! if it wasn't for his injuries (Koufax) he would have dominated even longer

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

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

He may not be the greatest yet, but he should already be in the top 10 and will probably be one of, if not THE greatest by the end of his career

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

He is simply the greatest pitcher ever, in my opinion

Top 10 already! Top 5 for sure when he retires if not #1

16 Steve Carlton

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

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

The Phillies won 60 games one season Carlton had 29 wins

It's a joke he is this low

17 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.

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!

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.

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

He'll move up. In the end he gets the job done.

18 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

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.

665 starts, 382 complete games. 63 shutouts, 13 -20 games seasons. 363 victories. The BEST!

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

20 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 could've been the greatest pitcher ever.

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

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

21 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.

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

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

Best mvp

22 Masahiro Tanaka
23 Yu Darvish

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

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

Will be one of the best

He is a good Picher of 2014

24 Bert Blyleven

No one threw a curve ball better than Bert. No one.

25 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

A legend

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