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 Nolan Ryan 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.

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

5000 plus Strikeouts & no Hitters CASE CLOSED

Glad to see Ryan at #1, he deserves it. He holds like 90% of the MLB pitching records, and #2 is usually far below him. And his longevity was incredible. I mean he led the league in strikeouts 11 times, including when he was 40, 41, 42 and 43 years old.

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2 Sandy Koufax

He pitched 12 years actually so... Yes he does compete for #1

Sad he had to retire so soon otherwise he would be 1

Better than Nolan Ryan

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

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3 Cy Young

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.

The award for best pitcher of the year is named after him so that tells you how good he was.

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4 Walter Johnson

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

The greatest of all. Only ones close are Grove and Clemens.

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.

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5 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

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.

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.

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6 Tom Seaver

Simply the best

He is an awesome pitcher and top ten no doubt

Ryan not top 30... Lol

Seaver Superior

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7 Greg Maddux

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.

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

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

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8 Bob Gibson

Most intimidating ever.

No one changed the game like Gibson.

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

I saw him pitch the 67 series in St Louis. So dominant, they changed the rules.

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9 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.

He. Set. The. Gold. Standard. They. All. Followed. Him. The. Early. Years. Was. A. Blessing. The. Teen. 1920s. We’re. Fun. He. Was. A. Class. Act

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.

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10 Pedro Martinez 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.

Watch Pedro in 1999 all-star game.

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. - bruski1986

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

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.

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The Contenders

11 Roger Clemens

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

Top 5 of all time! Easy.

Should be number 3 end of story. 7 cy youngs, two 20k games against AL. Nolan,Walter johnson, Clemens. 1 2 3.

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.

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12 Mariano Rivera 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. - haineroid

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13 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 - Jman2021

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

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14 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.

Might have been the best ever.
too damn bad that he never got a decent chance to prove it.

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. - orangeturtle

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.

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15 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. - Jman2021

Should be ranked higher.His stats prove that.

16 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.

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

Definitely the pitcher of all time!

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

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18 Steve Carlton

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

The Phillies won 60 games one season Carlton had 29 wins

Should be higher, dominated opponents

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

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19 Bob Feller

108 mph, top that!

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

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20 Justin Verlander 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. - kraeftas

Great

Best mvp

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

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21 Fernando Valenzuela

The legend
El toro

A legend

the best

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.

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22 Roy Halladay Roy Halladay Harry Leroy Halladay III, often nicknamed "Doc", was an American professional baseball player who pitched in Major League Baseball for the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies between 1998 and 2013. His nickname, coined by Toronto Blue Jays announcer Tom Cheek, was a reference to Wild West gunslinger ...read more.

I keep finding more and more people that should be way higher on this list... Roy Halladay is one of them

Perfect game under his belt with multiple no hitter what wrong with you this is clearly a top 5 guy

He should higher on the list

He has been clever and durable.

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23 Bert Blyleven

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

24 Aroldis Chapman

Chapman is a lousy one inning wonder. Couldn't start and win if his life depended on it.

Shouldn't be ahead of Tom Glavine or Curt Schilling and by the way the best closer ever was Mariano Rivera look at the stats

Adroldis Chapman is a absolute beast! when your change up goes 96 mph, you know you have a great pitcher. He should be higher on this list, maybe around Pedro Martinez.

He should be 7

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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 - emmanuel990

He sucks

V 2 Comments
26 Jim Palmer

Masterful approach to the art of pitching.

He is the youngest pitcher ever to throw a shutout in a world series.

Good hitters hit him hard.

27 Tom Glavine

Didn't have the overwhelming fastball to win big in the post season, but neither did Maddux.

Consistency and poise

28 Curt Schilling

Since Roy Halladay isn't in the top 5 ill go with Schilling. Hamels shouldn't be in the top 4, 000 pitchers.

Three World Series Rings, 200+ wins, 2,000+ stikeouts. Truly amazing.

Money pitcher.

Again, not even close to Marichal. Please

29 Whitey Ford

Best I've ever seen. Been a baseball fan since I was old enough to say Yogi. Most under appreciated pitcher of all time, even while he was active. Winning record from 1950 until his arm died after the '65 season, when he was relegated to relief work. Control beyond compare.

Whitey should absolutely be considered in the top ten.

30 Mark Buerhle

Decent, but this list DOES NOT have Jack Morris is an insult? Won World Series with 3 different teams and the greatest Game 7 pitching performance of ALL-TIME with 10 innings!

Wouldn't rank in my top 200.

Huh?

31 Don Sutton

Too many 19 game seasons gave him a lesser reputation than he deserved. If he was pitching today he'd command 20 million bucks a year.

Look at Marichal's complete games, era, shutouts

32 Gaylord Perry

He was good, JACK MORRIS NOT ON THIS LIST...is an insult! Won World Series with 3 different teams! 1991 Twins game 7 greatest pitching performance in World Series History!

33 Orel Hershiser

Love

He�'s my brother in Christ!

34 Babe Ruth 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.

He could've been the greatest pitcher ever. - Jman2021

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

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

He's not even a pitcher

V 1 Comment
35 Jack Morris

Dominated a DECADE. Split finger fastball was unhittable. Tenacious competitor.

36 Bret Saberhagen

One of the lesser known greats of all time. - harrymfuess

37 Johan Santana

Not good enough to be considered in this list or any list of the top 100.

38 Dwight Gooden

Should be in the top 20

What the heck is Dwight Gooden doing down here?!

Same here.

39 Roy Oswalt
40 Felix Hernandez

I’m a big mariners fan

He's awesome

41 Andy Pettitte
42 Jaba Chamberlin

A little league pitcher at best

one of the youngest pitchers to throw 100 give the new yankees pitcher some props guys cmon
- dissthisnoob

A joke that he is on this list.

It’s Joba Lol 😂 and He was good but why above Mordicai Brown. by the way y is Chapman above Trevor Hoffman?! Hoffman is the greatest ( correction second best ) Closer of all time. Mark Buerlhe and Tim Lincecun you are joking 🙃 anyways Where is FERGIE JENKINS?! He is probably top 15 all time.

43 Catfish Hunter

Money pitcher.

44 Masahiro Tanaka
45 Adam Wainwright

Knee buckler curve

To the one below: you suck

Tim Lincecum? what! Wainwright had that deadly curve, Tim had a juicy fastball.

46 Steve Avery
47 Zach Greinke

The modern day Greg Maddox pitching persistent, topping at mid 90s and micky mouse curveball.

One of the smartest pitchers.

7-1.61 era... Enough said! - phigginskc

48 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

49 Jerry Koosman

You have to be kidding

50 Danny Salazar
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1. Walter Johnson
2. Cy Young
3. Christy Matthewson
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1. Walter Johnson
2. Grover Cleveland 'Pete' Alexander
3. Lefty Grove
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1. Nolan Ryan
2. Randy Johnson
3. Roger Clemens
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