Baseball’s heart is in its pitching. It’s the start of the game and shapes the in-field setting for each team.
While hitting brings in the crowds, great pitching wins championships. Throughout Major League Baseball’s history, there has been some genuinely remarkable pitchers toe the rubber.
A good pitcher possesses a delightful combination of accuracy, concentration, powerful arms, velocity, mental toughness, and mobility.
Table of Contents
List of 9 Best MLB Pitchers of all Time and Their Achievement
Many great pitchers have graced the field of Major League Baseball. In the spirit of Bleacher Report and ESPN, we compiled this list. We’ve compiled a list of the best MLB pitchers of all time.
1. Christy Mathewson
Popularly known as Christy Mathewson, Christopher Mathewson was one of baseball’s most dominant players. He’s still considered one of the best MLB Pitchers of all time.
After making his major league debut in 1900, the American right-handed pitcher went on to have a long career that lasted until 1916. He went on to play for the New York Giants and the Cincinnati Reds after that. Later on, he was the Reds’ manager.
Several important pitching metrics, including wins, ERA, and shutouts, place Mathewson among the top ten all-time.
Furthermore, he had 373 wins, a 2.13 ERA, 2,502 strikeouts, and an overall winning % of 665. ‘ At age 14, he began playing semi-pro baseball. He also briefly played football in the first NFL with the Pittsburgh Stars.
Imagine a professional player who could play football and baseball at the highest level of competition. Christy Mathewson has you covered! Christy tossed three shutouts in the 1905 World Series to help the Giants win the championship.
Matthewson, a sincere Christian, refused to pitch on Sundays due to his religious convictions and a commitment he made to his mom. During the First World War, he served as a member of the United States Army’s Chemical Warfare Service. Aside from writing, he also had a career in the arts.
As one of the first five baseball players to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936, Mathewson was recognized for his contributions to the sport. Even though Christy Mathewson has been dead for almost a century now, he will always be remembered by baseball fans as one of the best MLB pitchers of all time
2. Walter Johnson
Perry Johnson pitched professionally in the major leagues for several years. From 1907 through 1927, he was a member of the Washington Senators. The Washington Senators and Cleveland Indians hired him as their manager in the following years.
In 1907, he was just 19 years old when he was signed by the Washington Senators. He has been hailed as one of the greatest and most dominant power pitchers in MLB history to this date.
He set numerous records in baseball at the time, some of which remain unbroken. A century will pass before Johnson retires, but he still holds the record for the most career shutouts with 110. His 417 wins and 531 complete games are also among the best ever.
He struck out 3,508 batters throughout his career, a mark that stood for nearly 56 years. He was the first and only player in his era to reach the milestone of 3000 strikeouts.
Additionally, Johnson has the most innings pitched among the 18 pitchers who have surpassed the 3,000-strikeout threshold. At 5.34 K/9, he has the fewest strikeouts among all pitchers.
1936 saw his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Of the original inaugural class, he was one of just five people to be given this distinction. Until this day, Walter Johnson’s soft demeanour and sterling sportsmanship remain legends among sports fans. Indeed, he’s a legend.
3. Cy Young
The Cy Young Awards, named for American professional baseball star Denton True “Cy” Young, have gone to nearly every pitcher on this list. It’s impossible to duplicate Cy Young’s legacy in the baseball pitching world. Therefore, Cy Young Awards are given to the best pitchers in each MLB division.
Initially playing in the Tri-State League, then the National League, Young’s professional baseball career got off to a strong start. 1890 saw him sign with the now-major-league Cleveland Spiders (Cleveland Indians, the renamed Spiders).
He beat the Chicago Colts 8-1 with a three-hit shutout in his first start. His other teams included St. Louis Perfectos/Cardinals (Boston Red Sox), Boston Americans / Red Sox (Boston Red Sox), and Cleveland Naps.
Additionally, he worked for Boston Americans as a manager. Even over 70 years after his death, Young is held in such high esteem. He’s a baseball legend, no doubt about it.
In MLB, he amassed 511 career victories. The 1904 perfect game was just one of his many accomplishments as a leader in his league. The National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Young in 1937.
4. Randy Johnson
Randy Johnson is next on our list of the best MLB pitchers of all time. He was a pitcher for the New York Yankees and the Montreal Expos was a previous member of several other MLB clubs.
Randy was selected by the Montreal Expos in the second round of the 1985 Major League Baseball draft. In 1988, he made his professional debut, and his career ended in 2009.
He had the fifth-highest amount of wins for a left-handed pitcher in MLB history with 303. His 4,875 strikeouts rank second all-time among left-handed pitchers, making him a legendary figure.
Johnson tallied five of the top seven single-season strikeout totals in contemporary baseball history, and he is a left-handed pitcher. He has been an All-Star team member ten times and has won five Cy Young Awards. Similarly, he ranks among the top five American and National League no-hitter pitchers.
As a result, Johnson set a record as the oldest pitcher ever to throw a perfect game at 40. In addition, the sixth-highest winning % among left-handed pitchers with at least 200 decisions is his.646 career mark.
Among his most notable accomplishments, he ranks first in strikeouts per nine innings, third in hits allowed, and tenth in lowest hits allowed per nine innings.
The Baseball Hall of Fame voted to induct Johnson in his first year of eligibility in 2015. It’s also worth noting that he is the first Hall member to have been represented in an Arizona Diamondbacks outfit on his plaque.
6. Sandy Koufax
Sanford Koufax is a retired baseball pitcher who spent his career with the Brooklyn / Los Angeles Dodgers.
When he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, they paid him a substantial sum, which he opted to put toward his college education if his baseball career didn’t pan out. In his 12-year career, Koufax had a 165–87 record with a 2.76 ERA, 2,396 strikeouts, 137 complete games, and 40 shutouts.
There have never been more than seven hits allowed per nine innings thrown, and nine hitters struck out per nine innings in baseball history.
Also, Koufax was the only pitcher in baseball history to have two games with 18 or more strikeouts. ” It was the first time someone had eight games with at least fifteen strikeouts. In four World Series appearances, he posted a 4–3 record with a 0.95 ERA and a won-loss record of 4–3.
Many accolades have been bestowed upon him during his long career. However, there have never been any pitchers who have won more than one CY award. In addition, no one has ever won the Cy Young Award unanimously.
All-star in six seasons and National League MVP in 1963, Koufax was also a six-time All-star. As a result, he was 36 years old when he was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame, making him the game’s youngest inductee.
7. Greg Maddux
Gregory Alan Maddux is a former baseball pitcher. He is currently the head baseball coach at a college university.
From 1986 to 2008, Maddux was a professional baseball player with the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Diego Padres.
During the 1984 MLB draft, the Chicago Cubs selected Maddux in the second round. They selected him to be their starting pitcher. In the American Legion, he made his debut before making it to the majors.
Maddux’s winning percentage is 355-227. The average of his four seasons at the plate was 171 – a total of 171 throughout his career. He also has five home runs and an average of 84 RBIs per game. In the eyes of his peers and specialists, he has always had an exceptional pitching mechanic.
His winning streak in 1992 and 1993 was double-digits twice, while in 1992 and 1993 he won 19 games and in 1994 he won 18 games, and in 1995 he won 16 games. In addition, he earned four ERA championships during his time in the league.
With 18 victories, Maddux holds the MLB record for most seasons finishing in the top ten. Therefore, he holds the record for the most Golden Gloves.
As one of the 10 pitchers to reach 300 wins and 3,000 strikeouts in his career, he was the most successful pitcher of his generation. As a result, he is the only pitcher to have won more than 300 games, struck out more than 3,000 times, and walked fewer than 1,000 times at once.
The Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Maddux on 8 January 2014. He currently serves as a special assistant to the general manager of the Texas Rangers and the Chicago Cubs, respectively.
8. Roger Clemens
William Roger Clemens is another best MLB pitcher of all time. In 1984, he began his professional career after being drafted by the Boston Red Sox.
Prior to that, he was a two-time All-American at the University of Texas at Austin.
Having played for the Toronto Blue Rays, the New York Yankees, the Houston Astros, and the Boston Red Sox throughout his career, he retired in 2007.
Clemens is recognized as one of the all-time greats in Major League Baseball as a pitcher. He has 354 wins, a 3.12 ERA, and 4,672 strikeouts, which places him third all-time in the major leagues.
He’s the only pitcher in Major League Baseball history, to begin with, a 20–1 win-loss record. Similarly, in 2003, he recorded his 300th victory and 4,000th strikeout in the same game.
With over 350 wins and more than 4,500 strikeouts, Clemens is the only pitcher in Major League Baseball history to have achieved this remarkable feat. In addition, he has a few 20-strikeout efforts under his belt.
Furthermore, he has been recognized with other significant trophies, including the American League Cy Young Award, All-Star Game MVP Award, and American League MVP Award.
He was also inducted into the Boston Red Sox and Pawtucket Red Sox Hall of Fames in 2014 and 2019, respectively.
Although the National Baseball Hall of Fame has yet to recognize him, he is still known as one of the best MLB pitchers of all time.
9. Clayton Kershaw
Finally on our list of best MLB pitchers of all time is Clayton Edward Kershaw. He currently plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was taken seventh overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2006 Major League Baseball draft.
He finished his first season with a 4.26 ERA in 22 appearances, including 21 starts. On several occasions, the left-handed strikeout has been compared to Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax.
From 2011 to 2014, Kershaw became the first pitcher in MLB history to lead the league in ERA for four straight years. Along with his other accolades, he holds the National League record for most wins and strikeouts in a season (three times).
He has several honourable mentions, including being named an All-Star eight times between 2011 and 2019, excluding 2018, World Series Champion in 2020, National League MVP in 2014, National League Cy Young Award three times, and numerous others.
Kershaw has been dubbed a ‘perfectionist’ by his teammates due to his on-field wizardry. As a bonus, he’s not simply a regular pitcher at the baseball field. Instead, he is a selfless person who has been volunteering his time for many years now.
Kershaw has received the Roberto Clemente Award and the Branch Rickey Award for his off-field accomplishments.
Together with his wife, he founded “Kershaw’s Challenge” and published a book to gather funds for constructing an orphanage in Zambia.