Top 10 Pitchers of All Time - Best Pitching Masters
by Krishika M
Updated Jun 17, 2023
Top 10 Pitchers of All Time
Baseball has seen its fair share of remarkable pitchers who have etched their names in the annals of the sport's history. From dominating strikeout artists to crafty masters of control, these pitchers have left an indelible impact on the game. Here is the list of the top 10 pitchers of all time:
New York Mets
New York Mets
Los Angeles Angels
New York Yankees
Chicago White Sox
New York Yankees
New York Mets
New York Mets
Los Angeles Angels
New York Yankees
Chicago White Sox
New York Yankees
Greatest Pitchers of All Time
These top 10 pitchers of all time represent a blend of skill, dominance, longevity, and sheer greatness. They captivated fans with their artistry, fierce competitiveness, and ability to consistently deliver exceptional performances. Their names will forever be associated with excellence on the mound, leaving an enduring legacy for generations of baseball fans to appreciate and celebrate.
This article delves into the realm of greatness, presenting a list of the top 10 pitchers of all time, showcasing their unique abilities, achievements, and lasting legacies.
1. Sandy Alcantara (Miami Marlins)
Sandy Alcantara, a right-handed pitcher for the Miami Marlins, had an exceptional 2022 season. In 32 starts, he showcased his skills and durability on the mound, pitching an impressive 228.2 innings, leading the league in innings pitched. This feat highlights his status as a workhorse, a rare breed of pitchers in today's game.
Alcantara's performance was characterized by his remarkable consistency and effectiveness. He boasted an outstanding 2.28 ERA, which ranked fifth-lowest in the league, showcasing his ability to limit opponents' scoring opportunities. His dominance extended to the strikeout department as well, with 207 strikeouts to his name.
Analyzing his performance beyond traditional statistics, Alcantara's 2.99 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) suggests that he performed even better than his impressive ERA indicates. His ability to generate strikeouts while minimizing walks is evident, with only 50 walks allowed throughout the season, showcasing his control and command on the mound.
Notably, Alcantara maintained an exceptional 0.98 WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched), demonstrating his ability to keep opposing batters off base. This statistic is a testament to his efficiency and effectiveness in preventing baserunners.
In terms of advanced metrics, Alcantara recorded an impressive 5.7 fWAR (Wins Above Replacement), underscoring his significant contribution to his team's success. His value surpassed that of other notable pitchers, as he accumulated 1.6 more WAR than Dylan Cease, who had the second-highest WAR among pitchers.
2. Jacob deGrom (Texas Rangers)
Jacob deGrom, a right-handed pitcher now with the Texas Rangers, has consistently proven himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball. However, injuries have unfortunately plagued his recent seasons, limiting his playing time and preventing him from reaching his full potential.
In 2022, despite only making 11 starts and pitching 64.1 innings, deGrom continued to showcase his exceptional skills on the mound. He posted a solid 3.08 ERA, demonstrating his ability to limit opposing teams' scoring opportunities. His strikeout prowess was on full display, as he recorded an impressive 102 strikeouts, resulting in a remarkable 42.7% strikeout rate, the second-highest in the league behind his teammate Edwin Diaz.
One of deGrom's greatest strengths is his exceptional command and control. His 3.3% walk rate was the third-lowest in baseball, further highlighting his ability to limit free passes and keep runners off base. This command, combined with his strikeout ability, makes him an incredibly dominant force on the mound.
Unfortunately, injuries have been a recurring theme in deGrom's career, preventing him from maintaining a consistent presence on the field. Despite his undeniable talent, his inability to surpass 100 innings pitched in consecutive seasons has been a challenge. Even in the spring of the following year, he experienced soreness that kept him from participating in live games.
When deGrom is healthy and able to take the mound, there is no doubt that he is widely regarded as the best pitcher in baseball. His combination of elite strikeout rates, minimal walks, and overall dominance makes him a force to be reckoned with. However, the recurring injuries have hindered his ability to establish a prolonged and uninterrupted reign as the premier pitcher in the game.
3. Corbin Burnes (Milwaukee Brewers)
Corbin Burnes, a right-handed pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, had a remarkable 2021 season that earned him the NL Cy Young Award. However, in 2022, Burnes faced some challenges and fell short of his previous year's performance.
While his 2.94 ERA over 202 innings is still impressive, it was slightly higher than what Burnes had shown he was capable of achieving. He had set the bar high with his exceptional 2021 campaign, where he posted a remarkable 2.43 ERA and 1.63 FIP.
In the second half of the 2022 season, Burnes struggled, evidenced by his 3.97 ERA during that period. It's important not to overemphasize one poor half and allow it to overshadow Burnes' overall ability and track record. Despite the struggles, Burnes remains one of the top pitchers in baseball.
It's reasonable to have confidence in Burnes and expect a strong bounce-back season in 2023. The first half of the previous year showcased his true potential, as he earned a well-deserved All-Star selection with a stellar 2.14 ERA. This version of Burnes is more representative of his overall talent and what he can bring to the mound.
With a chip on his shoulder, Burnes will be motivated to prove himself as one of the premier pitchers in the game once again. His combination of electric stuff, including a fastball that averages 96.2 mph, and his ability to generate strikeouts (243 strikeouts in 2022) make him a formidable force on the Brewers' pitching staff.
4. Justin Verlander (New York Mets)
Justin Verlander, a right-handed pitcher who recently joined the New York Mets, has defied the odds and continues to excel on the mound even as he enters the latter stages of his career. Since his full-time tenure with the Houston Astros began in 2018, Verlander has consistently demonstrated his exceptional skills, boasting a remarkable 2.33 ERA over 618 innings.
What makes Verlander's performance even more impressive is the fact that he faced a significant setback in 2021. At the age of 39, he underwent Tommy John surgery, a procedure that often marks the end of a pitcher's career. However, Verlander proved to be the exception. In 2022, he made a triumphant return and delivered a historic season.
With a phenomenal 1.75 ERA, Verlander achieved the lowest ERA of his entire career. This outstanding accomplishment earned him the prestigious AL Cy Young Award, solidifying his status as one of the game's elite pitchers. Throughout the season, he showcased remarkable control, recording 185 strikeouts while issuing only 29 walks. His dominance on the mound was further evident in his impressive 2.49 FIP and 0.83 WHIP.
Verlander's ability to adapt and thrive as he ages is truly remarkable. Despite enduring a major injury and reaching an age where many pitchers begin to decline, he continues to perform at an exceptional level. His dedication to his craft, combined with his exceptional talent, has allowed him to defy expectations and cement his legacy as one of the greatest pitchers of his generation.
As Verlander embarks on his journey with the New York Mets, fans can look forward to witnessing his continued excellence and experiencing the impact he will undoubtedly have on the team's success. With his incredible track record and ongoing determination, Verlander remains a force to be reckoned with in the world of baseball.
5. Max Scherzer (New York Mets)
Max Scherzer, a right-handed pitcher who recently joined the New York Mets, has established himself as one of the premier pitchers in baseball. Known for his exceptional consistency and dominant performances, Scherzer has consistently delivered impressive results throughout his career.
Excluding the shortened 2020 season, Scherzer has maintained an ERA below 3.00 since 2014, demonstrating his ability to consistently suppress opposing offenses. Over the past two seasons, he has recorded a stellar 2.38 ERA and a 2.81 FIP, showcasing his continued excellence on the mound.
What sets Scherzer apart is not only his consistency but also his age-defying abilities. Despite being 36 years old, he continues to throw with remarkable velocity, reminiscent of his prime years. With a fastball that averages 94.1 miles per hour, Scherzer maintains the ability to overpower hitters and keep them off balance.
As Scherzer joins the New York Mets, fans have high expectations for his performance. His track record of success, coupled with his competitive drive and unwavering determination, make him a formidable force on the mound. Mets fans can anticipate Scherzer to continue defying expectations and dominating opposing lineups.
With his extensive experience and proven ability to deliver under pressure, Scherzer brings a wealth of knowledge and a winning mentality to the Mets' pitching staff. His arrival further solidifies the team's aspirations to contend for championships and provides a significant boost to their chances of success.
As baseball enthusiasts eagerly await Scherzer's debut in a Mets uniform, there is no doubt that his exceptional skills and unwavering commitment will leave a lasting impact on the team and fans alike. With his age-defying performances and fierce competitiveness, Scherzer is poised to continue his reign as one of the game's premier pitchers in the years to come.
6. Zack Wheeler (Philadelphia Phillies)
Zack Wheeler, a right-handed pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, has established himself as one of the top arms in baseball. Despite being overlooked at times, Wheeler's performance in the 2021 season showcased his true potential as he narrowly missed out on winning the Cy Young Award.
In 2022, Wheeler continued to impress, demonstrating that his remarkable performance in the previous year was no fluke. He recorded a solid 2.82 ERA and a 2.89 FIP, solidifying his status as a reliable and dominant pitcher.
Wheeler's pitching arsenal is designed to keep hitters off balance and guessing. He utilizes two fastballs, a four-seam and a sinker, effectively mixing them to attack right-handed batters. Additionally, his slider serves as a primary breaking pitch, delivered at around 90 mph, while he occasionally incorporates a curveball into his repertoire.
With a well-rounded set of pitches and excellent command, Wheeler consistently challenges opposing hitters and frustrates them with his ability to locate his pitches effectively. His approach on the mound, combined with his competitiveness and determination, make him a formidable presence and a valuable asset to the Phillies' pitching staff.
As the 2023 season approaches, expectations are high for Wheeler to continue his impressive performance. Regarded as one of the best arms in baseball, he possesses the skills and experience necessary to consistently deliver ace-like performances. The Phillies and their fans can rely on Wheeler to anchor their rotation and provide the team with a strong chance of success.
7. Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels)
Shohei Ohtani, the remarkable two-way player for the Los Angeles Angels, has captivated fans with his exceptional hitting abilities. However, it is crucial not to overlook his remarkable skills as a pitcher. In the 2022 season, Ohtani demonstrated his prowess on the mound, showcasing his potential as an elite pitcher.
With 28 starts and 166 innings pitched, Ohtani proved his durability and stamina, solidifying his role as a regular member of the Angels' starting rotation. His impressive 2.33 ERA, 2.40 FIP, and 1.01 WHIP placed him among the top performers in the league. Ohtani's 219 strikeouts further highlighted his ability to overpower opposing hitters.
What sets Ohtani apart is his willingness to make adjustments and evolve as a pitcher. In 2022, he made notable changes to his repertoire, placing a greater emphasis on his slider. By increasing his slider usage from 22% in 2021 to 37% in 2022, Ohtani effectively complemented his high-velocity four-seam fastball. This adjustment allowed him to keep batters off balance and generate swings and misses.
As fans eagerly anticipate the 2023 season, there is no doubt that Ohtani will continue to leave a lasting impact both on the mound and at the plate. His extraordinary talents make him a true marvel of the game and a player to watch in awe. Whether he is unleashing his blazing fastball or fooling hitters with his devastating slider, Shohei Ohtani embodies the essence of a true two-way superstar.
8. Carlos Rodón (New York Yankees)
Carlos Rodón, a left-handed pitcher, has emerged as an extraordinary talent in recent years. His breakthrough season came in 2021 when he experienced a significant increase in velocity, recapturing the form that made him a highly regarded prospect when he was drafted third overall out of NC State. Rodón's performance that year showcased his potential and set the stage for his remarkable journey.
In 2021, Rodón posted a stellar 2.37 ERA and a 2.65 FIP over 133 innings, proving that he had truly found his groove. However, concerns about his shoulder issues and declining velocity in the latter part of the season led to the Chicago White Sox not tendering him a qualifying offer. As a result, Rodón entered free agency and signed a two-year deal with the San Francisco Giants, including an opt-out clause after the first season.
The pressure was on for Rodón to validate his exceptional 2021 performance and demonstrate his ability to remain healthy for a full season. He exceeded expectations by throwing a career-high 178 innings and delivering outstanding results. With a remarkable 2.88 ERA, a 2.25 FIP (the lowest among qualified starters), and an impressive 237 strikeouts, Rodón showcased his dominance on the mound.
Rodón's remarkable achievements earned him a well-deserved opportunity with the New York Yankees. He signed a lucrative six-year, $162 million contract with the team, a testament to his talent and potential impact. While he departs from Oracle Park, known for its pitcher-friendly environment, Rodón's combination of confidence and dominance should enable him to thrive in the iconic Yankee Stadium.
Unfortunately, as the new season approaches, Rodón faces a setback with a reported forearm strain that is expected to delay his initial appearances for the Yankees. Fans and the organization hope that this injury does not foreshadow more significant challenges for Rodón going forward. With his exceptional skills and determination, Rodón has the potential to make a substantial impact and solidify his place as a key member of the Yankees' pitching rotation.
9. Dylan Cease (Chicago White Sox)
Dylan Cease, a right-handed pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, experienced a significant surge in his performance and reputation in the 2022 season. While his talent was evident in 2021 with a blazing fastball reaching 100 mph and an impressive slider and curveball combination, Cease faced challenges when batters made contact, resulting in hard-hit balls and higher earned run average (ERA) and fielding independent pitching (FIP) numbers.
Recognizing the need for adjustments to keep hitters off balance, Cease made a crucial change in his approach going into the 2022 season. He followed a similar path as Shohei Ohtani, increasing the usage of his best pitch, the slider, and making it his primary weapon. This adjustment proved to be highly effective, as Cease significantly reduced the hard-hit rate against him by over 7%, resulting in a rate of 31.2%, which ranked among the lowest for starting pitchers.
While Cease still aims to minimize walks in his game, his overall performance in 2022 showcased his potential as an ace pitcher. With a remarkable 2.20 ERA and a 2.70 expected ERA (xERA) over 184 innings, Cease proved his ability to dominate on the mound.
His arsenal of pitches, combined with his newfound effectiveness, suggests that Cease has even more untapped potential and room for growth in the future. As he continues to refine his skills, Cease has the potential to establish himself as a formidable force in the league.
10. Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees)
Despite signing a massive nine-year, $324 million contract with the New York Yankees in 2020, Gerrit Cole's performance over the past two seasons has fallen short of expectations. It's surprising to see him post consecutive seasons with an ERA above three, considering his immense talent on the mound. However, there are a couple of undeniable truths that we must acknowledge about Cole's recent performance.
Firstly, there is no doubt that Cole is a highly skilled pitcher. His repertoire, including a blazing fastball that averages 97.8 mph, showcases his exceptional abilities. However, one major issue he has faced is giving up too much hard contact, which has resulted in occasional blow-up starts and an increased number of home runs allowed.
For Cole to reclaim his status as one of the top five pitchers in baseball, he must find a way to limit hard contact. It's clear that he possesses the talent and potential to achieve this feat. By refining his approach, making necessary adjustments, and potentially working on pitch sequencing and location, Cole can regain his dominance and return to the form that warranted his record-breaking contract.
While his recent performances may not have met the lofty expectations set by his contract, it's important to recognize that Cole's talent remains undeniable. With the right adjustments and improvements, he has the ability to reclaim his spot among the elite pitchers in the game.
Famous Pitchers of All Time
There have been many famous pitchers throughout the history of baseball who have left a lasting impact on the sport. Here are some of the most renowned pitchers of all time:
Cy Young: Considered one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, Cy Young set numerous records that still stand today. He won a staggering 511 games during his career and his name became synonymous with excellence on the mound. The prestigious Cy Young Award, given annually to the best pitchers in each league, is named in his honor.
Walter Johnson: Known as "The Big Train," Walter Johnson was a dominant pitcher for the Washington Senators. He had a blazing fastball and an exceptional career that spanned over two decades. Johnson recorded 417 wins and held the record for the most career shutouts with 110 until it was surpassed by another legendary pitcher, Nolan Ryan.
Sandy Koufax: Sandy Koufax is regarded as one of the most dominant pitchers in the history of the game. Despite a relatively short career due to an arm injury, Koufax achieved remarkable success. He won three Cy Young Awards and led the Los Angeles Dodgers to multiple World Series titles. Koufax's ability to overpower hitters with his fastball and devastating curveball made him a true force on the mound.
Nolan Ryan: Known for his incredible longevity and overpowering fastball, Nolan Ryan holds the record for the most career strikeouts with 5,714. Ryan's career spanned an astounding 27 seasons, during which he pitched for several teams, including the New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros, and Texas Rangers. His durability, combined with his blazing speed, made him a feared pitcher throughout his career.
Greg Maddux: Greg Maddux was a master of precision and control on the mound. He won four consecutive Cy Young Awards from 1992 to 1995 and was known for his exceptional command, ability to change speeds, and impeccable accuracy. Maddux's understanding of pitching and his ability to consistently locate his pitches made him one of the most successful pitchers of his era.
Mariano Rivera: While primarily known as a relief pitcher, Mariano Rivera's impact on the game cannot be overlooked. As the closer for the New York Yankees, Rivera was a key component of their success, helping them win multiple World Series titles. Known for his infamous cutter, Rivera holds the record for the most career saves with 652 and was revered for his ability to consistently shut down opposing teams in high-pressure situations.
These are just a few examples of the many famous pitchers who have left their mark on baseball history. Each pitcher brought their own unique style, skill set, and achievements to the game, making them memorable figures in the world of pitching.
Top 10 Pitchers of All Time - FAQs
The record for the most career wins belongs to Cy Young, who achieved an astonishing 511 wins during his illustrious career.
Bob Gibson's 1968 season stands out as one of the most dominant in baseball history. He recorded a remarkable 1.12 ERA, establishing his pitching prowess.
Nolan Ryan's remarkable 27-year career showcased his exceptional longevity and endurance. He consistently overwhelmed hitters with his blazing fastball and amassed a record-breaking 5,714 strikeouts.
Pedro Martinez was a three-time Cy Young Award winner, showcasing his mastery on the mound and solidifying his status as one of the greatest pitchers of his era.
Yes, Mariano Rivera is the only relief pitcher among the top 10 pitchers of all time. His remarkable effectiveness as a closer, anchored by his devastating cutter, earned him universal recognition and numerous accolades.