Many times these lists are controversial due to the wide range and differences of opinion. However; that is what makes these lists unique. Top Lists are always based on a number of key variables most notably statistical analysis and postseason success. However, there are also other measurables and intangibles that must be factored in when generating the flow of the list.
For these reasons, it is very possible for one player to have lesser statistics but fall higher on the list. This can be argued by proving world class dominance during short periods of time. Parameters must be set to limit the amount of sway due to the changing variables. For purposes of this list, current and past players are eligible for the list and it may include relief pitchers or starting pitchers.
Before we get to the top 20 list, we will provide a list of players that did not make the cut but do require honorable mention. The following is a list of players that were on the bubble but ultimately did not crack the list.
Juan Marichal (1960-1975)
Career Stats: 243Wins/142Losses/2.89ERA/1.10WHIP/2,303K's/63.0WAR/244CG/52Shutouts
Marichal was a six-time 20-game winner and ten-time All-Star. He was known for his signature high leg kick and dart board accuracy. He was relentless when it came to throwing inside and pushing batters off the plate. He played most of his 16 year career with the San Francisco Giants and was one of the original stars to import from the Dominican Republic. Juan twice lead the league in complete games and shutouts.
Jim Palmer (1965-1984)
Career Stats: 268Wins/152Losses/2.86ERA/1.18WHIP/2,212K's/68.9WAR/211CG/53Shutouts
Jim Palmer was the greatest pitcher in Baltimore Orioles history. During his nineteen year hall of fame career, he was a three- time Cy Young Award winner and six-time All-Star. Jim was an eight-time 20 game winner and lead his team to six world series appearances. In 17 Postseason appearances, Jim won 3 world series championships while going 8-3 and posting a 2.61ERA, 1.21WHIP, and 90 strikeouts in 124.1 innings pitched. Not too shabby and definitely worthy of the top 20!
Bob Feller (1936-1956)
Career Stats: 266Wins/162Losses/3.25ERA/1.32WHIP/2,581K's/63.9WAR/279CG/44Shutouts
Bob may have cracked the top fifteen-ten if not for missing four years during his prime where he served in the military during World War II. Even with his four missing seasons, he still compiled one of the greatest resumes in baseball history. He was a six-time 20-game winner that threw three no hitters, had 12 one hitters and one triple crown. During his 18 year career, he lead the league in wins six times and lead the league in strikeouts seven times. He would have smashed the 300 win barrier if not for his missing time in the service.
Ferguson (Fergie) Jenkins (1965-1983)
Career Stats: 284Wins/226Losses/3.34ERA/1.14WHIP/3,192K's/84.4WAR/267CG/49Shutouts
The man they called "Fergie" did not have overpowering stuff. He was not flash and dash. However, what he did bring to the table was confidence. During his 19 year career, he was a seven-time 20-game winner as well as a three-time All-Star while winning the Cy Young award in 1971. Fergie spent the majority of his hall of fame career pitching for terrible teams in hitters parks which makes his accomplishments that much greater. The model of consistency.
Tom Glavine (1987-2008)
Career Stats: 305Wins/203Losses/3.54ERA/1.31WHIP/2,607K's/80.8WAR/56CG/25Shutouts
Along with Greg Maddux and John Smoltz, Glavine was part of one of the greatest pitching trios of baseball history for the Atlanta Braves. He was a two-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series MVP. During his 22 year career he was a ten-time All-Star and five-time 20-game winner including three years in a row (1991-1993). Tom Glavine was often overshadowed by Greg Maddux but his achievements were outstanding nonetheless.
Ok...so these were players that just missed the cut. I am sure that some people will disagree and that's the fun part of these lists when there will always be differences of opinion. There are also many other current pitchers that I could have included like Madison Bumgarner, Max Sherzer, C.C. Sabbathia, or Justin Verlander, but I don't believe any of those guys are quite there yet. Anyways...without further ado...lets get to the list of Top 20 Pitchers of All-Time in Jason Voorhees Perspective.
And the same goes for putting Rivera on a top all-time list for pitchers. But not only is Mariano Rivera the greatest relief pitcher of all-time, but he also belongs right here with the top pitchers in MLB history. During his 19 year career as the Yankees closer, he was a 13-time All-Star, 5-time Rolaids Relief Man Award Winner, 3-time Delivery Man of the Year winner, 3-time MLB saves leader, 2003 ALCS MVP, and 1999 World Series MVP. He was a world class talent at the closer position and the author of one of the nastiest cutters the game has ever seen.
Not only did Rivera have Hall of Fame statistics...but he also had a penchant for helping his team win. In fact, he helped guide the New York Yankees to Five World Series titles, four of which came during their dynasty in the late 1990's. They won four titles in five years and Rivera had a lot do with those wins. His major league postseason statistics are legendary: 78 Appearances, 141 Innings Pitched, 8-1, 0.70ERA, 42 Saves, 1 Blown Save, 110K's, 21BB. That is some serious numbers folks.
Starter or no starter, what Mariano Rivera did in his career is nothing less than remarkable. He definitely belongs in the Top 20 and maybe someday he will be even higher on the list.
Ford missed two seasons earlier in his career due to military service and would have had even better stats. His regular season stats are not as good as many others on the list but he did most of his damage during the postseason where it counts. He still holds multiple World Series Records, most importantly 10 Career Wins. He also threw 33 consecutive scoreless innings in the World Series.
Overall Postseason Numbers look like this...22 Games Started, 10-8, 2.71ERA, 146 Innings, 7 Complete Games, 3 Shutouts, 94 K's, 34 BB's. Whitey Ford is the definition of a Big Game Pitcher. His performance on the big stage is what places him at #19 on the list.
During his 17 year career he was an eight-time 20-game winner which included four years in a row (1902-1905). He was a 2x MVP and 2x World Champ. His other statistics are amazing in itself but the 410 complete games puts him far ahead of the nearest competition. Eddie is definitely a gamer and deserves to be on the list!
Otherwise known as "Cleveland", Grover was an extremely dependable starter that posted consistent top end stats during his entire career. He won the triple crown of pitching four times during his illustrious career. The Cy Young Award was not yet in existence during his time; but had it been around he would have qualified eight times and would have had a great shot at winning it all eight times. This was dominance at its peak.
For as good as Grover was, he only made the postseason three times but he did win a championship with the Saint Louis Cardinals in 1926. Cleveland lead the NL in wins six times (each with 27 wins or more, including three 30-win seasons). He also won five ERA titles and lead the league in strikeouts six times. In essence, he was the greatest pitcher of his time and definitely one of the all-time greats.
Clayton's best season came in 2014 when he went 21-3 with a 1.77ERA and throwing 239 Strikeouts and only 31 walks. At this point in his career he has a tremendous 4.24 Strikeout to Walk ratio. He is definitely one of the greatest pitchers of his generation and that is why he cracks the list. He still has some work to do, but has been one of the most consistent starters the past ten years. He is the active career leader with a 2.39ERA as well as 1.00 WHIP, 6.62 hits per nine innings and 15 career shutouts. He is second all-time with an adjusted 159 career ERA+.
Unfortunately, Perry played on some very bad teams and only had one postseason appearance. He bounced around a lot during his career and played for nine teams. He did win his second Cy Young Award at the ripe old age of 39 with the San Diego Padres. That season he finished 21-6 while posting a 2.73ERA, 260.2Innings, 154K's and only 66 walks. Perry had five 20-win seasons during his career. His best season came in 1972 with the Indians when he went 24-16 with a miniscule 1.92ERA , 29 Complete Games, 5 Shutouts, 234K's and 82 Walks. Perry is a member of the Hall of Fame and lands at #15 on our list.
From 1947-1954, he finished in the top 5 for MVP voting in the National League. He won the Cy Young Award in 1957 and finished as the runner up in 1958, 1960 and 1961. Spahn was one of the top control pitchers in history and won the ERA title three times in his 21 year career. He was one of the most consistent pitchers of his day and produced as a front line starter in three decades. His 63 shutouts is sixth all-time and he has more wins than any pitcher of the live-ball era.
One of the most dominant left handers of all time, Lefty led the American League in strikeouts in each of his first seven seasons. He also won five ERA titles in those first eight seasons. After leaving Philly, he went on to win four more ERA crowns with the Boston Red Sox. So that's nine ERA titles in 17 years, over half his career. That is a sick statistic and shows how dominant Grove was. Of course they did not have the Cy Young Award during that time, but he probably would have won at least nine of those as well!
His best season came in 1931, when he went 31-4 while posting a 2.06ERA, 175K's, 62BB's, and 1.07WHIP, all enroute to an MVP Award. He won two pitching triple crowns during his career and lead the Athletics to three consecutive World Series appearances where they won two. In three postseason appearances, Lefty went 4-2 with a 1.75ERA, 51.1 Innings Pitched, 4 Complete Games, 36 Strikeouts and only six walks. Two World Championships and a World Series MVP Award. Grove was also a six time all star and MVP. The definition of dominance and the first greatest lefty.
The awards only show a small sample size of Sandy's dominance on the mound. Koufax was unhittable literally as he tossed four career no hitters, second all-time to Nolan Ryan and also pitched a perfect game in 1965. Along with his MVP award, he also finished as the MVP runner up two other times. He is only one of four pitchers to retire with more strikeouts than innings pitched and posted a 9.27 Strikeout Rate per nine innings which ranks 11th all-time. If not for the career ending elbow injury that cut his career short at age 30, Koufax probably would have been the best all-time if you projected his numbers out through a full career.
Sandy Koufax was brilliant in the postseason as well. 4 World Series Appearances, 3 World Series Championships, 2 World Series MVP Trophies, 4-3 Record, 0.95ERA, 4 Complete Games, 2 Shutouts, 57 Innings Pitched, 61 K's, and only 11 Walks. Now that's dominant Folks. Big game pitcher for a big game squad. One of the slam dunks for the Top 20.
Bob Gibson was so dominant that major league baseball changed the rules. He was absolutely unhittable for a long period of time. Prior to 1969, MLB lowered the pitching mound after 1968's "Year of the Pitcher." During that year Gibson posted a 22-9 Record, 1.12ERA, 28 Complete Games, 13 Shutouts, 304.2 Innings, 268 K's and only 62 Walks with a miniscule 0.85WHIP. Those are some serious numbers and Major League Baseball lowered the mound the next season...Talk about making a difference.
Gibson was the MVP winner in 1967 and went on to win two Cy Young awards along with a triple crown. He was also a nine-time All-Star. But his true stardom came in the postseason. Bob flexed his muscles even more in October. He had 3 World Series Appearances...Won 2 World Series and 2 World Series MVP Awards. During those World Series he was 7-2, 1.89ERA, 8 Complete Games, 2 Shutouts, 81 Innings Pitched, 92 Strikeouts, 17 Walks, 0.89WHIP, and 10.2 Strikeouts/per nine innings. That is legendary and makes Bob Gibson one of the greatest postseason pitchers as well.
In 1972 the Philadelphia Phillies won 59 games. Steve Carlton won 27 of those games as the Phillies ace. Steve Carlton, otherwise known as "Lefty", dazzled hitters for much of his 22 year career. He began his career in Saint Louis where he was a three time All-Star, but was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1972 after a 20-win season for the Cardinals. He went on to become the first pitcher ever to win four Cy Young Awards. Lefty shined after the trade and was known for his unhittable slider.
That first season for Carlton with the Phillies was magical. He posted a 12.0WAR which was the second highest single season WAR only bested later by Dwight Gooden's 12.2 in 1985. He went 27-10, while posting a 1.97ERA, 310 Strikeouts, 346 Innings pitched and 40 Complete Games. That season earned him the Cy Young award which he would go on to win three more. The 1972 season was the beginning of Carlton's stardom and he never looked back. 10 All Star Games, 4 Cy Young Awards, 1 World Series Championship later he was basking in the greatness of the Hall of Fame. Lefty was an unhittable force that dominated MLB for a long period of time and cemented himself as an all-time great.
He was traded to the Reds in 1977, and although he did not have the same success, he did manage to finish top three in the Cy Young voting three more times. Tom Seaver was one of the most consistent starters in the history of the game. He was the definition of a quality start. Every time he took the mound the team knew that they would be kept in the ball game. Seaver is seventh all time on the WAR list among pitchers. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1992 with a 98.84 Percent vote which stood as a record until 2016. Seaver is also seventh all-time in strikeouts. Mr. Met is an all-time great and comes in at #9 on the list.
Ryan never won a Cy Young award and only had eight all star appearances in 27 seasons of work. However, he did his damage when the chips were down. His 9.54 Strikeouts per nine innings ranks seventh all time. Moreover, he posted 6 300-Strikeout campaigns including a career high of 383 in 1973. He was also a shutout machine where he posted 61 in his career (tied for 7th all-time) with Tom Seaver. Ryan won 11 strikeout crowns and 2 ERA titles in his 27 seasons as well. Unfortunately, Ryan only won one world championship with the Mets as he played for some really bad teams the rest of his career. Nonetheless, Ryan makes the list due to his fierceness and competitive prowess.
Maddux began his career with the Cubs and quickly established himself as an upper echelon ace in the league. 1988 was his coming out party when he went 18-8 while posting a 3.18 ERA. He bested those numbers the next season going 19-12 and posting a 2.95 ERA. His best season came with the Braves in 1995 when he went 19-2 with a miniscule ERA of 1.63, while throwing 10 complete games and 3 shutouts.
All in all, Maddux won four ERA titles, while leading the NL in ERA five times. He ranks eighth all-time in wins with 355 which is more than any other pitcher that pitched after 1965. Maddux was the complete package. He wasn't overpowering but knew how to get the job done and the results speak for themselves. He lead the Braves to 10 straight division championships and a World Series title in 1995. Maddux is the epitome of consistency and one could argue that he is the greatest of all-time...he was that good.
Clemens is a 7-time Cy Young Award winner, MVP winner, and 2-time triple crown winner. Not to mention a six-time 20-game winner, including a his 24-4 season in 1986. That season he posted a 2.48 ERA in 254 innings, 238 Strikeouts and only 67 walks, while winning the Cy Young and MVP awards. Not including his seven Cy Young Awards, he also finished second for another Cy Young Award in 1990 when he posted a 21-6 record with a 1.93 ERA.
His postseason numbers were also off the charts. He finished with a 12-8 record, 3.75 ERA, 199 Innings Pitched, 173 Strikeouts, 70 Walks, 1 Complete Game and 1 Shutout and of course a world series championship with the New York Yankees. He was also an 11-time All-Star. Clemens is third all-time in strikeouts only behind Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson. He is ninth all-time in wins. And as mentioned...7 Cy Young Awards is tops all-time and shows the dominance that "The Rocket" displayed over three decades. Despite being forever linked to the black cloud of steroids...Roger Clemens remains one of the all-time greatest pitchers of all-time.
He lead the Giants to a championship in 1905 at 24 years old. His postseason numbers were also ridiculous when it comes to runs allowed. He was 5-5, with a 0.97 ERA, 10 Complete Games, 4 Shutouts, 101.2 Innings Pitched, 48 Strikeouts and only 10 Walks. Mathewson was a gamer that consistently lead the league in all pitching categories. If the Cy Young Award was in existence he projected to win ten of those which definitely would have made him the best ever.
On top of his hardware that he did win, he also finished top 3 in 1998, 2002 and 2003. In 2001, he finished with 163 Strikeouts in only 116.2 Innings despite a torn rotator cuff injury. During the seven year peak, he averaged 11.26 Strikeouts per nine innings and almost 6 strikeouts per walk while posting a minute 2.20 ERA. Pedro was unhittable at times and stymied hitters despite his extremely small frame. He was an 8-time All-Star and just missed an MVP award in 1999.
Pedro was just as dominant in the postseason. In 1999, he had a 17 inning scoreless innings streak. He also went at least six innings in thirteen of his sixteen postseason starts. He finally won a World Series in 2004 with the Boston Red Sox. In game 3, he went seven scoreless innings with 6 Strikeouts and 2 walks. Pedro only played 18 seasons and retired after the 2009 season. Martinez slowed down at the end of his career but that dominant seven year period earns him #4 on the list.
Cy Young set the bar and standard for every guy that appears on this list. He was consistent for a very long period of time. His best season was in 1892 where he was 36-12 while posting a 1.93 ERA, 168 Strikeouts, 48 Complete Games and 9 Shutouts. He also won the triple crown of pitching. Cy Young was a dominant force on the mound and has the lifetime numbers to prove it. Not much more that we can say about the guy as evidenced by the best pitching award that bears his name.
Johnson began his career with the Expos and was traded to the Seattle Mariners after his first season. He won his first Cy Young award with the Mariners in 1995 at age 31. He went 18-2 with a 2.48 ERA and 294 Strikeouts. He went on to win four more Cy Young Awards including 2002 at age 38. Johnson also was a ten-time All-Star over a career that spanned three decades.
The best work on his resume came during his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks where he won a World Series Championship in 2001. He was also the World Series MVP as the Diamondbacks upset baseball's goliath New York Yankees. Playing the role of David, Johnson went 3-0 while posting a microscopic 1.04 ERA in 17.1 innings of work. He struck out 17 and only walked 3 while also throwing a complete game shutout. His overall postseason work was marred by a few seasons where he had ERA's that were ballooned by a few bad starts. With that being said, that 2001 postseason run was one of the greatest for a starting pitcher that MLB has ever saw.
Walter Johnson did not have much postseason experience as he played on some very bad teams. However, he was able to enjoy some postseason success at the end of his career. His final numbers in October included a 3-3 record, 2.52 ERA, 5 Complete Games, 1 Shutout over 50 innings pitched. He struck out 35 while walking 15. His team finally won the World Series in 1924. Speaking of hardware...Johnson was a 2x MVP. Had the Cy Young Award been in existence he would have won at least thirteen which would have been tops ever. He finished his career third all-time in WAR at 165.2.
He finished 14 seasons in the Top Ten in Wins and ERA. That's an amazing accomplishment in its own right. Then to top that off he enjoyed 18 seasons in the Top Ten in strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings. Those dominant numbers over a consistent long period of time are what puts "The Big Train" at #1 on our list. He was simply incredible and rounds out the top all-time list of pitchers.