The Best Pitcher Ever is?
Who is the best pitcher of all-time?Â This is a difficult question to answer due to the vast changes in the game over the past century.Â For the purpose of this exercise, relief pitchers, such as Mariano Rivera, have been eliminated from contention to increase the value of innings.Â Meanwhile, qualifiers must have played for a minimum of ten seasons and compiled at least two thousand innings pitched.Â Longevity is a significant component in the process but simply accumulating numbers to bolster a pitching resume will not count for everything.
In the present era, the statistical value of wins has become less important when evaluating the overall dominance of a pitcher.Â However, this numerical criterion should not be totally eliminated while determining the best pitcher of all-time.Â After each season, the award presented to the most outstanding pitcher in the American and National Leagues is named after the immortal, Denton True â€œCyâ€ Young.Â Unequivocally, the legendary right-hander is the greatest statistical compiler in the history of baseball.Â 511-wins.Â It is a preposterous career win total that should not be understated.Â Young collected ninety-four more wins (22.5%) than any other pitcher in history. This is the safest record in the history of organized baseball.
However, the role of the pitcher has evolved considerably over time.Â Young, along with most of his contemporaries, started every third game and completed the majority of their starts.Â In the present day, starting pitchers work in a five-man rotation closely monitored on strict pitch counts and rarely completes games.Â In essence, the combination of less starts and complete games equals fewer victories and innings pitched for a pitcher during their career.Â To illustrate, Cy Young started a record 815 games during his twenty-two year career and completed an astonishing 749 of those contests.Â Over the past five years, Major League Baseball pitchers have tossed fewer complete games combined than Young hurled during his entire career.
Strikeouts are an important indicator of the overall dominance of any pitcher but they should not be overvalued when determining their place in history.Â However, the ratio of strikeouts to walks (K/BB) is more valuable when rating the greatest of all-time.Â This measure compares power versus precision in relation to their effectiveness on the mound.Â Similarly, the modern hitter strikes out at a higher rate than a player in the early twentieth century.Â As a result, the majority of career strikeout and K/BB leaders have pitched during the past three decades.
The following statistics were used to determine the best pitcher of all-time based on the career total rankings of seven pitching categories.Â Adjusted ERA+, WHIP (base runners per inning), K/BB, Innings Pitched, Strikeouts, Wins, and Winning percentage.Â These statistics measure controlled factors such as strikeouts and walks but also include longevity, durability, era, and ballpark effect.
Here is a sample of twenty-six pitchers in baseball history.Â The group contains every 300-game winner plus two other extraordinary hurlers.Â Each pitcher was assigned points according to their rank in all seven categories.Â The highest possible total is 182 points (26 pitchers multiplied by 7 categories).
The metrics show that Pedro Martinez is the best pitcher of all-time based on his ERA+, WHIP, K/BB, and W%. Â HisÂ low win total and innings pitched are a product of the modern pitching era, injuries, and longevity compared to Â other pitchers quantified in the analysis.Â Meanwhile, Sandy Koufax has been regarded as one of the greatest pitchers Â in history despite retiring prematurely.Â However, his lifetime pitching totals and ratios fail in comparison to those of Â Martinez.
Nolan Ryan is unquestionably the most dominant pitcher in history.Â He compiled 5714 strikeouts, authored seven no-hitters, and held opponents to the lowest batting average (.204) during his brilliant twenty-seven year career.Â Undeniably, these are untouchable pitching records.Â However, his lifetime .526 winning percentage and record, 2795 bases on balls (2.04 K/BB), eliminates him from the discussion.Â Conversely, the most surprising statistical finding is the placement of Don Sutton.Â Nearly every baseball expert would agree that Sutton is not the tenth best pitcher in history but simply an anomaly within the context of this breakdown.
The remarkable Christy â€œBig Sixâ€ Mathewson compiled a 373-188 record over a stellar seventeen-year career.Â He won 20+ games, twelve consecutive seasons (1903-14), still an MLB-record.Â Meanwhile, Grover Alexander established an MLB-rookie record, 28 wins, in 1911 for the Philadelphia Phillies.Â Over the next nineteen seasons, â€œOld Peteâ€ collected the third most wins (373), tied with Mathewson, in baseball history.Â Despite their amazing careers, only one pitcher can hold the title as Best Pitcher Ever.
Walter Johnson is the greatest pitcher of all-time based on the combination of metrics, longevity, dominance, and career statistical totals (144 points accumulated on the seven category scale).Â Despite the greatness of Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, and Greg Maddux in the modern hitter friendly/PED era, the undeniable greatness of Johnson is the epitome of pitching excellence.Â The right-hander tossed an astounding 110-shutouts during his twenty-one year career for the Washington Senators.Â Incredibly, of his 417 wins, 26.4% of them were complete-game shutouts.Â Johnson allowed only 9.55 base runners per nine innings and logged nearly six thousand innings pitched.Â With all due respect, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Grover Alexander, and every other pitcher in history must follow the lead of the â€œBig Trainâ€.
There is a very prominent pitcher excluded from this ranking, Leroy Satchel Paige.Â The legendary Negro League hurler spent the majority of his career barred from MLB competition for segregation purposes.Â From most accounts, Paige might have been the greatest pitcher in history.Â At 59, he pitched three-scoreless innings for the Kansas City Athletics in 1965.Â His unmatched longevity, tremendous control, and passion for the game might have challenged Cy Youngâ€™s inconceivable 511-win total.Â Unfortunately, his excellence on the mound will never show up in the MLB record book.Â Therefore, Walter Johnson is deemed the Best Pitcher Ever according to this ranking method.