The history of baseball has a long list of great teams, great moments, and, more importantly, great players that have helped the game grow into what it is today. Throughout baseball’s history, the pitcher position has been one of the most important positions on the field from its beginning to modern-day baseball as well as in Major League Baseball. A dominant pitcher can slow down an opposing lineup while restricting the runs needed to win the game.
The long-time great Christy Mathewson headlines the list of the best pitchers of all time. Mathewson pitched to an unbelievable earned run average over 4,700 plus innings of work. Others on the list include MLB Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez, Jim Palmer, Greg Maddux, Bob Gibson, and Sandy Koufax.
With further ado, here is a look at the 10 best pitchers, loaded with yesteryear’s pitchers and a few that are currently building on their MLB Hall of Fame careers.
10 Best Pitchers of All Time
1. Christy Mathewson – Cincinnati Reds (1916)
- Previous Teams: New York Giants (1900-1916)
- Career Record: 373-188
- Career Post Season Record: 5-5
- Career ERA: 2.13
- Career Post-Season ERA: .97
Christy Mathewson is number 1 on the best pitchers of all-time list. The long-time member of the New York Giants was as dominant as any starter in the history of baseball and played during a time when pitchers pitched nearly every game for their respective teams.
Over his career Mathewson racked up 373 career wins to go along with a 2.13 career earned run average.
His success on the mound over his career included throwing two no-hitters and two pitching triple crowns while leading the league in wins four times, strikeouts five times, and ERA five times.
2. Pedro Martinez – Philadelphia Phillies (2009)
- Previous Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers (1992-1993), Montreal Expos (1994-1997), Boston Red Sox (1998-2004), New York Mets (2005-2008), and
- Career Record: 219-100
- Career Post Season Record: 6-4
- Career ERA: 2.93
- Career Post-Season ERA: 3.46
It’s hard not to include MLB Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez atop the best pitchers of all-time list. Martinez, who helped the Boston Red Sox win the World Series in 2004, was as great a pitcher as any.
Over his career, the future MLB Hall of Famer pitched to a 219-100 record while recording a 2.93 earned run average mark while playing during what is known as the steroid ERA of baseball.
In the end, Martinez would finish his career as an eight-time MLB All-Star and a three-time Cy Young Award winner while leading all of MLB in ERA in five different seasons.
3. Sandy Koufax – Los Angeles Dodgers (1958-1966)
- Previous Teams: Brooklyn Dodgers (1955-1957) and
- Career Record: 165-87
- Career Post Season Record: 4-3
- Career ERA: 2.76
- Career Post-Season ERA: .95
Another dominating pitcher of his ERA is the long-time Brooklyn Dodgers and Los Angeles Dodgers great Sandy Koufax.
Koufax was one of the best pitchers in baseball between the mid-1950s and mid-1960s before retiring after the 1966 MLB season.
During his career, the Dodgers great pitcher was named to seven All-Star teams while leading the Dodgers to four World Series titles, including winning the World Series MVP in 1963 and 1965.
In addition to those accolades, Koufax finished his career with four no-hitters, one perfect game, three pitching triple crowns, and the 1963 MVP award.
4. Bob Gibson – St. Louis Cardinals (1959-1975)
- Career Record: 251-174
- Career Post Season Record: 7-2
- Career ERA: 2.91
- Career Post-Season ERA: 1.89
If you are looking for a big game style pitcher Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals was the man for the job as he pitched to a career 7-2 record as the Cardinals won two of the three World Series with him on the team.
Over the three World Series, Gibson posted a career 7-2 record to go along with a 1.89 ERA while winning the World Series MVP in the 1964 and 1967 seasons.
The long-time Cardinals great ranks among the best pitchers and the best post-season pitchers of all time.
In addition to those numbers, Gibson finished his career with 251 career wins, won nine Gold Glove Awards, two Cy Young Awards, and was named to the All-Star team nine times over his career.
5. Greg Maddux – San Diego Padres (2007-2008)
- Former Teams: Chicago Cubs (1986-1992), Atlanta Braves (1993-2003), Chicago Cubs (2004-2006), Los Angeles Dodgers (2006, 2008) and
- Career Record: 355-227
- Career Post Season Record: 11-14
- Career ERA: 3.16
- Career Post-Season ERA: 3.27
In at number five on the 10 Best Pitchers of All Time is long-time Atlanta Braves ace and MLB great Greg Maddux.
Maddux, who spent his career with the Braves, the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Diego Padres, was fantastic during his prime years despite pitching during the steroid era of Major League Baseball.
Over his career, Maddux would win one World Series Championship with the Braves during the 1995 MLB season and lead the Braves to nine straight post-seasons from 1995 to 2003. In addition, Maddux is the only pitcher in MLB history to win at least 15 games in 17 straight seasons.
Maddux’s Hall of Fame resume includes 4 straight NL Cy Young Awards and 18 Gold Glove Awards while being named to eight NL All-Star teams.
6. Jim Palmer – Baltimore Orioles (1965-1984)
- Career Record: 268-152
- Career Post Season Record: 8-3
- Career ERA: 2.86
- Career Post-Season ERA: 2.61
One oft-overlooked greatest pitcher of all time is the long-time Baltimore Orioles great and Hall of Famer pitcher Jim Palmer.
Palmer pitched in three different decades, starting his career in 1965 and finishing up in 1984 while also winning a World Series in each decade (the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s).
Along the way, the Orioles’ greatest pitcher posted 268 career wins and a 2.86 ERA. In addition, Palmer pitched to an 8-3 record during the MLB post-season while helping the Orioles win 1966, 1970, and 1983 World Series.
Palmer, who was inducted into the baseball of Hall of Fame in 1990, won three AL Cy Young Awards, four Gold Glove Awards and was named to six AL All-Star teams.
7. Cy Young – Boston Rustlers (1911)
- Former Teams: Cleveland Spiders (1890-1898), St. Louis Perfectos/Cardinals (1899-1900), Boston Americans/Red Sox (1901-1908), Cleveland Naps (1909-1911)
- Career Record: 511-315
- Career Post Season Record: 2-3
- Career ERA: 2.63
- Career Post-Season ERA: 2.36
When the best pitching award in all of baseball is named after you, it is easy to understand why you are considered one of the greatest pitchers of all time.
That is the case for Cy Young, who still holds a long list of records that may never be broken, including winning 511 games, pitching 7,356 innings, not allowing a hit in 25 1/3 straight innings, and starting 815 career games.
Over his career, Young helped lead the Boston Red Sox to the 1903 World Series Championships. In addition, Young finished his career with three no-hitters and one perfect game while taking home the 1901 pitching triple crown while leading all pitchers in wins, strikeouts, and ERA.
8. Randy Johnson – San Francisco Giants (2009)
- Former Teams: Montreal Expos (1988-1989), Seattle Mariners (1989-1998), Houston Astros (1998), Arizona Diamondbacks (1999-2004, 2007-2008), New York Yankees (2005-2006)
- Career Record: 303-166
- Career Post Season Record: 7-9
- Career ERA: 3.29
- Career Post-Season ERA: 3.50
One of the most dominating left-handed pitchers of his generation, the Big Unit Randy Johnson was one of the most dominating pitchers of the 1990s and early 2000s.
Johnson, who was elected to the MLB Hall of Fame in 2015, finished his career as one of five left-handed pitchers to record at least 300 wins (303).
In addition to the 303 wins, Johnson was named to 10 MLB All-Star teams, won five Cy Young Awards, including four straight awards from 1999 to 2002, and won the World Series MVP in 2001.
Other achievements in his long list of accolades over his career include one no-hitter, one perfect game, and leading the league in strikeouts in nine seasons.
Also read: Randy Johnson hits bird
9. Walter Johnson – Washington Senators (1907-1927)
- Career Record: 417-279
- Career Post Season Record: 3-3
- Career ERA: 2.17
- Career Post-Season ERA: 2.52
Walter Johnson, the long-time Washington Senators pitcher, finished his career with 417 career wins versus 279 losses while appearing in 802 games.
Johnson, who spent his entire baseball career with the Senators, would help lead the team to the 1924 World Series title while taking home the second of his two AL MVP awards during that season. When his career was over, Johnson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.
Over his career, Johnson took home the pitchers triple crown in three different seasons, led the league in strikeouts in 12 different seasons, and pitched one no-hitter.
10. Roger Clemens – Houston Astros (2004-2006)
- Former Teams: Boston Red Sox (1984-1996), Toronto Blue Jays (1997-1998), New York Yankees (1999-2003, 2007)
- Career Record: 354-184
- Career Post Season Record: 12-8
- Career ERA: 3.12
- Career Post-Season ERA: 3.75
Whether you believe he did steroids or not, no one can say for sure, as no actual proof was ever determined.
That said, it is hard not to include Roger Clemens on the list of the best pitchers of all time based on his accomplishments on the field.
Clemens would finish his career with a 354-184 record to go along with a career 3.12 ERA. The 11-time MLB All-Star would finish his career with seven Cy Young Awards, two World Series Championships, one AL MVP Award, and two games, posting 20 strikeouts across nine innings.
Other notable pitchers who just missed out on the 10 best pitchers of all time list include Clayton Kershaw, Tom Seaver, Left Grove, Justin Verlander, and Nolan Ryan.