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View Full Version : O/T Best Starting pitcher of all time.


GrayGhost
09-07-2011, 07:46 PM
Ok, a poll for everyone. who do you think is the best starting pitcher of all time in MLB? I have eight choices, covering mainly the old days, but one notable recent dominant pitcher.

Thanks. should be fun:) Feel free to discuss, esp if you vote "someone else"

For me, its Matty. I read his stats, and of course what a big game pitcher he was at times, not to mention the "golden boy" of his time.

joeadcock
09-07-2011, 07:59 PM
The Train

sflayank
09-07-2011, 08:00 PM
depends on whether youre talking long career short time or 1 year
the best longtime would be johnson over 100 shutouts
for 4 years koufax was the best 97-27 era under 2
for 1 season ron guidry 1978 25-3

sbfinley
09-07-2011, 08:01 PM
I have to give the vote to the best pitcher I have ever watched in person - Greg Maddux.

You could place him in any era and he would still win 18-20 games. He probably had the best knowledge of the physics game of anyone in the history of the sport.

sando69
09-07-2011, 08:03 PM
altho koufax was the best that i ever witnessed...
i think there's a very good reason it's called the "cy young award!"

rainier2004
09-07-2011, 08:13 PM
I was always partial to Mr Nolan Ryan. He had a look...

FrankWakefield
09-07-2011, 09:14 PM
Mr. Koufax was dominant the last half of his career. Mr. Gibson, not on the list, was truly dominant in 1968.

One of those choices happens to be the one pitcher with the most wins among those who never won the Cy Young award...

The first half of my life I would have thought it would be Christy Mathewson.

Having read the book about Walter Johnson that was well written by his grandson, I'm satisfied that The Big Train would be the man to start that Field of Dreams game for me, if I were allowed to manage.

jcmtiger
09-07-2011, 09:30 PM
For one season 1968, has to be Denny Mclain - 31-6, Cy Young and MVP , and Bob Gibson certainly should be on the list. He also won the Cy Young and MVP for the NL in 1968.

Joe

tbob
09-07-2011, 10:01 PM
For one season 1968, has to be Denny Mclain - 31-6, Cy Young and MVP , and Bob Gibson certainly should be on the list. He also won the Cy Young and MVP for the NL in 1968.

Joe


Close but no cigar. Smokey Joe Wood went 34-5 and won 3 World Series games in 1912 and arguably had the best year of any pitcher ever for one season.

GrayGhost
09-07-2011, 10:10 PM
Great so far. I was trying to avoid just "best single season" this time.

Robextend
09-07-2011, 10:11 PM
Honorable mention as well to Three Finger Brown in 1906:

26-6 with a 1.04 ERA...wow

I voted for "someone else". That someone else being Rube Waddell (big surprise), although he really goes into the category of "what might have been". Career 2.16 ERA, and his strikeout numbers at that time were unheard of (349 in 1904).

t206hof
09-07-2011, 10:15 PM
The Train and Matty. Their really isn't anyone close to those two in my opinion. I believe 3 Finger Brown should be on your list also. Thanks.

bigtrain
09-07-2011, 10:25 PM
On this date in 1908, Walter Johnson pitched his third shutout in four days against the New York Highlanders. 110 shutouts - an unbreakable record. He gets my vote.

BearBailey
09-07-2011, 10:31 PM
Someone Else: Greg Maddux

bobbyw8469
09-07-2011, 10:46 PM
Whitey Ford?

kkkkandp
09-07-2011, 10:51 PM
I think this is a very tough call, but I'd pick The Big Train by a nose over Cy Young.

bbcard1
09-07-2011, 10:54 PM
You know Rapid Robert Feller may not be the best of all time, but he certainly has a seat at the table. Lost peak seasons to the war and played in an era of monster hitters.

chris6net
09-07-2011, 11:15 PM
I would vote for Tom Terrific! He carried the Mets for over a decade. This is a little off topic but my vote for best pitching coach would be Rube Walker. If you look at all the young pitchers he developed and their longetivity it is a testimony to him.
Seaver,Ryan,Koosman,Matlack,McGraw all say that Walker taught them how to pitch while using their legs rather than their arms as the point where they got their pitching velocity and had less stress on their pitching arms giving them the longevity not since much recently by hard throwers. CN

packs
09-07-2011, 11:17 PM
Have to throw Randy Johnson into this discussion. Very overlooked and its unfortunate. In his prime, 1995-2002 Johnson went 143-44 with a 2.61 ERA with 2416 K's in 1763 IP. Mind you, this domination occurred in the midst of the steroid era and Johnson won 5 Cy Youngs, including a stretch of 4 in a row.

Unbelievable.

FrankWakefield
09-07-2011, 11:44 PM
McClain had a good year in 1968, but the Tigers won many of those 31 games for him. Gibson was dominant, with minimal run support.
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blackhistory2008/columns/story?page=keri/080221
Gibson's 22 wins are obviously fewer than McLain's.. In his 9 losses the Cards scored 12 runs. He only gave up 27 runs in the 9 losses. Twice he lost by 1-0 scores, once by 2-0. He won 4 1-0 games. In 13 of his wins the Cards scored 3 runs or less.

Dad went to game 1 of the WS that year, you guys post much more about McLain and I'll dig out his game 1 ticket stub... even today, watching the old video of that game 1, Gibson looked like a man pitching to little leaguers. I recall who won the Series overall, I got to go to game 6 and had tears in my eyes as a kid during that long 2nd inning. '06 was vindication.

In reading Mr. Thomas' book about Walter Johnson, and as much of a Gibson fan as I am, I'm satisfied that Johnson's 1.14 ERA season would have been even better had Johnson not allowed some runs in a regular season game that was jokingly played at the end of the season.

Truth is that Johnson, Mathewson, Waddell, Young, Brown, and others were powerfull. Can't imagine standing in against Wood or Grove would have been much fun, either.

brickyardkennedy
09-07-2011, 11:50 PM
Walter Johnson

TexasLeaguer
09-08-2011, 12:22 AM
I voted for Cy Young... but I am tempted to say Babe Ruth, who is easily the best player ever.

slidekellyslide
09-08-2011, 12:43 AM
It makes me sad that Grover Cleveland Alexander didn't even make the list.

373 wins
2.56 ERA
90 Career Shutouts
Three 30 win seasons in a row (1915-17)

rdixon1208
09-08-2011, 08:24 AM
Greg Maddux.

old13man
09-08-2011, 08:29 AM
Walter Johnson. He accomplished quite a bit without a decent lineup behind him for most of his career.

Peter_Spaeth
09-08-2011, 08:31 AM
It makes me sad that Grover Cleveland Alexander didn't even make the list.

373 wins
2.56 ERA
90 Career Shutouts
Three 30 win seasons in a row (1915-17)

+1
His baseball reference numbers


Black Ink Pitching - 126 (2), Average HOFer ≈ 40

Gray Ink Pitching - 339 (5), Average HOFer ≈ 185

Hall of Fame Monitor Pitching - 257 (9), Likely HOFer ≈ 100

Hall of Fame Standards Pitching - 77 (4), Average HOFer ≈ 50

Peter_Spaeth
09-08-2011, 08:36 AM
Single seasons you have to mention Steve Carlton 1972 (27 wins for a last place team) and Pedro Martinez 2000 (1.74 ERA in an age where that is essentially impossible).

pitchernut
09-08-2011, 09:09 AM
In their prime, I'd pick Randy the "Big Unit" Johnson.

GrayGhost
09-08-2011, 10:10 AM
I figured by limiting it, ID leave off someone. Ol Pete could have been there for sure. Well, right now, The Train is in the lead. not too surprised.

71buc
09-08-2011, 10:37 AM
I am old school about many things but this discussion isn't one of them. I would have to go with Ryan or Maddux as well. I discount the statistics of the first four on your list due to the fact they played under Jim Crow. I feel that way about all statistics pre 1947. How can you accurately measure greatness when access to the stage is limited? Can you imagine the dominance of Ryan, Randy Johnson, Maddux, Carlton, Seaver in a world where their didn't have to compete against the likes of Mays, Aaron, Robinson, Clemente, and others who would not have been permitted to take the field during Mathewson's and Johnson's time?

I am pleasantly surprised that Clemens appears nowhere on this list. I would hope that Barry Bonds would also be dismissed from any discussion regarding the greatest hitters.

prewarsports
09-08-2011, 10:49 AM
Walter Johnson hands down. The only pre-war pitcher even close would have been Lefty Grove had Baltimore not refused to sell him for about 5 years of his prime. If he averages 25 wins a year (which would have been easy for him) we would be talking about Grove with 400+ wins.

Modern era, Randy Johnson was absolutely dominant. I have never seen anything like the Big Unit personally. Completely underappreciated considering he was pitching against all the juicers!

Bambino
09-08-2011, 10:50 AM
In my lifetime, Pedro Martinez. All time, I'd choose Sandy Koufax.

71buc
09-08-2011, 11:22 AM
Walter Johnson hands down. The only pre-war pitcher even close would have been Lefty Grove had Baltimore not refused to sell him for about 5 years of his prime. If he averages 25 wins a year (which would have been easy for him) we would be talking about Grove with 400+ wins.

Modern era, Randy Johnson was absolutely dominant. I have never seen anything like the Big Unit personally. Completely underappreciated considering he was pitching against all the juicers!

I live in the Northwest and sat near the Mariner bullpen during game 5 of the 1995 League Division Series. I'll never forget the electricity generated by Randy warming up and entering the game as Welcome to the Jungle blared. Wow it still gives me chills. Priceless....

100backstroke
09-08-2011, 11:33 AM
Sneaky underrated, not flashy, but boy, could sure get the job done - will eventually get his name on the "best of all time" list .... Greg Maddux.

Also underrated (if that is possible) - lost HUGE prime years to war ... Bob Feller.

Walter Johnson & Matty are epic great I know, but they did not have to "bring it" and bust a gut on every pitch like they have to do nowadays. The stats they compiled would still be awesome, just not to the stature you see on the stats page. Could you imagine a pitcher today laying off on a few pitches to save themselves for when they really neded it - they wouyld get busted up.

Babe Ruth beat Walter Johnson in 1915/16 on 5 consecutive decisions - yes you read that right - 5 consecutive decisions.

When "on' the best stuff was probably Ryan or Koufax.

nsaddict
09-08-2011, 11:41 AM
Great variety of opinions, but so many variables come into play here. One poster mentioned not to include the first 4 as they played long ago. But notice no pitcher is dominating in the polls post 40s, "someone else" has the most votes divided between several. No doubt Koufax was totally dominant for 5 years and that was good enough to get him into the Hall but only dazzled for a short period. Cy Young's record of wins will never be closely challenged and the award is named after him. In my opinion he was a very good pitcher but not great. His career stats are more based on him being an incredible workhorse. My vote went to Johnson as I believe he is a cut above all others. Second in career wins for a team that struggled for many seasons,very low ERA and leader in career shutouts. Verlander should get the Walter Johnson award this year :)

100backstroke
09-08-2011, 12:33 PM
If I were starting a team and could choose any starting pitcher in their rookie year thru end of career....

Satchell Paige

ephus
09-08-2011, 12:46 PM
Close but no cigar. Smokey Joe Wood went 34-5 and won 3 World Series games in 1912 and arguably had the best year of any pitcher ever for one season.

I agree 100%.
Smokey Joe best pitching year ever.

Shoeless Moe
09-08-2011, 01:16 PM
J.R Richard - cut down at age 30, but possibly a 220/250 game winner if he stayed healthy, and.......................................left as a FA to NY Yankees(that would have helped his win total moreso then the 70's Astros).


Also he played 1/2 a season with Nolan Ryan b4 his issue, imagine seeing those 2 back to back as a hitter.

peterb69
09-08-2011, 01:26 PM
Johnson gets my vote

And yes drugs may have entered in his later years, but Roger Clemens was one hell of a pitcher.

Big Ben
09-08-2011, 02:28 PM
I'm a contrarian,:cool: so I voted for Lefty Grove. 9 ERA titles and a .680 winning percentage in an era that was dominated by outstanding hitting.

btcarfagno
09-08-2011, 02:45 PM
If we are talking about the best ever regardless of how long their prime lasted, I would have to go with Pedro Martinez. His prime only lasted about 13 years, but over that span I think that statistically he was the best of all time. Now...if we are adding longevity as a major factor I would personally go with the Big Train.

Tom C

SteveMitchell
09-08-2011, 03:13 PM
Great pitcher - better than Matty - with so-so support. Lots of personal difficulties and missed time to WWI.

Leon
09-08-2011, 03:29 PM
'Twas my vote and the Poll doesn't lie- The Big Train.

110 shutouts while playing for a fairly crappy team

Baseball-reference.com rates him as the #1 pitcher (black ink) of all time. Stats don't lie either.....

bobbyw8469
09-08-2011, 03:37 PM
Casey Stengel held Whitey back and only let him pitch against the cream of the crop. He never pitched against cream puffs. If he had, his win/loss record would have been through the roof.....

scmavl
09-08-2011, 04:11 PM
To paraphrase Smoky Joe Wood:

"Walter was the best of all time. He would've won a lot more games if he'd had a good club behind him."

jcmtiger
09-08-2011, 05:03 PM
I already posted my 1 year pitchers, McLain and Gibson, Overall Walter Johnson. And to the other posts Maddux no way.

Joe

oldjudge
09-08-2011, 05:28 PM
Also need to include Roger Clemens in the conversation. He has as many Cy Youngs as Cy has letters in his name.

forazzurri2axz
09-08-2011, 05:41 PM
when many of us are pushin up daisies, and someone poses the same question, a lot more people will say Greg Maddux--they'll remember him from THEIR youth and that he will have been a first round HOF ---and when they name the greatest pitching staff of all time, Maddux, Glavine , Smoltz and Avery!!!!

Shoeless Moe
09-08-2011, 05:41 PM
should get some love for his stats.

Averaged 30 wins a season for 11 years!!!! also averaging 44 complete games a year during that time frame!!! Average per year not total over 11 years, but 44 per year....insane!

Brendan
09-08-2011, 06:58 PM
For me, it's Cy Young hands down. I want the guy who is going to win games, not the guy with the flashy strikeout, shutout and ERA. Young has many more wins than Johnson and a better winning percentage. A great pitcher needs to win games even on a bad team.

slidekellyslide
09-08-2011, 07:14 PM
For me, it's Cy Young hands down. I want the guy who is going to win games, not the guy with the flashy strikeout, shutout and ERA. Young has many more wins than Johnson and a better winning percentage. A great pitcher needs to win games even on a bad team.

I disagree...a pitcher plays defense..he doesn't score runs. Nolan Ryan in 1987 led the league in ERA yet he still had 16 losses and only 8 wins. His team couldn't score runs...that's not Ryan's fault.

Brendan
09-08-2011, 07:20 PM
I disagree...a pitcher plays defense..he doesn't score runs. Nolan Ryan in 1987 led the league in ERA yet he still had 16 losses and only 8 wins. His team couldn't score runs...that's not Ryan's fault.
If your team doesn't score any runs, don't give up any runs. When you have a good lead, you're going to throw the ball over the plate. If you give up a couple runs, nobody cares. A great pitcher should be able to give up only one run if his team scores two. If his team scores ten, he can allow the other team to score a few. Please don't forget that pitchers did bat back then.

iwantitiwinit
09-08-2011, 07:21 PM
Bob Gibson - What a hardass/competitor what a pitcher should be, he had the pitches, the mind, the determination and the "balls". If I had to pick one guy to pitch one game I think he might be my guy.

slidekellyslide
09-08-2011, 07:54 PM
If your team doesn't score any runs, don't give up any runs. When you have a good lead, you're going to throw the ball over the plate. If you give up a couple runs, nobody cares. A great pitcher should be able to give up only one run if his team scores two. If his team scores ten, he can allow the other team to score a few. Please don't forget that pitchers did bat back then.

That doesn't make any sense to me...if you give up one run over 9 innings, but still lose 1-0 that doesn't qualify as a great pitching performance, but if you win the game 9-8 that qualifies??

In 1996 Roger Pavlik was 15-8 with a 5.18 ERA...do you believe that's a better season than Nolan Ryan's 1987 season?

ls7plus
09-08-2011, 08:03 PM
With corrections for prevailing era conditions, a dead heat between Walter Johnson and Lefty Grove--check out Grove's neutralized stats at www.baseball-reference.com. Put him in the National League in 1966, playing at Dodger Statdium, and virtually every one of his seasons looks as good or better than Koufax circa 1965-1966. Remember, Lefty pitched when the entire league hit .280 plus, and a good number of the stadiums were of the bandbox variety.

Nice thread,

Larry

FrankWakefield
09-08-2011, 09:12 PM
For Robert W... Casey wasn't the one holding Whitey back. Jim Turner did that. Casey picked the players and then asked Jim to give him a pitcher. Casey and Jim went back to Mudhen days before Jim ever reached the majors. Casey and Jim had been told by the owners to not let any of the pitchers get too many wins in a season, lest they try to use that as a reason to get more money during contract negotiation.

iwantitiwinit, you have me thinking that if it was just ONE game, and Mr. Gibson had fire in his eyes, he may well be my choice, too. But over a career, Walter Johnson is still tops for me.

Brendan
09-09-2011, 12:50 AM
That doesn't make any sense to me...if you give up one run over 9 innings, but still lose 1-0 that doesn't qualify as a great pitching performance, but if you win the game 9-8 that qualifies??

In 1996 Roger Pavlik was 15-8 with a 5.18 ERA...do you believe that's a better season than Nolan Ryan's 1987 season?

It doesn't make sense that the only thing a pitcher needs to do is give up less runs than his team scores?

cfc1909
09-09-2011, 08:58 AM
Nichols had a 10 year span that in each season he won more than 20 games and 7 seasons he won more than 30 games. I believe he has more 30 win seasons than any other pitcher in the history of the game. 9 of the 10 years he won more than 25 games-I would think that is pretty dominant in any era

cliftons8
09-09-2011, 09:53 AM
I really like Matty, but voted for Johnson. If you listen or read The Glory of Their Times, all of those guys talk about Walter Johnson as the greatest. I know there has been 50 years since that book was written, but his numbers say alot.
For a single season Hoss Radbourn had "Fifty Nine in 84"

Tabe
09-09-2011, 11:41 AM
Lots of great replies.

Bob Gibson, 1968 - Never ONCE knocked out of a game that year. Only times he was lifted were for pinch hitters. How incredible is that?

Pedro Martinez - Pedro's lack of durability kills his shot at greatest of all-time but his 2000 might be the best single year ever. 0.737 WHIP, 11.8K/9, and an ERA of 1.74 - when the next best ERA was 3.70! He was TWO RUNS BETTER than every other pitcher in the league. That's just unreal. Pedro's WHIP was the best of all-time. His ERA+ was the best in the post-1893 era.

For a career, I would probably go with Walter Johnson or Roger Clemens. Clemens was boosted by steroids, no question - but he was also pitching against roided up monsters. .658 win%, 6 20-win seasons, 7 Cy Young awards (should be 8), an MVP, and so on.

Tabe

slidekellyslide
09-09-2011, 11:54 AM
It doesn't make sense that the only thing a pitcher needs to do is give up less runs than his team scores?

So in a game you need to win you'd start 1996 Roger Pavlik over 1987 Nolan Ryan? Wins are nice, but they do not even begin to tell the story of how effective a pitcher is.

Robextend
09-09-2011, 12:04 PM
So in a game you need to win you'd start 1996 Roger Pavlik over 1987 Nolan Ryan? Wins are nice, but they do not even begin to tell the story of how effective a pitcher is.

+1

Wins should just be a part of the equation; to ignore the other components isn't logical.

Hankphenom
09-09-2011, 06:15 PM
You know where my vote went, but there should be more votes for Satchel Paige and Bob Feller.
Hank Thomas

ktimm
09-09-2011, 06:38 PM
Regardless of era pitched in, Walter Johnson followed closely by Christy Mathewson.

prewarsports
09-09-2011, 07:56 PM
Lets have a poll for the most overated pitcher of all time and I bet Sandy Koufax gets the same percentage of votes in that poll than the one we are participating in right now. He WAS Ron Guidry, their stats are basically identical but people would laugh at Guidry as the greatest of all time yet Koufax gets 10% of the vote? Just shows how much popularity plays into the equation. I know people will disagree BUT, the numbers dont lie, he and Guidry are eerily similar.

Jcfowler6
09-09-2011, 09:51 PM
Three cool dudes.

Writehooks
09-10-2011, 01:10 AM
If I had to give the ball to one guy, to win one game, I'd go off the board: Catfish Hunter.

Kenny Cole
09-10-2011, 01:24 AM
I don't remember Guidry pitching 4 no-hitters, including a perfect game, winning the pitching triple crown three times, or winning 3 Cy Youngs when only one was awarded. Nor did he have a 0.95 ERA in the post season. Guidry was a very good pitcher, but he was a far cry from being anywhere close to as dominant as Koufax.

Brendan
09-10-2011, 01:32 AM
So in a game you need to win you'd start 1996 Roger Pavlik over 1987 Nolan Ryan? Wins are nice, but they do not even begin to tell the story of how effective a pitcher is.
If Roger Pavlik will give me a win and Ryan won't then I'll take Pavlik all day long.
+1

Wins should just be a part of the equation; to ignore the other components isn't logical.
So you'd rather your favortie team has the league's lowest ERA than win the World Series? To think that anything but winning games is important isn't logical. Giving up only one run may be impressive, but when it comes down to it all that matters is winning the game.

Rotisserie baseball has ruined how people look at stats. If you play for a team which doesn't score many runs, your ERA is going to be lower than if you played for a team which scores a lot of runs. This is true in most cases.

Robextend
09-10-2011, 07:00 AM
If Roger Pavlik will give me a win and Ryan won't then I'll take Pavlik all day long.

So you'd rather your favortie team has the league's lowest ERA than win the World Series? To think that anything but winning games is important isn't logical. Giving up only one run may be impressive, but when it comes down to it all that matters is winning the game.

Rotisserie baseball has ruined how people look at stats. If you play for a team which doesn't score many runs, your ERA is going to be lower than if you played for a team which scores a lot of runs. This is true in most cases.

I think you are missing the point. The point is that if Roger Pavlik and Nolan Ryan got the same run support, Nolan Ryan would have many more wins.

bosoxfan
09-10-2011, 10:47 AM
If I had to give the ball to one guy, to win one game, I'd go off the board: Catfish Hunter.

Catfish was a great pitcher, but...

If my life depended on winning one game? Without hesitation, Pedro Martinez. Look at the era he pitched in, compare him to the rest of the league. It's not even close....

On a side note...

No disrespect to Nolan Ryan, but as good as he was at times, he was a .500 pitcher on .500 ball clubs. Did he really make his team better when he pitched?

prewarsports
09-10-2011, 11:20 AM
Career numbers do not lie.

Koufax and Guidry are almost the same guy. I wasn't talking about No-Hitters or the "the pitching triple crown" but you could get into the same arguments with Guidry as his best single season was better than Koufax's best single season and Guidry played in a much more hitter friendly League and Era than Koufax did.

Just going off the numbers Koufax gets a VERY slight edge in career stats but they are so very similar that if names were removed from the occasion and you just looked at numbers it is extremely close.

The point is that you can take 2 similar guys, one is the best ever in some people's eyes while the other gets not even a hint of a mention.

Kenny Cole
09-10-2011, 12:52 PM
Nor do career statistics tell the entire truth. Koufax and Guidry had similar career won-loss numbers, true. Koufax dominated in every other important pitching category, without nearly the same type of run support Guidry was getting, going up against the Gibsons and Marichals of the league. Almost .5 ERA lower, 600 more strikeouts in 2 less years, 14 more shutouts in 2 less years, a substantially better WHIP, and a league leader in every important pitching category far more often than Guidry. In the 5 years before he retired, Koufax was always in the top 5, most often 1st or 2nd. It isn't even close. Guidry never had that type of run. Guidry was a real good pitcher, but the fact that he achieved some similar won/loss numbers in two more years doesn't make him the same pitcher as Koufax.

There's a lot more to it than the final numbers. If career statistics "do not lie," then I suppose Eppa Rixey is basically the same pitcher as Bob Feller because they won the same number of games, had similar ERAs, and had similar WHIPs. Don Sutton and Steve Carlton, who pitched pretty much at the same time, had similar won/loss records and ERAs. Does that make Sutton the same pitcher as Carlton? Intuitively, I know that's not right.

Hankphenom
09-10-2011, 02:45 PM
Here's something I've always wondered about, but have never been enough of a stat guy to look into: Walter Johnson, for example, pitched most of his career with a very weak hitting team behind him, so for 1/7th of the games during that time, he never got to pitch against those relative weaklings in his league. Conversely, he never got a pass on some of the strongest hitters in his league by having them on his team. I'm sure there are other examples of this disparity among the other pitchers, some going the other way. For his time especially, when teams played each other 22 times a season, i would think this could have a serious impact on a pitcher's numbers, and maybe hitters, too. Think of this: Walter Johnson faced Ty Cobb 365 times in his career. In other words, Cobb had almost 2/3 of a season just against Johnson! If Cobb had been on Johnson's team, he never would have had to hit against him. And think of Lefty Grove: he never had to face three of the best hitters in his league during his prime: Foxx, Simmons, and Cochrane. And they never had to bat against him. Just wondering if any of the SABR type adjustments take this into account.
Hank Thomas

perezfan
09-10-2011, 06:43 PM
I voted for The Big Train...

But I was distressed to see no mention of Carl Hubbell at all. In three pages of posts, I would have thought his name would appear just once. Not that I read every word of every post...

But regardless of whether I missed it, seems like King Carl is one of the most overlooked/under-rated Pitchers of all-time...

Tabe
09-11-2011, 02:51 AM
So you'd rather your favortie team has the league's lowest ERA than win the World Series? To think that anything but winning games is important isn't logical. Giving up only one run may be impressive, but when it comes down to it all that matters is winning the game.
And that's why TEAMS are measured by wins but players are judged by their individual stats.

Do you seriously want Ray Oyler as your starting shortstop because his team won a World Series? Or Miguel Tejada, whose teams never even won a postseason series?

Tabe

Brendan
09-11-2011, 05:47 AM
And that's why TEAMS are measured by wins but players are judged by their individual stats.

Do you seriously want Ray Oyler as your starting shortstop because his team won a World Series? Or Miguel Tejada, whose teams never even won a postseason series?

Tabe

You're suggesting I believe that if A.J. Burnett gets a loss, it's CC Sabathia's fault. Of course not. :D But when a pitcher pitches, it's his job to win the game, whatever the circumstances are. I don't care if your ERA is two- if you can't consistently give up less runs then the other team scores then you aren't a good pitcher. Each day a pitcher goes out there his goal is to get a win for his team. Not pitch a shutout. Not keep his WHIP under 1. Sure, he wouldn't mind getting a shutout, but he knows as long as he keeps the other team under their score he's fine.

Sure, we can speculate that if a certain pitcher got more run support he would have gotten more wins. Thing is, he didn't. There's no way to know something that didn't happen.

By the way, right now I'd take Ray Oyler over Miguel Tejeda. (I know he's deceased)

edited to add- I'm talking about starting pitchers- not position players and relief pitchers.

slidekellyslide
09-11-2011, 01:12 PM
I voted for The Big Train...

But I was distressed to see no mention of Carl Hubbell at all. In three pages of posts, I would have thought his name would appear just once. Not that I read every word of every post...

But regardless of whether I missed it, seems like King Carl is one of the most overlooked/under-rated Pitchers of all-time...

Pitchers like Hubbell and Alexander who had one HUGE shining moment often get overlooked for their career because of that one moment...for Hubbell it was the AS game strikeouts and for Alexander it was the Lazzeri strikeout.

oldjudge
09-14-2011, 01:12 AM
While this thread is about the best starting pitcher ever, I thought I'd share this article from the Wall Street Journal about the man who might be the greatest pitcher ever:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904265504576569230092034092.html

Brendan
09-14-2011, 05:01 AM
While this thread is about the best starting pitcher ever, I thought I'd share this article from the Wall Street Journal about the man who might be the greatest pitcher ever:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904265504576569230092034092.html

Good article. There definitely is an argument that the Great Rivera (as Jon Miller calls him) is the best pitcher ever.

sycks22
09-14-2011, 08:30 AM
To those that said CY Young, he struck out a guy every 3rd inning, gave up the most hits / most losses. He's the Favre of baseball, some nice records, but when you throw a complete game every time out there you're bound to get some records. Don't get me wrong 511 wins is amazing, but over 300 losses is pretty bad.

martyogelvie
09-14-2011, 09:32 AM
I'm a sucker for stats so I picked Cy..

the best I ever saw would be Tom Terrific.. and having never seen the pre war guys its hard to get a feel for them vs simply looking at the stat line.

I love it when the subject of unbreakable records comes up and folks overlook CYs 511 wins.. I simply point out that a pitcher could win 20 games for 20 years in a row and still be 100 wins shy of CY.. that is the MOST unbreakable record IMO of any record in sports...

Vintageclout
09-14-2011, 11:46 AM
I typically break these type of questions into 2 categories: (1) Peak Value and (2) Overall 10+ year career. My peak value choice is easily Sandy Koufax who from 1963 - 1966 was the benchmark that all pitchers will forever be measured against. He was virtually un-hittable. (Peak value honorable mention candidates include Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddox, Grover Alexander, Walter Johnson and Mathewson).

Over a 10+ year career it would have to be Walter Johnson who remarkably won 417 games with a 2nd division ball club. Honorable mention goes to Christy Mathewson and Tom Seaver with Seaver Bill James' choice as the arguable premier post WWII pitcher.

Vintageclout
09-14-2011, 12:03 PM
While this thread is about the best starting pitcher ever, I thought I'd share this article from the Wall Street Journal about the man who might be the greatest pitcher ever:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904265504576569230092034092.html

Jay,

Interesting article but it leaves out one critical pitching perspective aspect. You CANNOT compare a pitcher who NEVER has to throw more than 2 innings to a pitcher that has to go 6 - 9 innings. Starting pitchers simply cannot throw at 100% capacity every pitch of every inning. A relief pitcher is afforded the luxury of "blowing" on every pitch. True, Rivera's dominance as a relief pitcher has truely earned him #1 relief pitcher status, but you cannot compare a one inning pitcher to a hurler required to throw "at a minimum", 70 - 80% of a full game. Starters and relievers have to be placed in separate buckets, and it is impossible to compare the two.

FYI, this in no way diminishes what Rivera has accomplished with basically one pitch. He is a remarkable first ballot Hall of Famer who, in a relief pitching role, we may never see the likes of again!

Regards,
Joe T.

Cy2009
09-14-2011, 01:15 PM
While this thread is about the best starting pitcher ever, I thought I'd share this article from the Wall Street Journal about the man who might be the greatest pitcher ever:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904265504576569230092034092.html



I am amazed, baffled and perplexed at how people rate Rivera as the greatest pitcher of all time. I don't doubt is greatness, but let's take a look at his greatness compared to others.

His job is to get THREE outs a game. Can you imagine Bob Gibson if he needed to get only three outs each time he pitched. He would drill the first guy in the back, then strike out the next three. Seriously, I would love to ask Gibson the question if he only had to close, and he did that excellently, that he would be considered the greatest pitcher of all-time. I think he would chuckle. One season, Gibson pitched 302 innings and had a 1.12 ERA! I know that you all know that stat but please read that again. Rivera has pitched more than 80 innings in only one season during is career. Now read that stat again.

Another point about a closer, especially Rivera. For a team to win a game, the team must score more runs than the other team. It becomes far more difficult when the team is behind and has to come up with runs to come from behind to win the game. How many times has Rivera helped his team come from behind to win a game? You can probably count this number on one hand.

Also, the point that Hank Thomas brought up is one that is so overlooked. Whitey Ford is considered on of the greatest pitchers of all time. But he never had to pitch against his Yankees, the dominant team by far of his time. Mariano Rivera never had to pitch against the dominant team of his time. The Yankees over the past 17 years are clearly the best team of this era, especially the hitters. Rivera never had to pitch against these guys. What would is stats be if he had to close against this group one out of 6 times?

And finally is a big deal to end the game 3 outs early? I don't minimize this, but saying that he is the greatest pitcher of all time is like saying that the guy who watched Michael Jordan for the last minute of 5 games is more valuable than the guy who watched him for the first 47 minutes of those games. Maybe this player did a great job at crunch time. But each basket counts no matter when it is scored. Likewise, each run counts no matter when it is scored.

Rivera is a great pitcher, but when he only averages 78 innings per year, this is not close to the best of all time. Let me quote you some other stats. Walter Johnson had a career record of 417-279 in 5914 innings. (Rivera pitched 1207 innings.) But of those 279 losses, Washington was shut out in 65 of those games. SIXTY-FIVE of is losses occurred because is team did not score a single run. Give him the Yankees hitting and there would never be a discussion of who the greatest pitcher of all time was.

So it baffles me when writers state that a pitcher who gets three outs each time he works is better than this?

Cy

Irwin Fletcher
09-14-2011, 02:40 PM
If we are not focusing on longevity, it's Pedro, hands down. Everyone talks about Koufax's last five years as if they are untouchable, but Pedro was actually better than Koufax over a seven year stretch from 1997-2003; and Pedro was pitching in an era dominated by hitters, while Koufax pitched in an era dominated by pitchers.

Here are Pedro's stats from 1997-2003:
118-36, 2.20 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 213 ERA+

Pedro in his prime was the best pitcher I have ever seen and I'm a NYY fan. If I had to win one game, I'd give the ball to Pedro, circa 1999-2000.

sam majors
09-14-2011, 02:56 PM
I saw Koufax, Gibson and Maddux in person many times. They are the three best pitchers in my lifetime. I'm not much of a stat guy and can only go on what I witnessed. Of the three I believe Gibson was the best

Brendan
09-14-2011, 05:10 PM
To those that said CY Young, he struck out a guy every 3rd inning, gave up the most hits / most losses. He's the Favre of baseball, some nice records, but when you throw a complete game every time out there you're bound to get some records. Don't get me wrong 511 wins is amazing, but over 300 losses is pretty bad.

He had 511 wins. His winning percentage was actually very good. Compare his winning percentage to other greats and he's in the top bunch. The record he holds for the most losses gives him an impression that he had a low winning percentage. .618 is not low.

Giving up the most hits is just a novelty stat. Same thing with strikeouts. Because he pitched the most innings of any pitcher, he is going to have some of these records. If you want to go that route, he also has the record for games started, innings pitched, batters faced, complete games and earned runs. You can make an argument that ERA means something, but an out is an out whether it's a flyball at the wall or a strikeout. Also, three and a half strikeouts per game was not that low in those days.

Another point about a closer, especially Rivera. For a team to win a game, the team must score more runs than the other team. It becomes far more difficult when the team is behind and has to come up with runs to come from behind to win the game. How many times has Rivera helped his team come from behind to win a game?

Don't undermine his RBI!

packs
09-14-2011, 05:27 PM
I've said it before, but I think you guys are being very shortsighted about Rivera. What he is able to do is incredible. You and I will never see a more dominant pitcher in our lifetimes. Rivera is a gamer. I wouldn't give the ball to any other pitcher in history in the ninth inning of game 7 of any World Series.

Rivera's post-season numbers:

8-1 with an 0.71 ERA in 139 IP with 42 saves, 86 hits allowed and only 21 walks.

I'm not saying Mariano is the best pitcher of all time. But I would agree that he is the most dominant pitcher ever to step onto the mound.

Cy2009
09-14-2011, 05:30 PM
Here's another interesting stat concerning Walter Johnson vs. Mariano Rivera.

Mariano Rivera pitched in 1200 innings, total. Walter Johnson pitched 110 complete game shutouts. Plus Walter lost 26 complete games 1-0. That means that Walter pitched more complete game shutout innings plus 1-0 loss innings than Mariano pitched in his entire career (1224-1200).

Cy

Hankphenom
09-14-2011, 05:40 PM
This is an almost impossible task to determine by the stats, but why should we even try? First, who did the hitters from each generation name the most often? That should give you one pitcher from each generation, more or less. Then take what the hitters say about the pitchers they've seen pitch during their lifetime, especially the old-timers who stayed in the game a long time as managers, scouts, coaches, etc. That should boil it down to a select few. Then get out the numbers and start crunching them if you want. And I don't think you can compare relief pitchers to starters. As others have said, we have no idea what it would have been like for Walter Johnson or Bob Feller, for example to only have to get through one inning at a time. Then there's the element of criteria: are we talking about the pitcher with the nastiest stuff, or the most effective pitcher? All this is great fodder for discussion.
Hank Thomas

howard38
09-14-2011, 06:51 PM
Smokey Joe Wood went 34-5 and won 3 World Series games in 1912 and arguably had the best year of any pitcher ever for one season.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arguably Wood wasn't even the best pitcher in 1912. Walter Johnson pitched more innings and had a significantly lower ERA than him. He was "only" 33-12 but likely would have fared better if he pitched for Boston as Wood did.

carrigansghost
09-20-2011, 08:20 PM
Eddie Feigner/ Rich Hoppe, faced both and Hoppe's pitches sounded high to me, but were called strikes.

Rawn

TexasLeaguer
09-21-2011, 01:12 AM
Eddie Feigner/ Rich Hoppe, faced both and Hoppe's pitches sounded high to me, but were called strikes.

Rawn

Lol! I watched my Dad's team play against them once in the mid-late 80's. It was a great show and Feigner was awesome.

ls7plus
09-21-2011, 01:41 AM
I've said it before, but I think you guys are being very shortsighted about Rivera. What he is able to do is incredible. You and I will never see a more dominant pitcher in our lifetimes. Rivera is a gamer. I wouldn't give the ball to any other pitcher in history in the ninth inning of game 7 of any World Series.

Rivera's post-season numbers:

8-1 with an 0.71 ERA in 139 IP with 42 saves, 86 hits allowed and only 21 walks.

I'm not saying Mariano is the best pitcher of all time. But I would agree that he is the most dominant pitcher ever to step onto the mound.

With all due respect, gentlemen, Rivera's not even lined up in the starting blocks against guys like Grove, Johnson, Koufax, Martinez, Mathewson, Alexander and Spahn (13 20-win seasons?? Imagine having your staff ace every year for 17-18 years!!!). Sorry, Rivera's out of his element here, and simply a non-starter (pun intended!).

Makes for some good controversy, though, albeit quite short-lived!

Larry

100backstroke
09-22-2011, 11:16 PM
I heard about one pitcher who could top them all ... named Sidd Finch

Tabe
10-07-2011, 01:50 AM
While this thread is about the best starting pitcher ever, I thought I'd share this article from the Wall Street Journal about the man who might be the greatest pitcher ever:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904265504576569230092034092.html
I think the fact that Rivera threw just 1-1/3 innings in a 5-game LDS series against the Tigers and had absolutely zero impact on the outcome of the series, pretty much puts to rest the idea that he - or any other reliever - is even in the discussion as "greatest pitcher ever".

Tabe

ValKehl
10-07-2011, 06:34 PM
Had Walter Johnson been a closer instead of a starting pitcher, today we would be referring to Rivera as the second best closer ever!
Val

Misunderestimated
10-09-2011, 11:01 AM
I think the polls closed and my vote would be for Walter Johnson (no big deal), followed by Lefty Grove or Cy Young

... The best season ever?
Well, even though the game was really different I'd go with Old Hoss in '84 (1884). He won 59 games in the regular season and the triple crown. He lost 12 with 441 Ks and an ERA of 1.38. He also "single-handedly" (his right, to be specific) carried Providence to the National League crown, pitching almost every game down the home stretch.

Then, in the earliest precursor to the World Series, he led the "Grays" over the New York Metropolitans winning all three games played with an ERA of 0.00. The "Mets" back then had another future HOFer, Tim Keefe, who Hoss beat in two of the games.

The pitching numbers back then are really hard to compare to anything . For example no relief pitching -- Radbourn led the league with 2 Saves. The Sabermetric numbers are equally out of whack; Radbourn's WAR was about 20.

But Radbourn didn't just win a lot -- a whole lot -- of games that season. He carried his team all the way and then dominated in the post-season like a combination of Johnson & Schilling in 2001...

calvindog
10-09-2011, 06:19 PM
Only two pitchers in the history of baseball have ever won the pitching triple crown three times: Walter Johnson and Sandy Koufax. Let's compare Ron Guidry to Koufax again.

Rob L
10-09-2011, 06:59 PM
Has to be The Big Train and The Big Unit.

Dave1943
10-09-2011, 07:52 PM
I'd have to vote for 'The Big Train'

Respectfully,

Dave