15) Curt Schilling
A string of some great seasons in his 30s made Schilling a true legend, but his career 4.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio might have put him in that territory anyway. Schilling was great in the postseason helping his teams win three World Series. He only won 216 games, but even though the win total wasn’t mind-blowing, he was still a hall of fame pitcher.
14) Satchel Paige
A great showman in the mound; he might have won more games than Cy Young. Both Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio said Paige was the greatest pitcher they ever faced. He won a World Series with the 1948 Indians at age 42 and was the first Negro League player in the Hall of Fame. If he would have been allowed to pitch his entire career in the MLB, he would probably be in the top 5.
13) Dizzy Dean
He won just 150 games in a career shortened by injury, but it was a darn good run as the leader of St. Louis “Gashouse Gang.’ He won 120 games in five seasons from 1932 to 1936. Went 30-7 in 1934 and had 28 complete games and a league-best 11 saves in 1936.
12) Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown
Brown lost his index finger on his right hand in a farming accident as a child, giving his pitches more spin, and he threw a devastating curveball. He went 239-130 in 14 seasons with a 2.06 ERA.
11) Bob Feller
Feller entered the league when he was 17, left at 37, and missed four years in his prime to serve in World War II. However, the hard-throwing Indians ace still ended up with a 266-162 record and 2,581 strikeouts. He was considered the best pitcher in baseball in the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s.
10) Pedro Martinez
Pedro won 219 games but could have won 250 on better teams, especially since the Dodgers used him out of the bullpen in the early 1990s and the Expos were terrible. Nevertheless, he won three Cy Youngs and deserved at least one MVP.
9) Bob Gibson
Extreme usage (he frequently threw 175 pitches in starts and surpassed 275 innings virtually every year) probably affected Gibson’s career arc after that legendary 1968 season. However, he did manage to win three World Series and might be the best World Series pitcher of all time.
8) Tom Seaver
The driving force behind the Miracle Mets of 1969, Seaver led the league in strikeouts five times, won three Cy Young Awards, and won 20 games five times. He won 16 or more games 10 times, including at age 22 and age 40. He’s sixth all-time in strikeouts and 18th in wins with 311.
7) Nolan Ryan
The all-time leader in strikeouts (5,714) and no-hitters (seven, three more than any other pitcher) was an eight-time All-Star and had his jersey retired by three teams. He threw fastballs faster than 100 mph and also is the all-time leader in walks (2,795). Went 324-292 in his career with a 3.19 ERA.
6) Cy Young
Young set the most unbreakable record in sports with 511 career wins. He started more than 800 innings, starting 40 or more games 11 times. He also threw the first pitch in a World Series in 1903. He also holds the record for most losses (316) and had a career ERA of 2.63.
5) Grover Cleveland Alexander
Alexander set a rookie record with 28 wins (throwing 367 innings) and had 345 more after that. He’s No. 3 all-time in wins 373 (tied with Mathewson), with a live fastball and a sharp curve, and great control. For the Phillies from 1911-17, he won 190 games, a third of the team’s total. In addition, he held the record for shutouts in a season with 16 in 1916.
4) Greg Maddux
Maddux was the best pitcher of the 1990s, getting 166 of his 355 career victories. He won the Cy Young Award every season from 1992 to 1995 and is the only pitcher to win 15 games or more in 17 consecutive seasons. He also won an unprecedented 18 Gold Gloves.
3) Roger Clemens
He went 354-184 in 24 seasons with a 3.12 ERA in an ERA with big offensive stats. An intimidator on the mound, he is third all-time in strikeouts and won 7 Cy Young awards. But, unfortunately, his late-career success was tainted by steroid allegations he denies.
2) Christy Mathewson
He led the league in ERA five times, and in 17 seasons, he was 373-188 with a 2.13 ERA. Not exactly a strikeout pitcher (a solid 2,507 in 4,788 innings), he only walked 848 (just over one a game). He went 37-11 with a 1.43 ERA in 1908, throwing 11 shutouts (and recording five saves).
1) Walter Johnson
All the evidence suggests Johnson literally took it easy on opponents on a semi-regular basis. He constantly wrestled with the fear that one of his league-best fastballs would kill or maim and pitched to contact while taking a bit off at times to avoid it. He was the gentle giant of the dead-ball era and could easily have run up better sheer numbers but for the fact that he was far, far ahead of his time.
“The Big Train” had the best fastball in his time and any time, close to 100 mph from accounts, and won an incredible 417 games in 21 seasons with a 2.17 ERA. In a stretch from 1910 to 1918, he won at least 23 games every season. In 1913 at age 25, he went 36-7 with a 1.14 ERA. He had 3,509 strikeouts.