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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / The Grueling Truth's Top 10 Sports Lists / Top-15 Right Handed Pitchers in Baseball History

Top-15 Right Handed Pitchers in Baseball History

The best of the best
Publish Date: 07/10/2024
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

Today, we look at the greatest righthanded starting pitchers in baseball history, and it’s a nice mix of old-timers and more recent pitchers. If you like this list make sure to check out our list of greatest left-handed starting pitchers.

Criteria

Longevity and dominance in that pitchers era is huge. Records are important, but with rule changes and style of play ever changing in Major League baseball, they have to be looked at in context. The old-time pitchers have some unbreakable records, but newer pitchers faced a tougher and integrated league and all of these play factors in these rankings.

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.

Video: 2004 ALCS Gm6: Schilling's epic performance through adversity

2004 ALCS Gm6: Schilling’s epic performance through adversity

14) Satchel Paige

A great showman in the mound; he might have won more games than Cy Young. 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 had been allowed to pitch his entire career in the MLB, he would probably be in the top 5.

Video: Satchel Paige.

Satchel Paige.

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.

Video: Dizzy Dean highlight video

Dizzy Dean highlight video

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.

Video: 3 Finger Brown Pitching

3 Finger Brown Pitching

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.

Video: Bob Feller Demonstrates Pitching

Bob Feller Demonstrates Pitching

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.

Video: Pedro Martinez Pitched the Greatest Season Ever. Then He Did It Again. | Baseball Bits

Pedro Martinez Pitched the Greatest Season Ever. Then He Did It Again. | Baseball Bits

9) 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.

Video: Nolan Ryan HOF Career Highlights

Nolan Ryan HOF Career Highlights

8) 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.

Video: Cy Young Documentary

Cy Young Documentary

7) Grover Cleveland Alexander

Alexander set a rookie record with 28 wins (throwing 367 innings) and had 345 more after that. He’s #3 all-time in wins 373 (tied with Mathewson), with a live fastball, 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.

Video: Baseball's Best Moments - Grover Cleveland Alexander Strikes Out Tony Lazzeri (1926 World Series)

Baseball’s Best Moments – Grover Cleveland Alexander Strikes Out Tony Lazzeri (1926 World Series)

6) 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.

Clemens pitched and pitched well deep into his 40s. Clemens, of course, is a part of our all-time steroid team.

Video: Roger Clemens Career Highlights

Roger Clemens Career Highlights

5) 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.

Gibson was one of the most intimidating pitchers in baseball history and one of the hardest throwers.

Video: MLB remembers Hall of Famer and legend Bob Gibson

MLB remembers Hall of Famer and legend Bob Gibson

4) 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.

He was traded to the Reds in the late 70s and had some outstanding seasons for the Reds also including 1981 when he should have won the Cy Young and he threw a no-hitter for the Reds in 1978 against the St. louis Cardinals.

Video: MLB remembers Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver

MLB remembers Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver

3) Christy Mathewson

He led the league in ERA five times; 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).

Video: Christy Mathewson pitching footage

Christy Mathewson pitching footage

2) 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. The Braves were in the postseason almost every season but the Championships were limited to just one in 1995, but that was not Maddux’s fault. Maddux led a Braves pitching staff that was had one of the best starting rotations in baseball history.

Video: Legend Series: Greg Maddux Highlights

Legend Series: Greg Maddux Highlights

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 efficiently 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.

Video: RHP Walter Johnson

RHP Walter Johnson

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