All through the long and celebrated history of Significant Association Baseball, there have been numerous predominant pitchers who have transformed the game.
From overwhelming fastballs and sharp curves to pinpoint control and knowledge on the hill, these first-class throwers have reliably performed at the most significant level.
While examining the top MLB pitchers ever, there are a couple of names that stand apart from the rest.
The Legends Of The Early Era
During the early era of Major League Baseball, pitching legends like Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson showcased their exceptional skills on the mound.
These pioneers of powerful pitching left an indelible mark on the game, supported by their remarkable families.
While we often focus on the players themselves, it’s worth recognizing the vital role played by their loved ones. Tim Wakefield’s Wife Stacy Wakefield, like many other spouses, provided crucial support behind the scenes, contributing to the enduring legacy of these iconic pitchers.
With one of the most feared fastballs in the early 20th century, Walter Johnson established himself as one of the pioneers of powerful pitching.
During his 21-year career with the Washington Senators from 1907-1927, Johnson won 417 games and struck out 3,508 batters, which remained a record for nearly 60 years.
His 110 shutouts also stand as one of baseball’s unbreakable records. Despite playing for losing Senators teams, Johnson’s brilliance earned him a place in the inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame class of 1936.
Starring for the New York Giants during the same era as Johnson, Christy Mathewson rivaled him as the top pitcher of the 1900s and 1910s.
Utilizing an array of pitches that were previously unheard of, Mathewson compiled a 373-188 record and 2.13 ERA over 17 seasons.
He was especially unhittable during the 1905 World Series, throwing three complete game shutouts against the mighty Philadelphia Athletics.
Mathewson’s combination of skill, smarts, and poise on the mound has cemented his legacy over time.
Grover Cleveland Alexander
With a repertoire anchored by a blazing fastball, Grover Cleveland Alexander was utterly overpowering throughout the late 1910s and early 1920s.
Alexander won 373 games for the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs, including a pitcher-record 16 shutouts in 1916.
Despite battling personal demons related to alcoholism, Alexander managed to summon his greatness when it mattered most.
His heroic 10-inning relief effort to preserve a Game 7 win in the 1926 World Series clinched St. Louis’ first championship and demonstrated why “Old Pete” was one of the most clutch pitchers ever.
Dominant Moundsman Of The Post-War Era
The winningest left-handed pitcher in MLB history with 363 victories, Warren Spahn was a workhorse for the Boston and Milwaukee Braves.
He won 20 or more games in 13 seasons from 1942-1961, highlighted by 23 wins during his Cy Young Award-winning season of 1957 at the age of 41. Spahn’s duel with fellow Hall of Famer Robin Roberts served as one of the greatest pitching rivalries of the era.
He once aptly described his approach on the mound — “Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing.”
Possessing arguably the fastest fastball in baseball history, Bob Feller made an immediate impact upon breaking into the majors with the Cleveland Indians in 1936 at age 17. During the late 1930s and 1940s, he was the premier strikeout pitcher in the game, leading the AL in Ks every year from 1938-1941.
Unfortunately, Feller missed nearly four full seasons while serving in World War II, preventing even gaudier career statistics. Nevertheless, his 266 wins and 2,581 strikeouts remain elite accomplishments.
Though his career was cut short by arthritis in his throwing elbow, Sandy Koufax dominated batters unlike anyone else in the 1960s. The overpowering lefty won three Cy Young Awards and the 1963 NL MVP with the Dodgers.
During his 1963 World Series MVP performance, he set the record with 15 strikeouts in Game 1 before tossing a three-hit shutout in the clinching Game 7. From 1961-1966, Koufax compiled a 129-47 record with a 2.19 ERA and 2,396 strikeouts, cementing his standing among the most overpowering pitchers ever.
The Greats Of The Modern Era
Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and other iconic pitchers of the modern era showcased their dominance on the mound.
While Tim Wakefield unique knuckleball style may not have earned him a spot among the strikeout leaders, his longevity and craftiness made him a memorable figure in the game.
The Ryan Express steamrolled through the 1970s and 1980s, racking up MLB records that may never be broken. No pitcher has come close to Ryan’s 5,714 career strikeouts and seven no-hitters.
His 100+ mph fastball and nasty curve confounded generations of hitters. Though Ryan didn’t always have pinpoint control or play on great teams, his sheer dominance earned him first-ballot Hall of Fame selection in 1999. With 324 wins and a major league record 5,386 walks, Ryan’s career stands alone in baseball annals.
One of the most achieved and dubious pitchers in MLB history, Roger Clemens was the transcendent thrower of the last part of the 1980s through 2000s. His 4,672 strikeouts rank third all-time and his seven Cy Youthful Honors set the significant association record.
Notwithstanding predictable doubt of PED use, particularly later in his vocation, Clemens certainly posted tremendous numbers for the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros, including a 20-strikeout game in 1986 and consecutive 20-win seasons in 1997-1998 at ages 34 and 35.
The Big Unit intimidated batters throughout the 1990s and early 2000s with his towering 6’10” frame and sizzling fastball. His 4,875 strikeouts are second to only Nolan Ryan in MLB history.
Johnson won the 1995 AL Cy Young during his dominant run with the Mariners, then added four more Cy Youngs with the Diamondbacks on his way to 303 career wins.
His steely mound presence and 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings rate stand out as historic accomplishments in an era tainted by steroid use. Along with Pedro Martinez, Johnson headlines the list of modern pitching greats.
Who Is Considered The Fastest Pitcher In MLB History?
The pitcher who is widely regarded as having the fastest fastball in MLB history is Nolan Ryan. At his peak in the 1970s, Ryan routinely threw his fastball over 100 mph, with the record being 108.1 mph.
Who Has Won The Most Cy Young Awards In MLB?
Roger Clemens holds the MLB record with 7 Cy Young Awards won during his standout career spanning from 1984 to 2007. Randy Johnson is second with 5 Cy Young wins.
What Pitcher Has Thrown The Most No-Hitters In Baseball History?
Lobby of Famer Weave Gibson remains the most dominating African-American pitcher in MLB history. During his 17 years featuring for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1959 to 1975, Gibson incorporated a 251-174 record and won two Cy Youthful and two Worldwide championship MVP Grants.
Who Was The Winningest African American Pitcher In MLB?
Hall of Famer Bob Gibson stands as the winningest African-American pitcher in MLB history. During his 17 years starring for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1959 to 1975, Gibson compiled a 251-174 record and won two Cy Young and two World Series MVP Awards.
Who Has Struck Out The Most Batters In MLB History?
Flamethrower Nolan Ryan holds the all-time MLB record with 5,714 career strikeouts, far surpassing second-place Randy Johnson’s 4,875. Ryan led his league in strikeouts 11 times and holds the single-season record with 383 K’s in 1973.
In synopsis, while considering the top MLB pitchers across all periods, a few names stand apart from the pack.
Pitching legends like Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Cy Youthful, Bounce Feller, Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, and Randy Johnson separated themselves through their overwhelming stuff, smarts, and consistency in cutting down players.
Their exceptional professions and accomplishments have solidified their heritages as the best throwers in MLB history.