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ALL-TIME PLAYER RANKINGS

The Top 100 Pitchers of All-Time

How We Ranked The Players   |   Pitchers by the Numbers   |   Top 100:   C   1B   2B   SS   3B   LF   CF   RF   P

Rankings

#1.  Walter Johnson

Walter Johnson
Years:
1907-1927

Primary Team:
Senators
"Walter didn't drink or smoke and was more or less on the serious side." --- Joe Engel

In 1936, Walter Johnson was a hot news item. On February 2, a small committee in Cooperstown, New York announced that Johnson was one of the first five players elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He and Christy Mathewson were the first two pitchers. Even though the museum that would house the Hall of Fame wouldn't be open for three more years, the fanfare around the announcement was thunderous. It thrust Johnson's name back into the headlines.

The town of Fredericksburg, Virginia was planning their annual celebration of George Washington's birthday, and seized on Johnson's popularity. They asked the former pitching legend to recreate the Washington myth of tossing a coin across the Rappahannock River. Old George had never done such a thing, but no matter. Johnson was enlisted to use his legendary right arm to fire a silver dollar across the body of water. Newspaper reports covered the preparation by the 48-year old. A week before the festivities, Johnson sent a telegram:

"I am practicing with a dollar against my barn door. Arm getting stronger, barn door weaker," Johnson wrote.

On February 22, Johnson appeared on the snow-covered banks of the river wearing a long-sleeve shirt and tie. More than one thousand citizens were on hand, news reporters and photographers huddled to stay warm. As many as three thousand people were on the other side of the river. A state politician donated a silver dollar and in his remarks he placed the odds at 20-1 against Johnson being able to throw it across the river. The shy Johnson smiled and played along. When he got up to throw, Johnson was presented with three dollars, the first two for practice, the last one inscribed with his name serving as the "official" dollar.

Johnson's first toss ended up in the middle of the river. His second throw cleared it easily, and his third, the "official" toss, sailed well into the crowd on the other side of the Rappahannock. A young fan, a boy from downriver in Little Falls, took the special silver dollar home with him, a special memento from a Hall of Fame pitcher.

For more than seventy years, Johnson held the record for lowest ERA in a single season, until the record was broken by an accountant, not a baseball player.

When he retired in the late 1920s, Johnson thought his 1.09 ERA in 1913 was the lowest ever recorded. It was, but the mark shouldn't have been 1.09, it should have been higher. In the final game of the 1913 season, the Senators played a meaningless contest against the Red Sox. As was the custom of the day, the teams treated the game as a farce. A coach went into the game to catch, the manager pitched an inning, and others played out of position. Johnson started the game in center field, having recorded his 36th victory a few days earlier. But in the ninth, Johnson trotted in from center and pitched to two batters with a seven-run lead. The move was a stunt, it was designed to give the fans something to cheer about. Johnson "lobbed" his pitches to the plate and allowed a pair of singles, then he retreated to center field. A Washington D.C. newspaper reported that Johnson was "laughing and pointing to the crowd" as he delivered his pitches. A relief pitcher allowed both of the runners to score, runs that should have been charged to Johnson. But they weren't. The official scorer witnessed the mockery and didn't count the performance against Johnson in his final totals. That decision went unnoticed for decades.

In 1968, Bob Gibson had a 1.12 ERA in one of the greatest seasons ever by a hurler. But, his 1.12 ERA was just a smidge too high to be the lowest in history. Gibson's was second to Johnson. Or so everyone thought. About fifteen years later, a researcher came across the scoring decision from 1913 and notified the league about it. The figures were changed and Johnson's official 1913 earned run average was raised from 1.09 to 1.14, second behind Gibson.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
165.2
83.1
40.0
11.9
452.0

#2.  Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux
Years:
1986-2008

Primary Team:
Braves
Among the top twenty pitchers, Maddux only threw harder than two of them: Bert Blyleven and Phil Niekro. But speed wasn't his game, location was. He didn't have swing-and-miss stuff, he had to rely, as he said, on "keeping the ball in front of the outfielders."
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
106.7
55.5
27.4
20.0
384.0

#3.  Lefty Grove

Lefty Grove
Years:
1925-1941

Primary Team:
A's
"Sometimes when the sun was out, really bright, he would throw that baseball in there and it looked like a flash of white sewing thread coming up at you." --- Joe Sewell

When Lefty Grove was with the Baltimore Orioles, before they sold him to the A's, he faced Babe Ruth eleven times in exhibition games. This was the early 1920s, when Ruth was in his prime as a hitter. In eleven trips to the plate against Grove the "minor leaguer", the Babe struck out nine times.

Grove's first professional contract was with the Class-D team in Martinsburg, West Virginia in 1920. Lefty began his career as a first baseman, but his arm was so strong he quickly found himself pitching. The owner of the Martinsburg team realized that Grove had an unusually quick fastball and he did everything he could to "hide" Grove from other teams who might pay Lefty more money. Eventually, the Orioles heard about Grove and dispatched a scout to evaluate him. The Orioles offered $2,000, but the Martinsburg owner held out for $3,500 because that was the amount of money he needed to build a fence around his outfield.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
106.1
66.5
30.8
26.6
379.7

#4.  Randy Johnson

Randy Johnson
Years:
1988-2009

Primary Team:
Diamondbacks
"I'm a fastball pitcher, and I'm going down throwing fastballs." --- Randy Johnson

The scowl, the mullet, the bullwhip sidearm delivery, all of them were part of the legend of Randy Johnson, who had fewer wins at the age of thirty than Ralph Branca, fewer than Ben Sheets, fewer than Babe Ruth the pitcher. Fewer wins than the Babe at the age of thirty! But like fellow lefties Warren Spahn and Sandy Koufax, he stirred himself to become the most dominant pitcher in the game, a tall, slender freak who actually frightened batters. Johnson won 222 games after his 30th birthday, a total surpassed by only four pitchers: Cy Young, Phil Niekro, Spahn, and Jamie Moyer.

The greatest lefty/righty one-two punch in history is Johnson and Curt Schilling on the Diamondbacks from 2000 to 2003. Other duos, like Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, Chief Bender and Eddie Plank, and Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing, pitched more years together, but for peak performance, Big Unit and Schilling are the tops.

Best Lefty/Righty Pitching Duos (3-Year Peak)

Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling ... 2000-02 Diamondbacks
Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale ... 1964-66 Dodgers
Eddie Plank and Chief Bender ... 1910-12 Athletics
Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux ... 1993-95 Braves
Lefty Grove and George Earnshaw ... 1929-31 Athletics
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
101.1
63.3
30.1
10.0
372.8

#5.  Tom Seaver

Tom Seaver
Years:
1967-1986

Primary Team:
Mets
You wouldn't look ridiculous if you argued Tom Seaver was the best pitcher of all-time. Or any of the top five players listed here, all of them have a claim to the top spot. Ultimately the numbers are too overwhelming for Walter Johnson, even after allowances for the lesser competitive balance of that era. Grove and Feller followed, throwing even harder than Johnson. About 15 years after Feller was done in the big leagues, Seaver arrived off the campus of USC, a fresh-faced star.

Seaver was a physically mature big league pitcher from his first start for the Mets when he was 22 years old. He had a once-in-a-generation arm. He was built like a tree stump, he had those powerful legs. In his third start Seaver pitched a ten-inning four-hitter against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The New York spotlight was perfect for him, the team was woeful, expectations were not too high, every fourth day all eyes were on him. He was "Tom Terrific."

In 1969, Seaver was remarkable, he started 35 games and in 24 of them he allowed zero, one, or two runs. He won 25 games, threw five shutouts, and got better as the season drew to a close. Seaver went 7-0 after August 31st with seven complete games, three shutouts, a 0.71 ERA, and did not allow a home run.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
110.1
56.7
28.8
17.9
370.7

#6.  Pete Alexander

Pete Alexander
Years:
1911-1930

Primary Team:
Phillies
If a story isn't good enough, if it doesn't make our hero seem heroic enough, we embellish. History books are filled with things that never happened. Movies are written with lies in them. Columbus did not think the Earth was flat, Washington did not chop down a cherry tree, Edison did not invent the light bulb, Babe Ruth never called his shot.

The central event of Pete Alexander's baseball career, the most famous scene from the movie they made about his life, is a bald-faced lie. The story goes that Alexander was drunk and asleep when he was summoned to pitch from the bullpen in Game Seven of the 1926 World Series. The narrative says the veteran, who they called "Ol' Pete", lumbered to the mound, barely warmed up, and took on the mighty Yankees with a hangover. It's hogwash, of course.

Alexander was not drunk, a fact supported by at least six eye witnesses, all teammates. Rogers Hornsby was his manager and the second baseman, and he never mentioned Alexander being drunk during the famed incident. Les Bell was the third baseman and he denied the allegation in countless interviews over the years. Sunny Jim Bottomley was at first base and he denied it too. The man who caught Alexander, Bob O'Farrell, laughed off the notion that Pete was hungover. "He knew [we] might need him," O'Farrell said in an interview for a book years later. "Alex was ready, in fact the night before he was in his room early to rest up."

The bit about him shunning warmups is easily explained: Alexander preferred to warmup on the pitching mound, not on the bullpen mound. He handled relief appearances that way for most of his career. He walked onto the field, threw four or five pitches on the mound and went at the Yankees. The bases were loaded, the Cardinals were clinging to a one-run lead. The 39-year old Alexander struck out Tony Lazzeri, threw nothing but fastballs. The Cardinals won the game by one run.

The final myth behind that game: Alexander's heroics didn't happen in the ninth inning. Hornsby sent Alexander to the hill in the seventh. The veteran righthander got three easy outs in the eighth, and with two outs in the ninth he walked Babe Ruth, who tried to steal second for some reason, and was thrown out easily, ending the Fall Classic.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
120.2
67.2
33.6
17.1
366.5

#7.  Bob Feller

Bob Feller
Years:
1936-1956

Primary Team:
Indians
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
63.9
51.8
29.2
3.7
344.9

#8.  Warren Spahn

Warren Spahn
Years:
1942-1965

Primary Team:
Braves
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
99.9
49.7
26.2
12.1
343.9

#9.  Roger Clemens

Roger Clemens
Years:
1984-2007

Primary Team:
Red Sox
For as long as people have roamed the Earth, there have been jerks. I'm sure there was a time when a group of humans gathered in a cave somewhere and made plans to go out hunting, and one of them made a snarky comment about something: the bad weather, the inconvenience of hunting at such an hour, or the merits of the leadership skills in the group.

In the 1990s, two of baseball's brightest superstars were major jerks. I mean, jerks on a major level, among the jerkiest of all people to ever play the game. That's saying a lot. (We're looking at you, Rogers Hornsby and Ty Cobb). One of those jerks was Barry Bonds, the other was Roger Clemens.

Why was Clemens a jerk? Part of it was his DNA, the same DNA that made him one of the most competitive pitchers to ever climb a pitching mound. Often, people who are highly competitive are also intense, and that intensity can lead to well, assholery. Clemens had that.

In the 1990 American League Championship Series, Clemens was on the hill for the Red Sox in Game Four. The Sox were trailing three games to none, it was win or go home. In Game One a few days earlier, Clemens had pitched well but had tough luck. The Rocket went six scoreless innings but watched as the Boston bullpen surrendered single runs in the 7th and 8th and seven runs in the ninth. In Game Four, it was a chance for Clemens to silence some of his critics who noted that the former MVP and Cy Young Award winner had just one postseason victory to his credit in seven starts. But Clemens wouldn't succeed in that quest.

In the second inning Clemens allowed a couple of singles and left fielder Mike Greenwell made a throwing error to let the runners advance. A fielder's choice scored a run, and then Clemens faced Willie Randolph. On a 3-0 count, Clemens got a good call on a pitch that was both above the letters and in on the batter, and Randolph asked home plate umpire Terry Cooney "Are you sure?" after having to walk back to the plate, he'd assumed the pitch was ball four. On the next pitch Clemens delivered a fastball letter high and over the plate. Cooney called ball four. It was a makeup call and now the bases were loaded. Clemens was incensed and screamed at Cooney, the next batter approached the plate, catcher Tony Pena, who turned back to say something to Cooney, when Cooney stormed from behind the plate and waved his arm. Clemens was ejected after recording five outs. At first, the Red Sox were puzzled, but manager Joe Morgan soon realized that his star pitcher had been tossed. Cooney was hot, but Clemens remained on the mound, acting as if he couldn't understand what he'd done. In fact, as members of the A's explained after the game, Clemens had done quite a bit to get ejected.

"I could hear what Roger said," Oakland starting pitcher Dave Stewart said, "he said the magic words, he said things no umpire will tolerate."

In fact, Clemens had called Cooney a "cocksucker" and when Cooney asked what he said, Clemens responded with "I'm not talking to you, get you fat ass back behind the plate!"

In the ensuing moments as Morgan lost his mind, the Red Sox dugout threw Gatorade jugs on the field toward the umpires. (In an interesting aside, Bill Buckner got into a shoving match with coach Bill Fischer, who tried to stop Buckner from having a tirade). Clemens, the all-star jerk, acted as if he couldn't believe how he could have been ejected. Finally when he realized he couldn't worm his way out of the penalty, he aggressively tried to push his way to Cooney. This is a guy who had been bullying people his entire sporting career, here he was on national TV in a playoff game and he was still trying to be a bully. When Clemens was finally convinced that he had to leave the field, he amped it up to dangerous levels when he told Cooney, "I know where you live, and this winter I'll get your ass!"

The look on Clemens face when he exploded on Cooney and was ejected from that playoff game in 1990 (which he and his team lost) was the same one he had when he fired the broken bat at Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series. That event was even more bizarre than the Cooney incident, and somehow Clemens was able to slip his way out of a fight with Piazza and being ejected. His strange alibi was that he thought the bat was the ball. He couldn't explain why he threw the "ball" toward Piazza.

I don't know when Roger Clemens started using steroids. I don't care. It was probably after his two last bumpy seasons in Boston, when he realized that after the age of 30 it's harder to recover after throwing 95 mile per hour fastballs. When he realized he could get stronger with a combination of daily workout regimes and steroid shakes. He sure acted like a "roid rage" guy for most of his career. We know, based on testimony and several witnesses that Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs. So did Bonds. It's a shame, because they were both world-class talents. But they were also world-class jerks.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
139.6
65.7
31.9
33.9
340.0

#10.  Bert Blyleven

Bert Blyleven
Years:
1970-1992

Primary Team:
Twins
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
95.0
50.7
25.0
7.8
333.8

#11.  Steve Carlton

Steve Carlton
Years:
1965-1988

Primary Team:
Phillies
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
90.5
51.6
29.2
15.7
332.0

#12.  Phil Niekro

Phil Niekro
Years:
1964-1987

Primary Team:
Braves
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
96.2
53.6
26.7
0.0
331.0

#13.  Bob Gibson

Bob Gibson
Years:
1959-1975

Primary Team:
Cardinals
Gibson was a triple threat: he was smart, blessed with a fantastic arm, and he was competitive as hell. Some guys have a great arm, some are gifted with high pitching IQ, and others are intense competitors. A few great ones have two of the three, but only a select few have all three and use it to their advantage. A later Cardinal, John Denny, had two of them: he was intense and he had a really good arm. But he wasn't smart enough to outthink hitters and channel his fiery streak into winning consistently and he burned out. Greg Maddux had all three, of course, but his brother Mike had only the thinking part paired with an above average arm. Ultimately the thinking part is what pushes pitchers to greatness. There are many examples of pitchers with great arms who don't get to the top of their profession because they aren't intellectual enough on the mound, but there are no examples of great pitchers who are dumb.

After he'd faced a batter a few times, Gibson would file away that information. He didn't like to get beaten on the same pitch. If he found out a hitter's weakness, he would exploit it mercilessly.

"Gibson has by far the liveliest arm in the National League. He's as tough as they come," said Dick Allen in 1965. "Gibson makes the lefthanders cry and he makes us righthanders cry too. I hit a home run on a curve off him last year and all he gives me now is fastball, fastball, fastball."

The turning point in Gibson's career came in the second half of the 1965 season when he started to control the location of his pitches while also learning that he could get people out early in the count. Prior to that, Gibson's ratio of strikes to balls was too low, he was using too many pitches to get where he wanted to be. He'd been successful, but by 1965-66, Gibby's strikeout-to-walk ratio started to get better and he trusted that he could get guys out without fooling them. He realized could throw his fastball past Dick Allen and Willie McCovey.

After earning a basketball scholarship to Creighton University in his hometown of Omaha, Gibson showed off his pitching and hitting, winning the conference batting title. At that time, Gibson was a switch-hitter, but after he suffered an arm injury in the minors he switched to hitting righty only. He hit five homers in a season twice and he even stole five bases one year.

In 1968, his masterpiece, his Fifth Symphony, Gibson threw a shutout against every other team in the National League except the Dodgers. He shut out the Braves, Reds, Astros, Phillies and Pirates twice each. He did defeat the Dodgers in a complete game where he only surrendered one run, and he beat the Dodgers twice that season. He pitched 13 consecutive complete games, then he pitched eleven innings in his next start before being relieved. Over his last 24 starts Gibson averaged nine innings per start and went 19-4 while allowing 5.8 hits per game. He was as unhittable for one season as any pitcher has ever been.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
89.4
55.9
30.5
19.7
330.8

#14.  Pedro Martinez

Pedro Martinez
Years:
1992-2009

Primary Team:
Red Sox
"A changeup is going to be good if you have a good fastball. If you don't have a good fastball, it doesn't matter how much you rotate [your changeup], how much you can spin it. If you can't bring a good fastball with it, it makes no difference. I was lucky enough to have both."

Martinez's fingers were double-jointed, which gave him the ability to grip a baseball in ways most pitchers could not. His "Bug Bunny Changeup" was a result of his circle-change grip and the flexibility of his fingers.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
84.0
59.1
30.4
5.5
326.0

#15.  Cy Young

Cy Young
Years:
1890-1911

Primary Team:
Red Sox
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
168.0
79.7
38.9
7.1
317.2

#16.  Christy Mathewson

Christy Mathewson
Years:
1900-1916

Primary Team:
Giants
The most important pitchers by decade* were:

1900s: Christy Mathewson
1910s: Rube Marquard
1920s: Waite Hoyt
1930s: Red Ruffing
1940s: Mort Cooper
1950s: Whitey Ford
1960s: Sandy Koufax
1970s: Jim Palmer
1980s: Dave Stewart
1990s: Roger Clemens
2000s: Andy Pettitte
2010s: Justin Verlander

Mathewson single-handedly won a World Series. In 1905 he made three starts for John McGraw's Giants and tossed a shutout in each. You think Madison Bumgarner was something in October? In all, Christy made 11 starts in the Fall Classic and allowed a total of 11 earned runs.

The pitch that Mathewson used, the one that confounded the Athletics in the 1905 World Series, was called the "fadeaway." Mathewson threw it like a modern screwball, a variation of a fastball. The baseball is held like a two-seam fastball but at the point of release Matty would twist his wrist inward, creating a counter spin. The motion was violent and unnatural which is why most pitchers who threw it ended up with their arm pointing the wrong direction as it hung at their side. Carl Hubbell, the great Giant pitcher of the next generation, had that problem. A properly thrown screwball (or fadeaway) will break away from the batter. Mathewson mastered his pitch to such a degree that he could pinpoint it. Over an eight-year stretch starting when he was 27, Mathewson averaged less than one walk per game.

Mathewson was handsome, smart, and honest. He was the first baseball idol who lived up to the American ideal of sportsmanship. While most of his teammates and opponents were rough, foul-mouthed, uneducated, tobacco-spewing woman-chasers, Mathewson was a humble hero. That image was shockingly accurate, as Matty had few flaws and was a steady positive influence on baseball in the raucous Deadball Era.

A new York newspaper hired Matthewson to write about the 1919 World Series. He was stationed in the press box during the affair that pitted the overwhelming favorites the Chicago White Sox, against the Cincinnati Reds. It didn't take long for Matty's keen eye to notice something was fishy about the series. He noted the many odd plays that indicated to him that the Sox were not playing honest. He mentioned his suspicions to newspaper men seated near him, and those seeds germinated into the scandal that eventually rocked baseball and resulted in eight men being banned from baseball.

He died at the age of 45 during the 1925 World Series due to complications from poison gas he inhaled during World War I. Players on both teams wore black armbands to honor Mathewson and flags were lowered to half mast across the country.

"I do not expect to see his like again," John McGraw said. "But I do know that the example he set and the imprint he left on the sport that he loved and honored will remain long after I am gone."

*Top pitchers by decade ranked by WAR in pennant-winning seasons.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
104.0
63.4
30.2
36.2
312.8

#17.  Robin Roberts

Robin Roberts
Years:
1948-1966

Primary Team:
Phillies
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
86.0
53.0
27.1
7.3
307.8

#18.  Mike Mussina

Mike Mussina
Years:
1991-2008

Primary Team:
Orioles
During his Baltimore years, Mussina once used a new pitch in the middle of a game in order to get out of a jam. It was a cut fastball, and after he threw it a few times, catcher Chris Hoiles frantically called time and ran out to the mound. "I guess if you're going to use it, we should have a sign for it," Hoiles said.

After making 400 starts, Mussina came out of the bullpen for the first time in his career in the fourth inning of Game Seven of the 2003 AL Championship Series. With Red Sox runners on first and third and no one out, Mussina struck out Jason Varitek and got Johnny Damon to ground into a double play. Suddenly a bullpen stopper, Moose pitched three scoreless innings in what became known as the "Aaron Boone Game."

Only five pitchers have won twenty games in their final major league season (since 1901). The first was a man named Henry Schmidt, a west coast veteran who came east in 1903 and won 22 for Brooklyn but got homesick and returned to California. Ol' Henry is the only man to win twenty in his only big league season. The next two pitchers who did it were the maligned Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams, teammates on the White Sox. Both men took bribe money to throw the 1919 World Series, pitched the next year under suspicion and won twenty games, but were subsequently banned from baseball. The next pitcher to win twenty in his swan song was Sandy Koufax, who won 27 games in 1966 before stunning baseball by retiring. His left elbow was in severe pain, he had chronic arthritis, and he was fearful that if he didn't stop pitching, he eventually wouldn't be able to use his left arm.

The most recent pitcher to win twenty in their final season was Mike Mussina, who went 20-9 for the Yankees when he was 39 years old in 2008. "Moose" had twice previously won 19 games, but given the offensive support of that Yankees team he was able to eke out twenty even though he pitched less than seven innings in 26 of his 34 starts. He won #20 in the final start of his career, on the final day of the season at Fenway Park against the Red Sox. He left the game after six leading 3-0, but the Sox clawed back to within a run against the bullpen. His teammates tacked on three insurance runs in the ninth, and Mariano Rivera got the last three outs to preserve the win.

Mussina was one of the best postseason pitchers of his era, along with John Smoltz and Curt Schilling, and maybe Randy Johnson and a few others. He stared down the vaunted Cleveland lineup in the 1997 ALCS, striking out 15 in Game Three. He came back and pitched eight innings of one-hit ball in Game Six. But he was unlucky: his Orioles lost both games when they could only score one run.

Mussina was always just missing out. He took perfect games into the ninth inning twice only to lose the bid for perfection. The most heart-wrenching came in 2001 when Carl Everett singled on a 1-2 pitch with two out at Fenway Park. Mussina often came close. He came close to winning twenty games several times, he came close to winning a Cy Young Award (he finished second and in the top five six times), he came close to throwing a perfect game, and he came close to winning a world title. In 2001 in Game Seven of the World Series, Mariano Rivera was on the mound in the ninth inning trying to preserve a one-run lead. He got one out, but the Diamondbacks rallied and Mussina missed his best chance at a ring. Ironically, the Yankees won the World Series the year after Mussina retired. He'd missed out again.

Asked for his reaction after Everett spoiled his perfect game bid, Mussina said "I'm going to think about it until the day I retire."
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
83.0
44.5
21.9
13.7
302.2

#19.  Fergie Jenkins

Fergie Jenkins
Years:
1965-1983

Primary Team:
Cubs
If you asked people who was greater, Nolan Ryan or Fergie Jenkins, most would choose Ryan. He did the headline things: no-hitters, 100+ mile per hour fastball, and so on. But Jenkins was better, and it's not really all that close.

There are several different ways for a pitcher to navigate his way through a lineup. The stark difference in the way Jenkins did that as compared to Ryan, is why he's the better pitcher. Ryan struck out more batters (three more per nine innings), and he allowed fewer hits (1.7 less per nine innings). He also allowed half as many home runs as Jenkins. So, Ryan was allowing fewer balls in play, fewer hits, and less four-baggers.

But Jenkins allowed far fewer walks, almost three less per game than Ryan. He also got more groundballs, and as a result more double plays. Because of his control, Jenkins actually allowed fewer baserunners per game and more of the home runs he allowed were solo shots. Jenkins completed 45 percent of his starts, while Ryan only completed 28 percent. As a result, Fergie was pitching more important innings and taking pressure off the bullpen.

While Ryan was overpowering hitters, Jenkins was throwing a lot of strikes and putting hitters in a tough spot. He got more outs ahead in the count, got more outs early in the count. Ryan was throwing a lot of pitches, Jenkins was more economical. He allowed fewer runs, his adjusted career ERA was 115, compared to 112 for Ryan. Both pitchers had long careers, but Jenkins actually had more value to his teams despite starting about 180 fewer games. Jenkins was a better, more efficient pitcher. His career Wins Above Replacement was higher (84 to 81), his long peak (seven years) and short peak (three years) was better than Ryan's. Fergie had four seasons that were better or just about as good as Ryan's best season. Jenkins pitched much of his career in Wrigley Field, a park that favored hitters, Ryan pitched much of his career in the Astrodome, a great park for pitchers.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
84.4
50.1
25.3
0.0
298.3

#20.  Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling
Years:
1988-2007

Primary Team:
Phillies
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
79.6
49.8
25.4
23.3
298.2

#21.  Nolan Ryan

Nolan Ryan
Years:
1966-1993

Primary Team:
Angels
In 1974 they measured Nolan Ryan's fastball at 100.9 miles per hour using a radar gun. But back then the speed was measured about 8-10 feet from home plate. Current readings clock the speed when the pitch is being released out of the pitcher's hand. When adjustments are made to account for this difference, Ryan's actual speed increases to 108 miles per hour. That figure surpasses the fastest pitch clocked by Aroldis Chapman.

See the Fergie Jenkins comment for more on Ryan.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
81.8
43.4
21.8
0.7
286.9

#22.  Gaylord Perry

Gaylord Perry
Years:
1962-1983

Primary Team:
Giants
Gaylord Perry was born in 1938 in Williamston, North Carolina, a small town located on the Roanoke River. His brother Jim was three when Gaylord was born, the younger Perry was named for his father's best friend, who had died years before after having his teeth pulled. Less than seven months later, Phil Niekro was born in Blaine, Ohio, a community that isn't even a town, located on Wheeling Creek. About five years later, Phil welcomed a younger brother with blonde hair named Joe. And so, by November 1944, with the country embroiled in World War II, all four future major league pitchers: Gaylord and Jim Perry, Phil and Joe Niekro, were learning how to throw things.

The Perry's and the Niekro's grew into pitching royalty, the two most prolific and successful pitching families in history. Jim arrived first, in 1959 with the Indians where he won a dozen games and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting. Before the end of the 1960s, all four men were in a pitching rotation. The youngest, Joe Niekro was with the Cubs, the older Niekro was in Atlanta, by this time Jim Perry was starting for the Twins, and his younger brother was an All-Star for the Giants.

The two pitching families ended up with eerily similar output for all their years in the majors. Here's a string of two sets of numbers from their careers:

690, 447, 314, 215, 303, 109
716, 500, 318, 221, 245, 107

Remarkably similar sets of numbers, right? They represent, in order, games started (brother #1, brother #2), wins (brother #1, brother #2), and complete games (brother #1, brother #2). The first row is Gaylord and Jim, the second is Phil and Joe. Despite a combined 85 years pitching in the major leagues, these numbers are nearly a match.

In the case of the Niekro's, who learned the knuckleball from their father, an accomplished semi-pro pitcher, the older brother had the better career. In the case of the Perry's, the younger brother had the longer and more illustrious career. If we compare the two "lesser" brothers, Joe had more wins and pitched longer than Jim, but Perry had a more valuable career. Joe had one really good season and a handful of pretty good years, while Jim Perry had one excellent season and 4-5 really good seasons. Jim won a Cy Young Award in 1970, though that award should have gone to either Jim Palmer or Sam McDowell. According to the formula we use for our ratings, Jim Perry rates 161st among starting pitchers all-time, just ahead of Bartolo Colon, while Joe Niekro is 265th, one spot ahead of A.J. Burnett.

Between the #1 brothers, Phil was the better pitcher of the two, but Gaylord was no slouch. They both rank in the top 25 all-time. The two pitchers had very similar peaks, be it three-year or seven-year periods. But Phil fluttered that knuckler a little bit more effectively than Perry used his spitter. Only 54 innings (advantage Phil) separate the two. Both were late bloomers, Gaylord's peak came from age 30-35 and he kept pitching until he was 44 years old, while Phil's peak was 35-40 and he was still pitching when he was 48. Combined, Gaylord and Phil went 304-275 after the age of 35, which happens to be almost an exact match for each of their career won/loss records.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
90.4
53.2
27.5
0.0
283.6

#23.  Tom Glavine

Tom Glavine
Years:
1987-2008

Primary Team:
Braves
Who has the greatest pitching staff of all-time? Not an actual staff that pitched together at one time, I mean which franchise has the best all-time staff if you were able to put together a five-man starting rotation from all pitchers in history? My pick would be the Braves.

Of the top 100 pitchers of all-time, three of the top twelve were Braves: Greg Maddux (#2), Warren Spahn (#8), and Phil Niekro (#12). Five of the top 35 were Braves, when we add Tom Glavine (#23) and John Smoltz (#35). Of course, Mad Dog, Glavine, and Smoltzie were teammates for a decade. What happens when you have three of the top 35 starters of all-time in your rotation for ten years? You win nine division titles and three pennants.

The next best all-time starting rotation belongs to the Red Sox, who can claim Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Cy Young, and Luis Tiant. To round it out you can add Carl Mays, Dutch Leonard, or the tall lefty George Ruth.

The Phillies can make a good argument, now that I think about it. They have Pete Alexander, Steve Carlton, Robin Roberts, and Curt Schilling as a front four, then Cole Hamels, whose still climbing this list. The Giants have a great five-man crew with Christy Mathewson, Gaylord Perry, Carl Hubbell, Juan Marichal, and Iron Joe McGinnity. And the Senators/Twins boast #1 ace Walter Johnson and #10 Bert Blyleven at the top of their rotation.

The Pittsburgh Pirates do not have a single pitcher in the top 100. The Reds have only one (Bucky Walters at #88). Just outside the top 100 you'll find the best Buc hurlers: Vic Willis, Babe Adams, and Wilbur Cooper. But that threesome isn't in the class with Maddux, Spahn, Niekro, Glavine, and Smoltz.

An avid golfer, Glavine took the golf adage "Drive for show, putt for dough," and applied it to pitching. Glavine was never the hardest thrower on any pitching staff he was on, but he could locate all of his pitches near the edges of the plate. He was known for his circle change, a pitch that dipped out of the strike zone at the last second. He had some similarities to Eddie Plank, a lefthander who ranks just below him on this list.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
80.8
36.6
18.6
25.7
272.6

#24.  Jim Palmer

Jim Palmer
Years:
1965-1984

Primary Team:
Orioles
Possibly the most interesting manager/pitcher relationship in history is that of Earl Weaver and Jim Palmer. Weaver was short with a gravelly voice and a smile that looked more like a smirk. Weaver was a failed infielder with a chip on his shoulder. He liked to sneak cigarettes in the dugout, he didn't believe in being friends with his players. His job was to win baseball games, it wasn't to be nice to anyone. Weaver loved to pour through the rule book to find some loophole, a way to get an edge. He was versed in baseball history, he knew that most managers didn't like to platoon players, even though there was good evidence that it was a wise strategy. He was ahead of his time in the use of matchup statistics, which he kept on note cards. Weaver had short fuse and he was thrown out of more games than any manager in American League history, usually about five per season.

Palmer was the opposite of Weaver: tall, breathtakingly handsome, a well-conditioned athlete. Palmer was articulate, soft-spoken, and cool-tempered, he worried about his image, his hair, how he looked in his uniform. Palmer thought he knew more about pitching than Weaver did, he thought Earl was crude, sneaky, even embarrassing at times. Jim Palmer had a huge ego.

But Weaver and Palmer had a few things in common. For one, they were both very competitive. Palmer irked teammates by rolling his eyes or staring in their direction after they made a misplay behind him. Palmer hated to look bad, he wanted to dominate the competition. Weaver wanted to win just as bad, and he thought he had all the answers. After a few years in the league, Earl started to believe the stories that called him a baseball genius. Inevitably the two men butted heads, sometimes on the mound in the middle of games. But often it was behind the scenes.

"Jim had his own ideas," Weaver said in an interview after he retired as Orioles' manager the first time. "I had more fights with Jim Palmer than I did with my wife over the years, but Jim and me came to an understanding. Palmer would come into my office and tell me what he thought and sometimes he yelled, but I listened. Sometimes I yelled back, but we would both get it out and move on. That's how we handled it."

Palmer won 240 games for Earl Weaver, the third most by a pitcher for one manager. He won eight more for Earl in the postseason, including four in the World Series. The two pitcher/manager combos who exceeded the success of Palmer/Weaver were Christy Mathewson and John McGraw (352 wins), and Eddie Plank and Connie Mack (284 wins). Mathewson and McGraw's relationship was similar to the Palmer marriage with Weaver, one soft-spoken intellect and the other a hard-edged demon. Matty's relationship with McGraw was briefly severed when Christy took a job as manager of a competing team, but the two men ended up mending the fence.

After the 1968 season Major League Baseball held an expansion draft to help seed the rosters of four new teams. Every established team in baseball could protect 15 players in their organization, the rest of their players were eligible to be picked by the new teams. After each round, a team could protect three more players, and so on. The Orioles did not protect 22-year old Jim Palmer in either of the first two rounds, but neither the Pilots nor the Royals picked the tall righthander. He went on to win three Cy Young Awards and 245 games.

Most Wins by a Pitcher for One Manager, Career:

589 games, 512 starts, 352 wins Mathewson/McGraw
524 games, 458 starts, 284 wins Plank/Mack
473 games, 462 starts, 240 wins Palmer/Weaver
390 games, 297 starts, 223 wins Johnson/Griffith
446 games, 446 starts, 221 wins Glavine/Cox
392 games, 366 starts, 216 wins Ruffing/McCarthy
518 games, 465 starts, 209 wins Drysdale/Alston
667 games, 425 starts, 196 wins Smoltz/Cox
402 games, 267 starts, 195 wins Grove/Mack
363 games, 363 starts, 194 wins Maddux/Cox
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
68.9
47.0
22.6
19.3
264.9

#25.  David Cone

David Cone
Years:
1986-2003

Primary Team:
Mets
Cone learned to throw breaking balls when he was a young teenage pitcher. He ignored the common wisdom that young player shouldn't throw breaking balls. But Cone threw his curve and slider "backwards", he held the pitches the opposite way from traditional instruction.

"I feel that it gave me kind of an unusual break on my pitches," Cone said, "A lot of guys [put] all of the pressure on their middle finger. I put a lot of pressure on my index finger when I threw my breaking ball. Most coaches teach just the opposite. To them, the index finger, the pointer finger, is more of a guide, or just in the way.

"My index finger was on a seam, and that was important to me. I could sweep it a little more that way, I could get a little more side-to-side break, and then, if I wanted to get on top of it, I could make it break down a little more. I also felt that I could control the pitch better that way."

The career of David Cone intersects with many of the pitchers in the top 100. He made his first major league start with the Mets in 1987 replacing an injured Dwight Gooden. He and Frank Viola were teammates on the Mets. He pitched briefly in the same rotation with Kevin Appier, another hurler who came up through the Royals organization. He was a gun-for-hire for the Blue Jays for the stretch drive in 1992 where he took the rotation spot of veteran Dave Stieb. He was a rotation-mate in New York with Roger Clemens, David Wells, Kenny Rogers, and Gooden (again). He switched sides and pitched for the Red Sox, where he was a teammate of Pedro Martinez. While in a Boston uniform he was the pitcher who faced Mike Mussina when Moose nearly threw a perfect game at Fenway Park. In his final season at the age of 40, Cone was in the same rotation as 37-year old Tom Glavine. The man who closed out so many of his wins in the Bronx was Mariano Rivera, the highest-rank reliever on this list. And then there were the postseason battles: in the World Series he pitched against John Smoltz and Glavine once each, he squared off against Orel Hershiser and Wells in October, too. In all, Cone was a teammate of 1/10th of this list, and he pitched against eight of them, from Nolan Ryan to CC Sabathia.

John Schuerholz traded Cone to the Mets in March of 1987 and pitcher Danny Jackson to the Reds that November. The following season, both young pitchers had fine seasons and were in the NL Cy Young race. Schuerholz was pilloried for the deals, said "I'll tell you one thing, it'll take a keg of dynamite under my behind to trade a pitcher next time."
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
62.4
43.7
21.0
11.0
264.1

#26.  Roy Halladay

Roy Halladay
Years:
1998-2013

Primary Team:
Blue Jays
The highest career winning percentage on artificial turf belongs to Roy Halladay, here are the leaders in that category among the Top 100 Ranked Pitchers:

Roy Halladay ... .717
Roger Clemens ... .687
Johan Santana ... .671
Mike Mussina ... .650
Randy Johnson ... .642

Halladay played his entire career in home parks that had artificial turf, and his 99 wins on turf ranks ninth all-time, even though he ranks only 41st in games started on artificial turf. Steve Carlton holds the record for most wins (212) and games started (414) on turf, his win percentage on carpet was .627.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
64.3
51.3
25.3
0.0
264.0

#27.  Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw
Years:
2008-2018

Primary Team:
Dodgers
Kershaw is five years younger than Justin Verlander, his primary competition as the best pitcher of the first two decades of the 21st century. Both will hoist plaques in Cooperstown, the only questions that remain are (1) which will have the more valuable career, and (2) will Kershaw get a World Series ring to match Verlander, who got his at the age of 34 after changing uniforms?

Of the five great starting pitchers of the first part of this century (Kershaw, Verlander, Zack Greinke, Max Scherzer, and Felix Hernandex), Kershaw is the most unorthodox. His herky-jerk, crooked-paused-leg motion is famous, but ugly. Still, he's been effective, to say the least. Kershaw has not been durable, and that's hurt him, especially as he enters his thirties. He hasn't had one season as valuable as the top two seasons by Verlander, largely because he doesn't log as many innings. Kershaw has also been inconsistent in the postseason, while Verlander has been a horse, for the most part.

How far can the southpaw go? Will he end up like Fernando Valenzuela, who won 32 games after the age of 30? Or will he muster a second wind and have a nice second half of his career?
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
64.6
47.7
23.2
8.9
258.4

#28.  Carl Hubbell

Carl Hubbell
Years:
1928-1943

Primary Team:
Giants
If it wasn't for their uninformed pitching coach, the Detroit Tigers would have secured Carl Hubbell as their ace, one of the best lefthanded pitchers in baseball history. The Tigers owned the rights to Hubbell for two seasons, invited him to spring training. In 1926 at camp in Texas, Hubbell was under the watching eyes of player/manager Ty Cobb and pitching coach George McBride, a former infielder. Cobb never stepped to the plate to face Hubbell, otherwise he might have realized how great Hubbell's screwball was. McBride didn't like Hubbell's delivery and actually tried to convince the prospect to abandon the screwball. Hubbell was returned to the minors and the next two springs, after Cobb and McBride were gone, he returned to training camp with Detroit but failed to make the team. The Tigers released him early in 1928 and a Giants' scout named Dick Kinsella recommended him to John McGraw. The Giants signed him and he made his major league debut in July of 1928.

In his first start for the Giants, Hubbell gave up seven earned runs in the second inning against the Pirates. That rough outing sent him to the bullpen for a couple weeks, but in his second start, Hubbell tossed a shutout. The rookie lefthander started eight games in September and won seven of them. After that, he was on his way. He was so successful for McGraw and the Giants that Hubbell earned two nicknames "The Meal Ticket" and "King Carl." He won two Most Valuable Player awards and topped twenty wins in five consecutive seasons.

Hubbell started the first All-Star Game for the National League and he also started Game One of the World Series three times for the Giants, winning twice. He won two games in the 1933 World Series when he led the Giants to the world championship.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
68.4
45.6
25.6
22.4
257.5

#29.  Juan Marichal

Juan Marichal
Years:
1960-1975

Primary Team:
Giants
Marichal was sort of the dragon slayer. In his career against the five premier pitchers in the National League, Warren Spahn, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Jim Bunning, the Dominican righthander was the best in head-to-head competition. In 43 starts against that group, Marichal was 24-12 with a 2.11 ERA and a 256-to-55 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In 1966 he tossed a 14-inning shutout to defeat Bunning and the Phillies, but his most famous performance came against Spahn in 1963. In an epic battle between the 42-year old Spahn and the 25-year old Marichal, the two aces put up zero after zero, inning after inning. Finally, after he pitched 16 shutout innings, Marichal's teammates scratched a run across against Spahn in the bottom of the 16th.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
63.0
49.8
27.2
3.5
257.0

#30.  Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander
Years:
2005-2018

Primary Team:
Tigers
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
63.4
46.6
23.9
13.7
256.2

#31.  Eddie Plank

Eddie Plank
Years:
1901-1917

Primary Team:
A's
Plank was a professional fidgeter. He was famous for his deliberate tedious mannerisms on the mound. A thin southpaw with a long, pointy nose from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Plank liked to examine the baseball between pitches, tug at the bill of his cap, and hitch at his pants. In that era when games frequently took only 90 minutes to play, "Gettysburg Eddie" would add 10-15 minutes to the contest with his mound habits. But the stalling wasn't for lack of courage: Plank was one of the best lefthanders in baseball in the first decade of the 20th century. He won 20 games eight times and led the league in shutouts twice, once throwing eight in one season.

Like Tom Glavine, Plank didn't throw that hard, he relied on guile and expert pitch location. His best pitch was a sinking fastball. He was rugged, finishing 35 of his 41 starts in 1905 when the A's won the pennant. Whereas Glavine had Greg Maddux, Plank had Chief Bender, the pair teaming for 440 wins from 1903 to 1914. The A's won five pennants with their one-two-punch. Both Plank and Glavine were on big winners and performed well in the postseason: Eddie in 1905 when he dueled Christy Mathewson and Iron Joe McGinnity, Glavine in 1995. Both men were tough outs at the plate (for pitchers) and good bunters. Plank pitched until he was 41, Glavine pitched until he was 42. They are both among the six lefthanders to have won 300 games.

When teammate Eddie Collins said this of Plank, he could just as easily have been talking about Glavine: "Not the fastest. Not the trickiest, and not the possessor of the most stuff, but just the greatest."

"Eddie Plank was one of the smartest left-hand pitchers it has been my pleasure to have on my club," Connie Mack said. "He was short and light [he was actually tall and thin], as pitchers go, but he made up for the physical defects, if such they were, by his study of the game and his smartness when he was on the pitching peak."

Plank's personal catcher was a man named Michael "Doc" Powers, who, by contemporary accounts, was a smart receiver who was particularly skilled at making a strong connection with his pitchers. From 1901 to 1908, Powers caught 205 of the 281 games Eddie started. Manager Connie Mack knew that Plank was comfortable throwing to Powers, which is why he kept Doc on the team even though the catcher hit .173 from 1904 to 1908. Sportswriter George Graham observed that Powers "was always a far better catcher than he was credited with being. He wasn't much of a hitter, one of the poorest in the league in fact, and he was painfully slow on the bases, but behind the bat he was alert-minded, he handled the mitt well and had a great arm."

On Opening Day in 1909, the A's hosted the Red Sox at brand new Shibe Park in Philadelphia. The new ballpark featured a grand facade, wide corridors for large crowds, modern concessions, and comfortable seating. Even before it opened, Shibe Park was celebrated as the greatest ballpark in the game. It was a festive day, and a sellout crowd of more than 30,000 were in attendance. Ceremony surrounded the event, dignitaries spoke, bands played and so on. The Red Sox had a young center fielder in their lineup named Tris Speaker, the A's were playing a kid named Eddie Collins at second base. It was the first opening day game for the two future Hall of Famers. The game was anticlimactic: the A's pounded the Sox for eight runs while Plank cruised with Powers behind the plate.

In the seventh inning, Powers reported that he was feeling ill. For a few moments, he was in great pain before finally getting to his feet and going to his position behind the plate. Waving off Mack's suggestions that he retire for the day, Powers played on through the completion of an 8-1 victory by Plank, despite suffering intense pain. A reporter noted in his game account:

"The only thing that occurred to cast a shadow over the joy of the fans was the seizure of Doc Powers with acute gastritis in the seventh inning. The redoubtable catcher, however, refused to abandon his post behind the plate and though suffering intense agony, pluckily stuck to it until the end of the game. On the verge of collapse, he was taken to Northwest General Hospital where last night it was stated by the physicians attending him that he would probably be able to don a uniform again in a few days."

But only hours after checking in to the hospital, Powers experienced even worse pain. After examination, it was determined that immediate surgery was necessary. Early in the morning of the 13th, Powers underwent a procedure in which nearly a foot of his intestine was removed. He was in stable condition for a few days before the pain returned, he had another blockage in his intestine and a second surgery commenced. After the second operation, Powers hovered in uncertain condition. Doctors determined that Powers was suffering from intussusception, a rare condition where one section of the intestine slips inside an adjacent part of the intestine. The result is a blockage and is very dangerous.

Sections of Powers intestine were gangrenous and removed, but his condition did not improve, even after a third operation. Finally, on April 26th, he died. It was reported that Powers, who was medically licensed himself, had sat up in his bed and shouted "I've got no pulse...no pulse!" I doubt that happened, but we know for sure that Powers passed. On April 29th, a funeral was held at St. Elizabeth's Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia. One of the pallbearers was Eddie Plank.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
91.5
48.2
22.8
24.1
256.2

#32.  Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke
Years:
2004-2018

Primary Team:
Royals
There's a pitching axiom that goes "You can't make a living in the middle of the plate." No pitcher, no matter how good his stuff is, can stick long in the major leagues if his pitches are down the middle.

Zack Greinke lives on the edge of the plate, he's what hitters call a "nibbler." Greinke is always trying to locate his pitches on the black of the plate, unless he's forced to throw it down the middle. Of course he has great stuff and excellent command of his pitches, which helps him be one of the top pitchers of his generation. In fact, Greinke uses six pitches, a large repertoire by pitching standards. His best are his cut fastball and his slider. Greinke's even been known to toss an eephus pitch, once getting a strikeout on a 65 mile per hour offering.

Clayton Kershaw, briefly a teammate, said of Greinke: "The way he executes his pitches is probably the best I've ever seen. He can throw anything at any time to any spot." A former pitching coach compared Greinke to Greg Maddux, another cerebral pitcher who instinctively knew how to outsmart hitters.

When he had his eye on the majors as a high school ballplayer, Greinke wanted to be a shortstop. He was a very good one at that level. Later he said, "My confidence then was good enough to make the majors, but my swing wasn't as good as I remembered."

Greinke still didn't know what position he wanted to play when the Royals drafted him and he reported to his first pro camp. But he and the team quickly determined that he was going to concentrate on the mound. He spent a month at rookie ball, jumped two levels when he was 19, and was promoted to the Royals when he was 20 years old. But his years in KC turned out to be bitter and sweet. On one hand he learned to face down big league hitters, on the other he alienated teammates with his thorny personality. On the one hand he lost 17 games in his second season, on the other he won the Cy Young Award for a team that nearly lost 100 games. On one hand he left the team after demanding a trade, but on the other he became close with Royals legend George Brett, even briefly living with the Hall of Famer.

Greinke's years in Kansas City served as a foundation for greater things to come. He was also diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, which explained many of the rude and bizarre encounters he had with media, fans, and teammates.

There's no reason Greinke can't get to 250 wins, which is the new 300 wins. He's won a Cy Young Award and finished second once. He's still accumulating Gold Glove Awards and he's one of the better hitting pitchers of his era. The only thing missing on a Hall of Fame resume is postseason success. The other thing that will hurt him is direct comparison with Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander, who have many of the things Zack's missing to make a Hall of Fame case. But that didn't hurt the great pitchers who came out of the 1960s.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
65.7
43.7
25.6
0.0
253.9

#33.  Luis Tiant

Luis Tiant
Years:
1964-1982

Primary Team:
Red Sox
Most starts by a former Red Sox pitcher for the Yankees against Boston:

Red Ruffing ... 51
Herb Pennock ... 39
Waite Hoyt ... 35
Roger Clemens ... 17
Sad Sam Jones ... 17
Bullet Joe Bush ... 15
Carl Mays ... 15
Danny MacFayden ... 6
Luis Tiant ... 5
Bill Monbouquette ... 4

Yes, it hurt Red Sox fans to see The Rocket in pinstripes facing their team (and winning titles with the Yankees), but the one that really stung was Luis Tiant signing with Steinbrenner's Yanks after the 1978 season. El Tiante only won 21 games for the Bombers in two seasons, but he looked wrong in a New York uniform.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
66.5
44.7
22.8
2.6
251.4

#34.  Bret Saberhagen

Bret Saberhagen
Years:
1984-2001

Primary Team:
Royals
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
59.0
43.1
25.0
7.3
251.1

#35.  John Smoltz

John Smoltz
Years:
1988-2009

Primary Team:
Braves
Smoltz had difficulty throwing a baseball slow, always did. Early in his career he was a two-pitch pitcher, fastball and curve. Lefties were having success against him. Then he tried to learn the changeup, toyed with a forkball. He had Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine show him how they threw the change, but every time Smoltz threw it, the pitch went too fast. Finally, Smoltz taught himself the split-finger fastball and he was able to throw it six to seven miles per hour slower than his fastball but with the same arm action. He credited the splitter with helping him win his Cy Young and for having such a long career.

For a decade, the Braves had three of the top 35 pitchers of all-time in their rotation: Greg Maddux (#2), Tom Glavine (#23), and Smoltz. The trio combined for five Cy Young Awards. The Braves won the division title in all nine of the full seasons played during that stretch (in 1994 the season was halted due to the labor disagreement).
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
69.1
37.3
18.6
24.9
249.6

#36.  Don Drysdale

Don Drysdale
Years:
1956-1969

Primary Team:
Dodgers
One observer said of Don Drysdale that he had "the face of choir boy, the physique of a Goliath, and the competitive instincts of a tarantula." Drysdale's tent pole skills were his aggressiveness, competitiveness, and hitting ability. He twice hit seven home runs in a season, and hit 29 total.

Drysdale pitched nearly his entire career in pain. His right shoulder always barked at him after he pitched, and in those days the remedy was ice and more ice. That helped reduce swelling, but a pitcher was expected to suck it up and pitch even with the pain. Ironically, on the eve of the 1969 season Drysdale reported that his "tennis elbow" had disappeared. For the first time in years, Drysdale did not have pain in his shoulder entering spring training. He was still only 32 years old and one year removed from his famed 58+ consecutive shutout innings streak. The big righthander was optimistic that he could help the Dodgers return to the World Series. But four starts into the season, after being pulled in the fifth inning against the Giants, Drysdale's shoulder was killing him. The Dodgers rested him for nearly two months, but there was very little sports science back then, no surgery. When he returned in mid-June, Drysdale made five starts, including a shutout against the Padres. But in his very next outing, Big D felt the pain in his shoulder again. He rested for three weeks, came back and pitched five innings for his 209th and final big league win. His next start lasted 12 batters, and three days later he went six innings in pain, somehow allowing only two runs to the Pirates. A day later he saw the doctors and they told him to rest, but he knew something more was wrong. He saw a specialist in Los Angeles who told him he had "lost the elasticity in his arm." (He had actually completely torn his rotator cuff.) He retired two weeks later in a somber press conference.

Drysdale had an eye on the broadcast booth early in his career. He used to "announce" the games out loud when he sat in the bullpen at Ebbets Field and later Dodger Stadium. He did it so incessantly that his fellow pitchers made him move to the far end of the bullpen bench. After his premature retirement, Drysdale worked for several teams before getting his best-known gig with ABC Sports. With that network, the popular (and often tan) Drysdale broadcast not only baseball, but college football and specials like "Superstars" and "Battle of the Network Stars."

He was working as a broadcaster for the Dodgers when he suffered a fatal heart attack in his hotel room in Montreal in 1993. Drysdale was only 56 years old. Among the possessions found in his room was a cassette recording of the speech given by Robert Kennedy on the night he was assassinated in 1968. In that speech, Kennedy mentioned that Drysdale had pitched his sixth straight shutout that evening, news that caused those in attendance to erupt in applause. Drysdale carried the cassette with him on every road trip he made in his broadcasting career.

Highest Percentage of Career Starts Came on Three Days Rest, Since 1945

Don Drysdale ... 54.4 percent
Dean Chance ... 53.7
Sandy Koufax ... 53.2
Wilbur Wood ... 51.5
Mickey Lolich ... 50.6
Jim Palmer ... 49.3
Denny McLain ... 48.5
Juan Marichal ... 47.0
Ken Holtzman ... 46.6
Jim Bunning ... 46.4

Five of the ten pitchers on that list had arm injuries that hastened the end of their careers. But it's not accurate to imply that being used in a four-man pitching rotation was the cause. Only Palmer, Lolich, Wood, Marichal, and Bunning avoided serious arm injuries.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
67.2
42.1
21.0
17.9
249.1

#37.  Ted Lyons

Ted Lyons
Years:
1923-1946

Primary Team:
White Sox
Lyons was called "Sunday Teddy" because he pitched once per week late in his career. He basically worked that way exclusively after the age of 33, extending his career to the age of 45. Lyons made by far the most "well-rested" starts in history:

Most Games Started with 6 Days or More Rest, Career

Ted Lyons ... 175
Red Ruffing ... 123
Freddie Fitzsimmons ... 116
Eddie Lopat ... 105
Curt Simmons ... 105
Nolan Ryan ... 99
Tom Zachary ... 97
Lefty Grove ... 94
Tommy Bridges ... 93
Sad Sam Jones ... 93

Seven of these ten pitchers were active in the 1920s and 1930s, Lopat pitched in the 1940s and 1950s, and so did Simmons. Ryan is the only modern pitcher on the list, but he was never a "weekly pitcher", he makes the list because (a) his career was so long and the number of starts over 5 days accumulated through natural reasons (breaks, days off in the schedule) and (b) he was held back due to injury several times each year from about age 35 on.

It worked: Lyons had a higher winning percentage, lower ERA, and better strikeout-to-walk-rate, relative to the league as a weekly pitcher as opposed to pitching in a four or five-man rotation. He was not being babied in the short-term either: in his last four seasons Lyons started 69 games in the weekly format and completed 61 of them. In 1942 the 41-year old started 20 games and completed them all, even one that went ten innings and another that went into the 11th. He averaged more than nine innings per start that year.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
71.5
38.6
18.6
0.0
248.4

#38.  Ed Walsh

Ed Walsh
Years:
1904-1917

Primary Team:
White Sox
"If Ed Walsh was not the greatest pitcher who ever lived, he was certainly the most valuable in his prime. He could pitch as well as anyone. But he had tremendous added value because his great strength allowed him to pitch out of turn and save a whole raft of games for other pitchers." --- Johnny Evers

People like to talk about the strong-armed pitchers of yesteryear, as if they were a species of half-pitcher, half-superhero with iron arms and tree-trunk legs. But pitching a lot of innings, especially a lot of innings in a short span, has always been bad for a pitcher.

Since 1901 there have been 360 pitchers who have thrown at least 275 innings in a season. They range from Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson, who did it 13 times each, to the 176 pitchers who did it once. Nearly half of the pitchers who have thrown 275 innings in a season, did it only once. At any rate, the average number of seasons for a pitcher after he threw 275 innings is less than three. When we take out the all-time greats, the outliers, that figure drops to less than two years. So, on average, after a pitcher has thrown as many as 275 innings in one season, after he's reached that Mt. Everest of usage, he lasts only about 18-24 months.

In 1907-1908, using the spitball he'd learned from Elmer Stricklett, an early practitioner of the wet ball, Walsh pitched a total of 886 ? innings. He won 40 games in 1908, when he started 49 games and pitched 17 more in relief. The following season he had his first sore arm, pitched 230 innings, half as many as in 1908. He was used at high levels the next three years before his arm went dead. He was 32 years old in 1913 and pitched fewer than 100 innings. Walsh made twelve starts over the next four years, trying to find a pain-free place. But his arm was indeed mush.

There are some freaks, like Cy Young and Mathewson and Big Train, and Robin Roberts and Warren Spahn later. In the expansion era Steve Carlton and Jack Morris went over the barrier and kept pitching for a long time, but for the most part, if you put too many innings on a pitcher, he will break. The guys who don't are the great ones. Walsh was not one of the other guys, he was a great one too, but he got pushed way past the barrier and he paid a price.

Walsh was trying to make a comeback in 1917 with the Boston Braves. On August 22 he was pitching against the Cardinals when he came to bat against a man named Milt Watson. Walsh was 36 years old and had only been in the batters box to face big league pitching 18 times in the previous three years. Watson, who was called "The Mule" because he was a hulking 6'1 specimen, threw three-quarter sidearm. He fired a fastball that sailed up and in, it was on a trajectory to Walsh's head. The veteran pitcher later described it:

"It wasn't over the plate... it came straight for my old knowledge box at the speed of a bullet. They say that a bird is hypnotized by the eye of a serpent. I don't know how that may be, but I was sure hypnotized by that ball all right. I tried to get out of the way, but I couldn't to save my salary. The most I could try to do was turn my head trying to take that ball where the bone was the thickest. There was a crazy that sounded like the explosion of a howitzer shell, a shower of sparks and rockets, and then the curtain rung down."

Walsh went down and was knocked unconscious. He spent three days in the hospital, regaining consciousness but with a helluva headache. He missed two weeks, came back and made a start and one relief appearance, and that was it. It was the type of beaning, a scary one, that people talked about for years.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
66.0
59.9
32.4
4.7
247.0

#39.  Jim Bunning

Jim Bunning
Years:
1955-1971

Primary Team:
Tigers
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
59.6
47.9
24.8
0.0
243.3

#40.  Sandy Koufax

Sandy Koufax
Years:
1955-1966

Primary Team:
Dodgers
I have Koufax rated lower than anyone else. Bill James had him 10th among pitchers and ranked him as the 51st best player in history. ESPN's list placed Koufax 44th among all players and The Sporting News rated Sandy as the 28th best player of all time in 2005.

I simply can't see how you can rate Koufax so high when he pitched only 2,324 innings. That's half as many innings as Robin Roberts. Koufax pitched about as many innings as Larry Dierker. He pitched 1,100 innings less than Catfish Hunter, who many critics said had too short a career for the Hall of Fame. Mickey Lolich pitched more innings from 1968 to 1975, an eight-year stretch, than Koufax threw his entire career. Bob Gibson threw 1,500 more innings than he did, so did Jerry Koosman, and Bob Feller, even though Feller missed five prime years in the war.

It's just not possible to make only 314 starts and be the tenth best pitcher in baseball history, not unless you bend the rules in favor of peak performance a hell of a lot.

Koufax was great in his prime, clearly. But how great, how brilliant and dominant would a pitcher have to be in basically ten seasons (at 30 starts per year) to be considered one of the 51 best players of all time? In his last four years Koufax was the legend: in ERA+ he went 159, 186, 160, 190. In his fifth best season his ERA+ was 143. Good numbers, all. But after that we have to face the sober truth that in his other five seasons he was 50-47 with an ERA+ of 106 while averaging less than 170 innings per year. The truth: Sandy Koufax was a developing pitcher for more than half his career. He was a brilliant pitcher for four seasons.

Luis Tiant had five seasons that were better than the third-best year Koufax ever had. Gaylord Perry had twelve 4 WAR seasons, twice as many as Koufax, and Perry pitched 3,000 more innings. Sam McDowell pitched about the same number of innings as Koufax, struck out more batters, and had essentially the same career minus the two peak, amazing seasons. Of course, those two great seasons happened, and sure, Sandy might have been the best pitcher in history for about 1,000 days, but how much should that brief peak count? Is Sam McDowell plus two Walter Johnson type seasons the tenth best pitcher in history?

James clearly favored peak performance in The New Bill James Historical Abstract (2002). His four measurements are Career Win Shares, Top Three Seasons, Top Five Consecutive Seasons, and Per Season Win Shares. The last three methods all favor a player with a brief career with a very high peak.

I simply can't get past the fact that Koufax was only healthy for five seasons and had only four outstanding seasons total with no really good seasons after that. His career WAR is lower than that of Cole Hamels, Dave Stieb, Tim Hudson, and Larry Jackson. His WAR per 200 innings pitched is lower than that of Roy Oswalt and Bret Saberhagen.

Koufax belongs in the Hall of Fame: he was incredible for four seasons, as good as anyone ever was. He was important, crucial really, in several pennant races. He threw four no-hitters, he made batters look silly with his fastball and his legendary curveball, he struck out tons of hitters. But this list ranks pitchers by their value. And value isn't simply how great you were at your best, it's how good you were the other years, how much accumulated value you gave your teams. After his three best seasons, Koufax was a very good pitcher for two more partial seasons, but otherwise he spent more than half of his career as an untamed hurler who was maturing, tinkering, trying to become a major league pitcher. He spent six or seven years battling to harness his stuff.

Koufax himself acknowledged this reality after he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972. He was surprised at how much support he got.

"I didn't have as many good years as many people who are in the Hall of Fame," Koufax said. "My career lasted twelve years, but only six were good ones."

It says a lot that when he finally mastered his craft those few brilliant years were great enough to push him into the top forty pitchers of all-time. But to make him top ten or even top twenty, you have to ignore the glaring fact that he was not great enough long enough.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
49.0
48.7
29.1
31.2
240.9

#41.  Dave Stieb

Dave Stieb
Years:
1979-1998

Primary Team:
Blue Jays
Dave Stieb and Wes Ferrell (#50) have a lot in common. Both Stieb and Ferrell were ill-tempered competitors. Both were known to occasionally shoot a glare at a teammate who dared make an error behind them. Both Stieb and Ferrell were excellent athletes: Ferrell was one of the best hitting pitchers in history, and Stieb was a former outfielder who fielded his position as well as any pitcher in his era. Both Stieb and Ferrell were overshadowed by contemporaries in their own league, Ferrell by Lefty Grove and the Yankee pitchers who got to pitch every October (Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing), Stieb by Jack Morris, Roger Clemens, and Bret Saberhagen. Stieb and Ferrell both played for World Series winning teams after their prime, neither making appearances in the Fall Classic. Both Stieb and Ferrell saw their careers fade out in their early 30s due to a sore arm.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
56.7
44.7
22.6
0.0
240.6

#42.  Hal Newhouser

Hal Newhouser
Years:
1939-1955

Primary Team:
Tigers
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
63.3
50.5
28.7
12.5
237.7

#43.  Don Sutton

Don Sutton
Years:
1966-1988

Primary Team:
Dodgers
Three times we've had a "winner-takes-all" game that featured two future Hall of Fame starting pitchers. The first instance was the final game of the 1908 season between the Cubs and Giants, when Three Finger Brown outdueled Christy Mathewson to deliver the pennant to Chicago. The most recent time it happened was Game Seven of the 1991 World Series, when Jack Morris, pitching for his hometown Twins, tossed his famous 10-inning shutout and outperformed young gunslinger John Smoltz of the Braves, who also pitched well in that game.

The other time two future Hall of Famers squared off in a "winner-takes-all" was the final official game of the 1982 regular season. Don Sutton was on the mound for the Brewers to face Jim Palmer. Milwaukee and Baltimore each had 94 wins through 162 games completed (the two rivals had tied a game in June that was called on account of curfew). On the last Sunday, after the O's had swept a Friday doubleheader from the Brewers and defeated Milwaukee again on Saturday, the two clubs were tied atop the American League East.

That afternoon, Palmer was rocked for three home runs, a pair off the bat of Robin Yount, and Sutton and the Brew Crew won 10-2 to win their first division title. It was only Sutton's seventh start for Milwaukee, who had acquired the veteran from Houston in a trade deadline deal at the end of August. It was the 258th victory of his career, he was 37 years old. It was only Palmer's fifth loss of the 1982 season, he was 36 years old and had 263 career wins. Sutton would win 66 more games for a total of 324, Palmer would win only five.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
67.0
34.5
18.3
12.0
236.6

#44.  Kevin Appier

Kevin Appier
Years:
1989-2004

Primary Team:
Royals
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
54.7
43.3
23.3
1.8
236.1

#45.  Stan Coveleski

Stan Coveleski
Years:
1916-1928

Primary Team:
Indians
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
60.3
52.9
26.5
15.0
235.5

#46.  CC Sabathia

CC Sabathia
Years:
2001-2018

Primary Team:
Yankees
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
62.7
38.8
19.5
6.2
234.3

#47.  Rick Reuschel

Rick Reuschel
Years:
1972-1991

Primary Team:
Cubs
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
69.7
43.0
21.4
4.3
234.1

#48.  Max Scherzer

Max Scherzer
Years:
2008-2018

Primary Team:
Tigers
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
54.5
45.6
22.8
4.2
233.2

#49.  Dennis Eckersley

Dennis Eckersley
Years:
1975-1998

Primary Team:
A's
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
62.4
38.3
19.9
8.2
232.1

#50.  Wes Ferrell

Wes Ferrell
Years:
1927-1941

Primary Team:
Indians
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
61.2
46.2
23.3
0.0
231.9

#51.  Chuck Finley

Chuck Finley
Years:
1986-2002

Primary Team:
Angels
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
58.1
39.7
22.0
0.0
231.4

#52.  Dazzy Vance

Dazzy Vance
Years:
1915-1935

Primary Team:
Dodgers
Vance pitched with pain for more than a decade, bounced around the professional leagues, never stuck anywhere very long. One night he was playing poker when he banged his right elbow on the top of the table. The pain felt different and he went to a doctor. The physician performed an operation on Vance's elbow, most likely removed bone chips.

That was 1920, Dazzy was 29 years old. The following year he pitched without pain for the first time and had a good season for New Orleans. The Dodgers bought his contract and in 1922 the 31-year old won 18 games and led the National League in strikeouts. He led the league in strikeouts the next year too, and the year after that. He led the NL in K's for seven straight seasons, and in 1924 when he was 34, Dazzy won the MVP Award when he won 28 games and captured the pitching triple crown. Vance pitched until he was 44 years old and won all of his 197 games after his 30th birthday. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1955. His is one of most peculiar careers in baseball history.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
60.1
51.2
28.3
1.0
229.7

#53.  Wilbur Wood

Wilbur Wood
Years:
1961-1978

Primary Team:
White Sox
"What they call natural ability is standing six-four and being able to throw a ball 100 miles per hour. Well, it turns out that he has as much God-given ability as any man I've ever met. He can throw the knuckleball, it requires natural feel." --- Johnny Sain

"There isn't anyone in the major leagues . . . who looks less like a ballplayer. He's a chubby, pot-bellied guy with thinning blond hair, blue eyes, and a pleasant round face." --- The Sporting News

Wood was a New Englander, he grew up rooting for the Red Sox in the era of Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Johnny Pesky. Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey took the word of one of his scouts in Massachusetts and authorized a $25,000 signing bonus for the pudgy kid with a good curveball. But Wood never did squat with his curveball or middling fastball. He didn't become a 20-game winner or All-Star until he mastered the most difficult pitch in baseball.

A number of sources claim Hoyt Wilhelm (lower on this list) taught Wilbur Wood the knuckleball when they were teammates on the White Sox. That's not true, Wood threw a knuckler when he was with the other Sox in the early 1960s, it just wasn't very good. Wilhelm helped Wood perfect the knuckleball, changed his arm angle, encouraged him to throw it 100 percent of the time. That's what Wilbur did, and of course he owed Wilhelm much of the credit for the success he enjoyed in the second-half of his career.

On May 28, 1973, the White Sox and Indians had a regularly scheduled game, but before that they needed to resume a suspended game from two days earlier. That contest had been halted after 16 innings due to a league curfew. Manager Chuck Tanner figured Wood, with his rubber arm and knuckler, could give his bullpen a rest that day, so he sent Wood to the mound to start the 17th inning of the suspended game. Wood pitched five shutout innings as neither team blinked. In the bottom of the 21st inning, Dick Allen hit a walkoff homer to give Wilbur a victory. The round little lefthander went back out to the hill for the regularly scheduled game about 30 minutes later, and wouldn't you know it? Wood pitched a shutout for his second win of the day. In all, he tossed 14 shutout innings, allowing only six hits and three walks.

In a 1976 game in early May at Tiger Stadium, Ron LeFlore lined a pitch off Wood's knee cap, shattering it. The injury was gruesome and painful, Wood lie on the mound screaming in agony. His season was over, and Wood was never the same pitcher again. He was only 36, very young for a knuckleballer, when his career ended two years later.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
50.3
47.2
29.9
0.0
229.2

#54.  Orel Hershiser

Orel Hershiser
Years:
1983-2000

Primary Team:
Dodgers
Eighteen months after he broke the major league record for consecutive shutout innings and pitched the Dodgers to the title in the 1988 World Series, Orel Hershiser's arm gave out from the use. He had a damaged rotator cuff and a torn labrum. The surgery he underwent, at the hands of Dr. Frank Jobe, was more radical than the operation the same doctor had performed on Tommy John nearly twenty years earlier. Hershiser missed 14 months, came back in June of 1991, and went on to win 105 games after going under the knife.

Hershiser was not named "Bulldog" because he was a tenacious competitor. He got that name from manager Tommy Lasorda for the opposite reason. When Orel arrived in Los Angeles as a young pitcher the organization coveted his talents, but they were worried that under his choir boy looks there was well...a choir boy. Lasorda called Hershiser "Bulldog" because he wanted to force the young pitcher to think of himself that way on the mound.

After the surgery that saved his career, Hershiser experienced a renaissance in the American League, became the first player to win the MVP in the League Championship Series in both leagues.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
56.3
37.3
20.6
13.2
226.6

#55.  Red Ruffing

Red Ruffing
Years:
1924-1947

Primary Team:
Yankees
Red Ruffing is the only Hall of Fame pitcher with a Quality Start Percentage under 50 percent. (A quality start is defined as six or more innings and three earned runs allowed or less). Quality Starts are not a perfect stat, by any means, they were easier to come by in the deadball era, for sure, and less common in times when runs were high, but measured as part of a whole analysis, this fact is illustrative if we're trying to locate the weakest starting pitcher to get a plaque in Cooperstown. Jumping to the back of the book: it's not Ruffing.

For the final five years of his career, Ruffing was used essentially as a weekly pitcher (see the Ted Lyons comment). He even played under "Sunday Teddy" Lyons in 1947 for the White Sox, where Lyons wanted to use him in the same way he had been used by Chicago. But a line drive caromed off his knee cap in spring training and Ruffing was shelved for a while. He only made nine starts that year and 28 after coming back from World War II. Ruffing almost certainly would have reached 300 wins had it not been for the war. He really wanted to reach 300 and tie his old rival Lefty Grove, but Red selflessly served in the Army for nearly three years even though he enlisted after his 37th birthday.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
68.7
33.8
18.2
29.0
225.5

#56.  Frank Tanana

Frank Tanana
Years:
1973-1993

Primary Team:
Angels
There's an old adage (have you ever heard of a new adage?) that says the first batter in an inning is the most important. Frank Tanana took that seriously. Of the Top 100 pitchers, Tanana was the toughest against the first batter of an inning, relative to how he fared against all batters. Tanana was 11 percent tougher on the first batter.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
57.6
38.4
23.2
0.0
224.0

#57.  Johan Santana

Johan Santana
Years:
2000-2012

Primary Team:
Twins
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
51.6
44.2
23.3
0.0
223.9

#58.  Tim Hudson

Tim Hudson
Years:
1999-2015

Primary Team:
A's
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
58.2
37.5
20.1
1.5
222.3

#59.  Whitey Ford

Whitey Ford
Years:
1950-1967

Primary Team:
Yankees
Casey Stengel hired former Yankee hurler Eddie Lopat as his pitching coach prior to the 1960 season. Lopat had won five rings with the Yankees and pitched parts of seven seasons for the club from 1949 to 1955. His trademark was throwing slop up to the plate, he had at least five pitches and could throw them all at different speeds and angles. He was called "The Junkman." Even while he was active, Lopat served as a sort of second pitching coach on the Yankees. Once, he noticed Whitey Ford was tipping his pitches and helped correct the problem. He loved talking pitching, in some ways he fostered the birth of "the science of pitching."

In 1960, as Casey's pitching guru, Lopat made it his mission in spring training to help the Yankee pitchers achieve his three primary goals: (1) throw strikes, (2) change speeds, and (3) develop pitches. Lopat drew up a chart for every pitcher on the team that showed where they should try to throw their fastball, their curve, the slider, etc. He also made big deal out of his goal that eight out of every ten pitches should be strikes. He had the trainer chart the success of his pitchers in reaching that goal. Lopat wanted every pitcher to develop their three primary pitches (fastball, breaking ball, and change of pace), and then add a few more. He taught the screwball, the "slurve" and the knuckler.

As the 1960 season started, 31-year old Ford had been an All-Star numerous times and a postseason hero. But he still had trouble with his control and the command of his fastball. In his first year with Lopat as his pitching coach, Whitey lowered his walk rate by about one per game (from 3.9 to 3.0), two years later he had reduced it to 1.9 per game. Ford had his best seasons after 1960 and he won his only Cy Young Award in 1961 when he won 25 games and struck out more than 200 batters for the first time. His fastball was better, he was throwing far more strikes, and he also developed a screwball. Lopat was not re-hired by Ralph Houk when he replaced Stengel in 1961, but the old lefthander had already influenced the trajectory of Whitey's career.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
56.9
33.3
17.1
42.4
221.6

#60.  Tommy John

Tommy John
Years:
1963-1989

Primary Team:
Dodgers
After the famous surgery that rebuilt him, Tommy John went forth with a freakishly iron arm. In his third year with the Dodgers after the surgery, John threw off a mound every day in spring training. In his first season with the Yankees he amazed his new teammates by doing the same thing. He made 382 starts after the operation and never again spent time on the disabled list or had a (serious) sore arm.

"I couldn't figure out what he was doing," Carl Yastrzemski said after facing John in the early 1980s. "I don't recall seeing more than a couple pitches that were more than inches above the knees. What sums it up, I think, is that he was a master at his best."

John had a stutter, and when he was with the Yankees the infielders had a series of signs worked out to communicate with him. "By the time I'd get done talking to Tommy, it would be a four-hour game," Graig Nettles said.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
62.0
34.4
16.6
11.1
220.5

#61.  Red Faber

Red Faber
Years:
1914-1933

Primary Team:
White Sox
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
65.0
41.5
26.7
2.3
219.8

#62.  Early Wynn

Early Wynn
Years:
1939-1963

Primary Team:
Indians
"When Early is scheduled to work, he'll come into the clubhouse very serious-minded. He's always deep in thought, concentrating on the opposing hitters. Ordinarily he's an easy guy to be around. But on those days he's as mean and fired up as a vicious police dog." - Ed Froelich, trainer of the Chicago White Sox in the early 1960s.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
61.1
35.0
19.3
8.0
219.5

#63.  Mark Buehrle

Mark Buehrle
Years:
2000-2015

Primary Team:
White Sox
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
59.3
35.7
17.3
4.8
219.3

#64.  Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels
Years:
2006-2018

Primary Team:
Phillies
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
56.4
36.6
18.5
6.3
218.2

#65.  Mark Langston

Mark Langston
Years:
1984-1999

Primary Team:
Angels
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
50.3
41.7
22.4
0.0
216.4

#66.  Ron Guidry

Ron Guidry
Years:
1975-1988

Primary Team:
Yankees
It's possible to be too close to something to know what it is. That's what happens sometimes in an organization with young players, they're so intimate that they become blind. The Yankees had skinny Ron Guidry, the Cajun lefty, in their minor league system for six years and they nearly ruined him. In those six seasons on the Yankee farm, Guidry only started 59 games, the team wanted to make him a relief pitcher. He had more than ten pitching coaches during that time, and more than one of them thought Guidry was too small (5'11, 155 pounds) to be a starting pitcher. They figured he would tucker out before he got too far.

But while the Yankees weren't sure about Guidry, many other teams were. The Montreal Expos tried to pry him away in 1975, and the Braves wanted him too. The Orioles wanted him in the big ten-player trade they orchestrated with the Yankees in the middle of the 1976 season. But the Yankees convinced the O's to take Tippy Martinez instead.

Billy Martin's favorite pitching coach, Art Fowler, latched onto Gator in spring training in 1977, and he loved what he saw from the 26-year old. Martin took Guidry north with the team as a reliever. By May an injury to Don Gullett opened a crack in the rotation and Martin slipped Guidry in. But even after he won a few games and performed well, there was no ringing endorsement for Guidry. The Yankees still didn't know what to do with him. Not until August when he started an eight-game winning streak did Martin admit the little lefthander belonged in his rotation. The following year Guidry went 25-3, giving him 33 wins in his last 37 decisions. From there he became a Yankee legend.

Guidry was as valuable to his team in 1978 as possibly any starting pitcher ever has been. When the Yanks fell 14 games back of the Red Sox in July their record was 48-42. Guidry's mark was 14-1, meaning the Yanks were an embarrassing 34-41 when their star lefty wasn't getting the decision. The team crawled back, caught the Red Sox, and won that famous one-game playoff in Fenway Park (Guidry won that game too).
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
48.1
38.0
21.4
17.5
213.2

#67.  Jerry Koosman

Jerry Koosman
Years:
1967-1985

Primary Team:
Mets
If you make a list of the best pitching duos in history, you'll eventually get to Tom and Jerry. That's Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, teammates for a decade (1967 to 1976) on the Mets. In fact, according to Wins Added, a measurement of how many wins a pitcher adds to their team above their base winning percentage, Seaver and Koosman are the second-best pitching tandem ever.

Short story on Wins Added: you take a team's winning percentage in decisions not made by the pitcher, apply that to the decisions by that pitcher. That gives you the expected wins in the decisions by a pitcher, then you compare that to what actually happened. For example:

The Mets from 1967 to 1976 won 743 games and lost 708. Seaver and Koosman where 295-194. We subtract those decisions from the team record, and we get 448-514, a winning percentage of .466 when Seaver or Koosman were not pitching. Then we apply that .466 record to Seaver/Koosman's 489 decisions to arrive at 227.7 (the expected number of wins in Tom & Jerry's games had the team played at the winning level they did when neither of those two pitched.) So, you see where I'm going here: Seaver and Koosman won far more than 227 games, they won 295, or plus 67.3 wins.

Only one pitching duo in history has added more wins than Koosman and Seaver:

Most Wins Added, Pitching Teammates

Chief Bender & Eddie Plank ... 140.8
Tom Seaver & Jerry Koosman ... 67.3
Greg Maddux & Tom Glavine ... 52.1
Christy Mathewson & Hooks Wiltse ... 49.8
Tom Glavine & John Smoltz ... 47.2
Ed Walsh & Doc White ... 46.8
Justin Verlander & Max Scherzer ... 44.9
Lefty Grove & George Earnshaw ... 43.7
Sandy Koufax & Don Drysdale ... 43.0
Pete Alexander & Eppa Rixey ... 42.6

It turns out most great pitching duos are comprised of one righthander and one lefthander. The only tandem on the list above that isn't, are Verlander and Scherzer.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
53.9
37.9
19.4
11.7
213.1

#68.  Jimmy Key

Jimmy Key
Years:
1984-1998

Primary Team:
Blue Jays
Key was the manifestation of the "crafty left-hander," his fastball topped out in the low 90s on his best day and he utilized a great backdoor slider that worked on both left and right-handed batters. He pitched with a lot of guys in the Top 100. At various points in his career, he was in the same rotation with Dave Stieb, David Wells, David Cone, Kenny Rogers, Dwight Gooden, and Mussina. He was a perfect set piece to go along with hard-throwing right handers. Try to hit hard-throwing Cone one day and face Key the next. Take a whack at Moose in the opener of a series and turn around and try to handle soft-tossing Key in the second game. He was a 5-WAR pitcher with a 141 ERA+ in 212 innings when he was 24 in Toronto, and twelve years later with the Orioles when he was 36, he was a 5-WAR pitcher with a 128 ERA+ in 212 innings. In between he was one of the most reliable and effective pitchers of his era.

Key pitched a lot of big games and squared off against several of the best pitchers of his era. He beat Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and Mike Mussina in the postseason. On the final day of the regular season in 1987 he pitched brilliantly in a must-win game for his Blue Jays at Tiger Stadium, allowing only a solo home run, but lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to Frank Tanana in a contest that decided the division title.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
49.1
36.9
18.7
6.8
211.6

#69.  Dwight Gooden

Dwight Gooden
Years:
1984-2000

Primary Team:
Mets
Of the top 100 pitchers, ten of them could not have played in Major League Baseball in 1946. They probably wouldn't have been on a roster in the majors in the early 1950s. Dwight Gooden is one of the four American-born black pitchers on the list, but he represents the hundreds of other black pitchers who never had the opportunity before integration.

The best pitcher in the history of the negro leagues actually had a chance to pitch in the majors, but well past his prime. Leroy "Satchel" Paige was a pencil-thin righthander who pitched professionally for nearly four decades. He became the biggest attraction in the negro leagues because of his talent and his showmanship. By the time Paige debuted in the majors with the Indians in 1948 he had been pitching for 24 years and he was (at least) 42 years old. Paige was probably a lot like Pedro Martinez, though before his arm injury he threw harder than Pedro. Both pitchers had fantastic changeup pitches, and Paige used a "hesitation pitch" that was also confusing to hitters. Seeing how Pedro ranks 15th on our list, Paige belongs in the top twenty, maybe the top ten. His longevity is unmatched.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
53.0
36.1
22.1
7.0
211.4

#70.  Frank Viola

Frank Viola
Years:
1982-1996

Primary Team:
Twins
The pitchers in the Top 100 who had the most value from their peak seasons are:

Sandy Koufax ... 44.3 percent
Wilbur Wood ... 42.5
Cliff Lee ... 41.5
Ed Walsh ... 41.3
Joe McGinnity ... 41.3
Dizzy Dean ... 41.2
Vida Blue ... 40.2
Frank Viola ... 40.1
Dazzy Vance ... 39.9

This lists includes five "Peak Value Hall of Famers", while Wood, Lee, Blue, and Viola are not in the Hall. But their candidacies rest largely on how good they were when they were at their best. Wood is an interesting case and I'll address him under his comment, while Lee, Blue, and Viola, on their numbers alone, would be better Hall of Fame choices than a dozen guys who have plaques. Only Vida Blue has the narrative and intangibles to go along with that peak argument.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
47.2
41.3
22.2
8.1
209.8

#71.  Felix Hernandez

Felix Hernandez
Years:
2005-2018

Primary Team:
Mariners
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
50.9
38.6
19.5
0.0
209.4

#72.  Billy Pierce

Billy Pierce
Years:
1945-1964

Primary Team:
White Sox
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
53.2
38.6
20.3
3.9
208.3

#73.  Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers
Years:
1989-2008

Primary Team:
Rangers
There are perfectionists and then there are people who are never happy. Kenny Rogers was more the latter than the former. In a strange, winding 27-year professional career, Rogers alienated teammates, confounded his managers, fought with sportswriters, and tried to reinvent himself many times. But he never escaped his irascible personality.

Rogers spent seven years in the Texas farm system, and at least twice he tried to quit, begging the Rangers to release him "so he could get a real life." But perseverance was a strong suit for the bull-headed Georgian. Finally in 1989 he made it to The Show, pitching 73 games out of the bullpen. He started only twelve games in his first four seasons, averaging 72 games per year as a middle reliever and situational lefty. But Kenny wasn't happy with his role as one of the more reliable lefthanded relievers in the game.

In 1991, he and fellow southerner Kevin Brown angered the front office and many of their teammates when they held a one-day holdout during spring training. The pitchers were frustrated with the team's refusal to renegotiate their contracts. That didn't sit well with the veteran leadership in the clubhouse, who felt the 26-year olds hadn't earned the right to play the leverage game.

In 1993, Rogers succeeded in convincing manager Kevin Kennedy that he deserved a shot in the rotation, and The Gambler responded with 44 wins the next three years. In 1994, just before the season was halted by a players' strike, Rogers became the first lefty in league history to toss a perfect game. Rogers threw only 98 pitches in his masterpiece. His specialty was a looping curveball, and a sneaky-fast sinking fastball. But even his masterpiece didn't fully please Rogers, who was soured in Texas after losing two arbitration cases to the Rangers.

His success earned Rogers a free agent contract with the Yankees, but he was like a fish out of water in The Bronx. During his two seasons in pinstripes, Rogers rarely avoided controversy. He drew the ire of manager Joe Torre when he lied about his health, he irked teammates when he treated the media poorly, and he puzzled everyone when he destroyed equipment or threw at opposing batters when things went against him on the mound. The Yankees couldn't trade Rogers fast enough, dumping him on Oakland. If things were bad in New York, Rogers had an even more terrible time with Oakland. He viewed the small-market team as "second class" and pouted during 18 months with the team. He managed to win 16 games in 1998 for Oakland, but was sent to the Mets the following year in a deal applauded by the clubhouse.

If there's one lesson from the career of Kenny Rogers, it's that you can go home again. In the 1999 offseason he signed a deal to return to the Rangers. He spent three seasons back with his original team, but at the end of his contract he once again ruffled feathers, refusing a reasonable contract extension from the front office. He was forced to take a one-year deal with Minnesota, and after winning 13 games for the Twins the 39-year old signed another free agent contract with Texas. Few could have predicted that the veteran southpaw would have two of his finest seasons at the age of 39 and 40, but that's what he did, winning 32 games in his third stint with Texas. But this stretch with Texas was marred by an ugly incident where Rogers attacked a cameraman, flipping over his equipment and shoving the man to the ground. Less than two weeks later, with the incident still in the minds of fans, Rogers was booed when he was introduced as a member of the 2005 All-Star team in Detroit.

Ironically, Kenny's third stint with Texas earned him another free agent payday, this time with Detroit. Rogers was 41 when he put on a Tigers' uniform for the 2006 season. The team was less than three years removed from a 119-loss season. The roster was filled with unknowns, but one familiar name stood out: Ivan Rodriguez, who had caught Rogers in his first stretch in Texas. Rogers and Pudge were not friends, but somehow in Detroit, Rogers morphed into a team leader while still twirling the ball with effectiveness. He won 17 games and the Tigers shocked everyone with 95 wins and a playoff spot. In October, Rogers found an opportunity for revenge. The Tigers faced the Yankees and Torre in the first round of the playoffs, with Kenny still harboring resentment over his two seasons in The Bronx.

Prior to 2006, in nine postseason games, Rogers had been pummeled and embarrassed. He had allowed 20 earned runs in 20? innings. Four of those dreadful outings came in a Yankees' uniform while he was being paid handsomely by George Steinbrenner. He was never comfortable in Yankee Stadium, and he felt his teammates and the front office had been unfair to him. Whatever the validity of the motivation, Rogers used it as he faced the Yanks in the Division Series. In Game Three in Detroit, Rogers held the Yankees scoreless into the eighth and got the victory as the Tigers went up 2-1 in a series they won the next day. During the game, as he mowed down the Yankees, Rogers fed off the crowd, pumping his fist. It was sweet revenge for Rogers.

Rogers continued his revival in the World Series, although under a cloud of suspicion. In Game Two against the Cardinals, Rogers allowed just two hits in eight shutout innings. In the middle of the game, Tony LaRussa stirred things up when he instructed the umpires to inspect the baseball. LaRussa claimed Rogers was using a foreign substance. Indeed, the southpaw had a dark black smudge on his pitching hand, but he claimed it was dirt. The smudge disappeared between innings and proceeded to blank the Cards for what proved to be the only Detroit win in the series. That October, Rogers spun 23 consecutive scoreless innings, setting a record for lefties.

At 41, Rogers finished fifth in Cy Young voting in 2006. He's the only pitcher to get his only Cy Young votes at such a late stage of his career. He pitched two more years and finished with 219 wins. He openly lobbied for a final go-around with the Rangers, but the team never called.

Rogers is an odd pitcher to make the Top 100. I'm frankly surprised the formula puts him here. But, close examination reveals why: he was durable, he appeared in more than 770 games in his major league career; he rarely had a terrible season, and his best seasons were pretty damn good. He was good at a lot of the unnoticed things: Rogers had the best pickoff move of his era (his 93 pickoffs rank second all-time to Steve Carlton); he was a Gold Glove fielder; and he was stingy at allowing home runs.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
50.7
35.2
18.3
6.7
208.1

#74.  Urban Shocker

Urban Shocker
Years:
1916-1928

Primary Team:
Browns
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
58.9
42.7
21.5
7.3
207.7

#75.  Roy Oswalt

Roy Oswalt
Years:
2001-2013

Primary Team:
Astros
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
50.1
38.0
19.6
5.9
207.5

#76.  Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera
Years:
1995-2013

Primary Team:
Yankees
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
56.2
28.7
13.5
29.4
206.4

#77.  Vida Blue

Vida Blue
Years:
1969-1986

Primary Team:
A's
Had a high leg kick and hid the baseball very well. Blue is still the youngest player to have won the Most Valuable Player Award and the youngest to have thrown a no-hitter. His arrival as a September call up in 1970 was a sensation, though much of it happened on the west coast and before games were being beamed across the country. In his second start against the Royals, Blue took a no-hitter into the eighth inning when he finally allowed a single with two outs. He settled for a one-hitter. Two starts later at the Oakland Coliseum, Blue pitched a no-hitter against the Twins, striking out nine. He was 20 years old. The following season he was 17-3 at the All-Star break and helped the A's to the first of five consecutive division titles.

Charlie Finley offered Blue $2,000 if he would legally change his name to "True Blue", but Vida resisted. His father, Vida Blue Sr., had died when he was a senior in high school, and the pitcher wanted to continue under the same name. Later in his career, Blue became the first major leaguer to wear his first name on the back of his uniform, which he did to honor his deceased father. As far as I can tell, Blue and Ichiro Suzuki are the only players to wear their first name on their jersey.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
45.4
38.7
22.5
4.8
204.6

#78.  Mickey Lolich

Mickey Lolich
Years:
1963-1979

Primary Team:
Tigers
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
48.3
38.6
21.6
0.9
203.7

#79.  Hoyt Wilhelm

Hoyt Wilhelm
Years:
1952-1972

Primary Team:
White Sox
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
47.1
28.1
15.2
3.4
203.6

#80.  Eddie Cicotte

Eddie Cicotte
Years:
1905-1920

Primary Team:
White Sox
Eddie Cicotte was a tall righthander who could throw anything at the plate and get batters to swing and miss. He had a two-seam fastball, a four-seam fastball that sailed up (or rather did not drop as fast as would be expected), a screwball, and a slider. Cicotte loved to throw a knuckleball, and his knuckler curved. Like most top pitchers of his era, he also threw a spitball. His favorite pitch was his knuckleball, he was one of the first pitchers to master it.

Cicotte was just as good as Stan Coveleski and Herb Pennock and Waite Hoyt, others in his league who went on to be elected to the Hall of Fame. The reason you don't hear much about Eddie today is that he was at the center of the ring that fixed the 1919 World Series. The gamblers paid the White Sox ace $10,000 in advance of the World Series. He was instructed to hit the leadoff man in Game One to indicate that the fix was on. He did, and the "Black Sox" lost the series thanks to his well-placed batting practice tosses to Cincinnati batters. He lost twice, winning one game when he was worried that the gamblers were not going to pay his teammates.

The scandal didn't fully unsurface for another year, after Eddie won 20 games again for Chicago. A Chicago grand jury acquitted eight Chicago players, including Shoeless Joe Jackson, but baseball's new commissioner was unimpressed and banned them all for life.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
58.7
44.0
28.2
20.9
203.0

#81.  Jim Kaat

Jim Kaat
Years:
1959-1983

Primary Team:
Twins
The lefthander was well-known for his great pickoff move, but when he first came up with the Twins, Jim Kaat did not have that great move. He worked tirelessly to perfect it because that was the defining characteristic that made Kaat a great pitcher: his determination to improve in every area of his game.

"When Kaat realizes he has to correct something," Minnesota manager Sam Mele said in 1964, "he works at it until he gets it right."

Kaat was getting things right for twenty-five years, he added that pickoff move, he added a slider, he worked to improve his control, he taught himself how to pitch inside, he ran himself ragged to become one of the best fielding pitchers in history. When he was 40 years old and Bob Lemon asked him to work out of the bullpen for the Yankees, Kaat mapped out a strategy to become a valuable relief pitcher. The cerebral Kaat pitched in 220 games after Lemon asked him to change his role, pitched in the World Series for the Cardinals when he was 43.

Kaat started his first game on August 2, 1959. The news of the day was the recent launch of America's first satellite and the reaction to the "Kitchen Debate" between Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev in Moscow. Nixon was vice-president under Dwight Eisenhower. Later that month Hawaii became the 50th state. Twenty-four years later, in early July in Pittsburgh, Kaat got the last four outs in a Cardinals' win. The first batter he retired in the ninth was Dale Berra, the son of the famous Yankee catcher that Kaat had faced several times early in his career. Kaat was pitching on a surface (astroturf) that didn't even exist when he threw his first pitch in the big leagues. The news of the day on his final day in the majors was that Sally Ride had just become the first woman in space. Kaat pitched in four decades and during seven presidential administrations.

Here's one more amazing factoid from the long career of Jim Kaat: the first batter he faced in the majors was Luis Aparicio, the Venezuelan shortstop. Aparicio played 14 more years after that first meeting, was retired five years, and was on the Hall of Fame ballot for six more years, while Kaat was still earning a paycheck as a big league pitcher. Aparicio was elected to the Hall of Fame a week before Kaat announced his retirement.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
50.7
36.5
20.3
0.4
201.6

#82.  Cliff Lee

Cliff Lee
Years:
2002-2014

Primary Team:
Phillies
Four pitchers in the top 100 were in the Phillies' rotation in 2011: Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, and Lee. That team won 102 games and their fifth consecutive division title. Lee had a stop-and-go career: he had four or five solid-to-excellent seasons for the Indians in his 20s, then had a hiccup in his early 30s before giving Philadelphia a few great seasons. He only had eight seasons where he made 30 starts, but received Cy Young Award votes in five of them. He was brilliant in the postseason: he went 7-0 in his first eight starts with a 1.26 ERA and a 67-7 strikeout-to-walk total.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
43.5
40.0
22.8
2.5
201.5

#83.  David Wells

David Wells
Years:
1987-2007

Primary Team:
Yankees
Wells grew up idolizing Ron Guidry, and wouldn't you know it, he squared off against him in his first big league start for the Jays, on June 30, 1987. Wells lost to Guidry and the Yankees that day, made another start four days later, but had to wait three years to get back in the rotation.

It took Cito Gaston to rescue Wells from bullpen oblivion, and in 1990 the portly left-hander finally got a chance to show his stuff under the new manager. Wells joined Dave Stieb and Jimmy Key in the Toronto rotation for a few years, but by the time the Jays won the first of their two World Championships in 1992, Wells was on the edge of the rotation with the arrival of Jack Morris.

Wells was traded five times and signed with a new team as a free agent seven times in his career. He pitched with 15 of the Top 100 Pitchers of all-time: Dave Stieb, Jimmy Key, Jack Morris, David Cone, Frank Viola, Mike Mussina, Dwight Gooden, Kenny Rogers, Mariano Rivera, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, Mark Buehrle, Curt Schilling, Jon Lester, and Greg Maddux.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
53.6
30.8
14.1
7.2
200.9

#84.  Larry Jackson

Larry Jackson
Years:
1955-1968

Primary Team:
Giants
There was a perfect storm that helped make Larry Jackson one of the most underrated pitchers of his era, or perhaps any other. Here are the factors that worked against Jackson:

  1. He pitched for losing teams almost every year.
  2. He pitched every season in great hitting parks except the last three which were neutral.
  3. He got poor run support.
  4. Jackson was not a power pitcher.
Let's look at them one-by-one:
  1. Jackson's teams were 964-1,033 (.483) in games in which he didn't get a decision. His record was 194-183 (.515), a difference of 32 points in his favor for his teams. In 1964, Jackson was 24-11 for a Cubs' team that lost 86 games.
  2. In his prime when he pitched his home games in Sportsman's Park and Wrigley Field, Jackson was in two of the best hitters' parks in the game. Sportsman's Park was 12 percent in favor of offense, and Wrigley was nine percent. He spent his final three years in Connie Mack Stadium, which did not strongly favor the hitter, but also didn't favor the pitcher.
  3. It's almost criminal how few runs Jackson's teammates scored for him. In 1963 he went 14-18 in his first season for the Cubs when his teammates scored only 2.2 runs per game in his starts. Two years later when he went 14-21, the Cubs scored even fewer runs, only 2.1 in Jackson's starts. The support went up and down a few times, but overall for his career, Jackson received 12 percent lower run support than his teammates did and almost ten percent less than league average.
  4. Jackson was a nibbler, he pitched to the corners. He relied heavily on his curveball and changeup, his fastball was only a little above average. Finesse pitchers are usually underrated because they don't have the "wow factor". Jackson only topped 150 K's in two seasons and 171 was his career high. He pitched to contact, he wasn't hard to hit, he was hard to time and hit hard.
Jackson was known for his curveball and slow change of pace, and without a top-level fastball he often had to prove his worth to skeptical managers and pitching coaches. In his second season the Cardinals converted Jackson to relief, he appeared in 50 games out of the bullpen under Fred Hutchinson, who always liked the tall, thin righthander but wished he could overpower hitters. But Jackson was content to pitch to contact, he was especially tough on Ernie Banks, holding the Chicago slugger to a .202 average in more than 100 appearances. Later, the Cubs acquired him, preferring to employ their nemesis (he was 21-10 against Chicago) rather than face him.

In spring training before the 1961 season, Jackson was facing Duke Snider, who swung at a pitch and broke his bat in two. The heavy part of the bat sailed to the mound and struck Jackson in the face. His jaw was broken and had to be wired shut for weeks. The 6'2 Jackson lost 15 pounds and didn't join the team until mid-April.

In 1968, the Year of the Pitcher, Jackson had a good season, had a 2.77 ERA in 34 starts, completed a dozen games and pitched more than 240 innings. He pitched for the Phillies, who finished seventh in a ten-team league and had one of the worst defenses in baseball. His teammates scored just 3.1 runs per game for him, which was half a run less than the rest of the team. Jackson went 13-17, only gave up nine home runs in 243+ innings. A few days after the 1968 World Series, MLB held two expansion drafts to fill the rosters of four new teams in Kansas City, Montreal, San Diego, and Seattle. Jackson made it clear that if he was selected, he wanted it to be by a west coast team. The Expos picked him, and Jackson announced that he planned to retire. He was 37 years old and six wins shy of 200 wins.

An Idaho native, Jackson took a job as a lobbyist with a paper company in Boise, focused on his family and made more money than he ever had in baseball. A few years later after Jackson had entered state politics and been elected representative, his wife was kidnapped at gunpoint from their home in front of their children. It was part of a ransom plan, but thankfully the perpetrators backed down and released Mrs. Jackson. Later that decade, Jackson ran for governor as a Republican, was supported by fellow Idahoans Harmon Killebrew and Vern Law, but he failed to emerge from the primary.

Most Wins Above Replacement, Final Season (Since 1900)

Sandy Koufax ... 10.3
Win Mercer ... 6.0
Eddie Cicotte ... 5.2
Mike Mussina ... 5.1
Dutch Ulrich ... 4.5
Red Donahue ... 4.4
Britt Burns ... 4.3
Larry French ... 4.2
Larry Jackson ... 4.0

Koufax and Burns both retired due to chronic physical ailments, the latter was only 26 when he pitched his last major league game. In a dramatic off-season in 1920, Cicotte was banned from the game for life for conspiring to throw the 1919 World Series. A distraught Mercer killed himself before spring training in 1903. Ulrich was forced to leave baseball in 1927 due to an unknown illness, he died 16 months later. 33-year old Donahue, a three-time 20-game winner, was paralyzed in an accident after the 1906 season. French was 35 years old when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy after the 1942 season. Mussina retired after his only 20-win season in 2008, he was 39 years old and had made more than $100 million in the game.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
52.1
35.1
18.5
0.0
199.6

#85.  Don Newcombe

Don Newcombe
Years:
1949-1960

Primary Team:
Dodgers
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
38.6
28.4
14.9
17.0
198.1

#86.  Kevin Brown

Kevin Brown
Years:
1986-2005

Primary Team:
Rangers
When Brown came up with the Rangers in the 1980s he was supposed to form a star pitching duo with fellow blue chip prospect Bobby Witt. Both pitchers had been drafted in the first round of the June draft, Witt in 1985 and Brown in 1986. Both were standout college pitchers, Witt for the Oklahoma Sooners, and Brown at tiny Georgia Institute of Technology. Witt was supposed to be the better of the two, it was predicted that he would be the next Nolan Ryan. But he was wild.

In 1986, Witt walked 143 batters in only 157 innings for the Rangers. The following year he walked 140 in 143 innings, and two years later he led the league in walks for the third time in four years. One year he threw 22 wild pitches. He couldn't find home plate with a road map.

Brown and Witt were in the same rotation for four seasons, from 1989 to 1992. Ryan was in that rotation too, doing things a 40-plus year old pitcher had never done. He threw no-hitters, he led the league in strikeouts. He also tried to help Brown and Witt acclimate themselves to the major leagues. Brown outpitched Witt, he won 21 games when he was 27 years old, finished sixth in Cy Young voting, he was an All-Star. Witt was traded to Oakland for Jose Canseco. There were still people who thought he would be a star. He never was, he struggled with his golden arm, though he did pitch for 16 years.

Brown always wanted to get paid, and he viewed the Rangers as being cheap, so first chance he got he bolted via free agency, first to Baltimore, then to the Marlins, and later the Dodgers for what was then the largest payday for a pitcher in history. In his 30s, Brown had several very good seasons, and in a universe where Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz didn't exist, he would have won at least one Cy Young Award, maybe two. He also pitched brilliantly and heroically for the Marlins in 1997 and the Padres in 1998, leading both teams to the World Series, winning the title with Florida.

But despite those accomplishments, Brown is clouded by second-bests throughout his career. He was the second-best prospect for the Rangers, he was one of the "other" ace pitchers in the league in the 1990s, in a group below the elite. He was seen as undeserving of his lucrative contract from the Dodgers, where he was implicated in steroid use. He was a surly, unpopular player at the tail end of his career in New York, where he made a dreadful start in Game Seven of the 2004 ALCS and was booed off the mound. As a result, Brown is in a separate group of pitchers from his era, overshadowed by the Hall of Fame contingent of Greg Maddux, Pedro, Smoltz, Glavine, and Johnson. His career also wasn't quite as good as those of near Hall of Famers Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina, but it was till very good.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
68.0
46.3
23.8
15.6
197.9

#87.  Jamie Moyer

Jamie Moyer
Years:
1986-2012

Primary Team:
Mariners
In his 24th season, Moyer became the first pitcher to toss a shutout in four different decades, but he had only ten in his entire career. The lefthander also set most of the old man pitching records that were previously held by Jack Quinn, who died only 65 miles from where Moyer was born.

Moyer threw his last pitch after his 49th birthday, and by then he had accumulated 269 wins in a big league career that spanned a quarter of a century and five presidential administrations. His last win came with a team (the Colorado Rockies) that didn't exist when he made his debut in 1986.

Moyer had his best years with the Mariners, where he was part of their rotation for more than a decade, winning 20 games twice. He used five pitches: a cut fastball, slider, curve, change, and sinker. After discussions with Phil Niekro he contemplated making a return at the age of 51 with a knuckleball.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
49.9
33.2
17.9
3.1
197.1

#88.  Bucky Walters

Bucky Walters
Years:
1934-1950

Primary Team:
Reds
Most major league pitchers were the stars of their high school team, travel team, semi-pro team, factory team, American Legion, or college team. Most of them played another position at an early level, usually shortstop or center field. But the great arms end up transitioning to the mound. William Henry "Bucky" Walters Jr. was a third baseman with a cannon arm in his first few years in the majors, before going to the mound for good. That was unusual then, but not unprecedented. It's unheard of now.

Walters was a "chip off the old block" as they said in those days: his father was one of the stars of the baseball team that represented the Bell Telephone Company in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia in the 1920s. The senior Mr. Walters was called "Bucky" for his resemblance to Bucky Harris, the second baseman and manager of the Senators. When his son started showing up at games he became the team mascot and soon he was being called Bucky too.

By the time he was a teenager, little Bucky was a better player than big Bucky, and as good as almost anyone else in the semi-pro leagues in Philly. Baseball was in the family blood: a younger brother named Jack Walters also signed with the Reds. But the younger Bucky traveled a more indirect path to the big leagues. First he dropped out of school and took a job as an electrician, but one day after a game with a local team, a scout approached Walters and offered him a tryout with a minor league team in Alabama. That trial ended abruptly without Bucky getting a contract offer, but he latched on to a team in North Carolina and set his pro career in motion.

A few years later Bucky was playing third base for Nashville when the lowly Boston Braves bought his contract and gave him a look at the hot corner. Walters' bat wasn't as mature as his arm, and he was sold to the Red Sox and Phillies the next few years, hitting .250 with eight home runs in 106 games with Boston and Philadelphia in 1934.

The most important person in Bucky's baseball career was Jimmie Wilson, the veteran catcher and player/manager of the Phillies when Walters arrived in the mid-1930s. After more than 1,000 games behind the plate, Wilson knew a good pitcher when he saw one and he suggested to Bucky that he convert to the mound. In 1936, his first year as a regular in Wilson's rotation, Walters led the NL with four shutouts and pitched more than 250 innings. The team was terrible and Bucky lost 21 games, and his control was still shaky, but the following year Walters was named an All-Star as a pitcher.

In 1938 the Phillies were so poor they couldn't pay their bills, so in the middle of the season they traded their best players. Walters was shipped to Cincinnati, a far better team, but he wasn't happy about it. He would have preferred to stay in his hometown. But Bucky eventually forgot his disappointment, earning five All-Star nods in a Reds' uniform, as well as the NL Most Valuable Player Award in 1939 when he won 27 games.

From 1939 to 1944, Walters averaged 20 wins and 26 complete games per season and led the revival of the Cincinnati franchise. In 1939-40 the Reds won back-to-back pennants, their first since 1919. Even though Walters was 30 years old when that great stretch started, he pitched more than 300 innings in three straight seasons and led the NL in ERA twice. He was third in MVP voting in 1940. That fall he won both of his starts in the World Series against Detroit as the Reds won their second title. It was the best of times for Walters, and the Reds even acquired Wilson in 1939 as a player/coach, reuniting him with the man who changed the trajectory of his career.

Walters was a gifted athlete, an excellent fielder, and one of the best-hitting pitchers of all-time. When he won the MVP in 1939, Walters batted .325 with eight extra-base hits. He was occasionally used as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner. One time he even stole home.

For several years leading up to and including the World War II years, Walters was the best pitcher in the National League. He started the All-Star Game, he pitched well in the postseason, he won awards and helped himself with his bat and glove. There wasn't much he didn't accomplish, except boast. That's the main reason we know Dizzy Dean as a Hall of Famer and Walters is largely lost to history outside of the Queen City.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
53.3
37.5
21.2
14.6
196.8

#89.  Sam McDowell

Sam McDowell
Years:
1961-1975

Primary Team:
Indians
Remember that pennant the Indians won in the late 1960s? I don't either. Based on the value of great young pitching, the Indians might have grabbed a flag during that decade, but the organization flubbed it.

In 1964 the Indians had three excellent young hurlers: Tommy John, Sam McDowell, and Luis Tiant. All three were young and promising: McDowell and John were 21 years old in 1964, Tiant was 23. All three of those pitchers are in the Top 100. In the history of baseball, only three times has a franchise had as many as three young pitchers at one time who went on to Top 100 success. (See the Kenny Rogers comment for details).

But the Indians were guided by their guts instead of their noggins. General Manager Gabe Paul, a sort of Larry Brown travel-around-the-league type, made a series of dreadful decisions in the 1960s as a fog of uncertainty surrounded the team.

It's largely forgotten now, but the Cleveland Indians were in serious trouble in the early 1960s. When Paul arrived in Cleveland after a brief period as the architect of the expansion Colt .45s, the team was owned by a fella named Bill Daley. I'm not sure how Mr. Daley made his money, and in those days you didn't need to be Google-stock rich to own a baseball team, so I guess it doesn't matter. But Daley fired Frank Lane, a general manager who never met a trade he didn't like. Lane famously traded home run champion Rocky Colavito to the Tigers for batting champ Harvey Kuenn on the eve of the 1960 season. The franchise was still reeling from that one.

As he settled into his office in April of 1961, Paul surveyed the situation and realized the franchise was dysfunctional top to bottom. The owner had no clue how to build a front office, the coaching staff was subpar, and his team didn't have much talent. Colavito was gone, which pissed off the fans in Ohio, but Kuenn was already gone too (As one of his last moves, Lane had traded Kuenn to the Giants). Paul quickly worked to remake his roster, but that mostly entailed signing veteran players who had been cast off by other teams. Paul always liked old players.

One of his best moves that first season was signing John as an amateur free agent in June. The young lefthander had been a finalist for Mr. Basketball in Indiana as a high school star, but due to his size he thought baseball was his best avenue to a professional athletic career. As a young pitcher, John had a sinking fastball and good breaking stuff.

Prior to the 1962 season, Paul signed Tiant out of the Mexican League, where the Cuban-born righty had started to turn heads (no pun intended) for his showmanship and fastball. At the big league level, the Indians finished in sixth place and were ninth out of ten teams in attendance. A dearth of fans would ultimately threaten baseball in Cleveland, the fans of northern Ohio nearly losing their team. In November, Daley bolted, selling the team to his minority owners, with Paul throwing in some of his money to become managing partner.

In 1963 McDowell was in his third season as a pitching prodigy. The Tribe had signed him when he was 17 years old and the young righthander slowly worked his way through the farm system. But it was ugly: McDowell's mechanics were all over the place and his heavy fastball, which approached 100 miles per hour, was untamed. In five minor league seasons, Sam struck out 476 batters in 482? innings, but he also walked 329. He averaged six walks per nine innings. He scared the hell out of hitters because McDowell had no idea where the baseball was going.

Paul had bigger problems than the control of his young teenage prospect. In 1963 the Indians were on their seventh manager in six seasons, they finished near the bottom of the league in fielding, runs scored, and runs allowed. Only 562,000 fans showed up to watch them play. Paul was now not only the GM, he was one of the owners. His partners were panicked. They instructed Paul to investigate moving the Indians to one of three cities: Dallas, Oakland, or Seattle.

The city of Cleveland took the problem seriously and voted to approve a favorable stadium lease for the Indians, ending discussion of a franchise move. It's amazing how quickly politicians will pander to keep a baseball team in their city. But Paul was still faced with improving the team on the field.

Gabe Paul was probably a nice man, but he had a blind spot when it came to young players. Maybe he was impatient, I don't know. In Cleveland at various times he had a young Lou Piniella, he had a young Mike Cuellar, his scouts signed a promising outfielder named Tommie Agee, he had pitcher Sonny Siebert, who made the All-Star team for him. But Paul got rid of most of his promising young players or ignored them, while filling his lineup with retreads. He made his biggest mistake just before spring training was set to start in 1965. Paul sent John and Agee to the White Sox in a three-team trade that also included the A's. Cleveland received Colavito, welcoming the prodigal son back home. Paul had pulled the trigger on a deal he felt would endear him to Cleveland fans. The trade was made with an eye toward the turnstyle instead of the diamond.

At first, the trade helped the Indians. In 1965 the team improved by eight wins, Colavito hit 26 home runs. But most importantly, attendance jumped by almost 300,000. In 1966 the team drew over 900,000 again, Rocky hit 30 homers, but the team finished in fifth, mired at 81-81. McDowell was in the rotation, but Paul's managers (there were two that season) had Tiant pitching out of the bullpen for much of the year. The following year, the 33-year old Colavito was basically finished, he played 63 games. Meanwhile the White Sox, to whom Paul had traded John and Agee, were in a thrilling four-team pennant race. John had a 2.47 ERA and center fielder Agee hit 14 home runs and stole 28 bases.

In 1968 the Indians got off to a rough start in April under (another) new manager Al Dark. But they got hot in May and briefly got to within a game of first before Detroit pulled away from the field. The Tribe finished in third, winning 85 games. Dark had Tiant where he belonged, in the starting rotation, and El Tiante won 21 games with a 1.60 ERA. McDowell was still only 25, and he won 15 games. Meanwhile in Chicago, John had a 1.98 ERA in 25 starts before his right (non-throwing) shoulder was broken by Dick McAuliffe after he buzzed him with a pitch. All three former teammates were All-Stars in 1968.

Paul ceded his role as general manager to Dark from 1969 to 1971, but that didn't go well either. Dark traded Tiant to the Twins after the 1969 season, apparently because Luis had the audacity to lose 20 games for a bad team. The Tribe got a young third baseman named Graig Nettles in return, but Paul traded Nettles a few years later to the Yankees. Dark left Piniella unprotected and lost him in the expansion draft, and had to watch Sweet Lou win Rookie of the Year.

In 1973, Paul was invited by Cleveland shipping magnate George Steinbrenner to be part of a group that was buying the New York Yankees. Paul sold his interest in the Indians, threw some money into the New York deal, and accepted the job as general manager under Steinbrenner.

One of Paul's final deals in Cleveland was to trade McDowell to the Giants for Gaylord Perry. That trade proved prescient: Sam was done, his arm toast after averaging more than 250 innings for seven years. During that stretch (1965-71), Sudden Sam struck out more than nine batters per inning and posted a 2.82 ERA while averaging 38 games, 35 starts, and 13 complete games. He won only 19 games after the age of 28. Perry won the Cy Young Award in his first season in Cleveland.

Hindsight is 20/20, admittedly. But given more patience, the Indians might have had a rotation that included McDowell, Tiant, John, and Siebert (who averaged 14 wins, 207 innings and 3.06 ERA from 1965 to 1972 for Cleveland and Boston). The pennant was up for grabs in 1967, and with John and Tiant for a few more years, the team would have had a front three that rivaled the Orioles of that era.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
41.9
42.0
23.0
0.0
196.4

#90.  Chris Sale

Chris Sale
Years:
2010-2018

Primary Team:
White Sox
A taller Lefty Grove or a shorter Randy Johnson, if you will. Though Sale isn't the measure of those two all-time greats in talent, he shares their competitive fire.

Sale is leading that next generation, after Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, the next group of pitchers who are assailing this list. He had six straight top five Cy Young Award finishes through the age of 29, without winning the hardware.

Picking up on the comparison to Grove: before a start at home in Chicago in 2016, Sale tried on the 1976 throwback White Sox uniforms the team was planning to wear that day. Those uniforms were the brainchild of former Sox owner Bill Veeck, a sort of pajama-fit outfit with untucked jerseys and wide lapel collars. Sale explained to team officials that the uniform was uncomfortable and asked that the team not be required to wear them. When he was informed the uniforms must be worn, Sale flipped out and destroyed the uniforms. He took a knife and cut up every uniform in the clubhouse. The team was shocked and Sale was immediately told to go home, he was replaced as the starting pitcher. Confused fans booed when his replacement was introduced on the field, the word quickly spread and Sale's slasher incident became legendary.

Flash back to a start by Grove in 1931 when things were not going well for the lefthander. Grove loaded the bases and then saw all three runners scamper home after an error by an outfielder behind him. A walk and a hit later, and Connie Mack bent his bony finger toward the mound to signal a pitching change (Mack rarely walked to the mound to change pitchers). Grove was unaccustomed to poor outings and hated losing. As he walked toward the dugout, the pitcher ripped off his jersey, popping the buttons as he went, then tore off his cap, destroying it and tossing it aside. The fans in Philadelphia hooted at the display, and Grove left the ballpark in his pants, cleats and undershirt.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
43.1
39.6
19.5
6.9
196.3

#91.  Dizzy Dean

Dizzy Dean
Years:
1930-1947

Primary Team:
Cardinals
Continuing from a comment above, Dean is connected to Bucky Walters, the other top pitcher in the National League in the 1930s. They were born nine months apart, and though Dean won his first game five years before Walters, he was actually the younger of the two. Both pitchers were known by nicknames, and both had younger brothers who became professional pitchers. Both won the MVP award in seasons in which they led their team to the pennant. Both were tall right-handed pitchers with nearly the exact same body type. But that's where the similarities ended.

Dizzy Dean threw the baseball very hard, led the league in strikeouts four times and had impeccable control. Walters had to tame his pitches, walked a lot of batters early in his career, and was never a big strikeout pitcher despite having a strong arm. Dean thrived by pitching a lot, he loved to work out of the bullpen between starts and he frequently made 12-20 relief appearances a season. Walters almost exclusively served as a starting pitcher. Dean was boisterous, a braggart who loved to clown on the ballfield. Walters worked quickly and was serious on the mound. Bucky didn't become a good major league pitcher until he was 30 years old, while Dean's last good season was when he was 27.

Who had the better career, Dizzy or Bucky? Well, Walters had more career value, but Dean has a slight edge in seven-year and three-year peak. After Earl Averill hit a line drive off Dean's toe in the All-Star Game in 1937, Dizzy rushed back and changed his arm angle. He subsequently injured his shoulder and that was basically it. It's very possible, though we'll never know, that Dizzy had torn his rotator cuff, a similar injury that felled Mark Fidrych exactly 40 years later under similar circumstances.

Dean made the transition to the radio booth after his arm injury, he was a natural. His homespun, plain-folks talk and jargon made him very popular behind the microphone. In 1947 the Cardinals found themselves in the position of needing to pair down their radio staff. Dean was let go, latched on with the Browns to broadcast their games. That summer was tough on Ol' Diz, he was forced to watch the lowly Browns stumble through the season. Late in the year he boasted "Doggone it, I can pitch better than nine out of the ten guys on this staff." General manager Bill DeWitt seized the opportunity and signed Dean to a one-day contract. On the last day of the season, Dean started against the White Sox, his first appearance in the majors in six years. Looking much like his old self, minus ten miles per hour on his fastball, Dizzy spun four scoreless innings, got a single in his only at-bat, and left the game to cheers.

Dean was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953, only six years after his last pitch in that 1947 one-game comeback. Dizzy was only 43 when he became a Hall of Famer, he was hard to forget, he was on the radio and would be for years. Walters was on the ballot in 1953, only got 10 votes. He was not disrespected by the electorate, Walters was on the ballot for 15 years, but he wasn't as exciting as Dean, wasn't as great a story. Both men pitched their teams to the World Series title in the 1930s, but Dizzy is the only one immortalized.

A quality start is when a pitcher throws at least six innings and allows three earned runs or fewer. We have quality start data back until about 1911. Dizzy Dean has the second-best record in quality starts among the top 100 pitchers. His record was 115-19 in games in which he tossed a quality start, that's a .858 winning percentage and just a tick below David Wells, who got on this list in a much different way than Ol' Diz.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
45.6
40.7
22.1
15.2
196.2

#92.  Mordecai Brown

Mordecai Brown
Years:
1903-1916

Primary Team:
Cubs
They're all gone now, the generations born before the World War II "greatest generation", so it's easy to forget how different America was in those days. Most of the babies born in the latter parts of the 19th century were born on farms to large families. Brown had seven brothers and seven sisters, was born in a tiny rural community in Indiana. Children born back then were workers-in-waiting, an extra set of hands to plow the fields, bale the hay, milk the cows. Parents had lots of kids because the mortality rate was high, families would often lose a child or two before they started walking. It was a hard life.

Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown was born in 1876, the year of the 100th anniversary of America. It was only about a decade since the end of the U.S. Civil War. His family was poor, his father came and went depending on where the work was. Brown had to wait until a sibling finished eating so he could use a clean plate. He was up early to help on the farm, he often missed school because the family didn't have clothes to fit him.

When he was six years old, Brown put his hand in a farming machine and the sharp metal blades cut off the index finger on his right hand. A few years later while chasing a rabbit, Brown fell and mangled a few of the other fingers on his hand, breaking them all. They were never set and his hand was left deformed. The unfortunate events would many years later lead to his immense success as a pitcher.

Brown actually had four fingers on his hand, if you count his thumb, but they called him "Three Finger." It took a while for his pitching brilliance to be noticed because, well it was the 1890s and there was no television, no internet. Hell, there was barely a telephone. He was 24 in 1901 when fans in Terre Haute demanded their local team pay enough money to keep Brown on the roster. He was 25 the following year when he won 27 games for Omaha. Even though Nebraska was the wilderness, his feats drew attention and St. Louis signed him and put him on the mound for his first National League start in 1902.

Brown was unable to throw a baseball straight. His injured hand forced him to grip the ball in an unusual way, and when it came to the plate it seemed to "hop up" over the swing of opposing batters. He also had a phenomenal curve, a pitch that hooked from "ten o'clock to four o'clock" and caused right-handed batters to frequently jump out of the way before watching the ball settle into the edge of the strike zone.

"Three Finger" dominated the league immediately and after his trade to the Cubs, he became one of the best pitchers and biggest gate attractions in the game. He battled Christy Mathewson of the Giants for supremacy, and between 1905 and 1913, either the Cubs or the Giants won eight of the nine pennants. "Brown is my idea of an almost perfect pitcher," Mathewson said, "it will usually be found at the end of the season that he had taken part in more key games than any other pitcher in baseball."

On September 4, 1916, Brown and Mathewson massaged their schedules so they could face each other one final time. Both pitchers were long in the tooth and the final score was 10-8, with Matty come out on top. Brown and Mathewson squared off 25 times in their careers, with Three Finger holding a 14-11 advantage.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
58.3
40.8
24.0
25.4
196.0

#93.  Jack Morris

Jack Morris
Years:
1977-1994

Primary Team:
Tigers
Baseball is an imitation game. Really, all sports are. Once you show you can have success shooting threes or running a run/pass option offense, other teams will copy it. In the early 1980s, a new pitch was the rage in baseball, a pitch that Bruce Sutter was using with phenomenal success out of the bullpen. They called it the forkball because the index and middle fingers surrounded the baseball on either side, like the tines of a fork. That pitch, which is completely responsible for Sutter being in the Hall of Fame, also helped Morris get to the same place.

Before he learned the forkball from teammate Milt Wilcox in 1982, (who had been in the Cubs' organization with Sutter in the 1970s), Morris relied on a fastball, slider, and a pretty bad changeup. With the forkball, Morris had a pitch that complemented his fastball and made him very difficult to hit against because he was able to use the same art slot for the pitch as he did his breaking ball.

"A forkball actually comes out of your hand with the rotation of a curveball," Morris explains. "Because of the pressure on your fingers, there's no way you're going to have the same velocity you do with your fastball, therefore it's kind of like an offspeed curveball. Once I learned how to keep it down, and literally bounce it at times, a hitter couldn't sit on both. He couldn't sit on a fastball and a forkball. It's a devastating pitch."

Less than two years after learning the forkball, Morris had the pitch going very well in his second start in April of 1984 at Comiskey Park in Chicago. It was a Saturday afternoon and the game between the Tigers and White Sox was on national television. Morris had his forkball dropping so much that day that he walked six batters, walked the bases loaded early in the game. The pitch was bouncing in front of catcher Lance Parrish, but Morris had such good stuff on it that he escaped trouble. He carried a no-hitter into the seventh, the eighth, finally the ninth inning. The White Sox barely got the ball past the mound, bounced grounders to first or back to Morris. He struck out a few guys and got his no-hitter, the first by a Detroit pitcher in more than two decades. Morris later estimated that he threw 40 percent forkballs.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
43.9
32.6
16.0
9.7
194.3

#94.  Bob Lemon

Bob Lemon
Years:
1946-1958

Primary Team:
Indians
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
48.2
30.3
15.5
8.9
193.6

#95.  Dennis Martinez

Dennis Martinez
Years:
1976-1998

Primary Team:
Expos
As a young pitcher, Dennis Martinez put a lot of pressure on himself. An anxious, sensitive man from Nicaragua, his right arm always impressed the pitching experts who worked for the Baltimore Orioles, but his head was another body part they weren't sure about. In the 1970s, Martinez waited his turn as the star-studded Oriole pitching machine churned out Cy Young Award winners. He was occasionally asked to fill in when some bird had a clipped wing. But when that sensitivity and anxiety was doused with alcohol, it held him back from his enormous potential. Earl Weaver put him in the bullpen, Martinez pouted, and drank.

In 1984 he finally he hit rock bottom in his personal life, and after the season Martinez entered a rehab program for alcohol. He reported to spring training the next year healthier and with a better attitude. The Orioles talked about the hope they had for him. They had nearly traded Martinez many times, but welcomed the righthander back. Martinez struggled again in 1985, posting an ERA over 5.00 for the third straight season. He began the 1986 campaign in the bullpen, and again he pouted. On opening day in Baltimore he was booed by the fans. His poor performances, especially in Memorial Stadium, had soured the fans on Martinez. He was used only sparingly the first month of the season and he was booed when he came into games at home. In May he complained of a sore arm. The Orioles could find nothing wrong with him. He refused to take a rehab assignment in Rochester. The Orioles made it clear that he needed to pitch to prove that he was hurt or to show that he was healthy so they could trade him. He had burned his bridges in Baltimore.

The O's traded Martinez in June to the Expos for a minor leaguer. Martinez was 32, was four years removed from his last good season, and was considered a loose cannon. He was so lowly regarded that the Orioles had to send a minor leaguer to the Expos to sweeten the deal. He was at a crossroads, or the end of the road.

It proved to be the crossroads. Martinez won 137 games after running himself out of Baltimore. In seven revitalized seasons, he averaged 31 starts and 14 wins per year in Montreal. He matured into a team leader, a mentor to young Latino teammates, and a fan favorite in Quebec. He tossed a perfect game and he was a four-time All-Star after the trade, the last time at the age of 41. When Martinez finally retired at the age of 44, he was the winningest Latino pitcher of all-time and he still hadn't taken a drink.

Martinez credited a new approach to his success in Montreal: he started to mix his pitches better. "When I was drinking I used to think I was good," Martinez said. "I used to just try and throw the ball past the hitter. Now I think. I focus on the weakness of the hitter." Martinez had learned to trust his secondary pitches. When he threw his perfect game against the Dodgers, he got the dangerous Eddie Murray out on a diet of changeups.

Martinez had strange contradictory habits: when he got a new baseball while pitching, he would slowly walk back of the mound on the infield grass and furiously rub the ball into game shape. With his trademark large wad of tobacco in his right cheek he would rub up the ball and stare back at the plate. He was a pretty slow worker on the hill. But when he retired the side, Martinez would almost always run to the dugout. I mean run quickly, as fast as Pete Rose used to zip down the first base line after a walk. Martinez was not in a hurry on the mound, but he left the mound with haste.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
49.0
34.0
16.2
7.7
193.6

#96.  Steve Rogers

Steve Rogers
Years:
1973-1985

Primary Team:
Expos
In Montreal the image of Steve Rogers coming in to pitch the ninth inning of Game Five of the 1981 National League Playoffs is still a painful memory, even though the Expos are no more. Rogers came on in the deciding game against the Dodgers with the score tied 1-1 at Olympic Stadium. It didn't take him long to realize he might have some trouble.

"My adrenaline was pumping so much it was practically coming out of my ears," Rogers said. "In my mind I knew which pitches I was throwing, but I was so [amped up] that I wasn't executing them."

To that point in franchise history, Rogers was the best pitcher the Expos had ever had, a product of the farm system. Rogers had suffered through the lean years in Montreal when the expansion franchise was trying to get competitive. He lost 17 games in a season, he lost 22 games in a season. He was their lone All-Star representative a few times. He was a tall, skinny kid from Missouri, a fish out of water in the metropolitan city of Montreal. He filled out, he matured, he grew a thick mustache. He was also an emotional player, something that both helped and hindered him throughout his career. At times during his career, Rogers was high-strung on the mound, letting his emotions get the best of him. More than once, his teammates were put off by his body language and audible sighs and groans after a ball was misplayed behind him.

Rogers was a monster in the '81 postseason. Before entering Game Five in relief, the righthander had started three games, winning them all, allowing only two runs. The second batter he faced in Game Five was Ron Cey, and Rogers nearly made a big mistake, leaving a fastball too high in the strike zone. Cey sent it to the warning track down the left field line, where Tim Raines grabbed it. That should have been a sign that Rogers was not himself. The next batter was Rick Monday, a veteran lefthanded hitter who was 10-for-64 against Rogers in his career. The Montreal ace fell behind 3-1 and tried to toss a slider away, not worrying if he walked Monday. But with all that adrenaline pouring through him, Rogers left the pitch over the middle of the plate. Monday swung hard and put it over the center field fence. As Monday hopped and skipped between first and second base, the Olympic Stadium crowd fell silent.

Rogers and the Expos lost the game and their best chance to get to the World Series was gone. That team, led by Rogers on the pitching side, with three future Hall of Famers in the lineup (Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, and Tim Raines), was one of the best teams in history to never win a pennant. That fateful loss (which came on a Monday) is known as "Blue Monday" in Montreal.

In 1978 Rogers was involved in an incident that resulted in the abrupt firing of the Montreal general manager Charlie Fox. Before a game in July, Fox was having a meeting with shortstop Tim Foli when his voice started to rise and emotions followed suit. As the team's player representative, Rogers approached and tried to calm things down. As they say, one thing led to another and Fox ended up punching his pitcher. The Expos fired Fox the next day.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
44.9
37.6
18.7
0.0
193.0

#97.  Curt Davis

Curt Davis
Years:
1934-1946

Primary Team:
Cardinals
I'd be willing to bet that of the Top 100 pitchers on this list, Curt Davis is the least recognized, even by ardent fans of the game. He may be one of the dozen or so most unfamiliar players among the 900 men chosen for this book. But, despite that anonymity, Davis was a great pitcher, hampered by the remoteness of his first years in professional baseball, which slowed his progress to the majors, and overshadowed once he got to the big leagues by others who got to pitch on better teams to more fanfare.

If there's a Bigfoot, Curt Davis probably knew about it. Starting at the age of 17, Davis worked for a logging company in the forests of Oregon. Tall, slender, and long-limbed, Davis resembled a skinny Ponderosa Pine, a native tree in the Great Northwest. Davis did the tough work required in the logging industry, working long days at hard physical labor. The teenager matured into a strong young man while spending weeks and months in the dense forests.

One Sunday in 1925, Davis was in Grand Ronde, a tiny lumber town in Oregon, enjoying his day off by watching a baseball game between a local nine and a team from a nearby Indian reservation. The pitcher on the local team was getting clobbered, and Davis opined that he could do better. Explaining that he had pitched for his high school team, Davis convinced the manager to put him in the game. Wearing a flannel shirt, jeans, and work boots, Davis toed the rubber. Using primarily a fastball, Davis led the team to a comeback win and became something of a local hero. Everyone was talking about the "lumberjack" from the logging camp who pitched like a pro. Within a few weeks, Davis was earning extra money pitching for teams throughout southeast Oregon. He used a sidearm and three-quarter delivery, his trademark a knee-high fastball that dipped out of the strike zone at the knees, and a palm ball (or sinker) that moved in and out, again low in the zone. Throughout his career, Davis would display movement that disappeared at the bottom of the strike zone, and while he didn't strike out a lot of batters, he coaxed a lot of double play balls.

In 1926, word spread and Davis earned a job with an independent team in his neck of the woods (no pun intended). He was 23 years old, pitched a no-hitter, and struck out 14 men in one game without walking a batter. The following year he pitched for another independent team and tossed his second no-hitter. A 6'2 righthander, Davis had long legs and arms, and he hid the baseball very well. His right arm would hang back away from his body when he reared up to deliver the ball, sort of like how Rick Sutcliffe would pitch years later.

He was noticed by a fan while pitching in Oregon, a fan who was friends with the manager of the San Francisco Seals. A scout was dispatched to see him pitch, and he was impressed. The Seals signed him. San Francisco was in the Pacific Coast League, the best minor league in the country. In the 1920s, St. Louis was a west coast trip for big league teams, it would be three more decades before MLB would arrive in California. The Seals sent Davis to Salt Lake City in the Utah/Idaho circuit for a little seasoning. The 24-year old won 16 games for Salt Lake, making several outstanding starts. In a stretch of five complete games he allowed a total of 15 hits. Davis showed great control, even as a new professional, and his fastball was almost always knee-high.

"I tossed rocks [when] I was a kid," Davis recalled later, "and I got to where I could fire a stone at a target and hit it nine times of ten."

At Salt Lake City, Davis pitched in the same rotation with 17-year old Lefty Gomez. But even though Davis was five years older, Gomez would make it to the big leagues four years before him.

In his first season with the Seals, Davis won 17 games in 34 starts and pitched in relief seven times. He established himself as the most reliable hurler on the San Francisco team, averaging 18 victories the next four years. But while he saw several of his teammates be sold to the major leagues, Davis remained with the Seals for five full seasons. The reason was out of his control.

"I know several clubs were after me from time to time," Davis told The Sporting News in 1939, "but whenever they started to get serious, San Francisco raised the price, and the deal fell through."

At that time, minor league teams were not yet affiliated with big league clubs, so they were free to make deals any way they saw fit. Their players were bound by the same reserve clause that applied to major leaguers: the team could retain their services year to year. Davis was puzzled by his long stay in the PCL, but in some ways it proved beneficial. He was very popular in the Bay area and the Seals paid Davis more than many pitchers in the majors. Finally, however, a major league club was willing to pay the price for Davis. Unfortunately for Davis, it was the woeful Phillies, the worst franchise in the big leagues. Later it was revealed that the Giants and the Phillies had staged a bidding war for Davis, Bill Terry having offered $25,000 for Davis. Eventually a rule change set Davis free to be drafted for $7,500, and the Phillies, with baseball's worst record, got their man for cheap.

Davis was 30 years old when he toed the rubber for his first major league game in April of 1934 for the Phillies, but his employers didn't know that. Davis had been concealing his real age for years, since the Seals first showed interest. It's likely that the Phillies thought Davis was five or six years younger. In his first start at Ebbets Field, Davis held the Dodgers to two earned runs in a complete game, but lost when his team scored only one run. From the outset, it was clear Davis belonged: he fired his first shutout in May, a three-hitter against the Reds. In June he won five games and pitched in relief five times. Toiling for a team that lost 93 games, Davis was the ace, his ERA dipping nearly as low as 2.00 in July, and he eventually went 19-17 with 18 complete games with a 2.95 ERA. The ERA was the lowest by a starting pitcher for the Phillies in 14 years.

Davis showed how rugged he was as a rookie: pitching 20 games out of the bullpen. While the Phils went 37-76 with others getting the decision, Davis was the only man on their staff who had a winning mark. He was the best new pitcher in the league.

Davis acclimated quickly to major league hitters because he was already a major league quality hurler. The best pitcher in the National League in 1934 was Dizzy Dean, who won 31 games for the Cardinals. Davis was the second-best pitcher as a rookie. Dean pitched his home games in Sportsman's Park, a venue that favored batters slightly. Davis pitched in the Baker Bowl, the best hitters park in baseball. Given the weakness of the defense behind Davis, it could be argued that the Phillies' righty was more valuable than Diz was in 1934.

At any rate, Davis had another good year in 1935, winning 16 games. He was too good to stay with the loser Phils, so the Cubs acquired him in 1936. How badly did the Cubs want the slim righthander? They sent Chuck Klein back to the Phils for him. Davis continued to throw strikes for the Cubbies, winning 11 games for them in half a year in 1936, followed by 10 in 1937 when he suffered his first injury. In the Windy City, he was on the same staff with Larry French, Bill Lee, and Lon Warneke, but Davis outpitched them all.

On the eve of the 1938 campaign, Davis was traded to the Cardinals for Dizzy. Both pitchers were seen as sore-arm projects in need of a new start. Davis had made only 14 starts the previous season for Chicago, his arm hurting so much that he couldn't bring a spoon to his mouth for six weeks. Ol' Diz had suffered a serious injury when he was struck by a line drive in the All-Star Game.

Davis fit in well with the Cardinals, a team with many southern ballplayers and characters. He won 12 games for the Cards in 1938, again pitching out of the pen a lot, and followed with a career-best 22 wins in 1939 when the Redbirds made a surprising run at the pennant. That season, manager Ray Blades used Davis 31 times as a starter and 18 times as his bullpen ace. Davis saved seven games that season and pitched on zero, one, or two-days rests 26 times. He made his second All-Star team. His 35-year old arm was sound, and as always he had his pinpoint control, walking only 48 batters in 248 innings. He helped himself with the stick too, hitting .381 with 17 RBIs. He was used a pinch-hitter 14 times. But the fans in St. Louis were tough on Davis because he wasn't Dizzy Dean, and before he could get too settled, he was traded again. On June 12, 1940, the Cardinals dealt Davis and Joe Medwick to the Dodgers for four players and $125,000. The deal was made to rid the team of Medwick, but Branch Rickey also wanted to shed payroll. In Brooklyn, Davis was managed by a man who often misused him, misunderstood him, and overused him: the indomitable Leo Durocher.

Durocher used Davis as a reliever for most of the first few months of the 1941 season, spot-starting the veteran here and there. Still, Davis pitched well and with the team in the pennant race, Leo moved him into a steady spot in his rotation. The decision was wise: Davis went 6-1 down the stretch, pitching two shutouts, the second one clinching the pennant for Brooklyn in Philadelphia against Davis' former team. Again, Davis had an ERA under 3.00 and his ERA+ was 125.

Before Game One of the World Series, the first appearance in the Fall Classic for Brooklyn in more than two decades, Durocher tried to fool the Yankees. He warmed up three of his starting pitchers, including Davis, who got the actual start. Pitching in Yankee Stadium, Davis allowed a home run to Joe Gordon and RBI singles to Gordon and Bill Dickey before being removed in the sixth. His teammates could muster only one run while Davis was in the game, and lost the game 3-2. It was his only appearance in the Fall Classic, the Dodgers losing to the Yankees in five games.

In 1942 Davis won 15 games and had a 2.36 ERA. He had his only bad season the next year but bounced back to win 20 games after the age of 40 with an ERA under league average. At that time his secret started to come out: he was much older than anyone thought. It didn't help that his hair was almost entirely grey. Reporters found out that the thin, blue-eyed hurler had not registered for the draft. Of course Davis hadn't because only men between the ages of 21 and 35 were required to, and he was actually 38.

All those innings (more than 4,200 between the minors and majors in more than 750 professional games) started to pile up on his arm and after a bad outing in relief in 1946, Davis was released. His final career mark was an official 158-131 at the major league level with more than 150 wins at the minor league and independent league level. For five years he'd been trapped in the Pacific Coast League, clearly good enough to pitch in the majors. In his first season in The Show, he was one of the best pitchers at that level. His rookie season rates as the best season ever by a Phillies' pitcher not named Pete Alexander, Robin Roberts, or Steve Carlton. He probably missed 80 wins because of his late start. There's no reason to believe he wouldn't have been a star had he been able to put a major league uniform on five years earlier. Had he had the chance to play with good teams earlier in the majors.

If we give Lefty Grove some credit for what he might have done had he not been "stuck" with the Baltimore Orioles in the early 1920s, and Dizzy Dean for being trapped by the reserve clause like Davis was, we must do the same for Davis. The rule has to be applied to everyone, no matter how forgotten they are.

Davis' three-year peak is better than that of Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, or Don Sutton, it's similar to that of Dwight Gooden or Mike Mussina. Davis' best seven seasons are comparable to that of Whitey Ford and Red Ruffing. His career value falls short at face value, putting him in a group with Charlie Hough, Jon Matlack, and Andy Messersmith. But once you give Davis credit for his pre-MLB career, even a fairly modest increase lifts Davis shoulder-to-shoulder in a group that includes Mark Langston, Bucky Walters, and Jim Kaat. I'm pretty secure assuming that Curt Davis would have had a similar career value as Kaat and Langston, or Kenny Rogers.

In the terms of "stuff", what made Davis great was what made Mariano Rivera so good, as told by Mickey Owen, who caught Davis for years in Brooklyn.

"Every ball he throws sinks, sails or spins," Owen said. "And they do it at the last second."
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
38.6
30.7
18.7
2.4
192.9

#98.  Tommy Bridges

Tommy Bridges
Years:
1930-1946

Primary Team:
Tigers
The most important inning in the history of the Detroit Tigers was probably the ninth inning of Game Six of the 1935 World Series. The Tigers and Cubs were tied, Detroit needing one run to capture their first title. Tommy Bridges, the little Detroit ace, was on the mound. Stan Hack led off for the Cubs and lofted a deep fly into left-center that went to the wall. He slid into third with a triple. Only 90 feet separated Hack from giving the Cubs a lead and a shot at a Game Seven. But the Cubs had to go through Bridges to do it, and Bridges was a man of rigorous fortitude.

The best pitch in Bridges' arsenal was his curveball. Babe Ruth deemed it the best breaking ball he ever faced. It was an old fashioned "12-to-6" curve, breaking straight down on the plate. Just when the batter thought he was getting a bead on the pitch, it would disappear. At this crucial juncture of the game, on the biggest stage in sports, Bridges went to his strength. He tossed three curveballs to Billy Jurges, striking him out on three pitches. The next Cubs hitter also got a dose of "Uncle Charlie" and was sent back to the bench after missing three pitches. Finally, Bridges retired Augie Galan on a curve for a strike, a curve low, a curve that Galan swung at and missed, and a curveball that Galan lofted lazily to left field for the third out. Bridges had thrown ten straight curveballs to get out of the jam, preserving the tie. The Tigers scored in the bottom of the ninth and won their first world championship. After the game, Mickey Cochrane glowed:

"I can say it only one way, he's 150 pounds of sheer guts," Mickey said.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
50.9
34.2
16.8
13.8
192.0

#99.  Jon Lester

Jon Lester
Years:
2006-2018

Primary Team:
Red Sox
Everyone says Fenway Park is hell on lefthanders. Everyone is basically right, but with one caveat: if the lefthander is a good pitcher, he can succeed in Boston's quirky little ballpark.

In the long history of the Red Sox they've had only twelve lefthanded pitchers make at least 50 starts in Fenway, which debuted in 1912. Every one of the dozen lefty Boston starters who made that many starts at the Fens had a winning record there. Of course, there's a bias: only a good lefthanded pitcher will get a chance to be in the rotation for that long in Boston. But, history shows that the Sox can put a lefty on the hill in home games and win.

Lester made the second most starts by a southpaw at Fenway (114). Mel Parnell made three more starts than that. Lester has a career 51-30 record at Fenway, but that's not close to being the best winning mark by a lefty in that ballpark. The top two spots are held by Hall of Famers, and I bet most fans couldn't guess who they are.

The highest winning percentage by a southpaw in Fenway is by Lefty Grove, who won everywhere, but went 71-22 (.763) in Boston. The second pitcher is Babe Ruth, 49-19 (.721) in 73 career starts at Fenway Park.
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
43.8
35.6
17.9
9.2
191.4

#100.  Joe McGinnity

Joe McGinnity
Years:
1899-1908

Primary Team:
Giants
WAR WAR7 WAR3 CHWAR SCORE
57.6
51.9
30.0
12.2
191.1