Throughout baseball’s history, there have been dominant pitchers of both the right-handed and left-handed persuasions. In this post, we will focus on the right-handed pitchers. Without further ado, here are the top 10 best right-handed pitchers in baseball history.
1. Greg Maddux
Though he never possessed an overpowering fastball, Greg Maddux is arguably the most dominant pitcher ever to step foot on a Major League mound. Maddux relied on his terrific location and off-speed stuff, keeping hitters confused and off-balance. The winner of 4 Cy Young Awards over his 23-year career, he owns a career ERA of 3.16. When you consider the fact that he pitched during the height of the steroid era, this is a remarkable statistic.
2. Walter Johnson
When Johnson first came into the Major Leagues, his fastball was like nothing anyone had ever seen before. Throwing with a pronounced sidearm motion, he would throw balls by even the best of hitters, finishing with a lifetime ERA of 2.17. He is 9th all-time in strikeouts, totaling 3,508 over his 21 big league seasons. Though some give the nod to Christy Mathewson, many consider Johnson to be the best pitcher of his generation.
3. Pedro Martinez
From 1997 to 2003, Pedro Martinez was arguably the greatest pitcher in baseball history. Posting an ERA no higher than 2.89 over those 7 seasons, he was dominant despite the fact that he pitched at the height of the steroid era. Over his 18-year career, Martinez posted a remarkable 2.93 ERA to go with 3,154 strikeouts. The winner of 3 Cy Youngs, his combination of power pitching and outstanding offspeed stuff made him one of the most feared pitchers in the game.
4. Bob Feller
Nicknamed Rapid Robert for his (at the time) otherworldly fastball, Bob Feller was nearly untouchable at times. With an 18 strikeout game to his credit, he was also able to throw 3 no-hitters over the span of his career. Despite losing three full seasons due to military service, Feller finished his 18-year career with 2,581 strikeouts and a 3.25 ERA.
5. Christy Mathewson
Christy Mathewson was essentially the Greg Maddux of the dead ball era. Like Maddux, he used a bevy of offspeed pitches to fool hitters; his screwball was his specialty pitch. With 373 career wins, Mathewson is fourth on the all-time list behind Cy Young, Walter Johnson, and Grover Cleveland Alexander. While not known as a strikeout pitcher, he was able to accumulate 2,507 strikeouts over his 17-year Major League career.
6. Roger Clemens
While rumors of PED use have surrounded him, it’s difficult to keep a pitcher as dominant as Clemens off this list. Posting a remarkable 354 wins over his 24-year career, Clemens was nearly unhittable at times. The winner of 7 Cy Youngs and 1 MVP award, he finished his career with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts. He is third on the all-time strikeouts list.
7. Grover Cleveland Alexander
Pitching the better half of his career in the dead ball era, Grover Cleveland Alexander posted a sub 2 ERA six seasons in a row from 1915 to 1920. Finishing with 373 wins over his 20-year Major League career, he is third on the all-time list behind Walter Johnson and Cy Young. Alexander’s talent saw a sharp decline after he returned from battle in World War I; an experience that left him shell-shocked and dependent on alcohol.
8. Bob Gibson
Few players in the history of baseball have been more intimidating than Bob Gibson. With his cold stare and violent delivery, he would blow fastballs by opposing hitters in a gust of fury not often seen in sport. His best season (arguably the greatest in baseball history), came in 1968 when he posted a 1.12 ERA to go with 22 wins and 268 strikeouts. Over the span of his 17-year career, Gibson posted a 2.91 ERA and 3,117 strikeouts.
9. Satchel Paige
Satchel Paige is one of the few Negro League greats who got the chance to play in the Major Leagues. The only problem is that it was when he was far past his prime. He did, however, post a 3.07 ERA in 138 innings pitched when he was 45 years old; an indication of his staggering talent. The tales of the tall, lanky Paige in his Negro League days are ones of absolute dominance. He is, without question, considered to be the greatest Negro League pitcher there ever was.
10. Nolan Ryan
The man with the most explosive fastball baseball’s ever seen: Nolan Ryan. Ryan used his fastball and sharp curve to win 324 games over a remarkable 27-year career. Over this time, he threw 7 no-hitters, outpacing the next closest pitcher by 3. He is the greatest strikeout pitcher in baseball history, holding both the single season and career strikeout records with 383 and 5,714 respectively.
Image Courtesy of Flickr User Bryce Edwards