As a Part 2 to my MLB All-Time Team, I will list my pitchers, which I am allowed 13 of. I will go with 5 starters and 8 relievers, and so it may not be the 13 best pitchers of all time as there wouldn’t be 8 relievers in that list, it’ll really be the 5 best starters and then 8 best relievers of all time. For reference to who the batters were click here, and with that being said, let’s get on with out historic squad.
#1: Pedro Martinez
Yes I’m a Yankees fan putting a Red Sox legend as the best pitcher of all time, and that’s because I think he simply is. Yes he’s 15th in fWAR but that’s in only 2720.2 innings pitched compared to the people ahead of him who all have at least 1,100 innings more on their career. In the steroid era he had a career 2.95 ERA and 2.91 FIP and is one of three pitchers (minimum 2,000 innings pitched) who had a 10 or higher K/9 in their career. He also has the 5th best WHIP of all time at 1.05 and the best FIP- of all time and second best ERA- of all time, two stats that compare a pitcher to the average of that stat in their playing time, meaning that when you adjust for the era you pitched in, no one was more dominant in their era than Pedro was in his. Disgaree with me if you want, but he’s my GOAT pitcher.
#2: Roger Clemens
Had it not been for PEDs, I would’ve put him at one, but you take his stats with a grain of salt because of his PED usage. 3rd all time in FIP- and 8th in ERA- and the best fWAR of all time amongst pitchers. I think Clemens is a shoe-in for a starting five and that having that rocket arm in this rotation will be able to give me some serious firepower. Analytically speaking he’s undoubtedly an all-time great, and he’s my second starter
#3: Randy Johnson
Our first southpaw, Johnson is one of the best strikeout pitchers per 9 of all time, with a 10.61 K/9 and a whopping 110.4 fWAR. His 3.29 ERA and 3.19 FIP in the over 4,000 innings is amazing especially since you consider that he pitched from the 1989 season to 2009 which puts him directly in the steroid era, so his FIP- and ERA- metrics give him more justice and show he was an absolute stud on the mound. He’s the best lefty of all time in my opinion, and he’s perfect for this squad.
#4: Walter Johnson
The Big Train is a premier pick for this squad, with a 2.17 career ERA and a 2.42 FIP, he’s elite by any metric you’d like to bring up. He has a 117.1 fWAR and a ERA- of 68 and FIP- of 76 along with a 1.06 WHIP and was one of the best right handers of his era. He does have the best ERA and FIP out of all starters but his era adjusted stats bring him a tick below our top 3, but he’s still going to be a monster on this squad.
#5: Sandy Koufax
The second southpaw on this list, there are few stretches of baseball more dominant than from 1962-1966 as he had a better than 1:1 strikeout to inning ratio, with a 1.95 ERA and 2.00 FIP in that span. He won 3 Cy Youngs, 1 MVP, 5 ERA and FIP crowns, 4 WHIP crowns, 3 strikeout crowns, all while averaging 263 innings per SEASON. He’d be higher on this list had his health issues not derailed his career, but he’s more than deserving of a spot in this ultimate rotation.
Aroldis Chapman: A present day reliever? This isn’t only one on the list but Chapman is going to be a HOFer one day, with a 2.23 ERA, 2.01 FIP, and a 2.36 xFIP with a 14.84 K/9 is insane, and I think he’s one of the 8 best relievers of all time, being a fire-baller and a historic strikeout machine. He’d be higher on this list but his limited body of work holds him back (for now)
Lee Smith: A Hall of Fame reliever, Lee Smith has a 3.03 ERA and a 2.93 FIP over 1289.1 innings and is one of baseball’s best relievers being a 6’6 225 hurler who was reliable as they get. He was able to toss multiple 100+ inning seasons as a reliever and was durable. He’s an electric reliever and a mainstay in the best relievers conversation, so I have to put him in this bullpen.
Trevor Hoffman: I know that I have him here at 6 and that’ll upset people, but saves aren’t the best metrics for a reliever. He has a 3.08 FIP and 2.87 ERA which is really good but the people ahead of him either had lower ERA and FIP metrics, or had longer careers and therefore had more overall value. Yes Hoffman is a great reliever but he’s not better than the 5 ahead of him.
Rich “Goose” Gossage: A staple in talks of some of baseball’s best relievers, Gossage pitched 1809 innings and had a 3.01 ERA and a 3.18 FIP. The reason I have him above Hoffman is because of his 500 innings more of relief work, I won’t count his innings as a starter but it’s just part of how Gossage was more durable and was as good as Hoffman arguably but for longer.
Craig Kimbrel: “What? Above Gossage??? Above HOFFMAN? HE DOESN’T KNOW BASEBALL” Yes I know this is very upsetting for people who only look at names and not metrics. In his career Kimbrel already has a 2.08 ERA and a 2.19 FIP and 2.26 xFIP. That’s beyond elite, and while he doesn’t have the 600 saves, saves are a product of being up by 1-3 runs and finishing the job, things beyond the control of a pitcher as they can’t force a team to only be up by a score of 1-3 runs. Kimbrel had a rough 2019, and people will use that to say he’s washed but that’s without the context of how he didn’t have a healthy season or a spring training. He’s a top 4 reliever all time, to not have him top 8 is to ignore analytics in favor for bias.
Billy Wagner: Billy is so underrated, being one of the best fire-ballers of the reliever class and with his 2.31 ERA and 2.73 FIP he’s one of the most sound run preventer as well. He posted a n 11.92 K/9 and sported a 1.00 WHIP. He’s one of those pitchers that can do it all, with prevention of runs and base-runners, good velocity, great body of work to go off of, AND great strikeout metrics. He’s a shoe in at number 3.
Rollie Fingers: In over 1,500 innings of work, Fingers has a 2.84 ERA and 2.88 FIP, and while Wagner and Kimbrel have better numbers, I think the body of work argument truly does matter here as the gap between Hoffman and Kimbrel was 500 innings but here it’s 1000 so I won’t put Kimbrel higher on the list, and Wagner has 600 less innings with a similar FIP so I have to give Fingers the edge here. A deserving HOFer and a classic for relievers.
Mariano Rivera: My fellow Yankee fans you can breathe a sigh of relief (get it) now that I have Rivera at one. My little monologue on why saves don’t matter as much probably scared you guys into thinking Rivera wouldn’t be number one, but come on guys I wouldn’t do that. A 2.06 ERA and 2.67 FIP as a reliever (not using his starter stats), he was as dominant as they came. He had the best ERA- on this list (second all time behind…Zack Britton) and he’s 10th in FIP- and third on this list (Behind Kimbrel and Chapman.) I won’t even bring up saves, I’ll actually defer to his insane stats in the postseason that speak for themselves. He’s the best reliever of all time, and if I need to close out a game, even with all the talent in this bullpen, I’m bringing out the Sandman.
What do you guys think about this list? Would you change this team at all?