You decide MLB’s all-time starting nine: Starting pitchers

Christy Mathewson, Sandy Koufax

Editor’s note, this first appeared on

Over the next two weeks, Metro Philly and amNewYork Metro will be asking you, the readers, to help piece together Major League Baseball’s all-time starting lineup by voting who you think is the very best player at each position. 

Each day, you will be given a list of 10 players per position where you will choose one (1) option. 

Those looking to vote can submit their choices in several ways:

Today, we begin with the 10 best starting pitchers in MLB history — a difficult task to start with considering the dearth of hurling greatness in the game’s history. 

To properly whittle such a broad list down to a reasonable amount, I put forth several parameters the pitchers in question — who played between 1871-2019 — had to meet over the course of their career:

  • Start at least 70% of their appearances
  • Accrue at least 150 wins
  • Possess an Earned Run Average (ERA) under 3.50
  • Sport a WHIP (Walks + Hits per Inning Pitched) of under 2.000
  • Have a K/BB (Strikeout-to-Walk ratio) of at least 2

Wins and ERA are obvious stats to look at when measuring the greatness of a pitcher, but I used WHIP and K/BB allowed as an equalizer to help level the playing the field between the eras of play. 

Pitchers today obviously don’t have nearly the same kind of workload as pitchers back then, who amassed unbreakable stats over the years — but there are men whose play at the beginning of the 20th century was so brilliant, so transcendental, that it holds up throughout the test of time. 

And considering we had a list of 70 pitchers who met those parameters to enter the conversation, it was important to make eliminations as fairly as possible.

We also did not omit players who had certain allegations placed against them, whether it was performance-enhancing drugs or those who thrived during the Dead-Ball Era.

Without further ado, here is the list of 10 MLB starting pitchers for our readers to vote on, in alphabetical order: 


Roger Clemens

363 wins (9th all-time), 3.12 ERA, 1.172 WHIP, 2.957 K/BB, 4,672 strikeouts (3rd all-time)

Career accolades: 7-time Cy Young Award winner (MLB record), 11-time All-Star, 7-time ERA title, 1986 AL MVP, 2-time World Series winner


Bob Gibson

251 wins, 2.91 ERA, 1.188 WHIP, 2.333 K/BB, 3,117 strikeouts (14th all-time)

Career accolades: 2x Cy Young Award winner, 9x All-Star, 1x ERA title, 9x Gold Glove Award winner, 2x World Series winner, 2x World Series MVP, 1.12 ERA in 1968, 1.89 career postseason ERA


Randy Johnson

303 wins (22nd all-time), 3.29 ERA, 1.171 WHIP, 3.256 K/BB, 4,875 strikeouts (2nd all-time)

Career accolades: 5-time Cy Young Award, 10-time All-Star, 4-time ERA title, 1x World Series, 2001 World Series MVP where he posted a 1.04 ERA in three starts against the Yankees


Walter Johnson

417 wins (2nd all-time), 2.16 ERA (12th all-time), 1.061 WHIP (11th all-time), 2.574 K/BB, 3,509 strikeouts (9th all-time)

Career accolades: 2x AL MVP, 5x ERA title, 1x World Series winner, 531 complete games, 110 shutouts (MLB record), 2x 30-game winner


Sandy Koufax

165 wins. 2.76 ERA, 1.106 WHIP (29th all-time), 2.932 K/BB, 2,396 strikeouts

Career accolades: 3x Cy Young Award, 1963 NL MVP, 7x All-Star, 5x ERA title, 3x World Series, 2x World Series MVP, 0.95 career postseason ERA


Greg Maddux

355 wins (8th all-time), 3.15 ERA, 1.143 WHIP, 3.374 K/BB (37th all-time), 3,371 strikeouts (10th all-time)

Career accolades: 4x Cy Young Award, 8x All-Star, 4x ERA title, 18x Gold Glove Award, 1x World Series


Pedro Martinez

219 wins, 2.92 ERA, 1.054 WHIP (8th all-time), 4.150 K/BB (13th all-time), 3,154 strikeouts (13th all-time)

Career accolades: 3x Cy Young Award, 8x All-Star, 5x ERA title, 1x World Series, went 101-28 with a 2.26 ERA from 1998-2003


Christy Mathewson

373 wins (T-3rd all-time), 2.13 ERA (8th all-time), 1.058 WHIP (9th all-time), 2.956 K/BB, 2,507 strikeouts

Career accolades: 5x ERA title, 1x World Series, 435 complete games, 79 shutouts, 4x 30-game winner, 0.97 World Series ERA (11 games)


Tom Seaver

311 wins (18th all-time), 2.86 ERA, 1.120 WHIP (39th all-time), 2.618 K/BB, 3,640 strikeouts (6th all-time)

Career accolades: 3x Cy Young Award winner, 12x All-Star, 3x ERA title, 1x World Series, 98.84% Hall of Fame voting rate (highest of any starting pitcher)


Cy Young

511 wins (1st all-time), 2.62 ERA, 1.1296 WHIP, 2.303 K/BB, 2,803 strikeouts (22nd all-time)

Career accolades: 2x ERA title, 1x World Series, 5x 30-game winner, 76 shutouts, holds MLB record for most wins, losses (315), innings pitched (7,356), and complete games (749)


Those looking to vote can submit their choices in several ways:

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