Baseball, a sport steeped in history and tradition, has seen countless talented players grace its fields. However, when it comes to the title of 'best pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) history', the debate becomes heated and complex.
The Dominance of Nolan Ryan
Nolan Ryan, a right-handed pitcher known for his devastatingly fast pitches, holds several records that make him a strong contender for the title. With an all-time high of 5,714 strikeouts, the fewest hits allowed per nine innings (6.56), and seven no-hitters, Ryan's statistics are impressive. He also ranks fifth in innings pitched (5,386), second in games started (773), seventh in shutouts (61), and is tied for 14th in wins (324). Despite these remarkable achievements, Ryan also holds the third spot in all-time losses (292), which somewhat tarnishes his claim to the title.
The Speed of Aroldis Chapman
Aroldis Chapman, the Cincinnati Reds' pitcher, officially holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest baseball pitch with a 105.8 mph fastball. This record was set on September 24, 2010, against the San Diego Padres. While this feat is undeniably impressive, it does not necessarily qualify Chapman as the best pitcher in MLB history.
The Legacy of Walter Johnson
According to many sports experts, former Washington Senators player Walter Johnson, also known as 'The Big Train,' tops the list of the best MLB pitchers of all time. Johnson's career is celebrated for its longevity and dominance. His rank among pitchers who threw 2,000+ innings in their career (397 players) is a testament to his enduring prowess on the mound.
The Controversy Surrounding Roger Clemens
Roger Clemens, despite being a controversial figure due to allegations of performance-enhancing drug usage, cannot be overlooked. His career paralleled Greg Maddux's in many ways, but Clemens was far better at generating strikeouts. He racked up the highest WAR in history, won seven Cy Young awards, an MVP, seven ERA titles, five strikeout titles, and made eleven All-Star game appearances.
The Consistency of Greg Maddux
Greg Maddux, known for his incredible durability and smart pitching style, is another strong contender. With 355 wins, the most by any pitcher in the modern era, Maddux's career is marked by consistency and longevity. He won four Cy Young awards, four NL ERA titles, and made eight All-Star game appearances. His 18 gold gloves also make him arguably the best fielding pitcher of all time.
While the debate about the best pitcher in MLB history will likely continue, it's clear that each of these players has left an indelible mark on the sport.