By its nature, this tournament needs more than just the hitters. We need some pitchers for the batters to test themselves against.
My original thought was that I would make a broad selection of the greatest pitchers of all time, selecting from different eras. I selected lefties and righties and made sure to include a few of the greatest relief pitchers, too. What I didn’t count on was how overmatched the batters were! It became clear from the first “season” that I would have to augment my plan. I will explain the changes as they naturally occurred.
The Initial Staff
Here were the pitchers I chose to start off the tournament. They are listed in alphabetical order. Any major league team would be thrilled to have these guys filling out their roster.
- Pete Alexander
Grover Cleveland Alexander, prior to WWI, was the greatest pitcher in the National League. In his first seven seasons, he fashioned a record of 190-88 with an ERA of 2.12. He finished with 373 lifetime wins.
- Roger Clemens
Steroids or no, 354 lifetime victories, over 4500 strikeouts, and 7 Cy Young awards is a record to respect. Arguably the best pitcher of the 1980s. And the 1990s. And the 2000s!
- Dizzy Dean
Streaking like a meteor across the baseball firmament, Dean had 5 tremendous years for the St. Louis Cardinals’ Gashouse Gang of the 1930s. A broken toe led to a bad arm and prematurely ended his career.
- Whitey Ford
New York Yankee great who I never really held in high regard – I always thought he benefitted too much from being with the Yankees during their hay day. Turns out The Chairman of the Board is the left-hander with the highest lifetime winning percentage at .690 even though he lost 2 prime years to military service.
- Bob Gibson
One of my favorites growing up – I read his biography when I was 10. 251 lifetime wins, the second pitcher to go over 3000 Ks and a spectacular 1968 season that saw 13 shutouts and a 1.12 ERA. His performance was overshadowed in the public imagination by Denny McLain‘s gaudy 31-6 record.
- Lefty Grove
300 wins and a lifetime winning percentage of .680. Was elected to the Hall-of-Fame in 1947 but somehow got votes in 1960!
- Randy Johnson
303 wins and second on the career strikeout list. Go watch the video of Johnson facing John Kruk in the 1993 All-star game!
- Walter Johnson
417 wins and the first pitcher to go over 3000 career strikeouts. Possibly the greatest starting pitcher of all time.
- Sandy Koufax
Another all-time great with an injury-shortened career, “The Left Arm of God” finished his career with 4 of the greatest seasons of the modern era.
- Satchel Paige
Unless it was this guy. After 22 years in the Negro Leagues, a major league “rookie” at age 42 because of segregation, he still managed to pitch five years in the bigs. Not only the oldest rookie, he also is the oldest to play: he pitched three shutout innings in 1965, at age 58.
- Mariano Rivera
All-time leader in saves and ERA+. This is a great guy to have coming out of your bullpen.
- Tom Seaver
“Tom Terrific” was one of the most dominating pitchers of the 1970s and stuck around long enough to surpass 300 wins and 3500 strikeouts.
- Lee Smith
Top-notch, Hall-of-Fame reliever that covered the 1980s for this list.
- Warren Spahn
His three years lost to WWII cost him his chance at 400 victories. The winningest left-hander in ML history.
- Al Spalding
Known more for the sporting goods company he started, he was also the most dominating pitcher in baseball history, totaling 252 wins vs. only 65 losses for a .795 winning percentage, mostly in the old National Association in the 1870s
- Cy Young
There’s a reason the award given to the best pitcher in the league is named after him. 511 career wins, including 30+ in five different seasons.
So these are the guys. It is a staff that will prove a significant challenge to Baseball’s Greatest Players as they go head-to-head for the title!