1) Walter JohnsonThe right-handed hurler leads all pitchers in career shutouts (110), led the league in strikeouts over 12 different seasons, and has the second most wins of all time (417). Johnson was the first dominating power pitcher of the 20th century, and reigned as the MLB's best pitcher for his extensive 20 year career. Johnson's sidearm delivery was unique for the early 1900's, adding to his already baffling speed pitching. His most effective pitch was by far his blistering fastball, earning him 3,508 career strikeouts. Legendary Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver's list of the ten best pitchers of all time ranked Johnson as No. 1.
2) Sandy KoufaxKoufax was a seven-time All-Star, three-time Cy Young Award winner, and four-time World Series winner during his career. The Dodgers pitcher mainly threw a wicked four-seam fastball and a curveball that supposedly had over a foot of movement. Despite only playing 12 seasons, Koufax was unquestionably the most dominant pitcher during his play. He helped the Brooklyn Dodger achieve greatness, while also paving the road for future athletes as the first Jewish baseball phenom.
3) Nolan RyanKnown for throwing the fastest pitch in baseball history, Nolan Ryan routinely pitched around 100 miles per hour. Ryan's career lasted an incredible 30 years which makes him the only pitcher to appear in four separate decades. Over his 30 years of pitching, Ryan remained a winner and managed a career winning percentage of .526. His number was justly retired by three different teams, demonstrating how his presence effected more than just one Major League franchise.
4) Cy YoungMajor League Baseball named the award for the best pitcher of the season, the Cy Young Award, to commemorate Young's pitching legacy. Young holds records for most career wins (511) and most careers games started (815). Of those 815 games, Young pitched a complete game a record 749 times during his career. Aside from the records and numerous awards, Young started and pitched the first World Series game in 1903 for the Boston Americans. Young and the Americans went on to become the first World Series champion.
5) Christy MathewsonAlong with Walter Johnson, Mathewson was one of the first five players to be elected into the Hall of Fame. Mathewson pitched 16 years with the New York Giants and one year with the Cincinnati Reds. Over his 17-year career, Mathewson held an unbelievable winning percentage of .665 and an ERA of 2.13. The Giants great was the first pitcher to effectively utilize the screwball, which was originally referenced to as the fadeaway. His newly acquired fadeaway and precise control helped him lead the Giants to a World Series title in 1905.
6) Grover AlexanderRanking in all time wins behind only Young, Johnson, is Grover Alexander. A Phillies immortal, Alexander was untouchable from 1912-1920. Within that time span he won three Triple Crowns and led Philadelphia to its first World Series title. Alexander achieved 30 more wins in three consecutive seasons, proving that he was a consistent great among all pitchers.
7) Randy JohnsonNicknamed the “Big Unit”, Johnson is remembered for his height, his mullet, and most importantly, his pitching speed. The left-handed giant's pitching earned him five Cy Young Awards during his 22-year career. His fastball was complemented by his slider, which reached over 90 MPH. Batters were often fooled because Johnson's slider was so fast it resembled a fastball until it broke over the plate, leaving them stranded for strikeouts. Johnson is second in all-time career strikeouts behind only Ryan.
8) Tom SeaverOn Tom Seaver's previously mentioned list of the greatest pitcher, he left off one important player: himself. Seaver is mostly remembered as a member of the New York Mets, where he guided them to their first ever championship in 1969. That same year, Seaver earned the Cy Young Award with 25 regular season wins and an ERA of 2.21. Seaver went on to win two more Cy Young Awards and racked up more than 300 career victories over his 20-year career.
9) Pedro MartinezMartinez holds currently holds the record for the highest winning percentage of any pitcher with more than 200 wins. He played an intricate part in Boston's 2004 World Series title, their first in 86 years. Martinez was also a power pitcher, but didn't rely solely on his fastball. His arsenal of fastballs, cutters, curveballs, and circle changeups were all pitched at high velocities from his deceptive low three-quarter pitching style. Martinez, who was only 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, was also noticeably smaller than most power pitchers.
10) Greg MadduxGreg Maddux was able to dominate the league with control rather than power. Maddux had great movement on his four-seam and two-seam fastball, complemented by an off-speed circle changeup. Opposing batter had difficulty drawing solid contact off of his pitches, with many resulting in ground outs. By not relying on strikeouts, Maddux was able to keep a low pitch count and stay in games much longer than other pitchers in his era. Maddux, along with Randy Johnson, won the Cy Young Award for four consecutive seasons. In 1995 an outstanding pitching trio of Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz carried the Braves to a World Series win.
The 2012 season marks 143 total years of Major League Baseball, the oldest of any of the major sports leagues in the United States. Only 207 players have been elected into the Hall of Fame, leaving fans with a good idea of who the best players of all time were.
Specifically, a list of the greatest starting pitchers is always hotly debated. Whether it is throwing skills, statistics, championships, or career length, baseball's elite starting pitchers can be separated from the masses with careful analysis.