MLB.com came out with their list of best Right Handed Starters for each franchise. We, at A Sip of Sports didn’t categorize by right/left, but judged pitcher simply as pitchers. We can easily adjust our list to make the comparisons. We agreed on 20 of the thirty choices (67%), if we count Jake Peavy with the Padres. We think the best right handed pitcher in Padres’ history is Trevor Hoffman, but he was a closer. Peavy would be the choice if we’re ranking starting pitchers.
Toronto Blue Jays
ASOS: Dave Stieb
MLB.com: Roy Halladay
We understand the sentiment for Roy Halladay. His tragic death is still very much in our memories, and he was recently elected to the Hall of Fame. The DATA, however, does not support the selection. Halladay’s record in Toronto was 148-76, with a 3.43 ERA in 2,047 innings. Dave Stieb’s was 175-134, with a 3.44 ERA in 2,873 innings. Stieb was just as effective as Halladay in 800 more innings. That’s why Dave leads Roy 56.9-48.4 in WAR and 210-169 in Win Shares while they were in Canada. Stieb leads in every category we use except award results. Stieb had a 4th, 5th and two 7th place finishes in Cy Young Award voting, and seven All Star appearances. Halladay won a Cy Young Award for the Blue Jays in 2003, finished 2nd, 3rd, and 5th twice with six All Star selections. We think Halladay was very good, but he’s only the second best pitcher in franchise history.
ASOS: Jim Palmer
MLB.com: Jim Palmer
This one’s easy.
Tampa Bay Rays:
ASOS: James Shields
MLB.com: James Shields
The Rays don’t hold on to their good pitchers for more than seven years. Shields won 87 games in his six seasons with the team.
Boston Red Sox
ASOS: Roger Clemens
MLB.com: Pedro Martinez
Martinez over Clemens? It’s hard to figure this one out unless we disqualify Clemens for the substance abuse allegations against him. Roger won 192 games in Boston to Pedro’s 117, and he pitched twice as many innings in Beantown. WAR favors Clemens 80.6-53.8. Choosing Clemens over Martinez is a no-brainer, the controversy is Clemens vs Cy Young of who the greatest Red Sox pitcher is. That one is close, but we think we’ve got the right one there too.
New York Yankees
ASOS: Red Ruffing
MLB.com: Red Ruffing
Another easy one.
ASOS: Bob Feller
MLB.com: Bob Feller
We’ve documented Feller’s career sacrifice to serve his country in other articles. Giving him no credit at all for his 3 ½ missing seasons, he’s still an easy selection.
Kansas City Royals
ASOS: Bret Saberhagen
MLB.com: Bret Saberhagen
The choice between Saberhagen and Kevin Appier is very close. We both took the 2-time Cy Young Award winner.
ASOS: George Mullin
MLB.com: Justin Verlander
As a pitcher only, Mullin’s WAR with Detroit was 34.8, but he was also a solid hitter, earning 11.5 WAR at the plate, for a total of 46.3. Verlander’s WAR in Detroit was 56.1. Mullin leads in Win Shares 238-194. The timeline is a big advantage for Verlander. We just think that Mullin’s 3,394 to 2,511 lead in innings pitched in Detroit makes him overall more valuable. We might be wrong.
ASOS: Walter Johnson
MLB.com: Bert Blyleven
If they had considered players from the franchises time in Washington then Johnson would have been their choice. For some reason they didn’t.
Chicago White Sox
ASOS: Ed Walsh
MLB.com: Ed Walsh
The greatest Spitball pitcher of all time? We think so.
Los Angeles Angels
ASOS: Nolan Ryan
MLB.com: Nolan Ryan
We think Ryan is very overrated, but he is a legitimate Hall of Famer, and his best seasons were with the Angels.
ASOS: Roy Oswalt
MLB.com: Roy Oswalt
There’s a lot of worthy choices here (Joe Niekro, Larry Dierker, J.R. Richard, Mike Scott, Nolan Ryan), it’s a little surprising that we both picked the same one.
ASOS: Catfish Hunter
MLB.com: Catfish Hunter
The Athletics’ best pitchers were all southpaws (Grove, Plank, Waddell). The timeline adjustment lifts Catfish above “Chief” Bender.
ASOS: Felix Hernandez
MLB.com: Felix Hernandez
ASOS: Charlie Hough
MLB.com: Nolan Ryan
Wow, they took a pitcher who won 51 games with the franchise over someone who won 139. Hough also leads in WAR while in Texas, 32.6-15.2, Win Shares 146-56, and innings pitched, 2,308-840. How could anyone get this so wrong? The difference is one threw a 100 mph fastball and the other threw a fluttering knuckleball.
ASOS: Kid Nichols
MLB.com: Greg Maddux
We covered this comparison in our National League All Time Greatest Team article. We agree that Maddux overall career value was greater than Nichols, but he only had 62% of his value in Atlanta, while Nichols had 92% of his value with the Beaneaters/Braves. Maddux is a deserving selection, but we still like Nichols.
ASOS: Josh Johnson
MLB.com: Jose Fernandez
Jose Fernandez was great when he pitched, but only started 76 games in his four seasons before his untimely death. Josh Johnson had 160 starts with the Marlins before injuries put a premature end to his career. It’s not really close, Johnson’s WAR was 25.8 to Fernandez’ 13.0.
New York Mets
ASOS: Tom Seaver
MLB.com: Tom Seaver
Could Jacob deGrom eventually take this spot? Not likely.
ASOS: Steve Rogers
MLB.com: Stephen Strasburg
Strasburg just came off his best season, culminating by being named World Series MVP. He just signed a new long term deal with the Nationals, so there’s a good chance he’s going to stay in town long enough to justify MLB.com’s pick. He’s not there yet.
ASOS: Grover Cleveland “Pete” Alexander
MLB.com: Robin Roberts
Robin Roberts was a great pitcher, one of the top 25 of all time. He spent 14 of his 19 Major League seasons, and all his best ones, in Philadelphia. He leads Alexander in wins while in Philly, 234-190, WAR 69.7-60.1, and Win Shares 277-238. Roberts is a very defensible pick. We’ll still go with “The Great Alex”. In Alexander’s seven seasons with the Phillies he averaged over 27 wins a season, and won three pitching triple crowns, and led the league 13 times in triple crown categories. Roberts “only” led the league in 6 triple crown categories in his 14 seasons with the franchise. You can make a pretty good case that Alexander’s seven year run in Philadelphia was the best seven year run in Major League baseball history.
ASOS: Ben Sheets
MLB.com: Ben Sheets
Not a lot of good candidates here. We both settled on the same one.
St. Louis Cardinals
ASOS: Bob Gibson
MLB.com: Bob Gibson
They don’t make ‘em like Bob Gibson anymore.
ASOS: Three Finger Brown
MLB.com: Fergie Jenkins
Brown’s record while in Chicago was 188-86 with a 1.80 ERA in 2,390 innings. Compare that to Jenkins’ 167-132 record with a 3.20 ERA in 2,674 innings. WAR favors Jenkins 53.0-48.0, but Win Shares favors Brown 237-203. We get it, Brown played 60 years before Jenkins. We just think WAR got this one wrong. Brown was the best player on the Cubs’ best teams (1906-1910). Jenkins was the third best player (Ron Santo, Billy Williams) on Cub teams that won nothing. We stand by our pick.
ASOS: Babe Adams
MLB.com: Babe Adams
Hero of the 1909 World Series
ASOS: Bucky Walters
MLB.com: Bucky Walters
Says something about the Reds’ franchise that we both took a converted infielder.
ASOS: Brandon Webb
MLB.com: Brandon Webb
If Zack Greinke had stayed around a few more years he might have challenged Webb. He didn’t.
Los Angeles Dodgers
ASOS: Don Drysdale
MLB.com: Don Drysdale
A lot of worthy candidates for this spot (Don Sutton, Dazzy Vance, Don Newcombe, Brickyard Kennedy, etc.). We both took “Big D”.
San Francisco Giants
ASOS: Christy Mathewson
MLB.com: Christy Mathewson
“The Great Matty” over the hot-headed Juan Marichal.
San Diego Padres
ASOS: Jake Peavy
MLB.com: Jake Peavy
Closer Trevor Hoffman is the best right handed pitcher in franchise history, but Peavy gets the nod here because he was a starter.
ASOS: Ubaldo Jimenez
MLB.com: Ubaldo Jimenez
Not much to choose from.
This concludes our series comparing A Sip of Sports and MLB.com’s selections of the greatest players at each position for every Major League franchise. We agreed on 70% of the selections. Most of those disagreements were on the margins, with MLB.com’s choices being very reasonable. We have just a few that A Sip of Sports found outrageous.
With the Minnesota Twins MLB.com didn’t include players from their Washington Senator days for their team. Not sure why they chose to do that. They used the complete franchise history for the Giants, Dodgers, Braves, Orioles/Yankees, Browns/Orioles, Expos/Nationals, and Athletics. Not sure whether they included the expansion Washington Senators in their Texas Ranger picks. The exclusion of Frank Howard indicates that they didn’t.
Besides the exclusion of Howard on the Senators/Ranger teams, we only had ten selections made by MLB.com that were not reasonably supportable. They were:
Anthony Rizzo over Cap Anson at first base for the Cubs
Nellie Fox over Eddie Collins at second base for the White Sox
Cliff Floyd over Miguel Cabera in left field for the Marlins
Steve Finley over Dave Winfield in center field for the Padres
Chipper Jones over Eddie Mathews at third base for the Braves
Pedro Martinez over Roger Clemens at RHP for the Red Sox
Nolan Ryan over Charlie Hough at RHP for the Rangers
C.J. Wilson over Kenny Rogers at LHP for the Rangers
Tom Glavine over Warren Spahn at LHP for the Braves
In all nine of those selections there’s no objective defense of MLB.com’s choice.