Shane McClanahan of the Tampa Bay Rays leads the major leagues with an 8-0 record and is the +350 co-favorite along with Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees to win the Cy Young Award.

McClanahan is now up to 30 career victories, a heck of a start for the 26-year-old left-hander from Baltimore. If he can string together a couple dozen 20-win seasons and pitch well into his 40s, he still will have zero chance at breaking the record for most career wins by a Major League Baseball pitcher.

Yeah, the career wins record is pretty much out of reach for everyone until someone with a rubber arm comes out of nowhere and obliterates every single major league hitter out there. You never say “never,” but you do not want to bet on that ever happening.

The award for the best pitcher in baseball is known as the Cy Young Award, and it is called that for a reason. Young racked up 511 career victories over a 22-year career at the turn of the century between the 1800s and the 1900s, back before managers started using pitch counts as the primary basis to determine whether a pitcher could continue to pitch. They did not have overthinkers in baseball back then, they had ironmen. And among pitchers, there were some rubber-armed players whose arms never fell off.

But times change, and we now have managers who are micromanagers. Whether we ever see any present-day MLB pitchers make a top 10 all-time greatest list is now questionable for this very reason. So, let’s take a step back in time and determine who were the 10 best pitchers of all time in Major League Baseball history.

Who is the best pitcher of all time?

That, of course, is subjective. When it comes to wins, it was Young. When it comes to no-hitters, it was Nolan Ryan. When it comes to lowest ERA, it was Tm Keefe back in 1880. When it comes to generating excitement, Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels is at the top of the list right now, which is one of the things that keeps baseball cool, both here in America and in Japan, where it is the No. 1 sport.

Famous Pitchers in MLB

There is a very small list of pitchers that everyone wants to tune in and watch when their turns come up in the rotation. Ohtani is one of them right now, and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers is another. Once he returns from the disabled list, Justin Verlander of the New York Mets will be another. Ryan was that way when he was throwing 100 mph fastballs some decades ago, but these types of players are few and far between in a sport in which the home run is king and the no-hitter and/or perfect game is a rarity.

Ranking the Top 10 Greatest Pitchers of all time

  1. Greg Maddux

Years Active: 1986 to 2008
Teams: Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres.
Career Stats: 355-227 record, 3.16 ERA, 3,371 strikeouts.
Honors and Awards: All-Star Game (1988, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000), Cy Young Award (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995), Gold Glove Award (1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008), Hall of Fame (2014)

Among the best precision pitchers ever, Maddux’s command of the strike zone was uncanny. He worked the corners and never threw a pitch down the middle, and his calm and cool demeanor rubbed off on his teammates, especially on the Atlanta Braves teams for which the San Angelo, Texas, native dominated along with Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. True story: During the 1995 World Series, this reporter told Maddux that a tee time at Augusta could be had for him, Smoltz and Glavine, along with the reporter. Calls were made, and the invitation was extended to the three Braves pitchers … but not the reporter.

  1. Bob Gibson

Years Active: 1959 to 1975
St. Louis Cardinals
Career Stats: 251-174 record, 2.91 ERA, 3,117 strikeouts
Honors and Awards: All-Star Game (1962, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972). National League MVP (1968), Cy Young Award (1968, 1970), World Series MVP (1964, 1967), Gold Glove Award (1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973), Hall of Fame (1981)

The burly right-hander from Omaha, Neb., spent his entire career with the Cardinals and still holds the record for most strikeouts in a World Series game with 17. A little-known fact: He delayed his baseball career for one year so that he could play basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters. He began his career shuttling between being a starter and a reliever, and he was a very decent hitter back when pitchers batted ninth. He started three games against the Yankees in the 1964 World Series and went the distance in Game 7 on two days rest to give the Cardinals their first championship since 1946.

  1. Sandy Koufax

Years Active: 1955 to 1966
Career Stats:
165-87 record, 2.76 ERA, 2,396 strikeouts
Teams: Brooklyn Dodgers, Los Angeles Dodgers
Honors and Awards: All-Star Game (1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966), National League MVP (1963), Cy Young Award (1963, 1965, 1966), World Series MVP (1963, 1965), Hall of Fame (1972)

Koufax was an icon in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, and he almost cut his career short after going 8-13 in the 1960 season, throwing his spikes and his glove into a trash can and turning his attention to an electronics business he had started. He changed his mind, however, and in 1961 broke the NL record with 269 strikeouts and threw a 13-inning complete game with 15 strikeouts. He threw 27 complete games in his final season and had four career no-hitters and a perfect game. Arm pain forced an early retirement at age 30. He had 147 complete games and 40 shutouts.

  1. Tom Seaver

Years Active: 1967 to 1986
Career Stats:
311-205 record, 2.86 ERA, 3,640 strikeouts
Teams: New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox
Honors and Awards: All-Star Game (1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981), National League Rookie of the Year (1967), Cy Young Award (1969, 1973, 1975), Hall of Fame (1992)

The Fresno, Calif., native practically ignited a revolution against Mets ownership when he was surprisingly traded to the Reds midway through the 1977 season in what became known as the “Midnight Massacre” because the Mets also traded slugger Dave Kingman that night. Seaver was the most popular pitcher for a Mets team that was just four years removed from playing in the World Series and had won at least 20 games four times. He later played in two All-Star Games as a member of the Reds and pitched a no-hitter in 1978.

  1. Christy Mathewson

Years Active: 1900 to 1916
Teams: New York Giants, Cincinnati Reds
Career Stats: 372-188 record, 2.12 ERA, 2,504 strikeouts
Honors and Awards: Hall of Fame (1936)

The native of Factoryville, Pa., was a 30-game winner four times and a 20-game winner nine times, winning the World Series in 1905 (as a player) and 1921 (as a coach) for the team that played at the old Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan. He also played pro football in the late 1800s. His 373 wins remain tied for the most in National League history, and he is credited with inventing the screwball. One of the best control pitchers ever, he allowed only 848 career walks. Following his playing career, he served in the Army in World War I and was accidentally gassed during a chemical weapons training exercise.

  1. Roger Clemens

Years Active: 1984 to 2007
Teams: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros
Career Stats: 354-184 record, 3.12 ERA, 4,672 strikeouts
Honors and Awards: All-Star Game (1986, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005), Cy Young Award (1986, 1987, 1991, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2004), American League MVP (1986)

Known for throwing fast and accurate pitches, Clemens has not been named to the Hall of Fame because of alleged steroid use. Still, his 24-year career was extraordinarily dominant, as evidenced by his career strikeout total, which ranks third behind Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson. A rare player who was beloved in both Boston and New York, the Dayton, Ohio, native was a two-time World Series champion who still holds the record of 20 strikeouts in a game, which he accomplished twice. He won 162 games after leaving the Red Sox, whose general manager, Dan Duquette, had said Clemens was entering the “twilight of his career.” That was not the case.

  1. Walter Johnson

Years Active: 1907 to 1927
Team: Washington Senators
Career Stats: 411-279 record, 2.17 ERA, 3,509 strikeouts.
Honors and Awards: American League MVP (1913, 1924), Hall of Fame (1936)

The Humboldt, Kansas, native is the is the only pitcher in Major League Baseball history to record over 400 wins and strike out over 3,500 batters. He holds the major-league record of 110 career shutouts, led the American League in strikeouts 12 times, and won the World Series in 1924 when he was 36 by pitching four scoreless innings of relief in the deciding game. He had a 1.13 ERA in 1913, which still ranks as the fourth-lowest ever. He batted .433 in 1925 but had the misfortune of playing for a losing franchise his entire career. He went on to compile a managerial record of 529–432 before he began broadcasting Senators games in 1939.

  1. Randy Johnson

Years Active: 1988 to 2009
Montreal Expos, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants
Career Stats: 303-166 record, 3.29 ERA, 4,875 strikeouts
Honors and Awards: All-Star Game (1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004), Cy Young Award (1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003), World Series MVP (2001), Hall of Fame (2015)

Known as the “Big Unit,” the 6-foot-10 left-hander from Walnut Creek, Calif. was a high-velocity pitcher whose pitches came in at an odd angle because of his stature. With his shaggy hair and chill demeanor, he was a fan favorite who stayed dominant throughout his 22-year career even though he won 20 games only three times -- a result of pitching for several bad teams. One of the reasons he was feared was his lack of control. He had 1,497 career walks and 190 hit batsmen along with 109 wild pitches. But the proclivity to amass strikeouts was what made him extra special, along with his longevity. He also had a 20-strikeout game, but because it went into extra innings it was not considered a record. (File that under knucklehead MLB statistical rulings).

  1. Nolan Ryan

Years Active: 1966 to 1993
New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers
Career Stats: 324-292 record, 3.19 ERA, 5,714 strikeouts
Honors and Awards: All-Star Game (1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1985, 1989), Hall of Fame (1999)

There was a time when baseball fans set their television viewing calendars by figuring out on which day this guy was pitching, and whether that game would be on national TV. He was as dominant as they came in terms of power pitching and striking out hitters. Get this: He fanned at least 300 hitters six times during his 27-year career. The Refugio, Texas, native was a newspaper delivery boy as a child, and he could throw a softball over 100 mph when he was in junior high school. He was a 12th-round draft pick of the Mets, who eventually traded him for Jim Fregosi in one of the worst deals in Major League Baseball history. He still holds the major league record for allowing an average of only 5.26 hits per nine innings, and he threw seven career no-hitters. In 1979, he signed the first million-dollar contract in baseball history.

  1. Cy Young

Years Active: 1890 to 1911
Cleveland Spiders, St. Louis Perfectos/Cardinals, Boston Americans/Red Sox, Cleveland Naps, Boston Rustlers
Career Stats:
511-363 record, 2.63 ERA, 2,803 strikeouts.
Honors and Awards: Hall of Fame (1937)

He started 815 games and finished 749 of them with complete games, and he holds major league records for both of those categories along with victories, innings pitched, hits allowed and batters faced. He also still holds the record for the longest stretch of hitless ball ever pitched, 25⅓ consecutive innings. The Gilmore, Ohio, native tossed three no-hitters and a perfect game, and he threw the ball so hard that his catcher, Chief Zimmer, put a steak into his catcher’s mitt to soften the blow when Young pitched. He had a 36-win season in 1892 and had five 30-win seasons. He also hit 21 home runs during baseball’s dead-ball era, and he threw overhand, side-arm, and submarine-style. He did not wear a glove until his sixth season.

Parameters of Ranking

This was a very difficult list to compile because baseball has been around longer than any other American sport. Career accomplishments factored very high in our rankings, along with the buzz many of the more recent pitchers generated when they pitched. Pitchers who were dominant strikeout masters got a lot of love on this list, but Maddux was added because of his craftiness … an under-recognized attribute of some of the greatest pitchers past and present. When it comes to America’s pastime, any top 10 list is going to generate debate. Let’s hope this list does, too. It was a tricky task to rank some of these best pitchers in MLB history higher than others.

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