Lists in general are silly and subjective, but they’re a lot of fun to create. I comprised this list based off what I feel are the current best pitchers in baseball. Some might be currently injured, some had bounce back years and some suddenly became stars. My criteria is skill, consistency, competitiveness and of course statistics. While somebody can say both Corey Kluber and Garrett Richards had amazing break-out seasons, you could even argue that Kluber deserves to be included in this years CY Young conversation, I would just have a hard time saying he is a better pitcher than say Jose Fernandez or Matt Harvey simply because of one season. So while injuries certainly didn’t help a few of these guys with their rankings, I won’t discredit pitchers for recent health concerns unless it was career-threatening. This is my list of the 50 best pitchers in major league baseball. Thanks to Pitcher GIFs and Pitchcraft for the swag and whatnot.
1. Clayton Kershaw
Hands down the very best pitcher in baseball since Pedro Martinez or Randy Johnson. He is on Koufax levels right now and the separation from him the rest is a hell of a lot.
2. Felix Hernandez
A workhorse who has been on a shitty team (up until recently) that received little run support for years. If he was in a major market he would be more appreciated for his talents, such as his wicked circle change. While Kershaw is in a league of his own, King Felix is the 2nd best pitcher in the game and easily the best AL pitcher and has been for many years now.
3. Adam Wainwright
Another true workhorse who may not have the flashy appeal as Kershaw or Felix, but consistently puts in brilliant season after season for St. Louis. A real finesse guy that is pleasure to watch, especially when he throws that cutter. He even reminds me a lot like Roy Halladay too.
4. Chris Sale
His freakish delivery and pitching repertoire makes him the most exciting pitcher to watch. He is just untouchable on most nights. I don’t think people realize just how great Sale really is.
5. Yu Darvish
He has more pitches than anyone I know and all of them are pretty spectacular. Fastball, sinker, slider, change-up, curve, you name it. They’re all nasty.
6. Johnny Cueto
The past 4 seasons his ERA has never even touched 3 (2.29 this season). What he is doing, even after the injuries he’s had is remarkable. He is Pedro-like this year and entering his prime he should continue this dominance.
7. Jose Fernandez
If not for his TJ, Jose would easily have been among the top 4 pitchers in baseball. Stanton didn’t save the Marlins, this guy did. There is no doubt he’ll collect a few CY Young awards before his career ends.
8. Cole Hamels
After Kershaw and Sale, Hamels is probably the best LHP. He is stunted by playing with an anemic offensive team like the Phillies, but pound for pound, he has one of the best change-up in the game. 200+ innings 5 years in a row now. And he is getting better with age (30).
9. Max Scherzer
Everyone is expecting a decline but instead he put up a 6 WAR again and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down whatsoever
10. Madison Bumgarner
Just 24 and hasn’t even hit his prime yet. If 2015 is anything like 2014 he should jump up a few spots with ease.
11. David Price
Price was in beast mode 4 years ago then started to show signs of wear and tear, but he battles and keeps you in games. That is, unless it’s the post season.
13. Jon Lester
Unappreciated. He always pitched in tough divisions. Not as gifted as Cole Hamels but his post seasons numbers speak for themselves.
14. Masahiro Tanaka
Show me you’re healthy and you can do this for a few seasons in the MLB.
15. Matt Harvey
Again, TJ set him back and I fear with the pressures of New York and his warrior mentality he is either going to be a top 5 SP or become another Mark Prior.
16. Zack Greinke
A little bit of a pussy but is doing great things with LA. Maybe the best #2 in the NL.
17. Corey Kluber
A 4th round pick in ’07 that came out of nowhere. Reminds me of another big guy that used to play for the Tribe who wear a lot of Air Jordans on the mound. Let’s see if he can keep this up.
18. Stephen Strasburg
I keep hoping he’ll figure it out like Verlander did because he is a great pitcher who can and probably will be among the very best soon. Quietly having a fantastic year despite his inconsistencies.
19. Aroldis Chapman
Nobody throws heat like this man. If he played for a good team he would have 45+ saves and 125k’s yearly.
20. Julio Teheran
21. Andrew Cashner
I might have a man crush on Cash despite looking like a True Blood reject too, but I think he can actually stay healthy he’ll be one of the best pitchers in the NL.
22. Justin Verlander
I refuse to write him off (yet). His last few outings have shown signs of promise. He is just tired and having too much fun in his personal life. He is a guy who will adjust (like Cliff Lee did).
23. Cliff Lee
The question remains; is he a legit ace still or has he hit a wall? Last year at age 34 he was one of the best SP in all of baseball. We’ll see.
24. James Shields
Every team would love a pitcher like Big Game James plugged in their rotation. He is the epitome of a gamer.
27. Garrett Richards
25. Jeff Samardzija
He is the reason why win is a meaningless stat for pitchers.
26. Tyson Ross
An under-the-radar kinda player (because of SD) but a true ace and about to enter his prime with lots of strike-out potential.
27. Gerrit Cole
Just 23 and in his 2nd seasons. There is no reason he can’t be ranked 10 spots higher next year. He has a ton of potential.
28. Dellin Betances
The future Yankees closer might resemble a WWE wrestler but he can throw a curve like Doc Halladay.
29. Zack Wheeler
Ranked higher then the next few because of his age and potential. Surely, any GM would take Wheeler at age 24 over most people remaining on this list.
30. Jordan Zimmermann
31. Jered Weaver
Say what you will about Weaver and his decline, he still manages to put up respectable numbers (18-8. 200 IP, 164 k) and is a seasoned vet who can lead his team to the World Series.
32. Yordano Ventura
Not only is he figuring git out, he is lights out too.
33. Dallas Keuchel
34. Michael Pineda
When he is healthy he is filthy. Reminds me of the early years of Francisco Liriano.
35. Sonny Gray
36. Alex Wood
37. Lance Lynn
38. Homer Bailey
39. Phil Hughes
40. Michael Wacha
Injuries set him back a bit, but the true #2 on the St. Louis Cards if you ask me.
41. Chris Archer
42. Chris Tillman
43. Greg Holland
44. Henderson Alvarez
45. Kenley Jansen
46. Rick Porcello
Still very young in pitcher years and is becoming a top middle of the rotation pitcher.
47. Alex Cobb
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Wade Davis
50. Tanner Roark