Top 10 Starting Pitchers since 2000
Major League pitchers have come and gone through the ages. Today’s game is known for the home run and the game has fewer and fewer feared pitchers. Some start on fire and then fade while others suffer through a learning curve and develop into a great pitcher. But consistency is what separates the good from the great and the following list will show who has been the most dominant pitchers in the MLB since the year 2000. This list will no doubt stir some controversy, but numbers and performance don’t lie.
10. Jamie Moyer, Philadelphia Phillies
Jamie Moyer has defied the standard that the older a pitcher gets the less you provide for a team. Moyer accumulated a record of 140 wins and 94 losses since 2000, but what’s more impressive is that he has made 91 starts in the last three seasons despite being 47 years old. While age has certainly taken its toll on his physical skills as evidenced by his mid 80′s fastball, he still has the skill and the savvy to make him a contributor on the Phillies championship run for the second straight year.
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9. Pedro Martinez, Philadelphia Phillies
Martinez’s place on this list will draw some questions as he was easily one of the most dominating pitchers entering Y2K. Since 2000 Martinez has a record of 112 wins with just 44 losses and 1620 strikeouts. In 2000 his ERA was a miniscule 1.74 and his WHIP was the lowest in league history at 0.74. Martinez also became the only starting pitcher in history to have more than twice as many strikeouts in a season as hits allowed 284-128. He would win 20 games in 2002 and league the league in ERA, but was robbed of the Cy Young Award that was given to Barry Zito. In 2005 Martinez posted a 15–8 record with a 2.82 ERA, 208 strikeouts, and a league-leading 0.95 WHIP. But after the 2005 season injuries began to take their toll on Martinez and he would even consider retirement in 2007. He would manage only 22 wins in the past 4 seasons and the velocity and control that made him feared throughout the league would start to diminish. Currently Martinez is trying to help the Phillies win another championship but no matter what Martinez will always be considered one of the best to ever play the game.
8. Roy Oswalt, Houston Astros
Roy Oswalt came in to the league on fire in 2001 compiling a 14-3 record with an ERA of 2.82. Had the monster known as Albert Pujos not entered the league is the same year Oswalt would have easily won rookie of the year. Oswalt has been among the top candidates for the Cy Young award in nearly even season since 2000, finishing a personal best 3rd in 2004. Since 2000 Oswalt has a record of 137 wins and 70 losses with 1473 strikeouts. Oswalt has been the staff ace for the Astros since his arrival even with teammates such as Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. He is a 3 time All-Star and a member of the United States team that competed in the World Baseball Classic in 2009.
7. Mike Mussina, New York Yankees
Mike Mussina is one of the few pitchers that were dominant in two separate decades and while all of his 5 All-Star appearances took place in the 90′s Mussina has compiled a record of 134 wins and 87 losses since 2000. He also struck out 1488 batters and strung together 17 seasons with at least 10 wins and has career numbers that compare favorably to hall of fame pitchers. In 2001 he was only 1 out away from a perfect game against the Red Sox finishing with a 1 hit shutout. He won 20 games in 2008 which was a career high, and finished behind Cliff Lee for the Cy Young award. Mussina would become the oldest first time 20 game winner in MLB history and he also became just the second pitcher to retire following a 20 win season.
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6. Javier Vazquez, Atlanta Braves
Since the 2000 season Vazquez has been one of the league’s best strikeout pitchers with an incredible 2001 strikeouts. His record since 2000 is 129-116 which is misleading as though he has one of the highest loss totals on our list he has been a very consistent pitcher and tends to pitch long into games and continue pitching even when he knows a loss in inevitable. He was an All-Star in 2004 and has the most strikeouts for a Puerto Rican pitcher in MLB history. Vazquez’s lack of awards will convince some that he doesn’t belong as high on this list or at all, but his stuff is just plain nasty and he is underrated only by the people who don’t have to step into the batter’s box against him.
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5. C.C. Sabathia, New York Yankees
C.C. has a lot in common with our number 8 entry, in that he too came into the league on fire in 2001 and he too had not had a superstar named Ichiro Suzuki arrive the same year Sabathia would have won rookie of the year too. He finished his rookie season with a 17-5 record. Sabathia would become a fixture in the league top 10 for strikeouts, innings pitched, complete games, and strikeouts per 9 innings. He would become an All-Star in 2003 and again in 2004. In 2007 Sabathia would win his first Cy Young award with a 19-7 record. After a slow start by the Indians in 2008 he would be traded to the Brewers and have one of the best finishes to a year imaginable. He would go 11-2 for the Brewers with an amazing 1.65 ERA, pitch 6 complete games and even be considered for the NL Cy Young even though he only spend half the season in the National League. He has a record of 135-81 since 2000 with 1590 strikeouts.
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4. Andy Pettitte, New York Yankees
Andy Pettitte is one of the best regular and post season pitchers in MLB history. He has a record of 148-89 since the 2000 season to go with 1441 strikeouts and never having a losing season. But what makes Pettitte unique is what he does in the post season, he is the all-time record holder for most starts and innings pitched in the post-season and he is second in World Series starts. Some think his reputation has been tarnished with the admission of HGH usage, but even he admitted that when he used he pitched worse that he did before he used it. Pettitte is a sure fire hall of famer and even though he has been overshadowed by teammates such as Roger Clemens and now C.C. Sabathia he has proven to be one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Pettitte is a 2 time All-Star and 4 time World Series Champion.
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3. Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays
Halladay is as old school as it gets in the MLB today. He averages over 7 innings pitched per outing and has pitched 47 complete games since the 2000 season. Halladay’s record of 139-69 with 1400 strikeouts is impressive if only because the older he gets the better he pitches. He is a 6 time All-Star and won the Cy Young award in 2003 and continued to be in the top 10 in voting nearly every year since. Halladay has one of the best strikeout to walk ratios in the majors today. Halladay’s win total is misleading as the Blue Jays have barely averaged 3 runs a game in his starts since the 2004 season. He is considered one of the 3 most feared pitchers in the MLB today with Tim Lincecum and Johan Santana.
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2. Johan Santana, New York Mets
Santana is arguably the most dominant pitcher in the MLB today. Santana started his career with little success and mostly as a reliever, but when he was moved into the starting lineup in 2003 he never looked back. In 2004 Santana put on a legendary second half performance one that saw him win 13 games on his way to a 20-6 record, lead the league in strikeouts and a land slide win for his first Cy Young award. Santana would see a bit of a slump to start 2005 but he still pitched well enough to finish 3rd in the Cy Young Award voting. In 2006 Santana firmly established himself and games most dominant pitcher when he won the pitching Triple Crown. He completed the season leading the majors in ERA with a 2.77, strikeouts with 245, and tied in wins with 19. It came as no surprise the he won his second Cy Young Award in 2006, becoming the fifth pitcher to win the award by a unanimous vote twice. Since the 2000 season Santana has a record of 122-60 with 1733 strikeouts with an ERA just over 3. While Santana missed more than half of his starts in 2009 with an injury he is without a doubt on his way to an impressive career.
1. Randy Johnson, San Francisco Giants
Our number 1 pitcher since 2000 will draw some debate but rest assured no pitcher has been better. Johnson is one of the best pitchers of the modern generation if not the best. Since the 2000 season Johnson has a record of 143-78 with an astounding 2182 strikeouts. The Big Unit was the games ultimate pitcher during the 2000, 2001, and 2002 seasons, winning 64 games and losing just 18. He would throw 9 shutouts, have over 1000 strikeouts and win the Cy Young Awards all three seasons. He would claim 3 wins in the 2001 World Series and claim the MVP Award for the series with teammate Curt Schilling. In 2002, Johnson won the pitching Triple Crown, leading the NL in wins with 24, an ERA of 2.32, and 334 strikeouts, and won his fourth consecutive Cy Young Award (99, 00, 01, and 02). In 2004 Johnson pitched a perfect game against the Atlanta Braves and was the oldest pitcher in history to pull off the feat. While Johnson’s win totals and durability would start to drop the last few years Johnson’s early success in the decade is what makes him the game’s best pitcher on this list.
Tim Hudson, Atlanta Braves
Hudson began his career in Oakland where he was overshadowed by Barry Zito and Mark Mulder even though he has proven to be the most talented of the trio. Since 2000 he has a record of 137 wins and 76 losses and amassed an impressive 1270 strikeouts. He has been a 5 time 15 game winner since 2000 and led the league in wins during his best individual season in 2000 when he went 20 and 6 for Oakland. Injuries have derailed him the past few seasons but he remains a top tier pitcher for the Braves.
by Kenneth Fink