The Lineup: Top 10 Left-Handed Pitchers of All-Time

Posted: January 13, 2014 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB, The Lineup
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

28johnson.1.600

In an attempt to get back to the old ways here at CSP, here’s the return of one of the old Monday regulars in ‘The Lineup’ series, which is a rundown of any category that may come to mind to kick off the week. Let’s see how it goes…

Left-handers have a special place in society as a whole, but especially in baseball. They are seen as both the exception to the rules and a necessary part of the mix of any successful team. They are an exclusive fraternity amongst the upper rungs of the game’s history as well, where there have been dozens of dominant righty, it is a more rare occasion when a “southpaw” takes the lead and command of the game.

Yet when they do, it is truly a special event to watch. In today’s game such an event is occurring, as Clayton Kershaw is the reigning top gun in the game, at the prodigious age of only 25. Joined by the likes of Cliff Lee, Chris Sale, Cole Hamels and David Price among others, there is a steady undercurrent of great and accomplished left-handed hurlers across today’s game.

However, on the occasion of the election of Tom Glavine to the Baseball Hall of Fame, it seems as good of a time as any to take a look at who are at the summit of the mountain of lefties in the game’s history. And considering the path those pitchers paved, that is no easy task to boil down.

And that’s exactly why I’m throwing my hat into that arena here. So with no further delay, the ten greatest left-hander pitchers in Major League Baseball history….

10. CC Sabathia: The current game’s greatest workhorse, the Indians, Brewers and Yankees have enjoyed jumping on CC sizable back and enjoying the ride. He has topped 200 victories in an era where career wins totals are shrinking regularly and has never had a sub-.500 record or failed to reach double digit victories in any season. The 2007 Cy Young winner has topped 200 innings in each of his last seven seasons.

9. Eddie Plank: First great lefty in the game’s history, Plank was the first to win both 200 and 300 games before finishing with 326 total during his career. He won over 20 games eight times, and only once had an ERA over 3.00—and never after the second of his 17 seasons. He had 1.32 ERA lifetime in the World Series and his 66 shutouts are the most by a lefty ever.

8. Whitey Ford: The Ace during the Yankees most successful run in their storied history, Whitey is one the great winners of all-time. A winner of 15 or better games during nine of his 16 seasons and owner of a 236-106 career record, he has the highest winning percentage in MLB history at .690. He won 10 World Series games in his career, the most ever.

7. Carl Hubbell: While his consecutive strikeouts of Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in the 1934 All-Star Game is his most known claim to fame, the New York Giants ace accomplished far more than that. Owner of the one of the greatest out pitches of all-time via his screwball, Hubbell was a frustrating matchup for the National League of the 1930’s. From 1933-38, he topped 20 wins each season, and won in double digits for 15 straight years.

20110331_inq_glavine31-f

6. Tom Glavine: The smooth consistency of Glavine was the perfect complement to the scientific dominance of Greg Maddux and the overpowering effort of John Smoltz. The two-time Cy Young winner forced his issue with a pinpoint command of the outside part of the plate, as well as a change-up he could use at any point in an at-bat. Five times he topped 20 wins and was the MVP of the Atlanta’s lone World Series victory.

5. Steve Carlton: “Lefty” long-stood as the preeminent power southpaw in the game’s history. After being foolishly cut loose by the Cardinals after an early career contract dispute, Carlton took his near un-hittable slider to Philadelphia where he won 241 of his 329 games, as well as four Cy Young Awards. His 4,136 strikeouts were second best ever at the time of his retirement.

4. Warren Spahn: A 17-time All-Star and winningest lefty of all-time, Spahn was the picture of durability both in regard to longevity and effectiveness. After a three-year military stint, his career in earnest began at age 25 and from that point on he won at least 20 games in 10 seasons, while regularly taking the ball nearly 40 times a year. He is the greatest old age pitcher ever, notching 82 of his 372 victories after his 40th birthday, including one of his two no-hitters post 40.

3. Sandy Koufax: He is the owner of perhaps the greatest stretch in the history of pitching, as from 1961-1966, Koufax was as good as anybody that ever picked up a ball. It was a seven year stretch where his average season was a 22-8 record with a 2.18 ERA and 286 strikeouts. During the run, he had seasons of 25, 26 and 27 wins and struck over 300 batters in three separate seasons. He tossed three no-hitters and a Perfect Game as well during the run, before his career ended at the age of 30 due to a debilitating elbow injury.

2. Randy Johnson: The Big Unit is simply the most intimidating and unique presence in the history of the game. His combination of top shelf heat and a 6’10” frame which ended up delivering it nearly halfway to the plate from his hand to the catcher was a nearly impossible problem to solve. Add in one of the most brutally unfair sliders, as well as his late career two-seam fastball/change-up combo, and there is legit reason to offer that the five-time Cy Young winner, and author of over 4,888 thousand strikeouts is the most difficult hurler to solve in history.

Grove_

1. Lefty Grove: The Philadelphia A’s ace broke in 1925, and cross his 17 year career he established himself as one of the finest pitchers of all-time, and definitely the class of all southpaws ever. The first pitcher to ever win MVP, he won 20 plus games seven consecutive seasons, with highs of 31 and 28 in 1931 and ’30, respectively. His career record of 300-141 gives him the eighth highest win percentage all-time, yet no pitcher ahead of him was within 60 victories of his total.

While he only had a one pitch arsenal, his fastball was both hard enough, and smart enough, to see him lead the American League in strikeout in each of his first seven years. He also won eight ERA titles, and on six separate occasions he won 75% of his starts, while taking mound at least 39 times during those campaigns.

Follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan. Follow my columns at I70 Baseball and The Sports Fan Journal for more in-depth content.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s