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Rob Neyer writes four times a week for ESPN Insider, the premium level of ESPN.com's baseball coverage. Get more information on Rob's home page, and sign up now to become an Insider. |
Rob Neyer's "Best" Fastballs |
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Bill's got a four-part definition of "best"; here's my one-part definition: "Was this pitch so good that he could, and often did, get hitters out using this and very little else?" No, I don't think that Walter Johnson threw as hard in 1910 as, say, Mark Prior did in 2003. But in Johnson's time, the hitters were more impressed by Johnson's fastball than the hitter's today are impressed by Prior's.
Best Fastballs, Starters 1. Walter Johnson 2. Amos Rusie 3. Lefty Grove 4. Roger Clemens 5. Rube Waddell 6. Dick Redding 7. Satchel Paige 8. Robin Roberts 9. Bob Feller 10. Dazzy Vance Where is Nolan Ryan? Nolan Ryan didn't always know where his fastball was going, so he just missed my cut. Randy Johnson just missed because the fastball hasn't always been his best pitch (often it's that slider). Same thing with Sandy Koufax (who also had an awesome curveball). Other starters who just missed for various reasons are Bartolo Colon, Jim Maloney, Sudden Sam McDowell, Jouett Meekin, Curt Schilling, Herb Score, Virgil Trucks, Bob Turley, Joe Wood, and Cy Young. And please, don't write; I know there are a few dozen others who deserve to be mentioned here. Best Fastballs, Relievers 1. Goose Gossage 2. Mariano Rivera 3. Dick Radatz 4. Billy Wagner 5. Rob Dibble 6. Firpo Marberry 7. Tom Henke 8. Joe Page 9. Lee Smith 10. John Wetteland This is the only place where I'll make the distinction between starters and relievers, but in the other articles about the pitches I'll offer more top-10 lists. -- ESPN Insider Rob Neyer |
1880-1884 | 1885-1889 | 1890-1894 |
1. Pud Galvin | 1. Pud Galvin | 1. Amos Rusie |
2. Jim McCormick | 2. Silver King | 2. Cy Young |
3. Jim Whitney | 3. Bob Caruthers | 3. Jouett Meekin |
4. Lee Richmond | 4. Matt Kilroy | 4. Kid Nichols |
5. Tony Mullane | 5. Jesse Duryea | 5. Bill Hutchison |
6. Jumbo McGinnis | 6. Darby O'Brien | 6. Ted Breitenstein |
7. Larry Corcoran | 7. Dave Foutz | 7. Nig Cuppy |
8. Old Hoss Radbourn | 8. Charlie Ferguson | 8. Jack Stivetts |
9. Tim Keefe | 9. Mark Baldwin | 9. Sadie McMahon |
10. Jersey Bakely | 10. Dan Casey | 10. George Hemming |
1895-1899 | 1900-1904 | 1905-1909 |
1. Cy Young | 1. Jack Powell | 1. Walter Johnson |
2. Amos Rusie | 2. Rube Waddell | 2. Smokey Joe Williams |
3. Jouett Meekin | 3. Addie Joss | 3. Rube Waddell |
4. Jack Powell | 4. Rube Foster | 4. Ed Reulbach |
5. Kid Nichols | 5. Christy Mathewson | 5. Red Ames |
6. Cy Seymour | 6. Cy Young | 6. Addie Joss |
7. Ted Breitenstein | 7. Wild Bill Donovan | 7. Rube Foster |
8. Jack Taylor | 8. Deacon Phillippe | 8. Jack Powell |
9. Ad Gumbert | 9. Kid Nichols | 9. Howie Camnitz |
10. Nig Cuppy | 10. Luther Taylor | 10. Harry Buckner |
1910-1914 | 1915-1919 | 1920-1924 |
1. Walter Johnson | 1. Walter Johnson | 1. Dazzy Vance |
2. Dick Redding | 2. Dick Redding | 2 Walter Johnson |
3. Joe Wood | 3. Smokey Joe Williams | 3 Dick Redding |
4. Smokey Joe Williams | 4. Joe Bush | 4. Carl Mays |
5. George Baumgardner | 5. Hippo Vaughn | 5. Bullet Rogan |
6. Rube Benton | 6. Bert Gallia | 6. Rip Collins |
7. Harry Buckner | 7. Dave Davenport | 7. Slim Harriss |
8. Bullet Joe Bush | 8. Carl Mays | 8. Waite Hoyt |
9. Rube Marquard | 9. Pol Perritt | 9. Smokey Joe Williams |
10. Bob Harmon | 10. Babe Ruth | 10. George Uhle |
1925-1929 | 1930-1934 | 1935-1939 |
1. Lefty Grove | 1. Lefty Grove | 1. Bob Feller |
2. Dazzy Vance | 2. Van Mungo | 2. Atley Donald |
3. George Earnshaw | 3. Satchel Paige | 3. Johnny Allen |
4. Satchel Paige | 4. Dizzy Dean | 4. Van Lingle Mungo |
5. Pat Malone | 5. George Earnshaw | 5 Leon Day |
6. Bullet Rogan | 6. Lefty Gomez | 6. Johnny Vander Meer |
7. Tommy Thomas | 7. Lon Warneke | 7. Bobo Newsome |
8. Rube Waberg | 8. Pat Malone | 8. Lefty Grove |
9. Johnny Miljus | 9. Schoolboy Rowe | 9. Dizzy Dean |
10. Firpo Marberry | 10. Johnny Allen | 10. Bill Dietrich |
1940-1944 | 1945-1949 | 1950-1954 |
1. Bob Feller | 1. Bob Feller | 1. Robin Roberts |
2. Hal Newhouser | 2. Rex Barney | 2. Curt Simmons |
3. Virgil Trucks | 3. Hal Newhouser | 3. Mike Garcia |
4. Dizzy Trout | 4. Ewell Blackwell | 4. Mickey McDermott |
5. Atley Donald | 5. Virgil Trucks | 5. Don Newcombe |
6. Bill Zuber | 6. Allie Reynolds | 6. Billy Pierce |
7. Johnny Vander Meer | 7. Don Newcombe | 7. Johnny Antonelli |
8. Kirby Higbe | 8. Warren Spahn | 8. Warren Spahn |
9. Phil Marchildon | 9. Dizzy Trout | 9. Carl Erskine |
10. Claude Passeau | 10. Allie Reynolds | 10. Ron Necciai or Karl Spooner |
1955-1959 | 1960-1964 | 1965-1969 |
1. Herb Score | 1. Don Drysdale | 1. Sam McDowell |
2. Ryne Duren | 2. Sandy Koufax | 2. Bob Gibson |
3. Bob Turley | 3. Dick Radatz | 3. Don Wilson |
4. Don Drysdale | 4. Bob Gibson | 4. Tom Seaver |
5. Sandy Koufax | 5. Steve Barber | 5. Sandy Koufax |
6. Steve Dalkowski | 6. Jim Maloney | 6. Jim Maloney |
7. Turk Farrell | 7. Bob Veale | 7. Luis Tiant |
8. Jim Bunning | 8. Jim Bunning | 8. Steve Carlton |
9. Billy Pierce | 9. Turk Farrell | 9. Bob Veale |
10. Robin Roberts | 10. Al Downing | 10. Larry Dierker |
1970-1974 | 1975-1979 | 1980-1984 |
1. Nolan Ryan | 1. Nolan Ryan | 1. Nolan Ryan |
2. Vida Blue | 2. Goose Gossage | 2. Goose Gossage |
3. Goose Gossage | 3. Frank Tanana | 3. Juan Berenguer |
4. Steve Carlton | 4. Ron Guidry | 4. Mike Scott |
5. Tom Seaver | 5. J.R. Richard | 5. Joaquin Andujar |
6. Don Wilson | 6. Dennis Eckersley | 6. Floyd Bannister |
7. Steve Busby | 7. Jim Kern | 7. Jack Morris |
8. Sam McDowell | 8. Bob Welch | 8. Mario Soto |
9. Bert Blyleven | 9. Tom Seaver | 9. Len Barker |
10. Gary Gentry | 10. Vida Blue | 10. Rick Sutcliffe |
1985-1989 | 1990-1994 | 1995-1999 |
1. Roger Clemens | 1. Rob Dibble | 1. Randy Johnson |
2. Dwight Gooden | 2. Randy Johnson | 2. Billy Wagner |
3. Nolan Ryan | 3. Roger Clemens | 3. Pedro Martinez |
4. Bobby Witt | 4. Bobby Witt | 4. Curt Schilling |
5. Bret Saberhagen | 5. Juan Guzman | 5. Kerry Wood |
6. Lee Smith | 6. Pedro Martinez | 6. Roger Clemens |
7. Mark Langston | 7. Kevin Brown | 7. Armando Benitez |
8. Tom Henke | 8. John Wetteland | 8. Bartolo Colon |
9. David Cone | 9. Mark Langston | 9. Jose Mesa |
10. Chuck Finley | 10. David Cone | 10. John Rocker |
2000-present | ||
1. Billy Wagner | ||
2. Armando Benitez | ||
3. Bartolo Colon | ||
4. Kerry Wood | ||
5. Randy Johnson | ||
6. Mark Prior | ||
7. Curt Schilling | ||
8. Jason Schmidt | ||
9. Jose Contreras | ||
10. Johan Santana |