BEST PITCHERS TODAY
Dr. John Bagonzi
all the pitchers currently active, the following ten are whom
I consider the best in the business today. How they compare
to pitchers of past generations it's hard to say. Different
hitters, different conditions make it hard to compare from
one generation to the next. So as not to blur the distinction
between past and present, the only pitchers considered are
those that are presently active today. Obviously, there are
great pitchers who have just retired who might be considered
as among the elite, and certainly I was choosing an all-time
team I would give definite consideration to hurlers from past
generations such as Feller and Spahn. Also when I talk of
greatness, I'm balancing short term and long term value. Certainly,
one could make the case that at this point Tom Glavine's career
value exceeds that of Pedro Martinez, yet I consider Pedro
a greater pitcher because the absolute brilliance he's displayed
over the last half decade has been at best matched by less
than a handful of hurlers throughout the entire history of
age 39, Roger Clemens not only presents an open and shut case
in terms of active pitcher with the greatest career value,
but this season he is staking a claim at being currently
the best in the business.
Others, even on his own team, have lower ERA's but
nobody this season is showing himself to be more of a winner.
The Clemens of today's Yankees may not be able to overpower
you for nine, but he can do it for six or seven which
is plenty enough with Rivera anchoring the Yankee bullpen.
brings the ball consistently at 95 m.p.h. - two-seam and four-seam
fastballs --and can still blow you away upstairs.
But Clemens has nothing to prove. He's had his twenty
strikeout games and his ERA crowns. Now
his eye is on a bigger slice of history -- 300 wins and a
few more World Series rings. The Rocket of today has incorporated
a viscous splitter and can locate a slider.
He has control of both sides of the plate and can pitch
you north and south also. And while he can get that strikeout
with runners in scoring position, he now uses his fielders
to the max.
has become the epitome of an advanced form of pitching - power
with great control.
He has ideal
mechanics even though he is essentially a short armer.
Great use of lower body, and off-arm, great trunk rotation,
and a strong lead leg that contributes towards creating a
compact delivery with no superfluous movement. Add to that
a consistent follow-through and
you have a pitcher with aesthetically beautiful form and injury-averting
a delight to watch him work.
His powerful sense of competitiveness guarantees that
the bunt will be fielded, third base will be backed-up, and
his head will always be in the game.
5 Cy Young's doesn't impress me as much as his tremendous
work ethic and idealized pitching style.
Barring a sudden change in his competitive personality,
he will remain effective even as he passes the 300 win mark.
When history looks back, the comparisons won't be made
between Clemens and contemporary power pitchers like Randy
Johnson and John Smoltz, but rather between Clemens and Grove
annual sabbaticals to the DL are keeping him from piling up
the numbers that would put him at the head of the class when
the final score sheets are tallied. But when he's on the mound
and isn't hurting, he belongs among a handful of pitchers
like a Walter Johnson or Feller who wins games day-in and
day-out, regardless of who's playing behind him.
observers claim he's a master of three pitches and he'll readily
admit to two, but the truth of the matter is that he throws
four and is the best in baseball at the throwing of each.
He wants people to believe that his sinking change-up is his
best pitch and it is
a thing of beauty. However,
his 95 m.p.h. fastball with excellent second stage movement
makes it impossible to sit on the change-up. Add to that a
curve ball with good late break and a nasty cutter-slider
that makes lefties wary of hanging out over the plate and
the K's mount up quickly.
great poise, he has the capacity to turn it up a notch in
tough situations. He
seems unphased by tough losses or the complaints of
those who take umbrage at his inside pitching.
He is the epitome of the stopper, the streak breaker.
With a strikeout to walk ratio unparalleled in the
game, he has shown himself to be a full run better than his
closest competition over the last four years.
And even Gibson in his greatest year was never that.
At 510" 170 lbs. With
his long arm and especially long fingers, Martinez proves
that power pitching is all about arm acceleration.
He is a phenomenon of great acceleration, rotation
and location. Throwing
the ball at 95+ m.p.h., he provides an exception to the notion
that balls traveling that speed will straighten out. The shoulder
problems he annually experiences could be due to a low elbow.
be one of all time greats he can work out the shoulder issue.
His single game and single season records are awesome.
A stopper of good teams, he has shown himself capable of taking
over the big games in October.
author of the late-break fastball and a master at painting
the black and changing speeds, he epitomizes the artistry
of pitching without power. This consummate craftsman epitomizes
the way a pitcher should approach his trade. Very cerebral,
very competitive, very deceptive, he is a great fielder, excellent
bunter, and able batter. His two-seam fastball that yanks
at the last instant is his main staple along with a mechanical
and mental command that places him in the elite category of
today's pitchers as well as yesteryears.
four Cy Young's several 20 game seasons, a likelihood of 300
wins and Hall of Fame induction, Greg Maddux is the premier
pure pitching personification of his time. Young pitchers should
study Maddux in both his style and habits, as he proves that
one can dominate without the overpowering talents with which
everyone gets impressed.
the way I like to pitch - pure blue collar -give them gas
as long as you can -outlast them and never give in.
With solid mechanics that enable him to endure , he
always seems able to get some extra kick
on the fastball in tough situations.
With mastery of the strike zone , inside and out, like
Clemens he has the option of going up and down. He's all meat
and potatoes, mixing his fastball and hard slider together
with mental toughness and grit. A likely 20 game winner every
year , he wants the ball for those tough games.
pitcher with a purpose, possessing ideal mechanical rhythm
with balance and finish. This combination bodes well for longevity.
He will win 225+ games, while annually setting the pace for
innings pitched and complete games.
Schilling is the personification of the hard nosed, stubborn
dedicated pitcher with an uncompromising ethic. A power pitcher
with the personality and mind set to match, he is a pleasure
to watch at work.
an aberration the hardest most consistent thrower today.
In the 97-99 m.p.h. range often, he hits a 100 occasionally.
He possesses a frightening, back bending slider thrown
with the kind of velocity that compliments his fastball. He
forces hitters to alter their approach, even to discard their
stride. At 6 9 coming from the side out of a tangled
mass of arm, glove and leg with super velocity designed to
reduce decision time to a minuscule, he terrorizes lefties
into taking days off or bucket booting. The intimidation inspired
by this mustachioed warrior is awesome. His work ethic and
relatively good control for his style, size and velocity make
him one of the outstanding workmen of his time.
is likely to set records that will give him Hall of Fame entry
in the future. At
38. still developing his trade without any loss of power.
A true phenomenon of power pitching. Every big lefty coming
up is compared to him, but ultimately there will
prove to be only one Big
perpetrator of the power sinker one of the truly hard-nosed
competitors of his era.
At 36, he can still bring 93+ m.p.h. fastballs.
His hard sinker is probably the best in the game. Induces
innumerable ground ball outs and plenty of K's. Can also blow
a 4-seam fastball upstairs by the great hitters. Has a hard
slider to compliment the hard sinker, as well as a sharp splitter.
A tenacious attitude and good control make this unrelenting
competitor one of the great big game pitchers today , always
at the top of league in ERA.
Brown leads the way when it comes to all out putting the package
together. Durability has been a trademark should last to age
41 when contract runs out. Another example of great work habits
that the young pitcher should emulate.
cerebral lefty is in a class with Greg Maddux and is a textbook
study on how to pitch without overwhelming stuff. A master
of location and speed changes, he oftentimes makes batters
chase bad pitches. A fastball with great location (outside
and low to righties) makes him very effective against right
handed batters. A circle change-up mixed with occasional slider-curve
and command of both sides of plate, in addition to a demeanor
of mental control, make this artist a constant contender for
20 wins and frequently a Cy Young candidate (of which he has
already won two).
no means overpowering, Glavine has learned to work from the
right side of the pitchers plate. Through the course of a
game, he is able to gradually widen the strike zone and will
get batters chasing pitches they can't hit. A pitcher of big
games should easily pitch into his forties and become a Hall
of Fame candidate. He is a pleasure to watch and provides
a study in the inner sanctum of pitching technique.
7 DAVID WELLS
portly left-hander at age 38 is still capable of throwing
outstanding games. Possessing a still dominant curve ball
of the big type (with occasional yellow hammer tendencies)
that he can throw for strikes. He mixes an average to above
average fastball that he is able to also locate frequently
-- with the addition of a cut fastball he uses on right hand
batters. This lefty uses good stuff mixed with an intelligent
approach to pitching. Still a quality pitcher with good stats
and a strong track record, I look for him to still win 20
games in the future.
lefty with a sinker that's not quite the power sinker of a
Kevin Brown, but nevertheless
a sinker of substantial import. Mike Hampton is a big
game pitcher who gives his infielders a workout . Possessor
of a tenacious attitude he has the ability to keep the ball
low which allows him to survive mile
high territory without giving up the dreaded home run.
He has the ability to elevate his game and is a constant bet
to win 20. A Tom Glavine type who, as with Glavine and Maddux,
wins games with his batting ability as well as his athleticism
in fielding. Maybe the best hitting pitcher of his generation.
another big game pitcher presenting a strong fastball with
a hard slider and cutter working both sides of plate. His
ability to raise his game and strike out batters in the clutch
makes Leiter a domineering pitcher. Successful now over a
period of time, he does not seem to be slowing down and has
good years ahead of him.
Good mechanics and outstanding use of lead leg gives
him a physical presence on the mound. Throws harder than most
people realize. Quite capable of a few pitching gems every
absolute premier closer in the game today,
Rivera makes this list because of his exactness and
uniqueness in employing the cut fastball as an out pitch.
He has raised the cutter to an art form and while his regular
fastball is high quality, it is the cutter which is the
devils pitch. Using the cutter inside on lefties, away
on righties, Rivera is able to respond to any situation in
late innings. Possessing outstanding control he should
last a long time. He is truly one of the outstanding specialists
of his time, and has proven himself
one of the greatest October pitchers of all time, surpassing
even Eckersly and Fingers in accomplishment.