Top 10 Starting Pitchers of the ’90s
With Ken Griffey, Jr. being inducted into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame last weekend, who was the best hitter of the 1990s, I thought I would put together the best 10 starting pitchers of the 1990s.
10. Curt Schilling
Schilling was one of the best strikeout pitchers in the ’90s. In back to back seasons, he led the National League in strikeouts. In 1997, he struck out 319 batters, and 300 batters in 1998. Schilling was a three time all-star in the ’90s. He was an ace for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1992-1999.
9. Kevin Brown
Brown was an ace for five teams in the ’90s. His best season came in 1997, where Brown went 17-11 with a 1.89 ERA and was an ace for the World Series champion Florida Marlins. The year after, he helped lead the San Diego Padres to the World Series, however, they were swept by the New York Yankees. Brown was also the first player to sign a contract worth over $100 million.
8. David Cone
Cone is best known for his time with the New York Yankees during the ’90s. He won the World Series in 1996, 1998 and 1999 with the Yankees. In 1999, Cone threw a perfect game against the Montreal Expos. He won the AL Cy Young award with the Royals in 1994; he went 16-5, 2.94 ERA, 132 Ks in 23 starts in the strike-shortened season. Cone also led the AL in wins in 1998 with 20.
7. John Smoltz
Smoltz would have been a number one starter for any team but, with the Atlanta Braves, he was the third starter behind Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine in the ’90s. Smoltz was a big game pitcher in the postseason, he had a record of 10-4 in the post season in the ’90s. His best season came in 1996, where he went 24-8 with a 2.94 ERA and 276 strikeouts. He led the NL in wins and strikeouts that season and took home the NL Cy Young award.
6. Mike Mussina
Mussina finished in the top 10 of the AL Cy Young voting six times in the ’90s. From 1992-1999 he finished every season with more wins than losses and was a five-time all-star. His best season came in his first season as a starter with the Baltimore Orioles in 1992. He went 18-5 with 2.54 ERA. He led the AL in wins in 1995 with 19 and led the AL in shutouts with four. Mussina may be the most underrated pitcher of the ’90s because he never won a Cy Young and never won 20 games in the decade.
5. Tom Glavine
Glavine formed a solid 1-2 punch with Greg Maddux for the Atlanta Braves. Glavine won two Cy Young awards in the ’90s and won 20 games four times. Glavine led the NL in wins four times and did it in back to back to back seasons. His best season came in 1991 when he won the NL Cy Young and led the Braves to the World Series. He went 20-11, 2.55 ERA, 192 strikeouts.
4. Pedro Martinez
Despite standing at 5 feet, 11 inches, Martinez was a dominant pitcher. He was a reliever until 1994 but, from there on out, he was one of the most dominant pitchers of the ’90s. He won the NL and AL Cy Young awards. In 1997 with the Montreal Expos, Martinez went 17-8, 1.90 ERA, with 305 strikeouts. He also threw a major league best 13 complete games for an Expos team that went 78-84.
If you thought that was a great season, 1999 was even better. Martinez won the AL Cy Young with the Boston Red Sox and won the pitching Triple Crown, 23-4, 2.07 ERA, with 313 Ks. He also started in the 1999 All-Star Game in his home ballpark, Fenway Park.
3. Randy Johnson
Johnson stood at 6 foot, 10 inches and was one of the most feared pitchers of the ’90s. He threw a fastball in the high 90s and had a knee buckling slider. Johnson was the ace of the Seattle Mariners for most of the ’90s before he was traded to the Houston Astros in 1998 and then joined the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1999. Johnson led the league in strikeouts five times in the ’90s. He won the AL Cy Young in 1995 and the NL Cy Young in 1999. His best season came in 1995 when the “Big Unit” went 18-2 with an AL-best 2.48 ERA and 294 strikeouts for the Mariners.
2. Roger Clemens
Clemens won three Cy Young Awards in the decade. His first came with the Boston Red Sox in 1991. Then, when he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, Clemens won back to back Cy Young awards in 1997 and 1998. in his final season with the Red Sox, Clemens tied his own record of 20 strikeouts in a single game. He went a combined 41-13 with the Blue Jays and won the pitcher’s triple crown both seasons. Clemens was traded to the Yankees for the 1999 season and helped the Yankees win there third World Series in four seasons.
1. Greg Maddux
Maddux was the best pitcher in the ’90s. He won four Cy Young Awards in a row, one with the Chicago Cubs and three with the Atlanta Braves. Maddux won at least 15 games in every season of the decade and led the National League in wins three times. His best season came in 1995 with the Braves when he went 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA with 181 strikeouts to lead the Braves to the 1995 World Series where they defeated the Cleveland Indians. Maddux was a crafty pitcher who did not overpower batters. He located pitches and was smart, which earned him the nickname “The Professor.”