100 Greatest Phillies: 2 – Steve Carlton – Phillies Nation
100 Greatest Phillies

100 Greatest Phillies: 2 – Steve Carlton

Steve Carlton
Starting Pitcher

Career w/Phillies: 3697.1 IP / 241-161 / 3.09 ERA / 3,031 K

There are pitchers. There are Hall of Fame pitchers. And then there’s Steve Carlton.

Unquestionably one of the select few legends in pitching history, Carlton racked up awards, placed high on leaderboards and generally outclassed every hitter he faced during his career. Fifteen seasons of that career came as a Philadelphia Phillie.

How they found him is as much legend as the man himself: The Cardinals had trouble negotiating a contract for Carlton, so they angrily traded him to the Phils for their young ace, Rick Wise. While Wise would remain a solid starter for another decade, Carlton would become arguably his era’s best pitcher. Without a doubt, the Phils won a bounty.

The bounty began in Carlton’s first season, maybe … just maybe … the greatest single pitching season in baseball history. Ladies and gentlemen, the numbers:

346.1 IP, 27-10, 310 K, 87 BB, 1.97 ERA. Cy Young award. All-star berth. And of course, the distinction of having the highest percentage of his team’s wins in one season. The Phils won 59 games. In the games Carlton lost, not once could the Phils score more than four runs. It’s likely he could’ve finished the season with something like a 32-5 record. Just saying.

1972 must’ve taken a toll on Carlton because 1973 was his worst season until 1986. That year he went just 13-20 with a 3.90 ERA. Not terrible at all, but by Carlton’s standards, not good. From there he rattled off a slew of solid campaigns: 16-13, 3.22 in 1974; 15-14, 3.56 in 1975; 20-7, 3.13 in 1976. That year, the first Phillies playoff appearance since 1950, was the first indicator of Carlton’s burgeoning Hall of Fame rally. By this point he had captured the attention of Pirates all-world slugger Willie Stargell, who famously said “Hitting him is like trying to drink coffee with a fork.”

That’s because of Carlton’s specialty pitch: the slider. By 1976 it had become weapon No. 1 in Lefty’s arsenal. He threw it up, it turned down. It looked like a fastball, it was nothing of the sort. Hitters hated it. Fans loved it. Carlton honed his craft so well that by the late 1970s, he simply dominated on the mound. There was no setback.

In 1977 Carlton rolled off his second Cy Young campaign, finishing 23-10 with a 2.64 ERA. The 1978 and ’79 seasons seemed like off years, yet he still combined for a 34-24 record with an ERA hovering in the 3.20 range.

Then Lefty punched right back in 1980. As he entered the 35th year of his life, Carlton became a master pitcher, fooling hitters while coldly sizing them down. He finished the season 24-9 with a 2.34 ERA, earning his third Cy Young award. He then went 3-0 in the postseason, helping to lead the Phillies to their first world championship.

The swagger continued in 1981, as Carlton finished the strike-shortened season with a 13-4 record. He wouldn’t have the same postseason success against the Montreal Expos in the division series, losing both games he started. But 1982 was a fine season, as Carlton went 23-11 with a 3.10 ERA, earning his fourth Cy Young. Then a record, Carlton would be passed by Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens in that statistic.

From there Carlton’s career would slowly skid to a halt. He went 15-16 for a pennant-winning 1983 team, then 13-7 for a poor 1984 team. A horrendous offense made him 1-8 in an injury-shortened 1985, and the arm completely fell off in ’86, as Carlton started the season with a 6.18 ERA for the Phillies. Reluctantly, the Phils released Lefty, who thought he could still hang on. He signed with the Giants, then retired. Then he came back with the White Sox to finish 1986. He came back in ’87 with the Indians, then was released, before signing with the Twins, who left him off their postseason roster. He remained with the Twins in ’88 and tried to come back for ’89, but nobody would take him.

Most try to erase the final seasons of Carlton’s career, but whatever the case, his legacy is firm. He finished with 4,136 strikeouts, fourth all time. He also recorded 329 wins, 11th all time. He’s the franchise leader in almost every pitching category. Among lefties, he’s usually mentioned in the first breath. With the nickname Lefty, how could he not? He became a Hall of Famer in 1994, earning one of the highest election votes ever. Very guarded, very quiet, very focused, Steve Carlton – more than anything – was just plain legendary.

Comment: What else can be said about Lefty? Could be one of the five greatest pitchers in baseball history. Dominant for more than a full decade. Record-breaking. Well deserved of the honor of second-greatest Phillie of all time.

And you all know No. 1.



  1. the lopez!

    March 25, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    lefty got those wins in an era when there wasnt a huge arsenal of relief pitchers backing him up.
    i really liked his unique conditioning exercises.

  2. Jim

    March 25, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    he was also soft spoken and timid in front of the cameras. when he recorded his 4000th striekout, he just went into the locker room with the team and had some champagne, no big celebration or anything.

  3. Jason B.

    March 25, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    To look at those numbers is to be completely blown away. It’s amazing to think that he was a Phillie. I think Scmidtty deserves the No.1 spot, but anybody could make a very strong case that Carlton deserves that spot. AS far as the list goes it’s not so much that Mike Jack is 1 and Lefty is 2, more so as it is Mike Jack is 1 And Lefty is 1A.

  4. Paul

    March 25, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    His 72 season was amazing. And to think it was with a miserable team too…

  5. Amanda Orr

    March 25, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    #1- So Taguchi.. am I right?

  6. Joel

    March 25, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    One of the best!

    I’m not going to argue with you for the overzealous “maybe the best single pitching season in baseball history” comment bc I know your wrong.

    But, great pick as #2!

  7. Tim Malcolm

    March 25, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Joel: There are plenty … PLENTY of seasons to debate about that. Which is why I wrote it so hesitantly.

  8. John Fire

    March 25, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    So exciting! I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed for weeks and I can’t believe we’re all finally ready to step forward and honor the great Tom Marsh as the greatest Philly of all-time. Five career dingers. .246 average. Boom – #1.

  9. Don M

    March 25, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    This would be my issue.. as you said, “Could be one of the five greatest pitchers in baseball history.”

    The same really can’t be said about Schmidt… One of the greatest Third Basemen of All Time.. but he probably wouldn’t crack the Top 10 for positional players overall, He’s arguably Top 20.

    27-10, 1.97 ERA, 30 Complete Games, 0.99 WHIP, 346.1 Innings Pitched, 310 Strikeouts

    Often called the Greatest Season EVER by a Pitcher..

    What a list this is though, can’t really actually argue with any of it

  10. ashmidt

    March 25, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    1972 was awesome, i was really pissed when they traded rick wise. he was really all a phillie fan had to cheer about. any way lefty was lights out, do you know the sporting news , back then baseballs bible, based in st louis used to pick a player of the year, that year they switched to man of the year and gave the award to charley finley, i guess they didnt want to dis augie busch, or maybe augie busch owned the sporting news. i always thought that was sour grapes, another reason not to like the cardinals. i know lefty hated them.

  11. Geoff

    March 25, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Thats why Carlton is number 1 on my list and Schmidt is not. Steve Carlton is the 2nd or 3rd best pitcher in baseball history, at the worst…hes the best left handed pitcher in baseball history bar none. Mike Schmidt was great, but hes not in the same category as Lefty. Steve Carlton would be untouchable in todays game as he was in his own time. Schmidt today would be a perennial all star but not nearly as dominant as he was in his time.

    Steve Carlton could pitch in any era and be the best in almost every single one of them. You cannot say that with Schmidt.

  12. Jim

    March 25, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    guys let not forget that carlton didnt spend his entire career with the phils, just his best years, he had some great years (including a 20 win season) with the cardinals as well. you have to take his phillie tenure into cosideration

  13. Manny

    March 25, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Yea, the tenure is the tipping point…

  14. therookie300

    March 25, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    I think the choice between #1 and #2 on this list comes down to the fact of who gets mentioned first when you think of the greatest Phillie ever. The answer will, more likely than not, be Mike Schmidt. No offense to Lefty, but Mike Schmidt is Phillie Baseball.

  15. Mr. Phil

    March 25, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Mike Schmidt is the greatest 3rd baseman of all time. Lefty had one of the greatest seasons for a pitcher in ’72 for an awful Phillies team. However, the most dominating lefty for a 5 year stretch was Sandy Koufax. That being said, I loved watching Carlton pitch during those glory years.

  16. Brian

    March 25, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    “Mike Schmidt was great, but hes not in the same category as Lefty”? Are you kidding me? To say either isnt in the same category as the other proves how little you know about Philly sports. Those two were very easy choices as #1 and #2, how can you come back with a comment like that. Mike Schmidt was the BEST 3rd basemen of all time, not just on the Phillies. Not at that level. PLEASE. Carlton is a great choice to be in a “debate” about Mike Schmidt, but I agree with the placements. I know the #1 choice will get some not so great feedback, because some people didnt like him, but his skill can not be argued (if you have a clue) and his attitude, much like what therookie300 said, “Mike Schmidt is Phillie Baseball.

  17. GWFightinsFan

    March 25, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Lefty was the man!

  18. Brian

    March 25, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    FYI, http://www.thebaseballpage.com place Mike Schmidt as #1 all time for 3rd Base, Carlton #12 for pitchers. I feel Carlton at #12 is a bit low, I think top 10, but that should tell you something about what non Philly fans think about the two of them.

  19. Fran

    March 25, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    well i got 8 of the top 10. Wonder where that puts me

  20. Grrrumpy Miner

    March 25, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    I guess that makes Steve Jeltz #1 on the survey! Congrats Steve,Job well done and never embarrassed by showing off that Soul-Glo look….you did Eriq LaSalle proud.

  21. From Section 113

    March 25, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    Awesome write up Tim.

    Carlton is, in my opinion, the 2nd best lefty of all time behind Koufax. Might even put Randy Johnson 3rd. But Schmidt is #1 all time. Forever.

    BY the way I started comparing our all time rotation to that of other teams:

    Grover Cleavland

    ANd it’s pretty much better than most of baseball. Probably #6 all time. Yanks/Red Sox/Dodgers/Giants/Cardinals/Cubs are the only big threats.

  22. Phillies Phan SC

    March 25, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    Not my #2 choice, but a good one nevertheless!

  23. Tom G

    March 25, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    For the better part of 12 years I carried LEFTY’s Baseball card in my wallet…to argue with fans of other teams…loved him, love GUS HEFLIN(sp) for helping LEFTY be the best he could be…only wish he had retired soon after the Phillies…his last years, reluctant to retire…spoiled some of the gleam…BUT for me…my favorite philly of all time…
    LEFTY and Michael Jack as 1 and 2, the order…who cares…they were both ours!

  24. Phil

    March 26, 2009 at 12:18 am

    Okay, so I have to dispel some things people are saying here:

    For starters Steve Carlton was not in the top 5 or even top 10 pitchers of all time. He’s probably somewhere around 15. He also wasn’t the best lefty of all time. He’s tied for 3rd and no Koufax was not in the top 3. Off the top of my head the following pitchers were better than Carlton and I’ll name the 3 lefties in there also this is off the top of my head and in no order:

    Walter Johnson(The best pitcher of all time)
    Roger Clemens(don’t bring up roids because our own boy Mike Schmidt did amphetamines)
    Grover Cleveland Alexander
    Lefty Grove(L)
    Randy Johnson(L)
    Pedro Martinez(Yes, Pedro was better)
    Greg Maddux(Yes, Maddux was better)
    Christy Mathewson
    Tom Seaver(I know I know…he’s a Met)
    Cy Young
    Carl Hubbel
    Satchel Paige
    Bob Gibson
    Kid Nichols
    Warren Spahn(L and tied with Carlton arguably better though)

    I’d say he’s tied for 15th with Warren Spahn. That’s still incredibly good in my honest opinion. The reason Sandy Koufax is in fact not better than Steve Carlton is because his arm fell off rather fast. Carlton threw almost 3 thousand more innings than Koufax.

    Mike Schmidt is the best 3B of all time. There really is no questioning this. Only guys that come close in my honest opinion are Chipper Jones and A-Rod.

    As for the person that said the Phillies all time rotation is #6 of all time, I think that could be a pretty accurate statement. Maybe even top 5, however, the teams you mentioned to compete with the Phils just aren’t the right teams. You totally left off the Braves. Maddux, Spahn, Niekro, Glavine, Smoltz…um yeah that’s probably the best ever or 2nd to the Red Sox…Young, Pedro, Clemens, and Ruth. #5…who cares? Those 4 could handle the load themselves. The Yankees only really have Whitey Ford. After that their all time rotation kind of sucks. The Cubs have Grover Cleveland in his later years, Fergie Jenkins and if you want to count Maddux in his early years then I guess him too, but I don’t count him with the Cubs. The Giants are an interesting team. Christy Mathewson, Carl Hubbel, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, and I don’t know who after that. Definitely competes with the Red Sox as best ever. Cardinals…don’t know outside of Bob Gibson. Dodgers had Koufax, Sutton, Drysdale, Hershiser, and Velenzuela. That’s pretty good too. If I had to rank with what I’ve named I’d go Red Sox, Giants, Braves, Phillies, Dodgers. There are other teams I’m unsure of. The Indians can also use Cy Young, and also have Bob Feller Mel Harder, and, Bob Lemon. That’s pretty good, but probably not top 5. Walter Johnson pitched for the Senators which are now the Twins. Walter Johnson was the best pitcher of all time, who knows who else backs him up. I guess there’s Jack Morris. So yeah, the Phillies seem to be #4.

    Last point I want to make is that Lefty did not have the best pitching season of all time. I’d say it was in the top 15 somewhere if you don’t count some pitchers multiple years ie Pedro’s 99 and 00, but there are a few off the top of my head that are better. Pedro’s 00. Sandy Koufax’s 1966. Bob Gibson’s 1968. Walter Johnson’s 1913. Randy Johnson’s 02. Greg Maddux’s 95. Lefty Grove’s 1931. Cy Young’s 01. Grover Cleveland’s 1915. Christy Mathewson 1905. Dwight Gooden’s 85. Roger Clemens 97. Kevin Brown’s 96. These are just some of them off the top of my head. I know you’ll probably all try and disagree with me, but that’s fine. I know Steve Carlton’s 72 season was ridiculous, but there were better seasons than that and I just named 12 that were better. With all of that being said. Pedro’s 00 season was the best pitched season in MLB history. It was just ridiculous. A 291 ERA+…wtf?!

    Anyway, I’m done ranting. Hope you all like this tidbit of baseball history.

  25. James Kay

    March 26, 2009 at 12:26 am

    @Geoff – I agree that if you pitched Lefty in his prime against today’s hitters, he would be just as dominate. Schmidt?

    In 1972, Carlton started the year off with 5 wins and 1 loss, then lost 5 games in a row making his record only 5 wins and 6 losses for the first third of the season. After making an adjustment in his delivery motion using advice from pitching coach Ray Ripplemeyer, he then began the famous 15 game winning streak. After finishing this winning streak (at 20-6), Steve finished the final third of the year with 7 more wins and 4 losses with final totals of 27 wins and 10 losses. If Steve could of made that adjustment 5 games earlier, and Tommy Hutton, Roger Freed, Don Money, and the remaining cast of 1972 Phillies characters could have provided a little more run support, Carlton could have won as many as 35 games that year. I remember that 1972 season vividly. The team lost but they were still very popular. And, there was Carlton.

  26. Phil

    March 26, 2009 at 12:33 am

    I totally forgot Kid Nichols also pitched for the Braves which probably edges them to #2. Also for the Red Sox I forgot Tiant, Smokey Joe Wood, and that Lefty Grove spent a good part of his career there too. As for the Twins…Johan Santana backs up Walter Johnson pretty well.

  27. Phil

    March 26, 2009 at 12:36 am

    Another problem…Jack Morris pitched for the tigers. I was thinking of Bert Blyeveln. Don’t know why I confused them.

  28. MikeB

    March 26, 2009 at 4:38 am

    Sandy Koufax was the best lefty in baseball after 1960 and Super Steve probably rates second best.

  29. Phil

    March 26, 2009 at 8:27 am

    No MikeB. Steve Carlton threw 3000 more innings than Sandy Koufax. How can a guy whose arm fell off be better than a guy who was dominant for almost a decade more? Randy Johnson was better than Koufax too. Koufax had a more dominant peak than these guys, but he didn’t sustain a very long major league career.

  30. Albert

    March 26, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Long drive, could it be!?! Number 500!!

  31. Doug D.

    March 26, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Whenever a discussion about Lefty comes, I always am reminded of one of my favorite trivia questions — Who’s the only pitcher to pitch a no-hitter and hit 2 homers in the same game? Rick Wise

  32. Chuck P

    March 26, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Too many good debates going on here… looking at Phil’s list, I’m in agreement for the most part HOWEVER if you’re going to leave off Sandy Koufax (which is fine by me), I would not place Pedro Martinez ahead of Carlton, either. Pedro, one of the most dominating pitchers of my generation, has only had 6 and a half “magical” seasons (and only two 20 win seasons) and, by most accounts, his arm has fallen off. Carlton had six 20 win seasons and put it together over a span of 20 years. Longevity always skews things… often in the wrong direction. Don Sutton pitched an eternity on some good teams and was able to rack up 300 wins but many believe that he’s not really Hall of Fame worthy. SOOO…. if you’re list is compiling the nastiest pitchers of all time, unarguably, Koufax deserves to be on the list. If you’re talking about most accomplished pitchers of all time, he might not but neither does Pedro. Ya dig?

  33. Joe O'Phillie

    March 26, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Koufax’s career couldn’t sniff Carlton’s. Koufax had a great 4 year stretch at a time when pitchers dominated. Carlton did it for the long haul. Part of being one of the greatest all time is that they can do it for a long time.

  34. Phil

    March 26, 2009 at 10:29 am

    difference between pedro anf koufax is that pedro was dominant for over a decade. his arm didnt fall off till 06. he was also way more dominant in his prime than koufax was

  35. Phil

    March 26, 2009 at 10:30 am

    also wins are an awful stat in judging a pitchers career. wins are team dependent and some eras of baseball pitchers were in 3 man rotations so they had more opportunities to win more games

  36. Chase Mutley

    March 26, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Man, I know it’s not a popular opinion but, I really hated those blue and maroon uniforms.

  37. Chuck P

    March 26, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Pedro didn’t dominate for over a decade… check the stats. His domination started in 1997 (at age 25) and lasted until 2005. Throw in a strike shortened season and that leaves you with 7 amazing seasons and handful of average to below-average ones. He had some unbelievable seasons in pitcher friendly parks… not taking anything away from Pedro becuase he was one of the best that I have ever watched firsthand… but he only won better than 15 games 7 times. I don’t think that Pedro was way more dominant than Pedro, either. What Koufax did, often pitching on two days rest down the stretch with a bum arm, is amazing. Two time WS MVP, the only two time hickok belt winner…

  38. From Section 113

    March 26, 2009 at 1:16 pm


    Yeah I was confusing when I stated the Phills could have the #5-#6 best rotation ever. I meant those teams I listed as possibly competing with them, not being in front of them. But when I looked at it we really do have a top 5 rotation. I thought the yanks would be close with their history but they don’t hve that many, though they might have the all time greatest bullpen with Goose and Mariano.

    Anyways, I just think Koufax was so much better because he never declined dur to ineffectiveness, he declined due to severe arthiritis. It took a medical condition for him to stop playing, not being crushed by AAAA guys or dragging his career threw injuries. He went out on top.

    Also his 4-5 yrs were more dominant than anyone else. He was so special that just off those 4-5 yrs he was a 1st ballot HOFer. That says something. Carlton is elite, but Koufax is immortal.

    **Also, I would take Pedro in his prime against anyone, anywhere, anytime.


    March 26, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    I never forget Sunday 5/21/1972. I was 15. My dad & I went to see Seaver vs Carlton, largest crowd in history to date at the Vet – 57,267. I knew I was looking at 3 future hall of famers – Seaver, Carlton, and last but certainly not least, Willie Mays for the Mets.

    Carlton pitched a complete game, Seaver went 8.

    Willie Mays hit a home run in the top of the 8th with one on to put the Mets ahead, the last 2 runs of the game. This was Willie’s swan song year with the Mets before retiring. The entire crowd cheered him, not just the Mets fans who’d come down from NY.


  40. James Kay

    March 26, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    @ Greeninil – I also remember that game. Wasn’t Ron Stone sent down to the minors by GM John Quinn because he didn’t hustle on that 9th inning bunt double play in front of the capacity crowd?

    John Quinn’s (Old school super bastard) last trade as Phillies GM was Carlton for Wise.

    @ From Section 113 – To pitch like Carlton is super-human, but to pitch like Koufax is divine.

  41. Joel

    March 26, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Hey Tim,

    I meant no harm by my comment! But I get your drift.

    Again, great pick for #2!

  42. Phil

    March 26, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    chuck p when i get home ill post the stats proving why pedro and lefty are better than koufax. stop using wins as an argument. that means nothing. ill explain that more in depth too.

  43. ashmidt

    March 26, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    did you know, in 1964 a home game against the dodgers, koufax starting, a little drizzle, and gene mauch kept pushing for a rain delay and got it, a doubleheader later in the year, 2nd game of the doubleheader frank thomas broke his hand possibly costing the fightins the pennant. dont mess with the baseball gods.

  44. Phil

    March 26, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Okay, so 1st I’ll debunk the wins thing. This is completely hypothetical but I just want to show how wins is a team related stat. I’m going to do this in 2 different ways.

    1. If Walter Johnson had a bunch of 8 year olds as his offense they obviously wouldn’t be able to score runs off major league pitching. Would that make him not a good pitcher anymore because he couldn’t win games?

    2. This is also very hypothetical but compare pitcher A and pitcher B. Also take into account that both pitchers pitch in similar ballparks ie both pitchers or hitters parks.

    Pitcher A’s stat line for one season
    0-30 IP: 270 GS: 30 ERA: 1.00 Let’s up exactly 1 run a game and his offense never scores one run for him.

    Pitcher B’s stat line for one season
    30-0 IP: 270 GS: 30 ERA: 5.00 Let’s up exactly 5 runs per game and his offense scores exactly 6 for him.

    Who is the better pitcher? I hope that gets my point across.

    Now onto the bigger thing at hand. Koufax vs Pedro vs Carlton

    For starters Pedro did not pitch in a pitcher friendly park. Fenway is very much hitter friendly. I’m not sure about the stadiums that the Expos pitched in. Anyway, with all of that said ERA+ adjusts for the era a pitcher pitched in and the park(s) they pitched in.

    ERA+: 131 IP: 2324.3 He had 6 good seasons the last 5 of which being dominant. Everything before that was about league average or less than league average. His 5 dominant seasons look like this: ERA+ of 141 159 187 160 and 190. All very, very good numbers. But he only sustained it for 5 years. Great peak, but his arm fell off.
    ERA+ 154 IP: 2782.7 He had 12 good seasons 8 of which were ridiculously dominant including 2 that were considered to be 2 of the best pitching seasons of all of baseball. He did both of them in Fenway which is hitters friendly. Furthermore his 00 season IS the best season in baseball history. His 8 dominant seasons looked like this: ERA+ 219 163 243 291 189 202 210( all of those years were in a row between 1997 and 2003) then again in 05 he had a 145.
    ERA+ 115 IP: 5217.3 He had 13 good seasons 5 of which were dominant. Carlton’s were never consistent and were scattered about. His ERA+ in his dominant years were 164 182(his magical season in 72) 153 162 and 150.

    The difference between Carlton and Koufax is that he had the same amount of dominant years that weren’t as good, but he sustained a longer above average pitcher for the double time Koufax did. The reason Pedro is better than Carlton is because Pedro had 1 less good season than Carlton but out of those good seasons Pedro had 3 more that were dominant, and on top of that his dominance was leaps and bounds better than Carlton.

    Pedro had arguably the best peak in baseball history if not the beast peak. 7 years in a row of being the best pitcher in baseball is no easy task, especially in the steroid era and Pedro wasn’t on them. Once again ERA+ adjusts for the era. Carlton and Koufax both pitched in pitcher friendly eras when the offenses just weren’t as good as the pitching was and Pedro pitched in the steroid era when hitters were hitting home runs left and right.

    I hope all of this information can help to show why I think and know that Pedro is the best out of these 3 pitchers.

  45. James Kay

    March 26, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    @ ashmidt – Also remember that Koufax no-hit the Phillies on June 4, 1964 at Connie Mack. He almost pitched a perfect game except for the walk to Allen on a close call full count pitch. Allen was later caught stealing. After the game when Allen was asked about the pitch he walked on, he responded that the pitch was way too low for him to swing at. He probably didn’t even see it.

    Check out the link :

  46. Phil

    March 26, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Also to section 113: He did go out on top, but he still went out none the less. Most players stick around longer than they need to. It’s just what they do. Their numbers take a hit from it. Mickey Mantel was upset because he didn’t retire with a .298 career BA. He could have had he retired a year earlier than he did. You also contradicted yourself. You said Koufax had the best peak in baseball history(which he didn’t not even 2nd), but then you said you’d take Pedro in his peak over anyone else(which I agree with besides maybe Walter Johnson’s peak.) I don’t understand how Koufax is immortal.

  47. Phil

    March 26, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    edit: a .300 BA. He retired with a .298

  48. ashmidt

    March 26, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    james, thanks for putting that up there, i really appreciate your contributions to this site very informative. i know about 10 people who told me they were at that game, what i heard was that richie allen led off the game with a walk, and koufax retired the next 27 batters, he was awesome, i saw him pitch the next year, it was a cold april day. amazing bunning pitches a perfecto not even 3 weeks later. i dont really care for the bickering about who was better,but for a big game i would take koufax.

  49. Phil

    March 26, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    i dont really care for the bickering about who was better,but for a big game i would take koufax.

    Carlton was better but I agree with that statement 1000%

  50. From Section 113

    March 27, 2009 at 8:54 am


    Oh I understand with all your points and agree with most. I make the statement all the time, that wins are overrated stats, at least to some degree, a pitcher still has to win.

    I think as of right now, Pedro is the greatest pitcher I have ever seen. Carlton was damn good, but I was not old enough to see his entire career, where as I have with Pedro.

    BUt when accounting for Lefties, I just feel like Koufax’s 5 yrs are insane. I think all this stat huntung has also made me more appreciative of Randy Johnson. Man was that guy filthy in his prime.

  51. Phil

    March 27, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Sandy Koufax’s 5 years were insane, and the fact that it was in a row is pretty crazy too, but they aren’t no where near as insane as Pedro’s 7 years in a row. Randy Johnson is arguably the best lefty of all time. Toss up between him and Lefty Grove. Koufax might be 5th, I’m not sure. I’ll have to look further into it. The thing really hurting him is his peak was only 6 years and out of those 6 years only 5 of them were really good. They are also really overrated because he did it during a pitching era and in a pitchers park.

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