Best Starting Pitcher Every Year Since 1993

1993: Greg Maddux

Maddux was the marquee pitcher of the 1990s. Following a stellar season with the Chicago Cubs, Maddux signed a five-year deal worth $28 million to become an Atlanta Brave on December 10, 1992. The Mad Dog thrived throughout his inaugural campaign in “Hotlanta” and finished 20-10 with a 2.36 ERA. Maddux posted the National League’s lowest ERA and won its 1993 Cy Young Award.

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1994: Greg Maddux

Remember, as previously noted, Maddux was the most distinguished hurler of the 1990s. Maddux axed batters as a sophomore Brave and, in a strike-shortened 1994 season, went 16-6 with a 1.56 ERA. The Mad Dog also completed 10 games, logged 202.0 innings, and led the sport in victories and ERA. Accordingly, Maddux procured his third consecutive NL Cy Young Award.

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1995: Greg Maddux

For the final time during the Clinton administration, Maddux was the sport’s foremost ace. In 1995, Maddux was utterly unhittable and he concluded that year 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA. The 18-time Gold Glove Award winner topped Major League Baseball in triumphs and earned his fourth consecutive NL Cy Young Award. Maddux became a first-ballot Hall of Famer on July 27, 2014.

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1996: John Smoltz

Yes, the Atlanta Braves had a somewhat decent starting rotation in the 1990s. After Maddux clinched his fourth consecutive NL Cy Young Award, Braves flamethrower John Smoltz iced opposing lineups in 1996. That year, Smoltz went 24-8 with a 2.94 ERA. Moreover, the eight-time All-Star fanned 276 batters in 253.2 innings. Smoltz led the Senior Circuit in wins and strikeouts and won its 1996 Cy Young Award. In 2015, Smoltz gained a spot in Cooperstown.

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1997: Pedro Martinez

At his peak, Pedro was arguably the most unhittable pitcher of the modern era. In 1997 as a member of the Montreal Expos, Pedro enjoyed the first stellar season of his storied career. Pedro went 17-8 with a 1.90 ERA and fanned 305 batters in 241.1 innings. For his spectacular showings north of the border, Pedro received the NL Cy Young Award.

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1998: Roger Clemens

Granted, Clemens has long been linked to abusing performance-enhancing drugs. Nevertheless, throwing at the height of the steroid era, Clemens overwhelmed the American League’s Herculean lineups in 1998 as a Toronto Blue Jay. The Rocket finished that season 20-6 with a 2.65 ERA. Clemens also whiffed 271 batters over 234.2 innings. Although perhaps tainted, Clemens won his fifth Cy Young Award and secured the Triple Crown for the second consecutive campaign in Canada’s most populous city.

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1999: Pedro Martinez

Pedro was at his absolute best on the hill in 1999. Facing lineups with advanced testosterone levels, Pedro compiled an eye-popping record of 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA. Furthermore, the eight-time All-Star struck out 313 hitters in a measly 213.1 innings. More important than individual statistics, pitching in relief, a physically impaired Martínez tossed six innings of no-hit ball to allow the Boston Red Sox to eliminate the Cleveland Indians 12-8 in Game 5 of the ALDS. Pedro, who clinched his second Cy Young Award, finished second in AL MVP voting.

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2000: Pedro Martinez

Following one of the best single-season performances of all time, Pedro once again embarrassed lineups in 2000. Pedro went 18-6 with a 1.74 ERA. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound flamethrower also fanned 284 batters over 217.0 brilliant innings of work. The diminutive Petey, who secured his second consecutive AL Cy Young Award, became a Hall of Famer in 2015.

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2001: Randy Johnson

Arizona Diamondbacks legend Randy Johnson overpowered teams throughout 2001. The 6-foot-10, 225-pound Johnson finished that season 21-6 with a 2.49 ERA. Additionally, the Big Unit amassed an astounding 372 strikeouts over 249.2 frames. The 2001 Cy Young Award winner also stifled the New York Yankees to lead the Diamondbacks to the 2001 World Series title.

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2002: Randy Johnson

From a statistical standpoint, Johnson may have been more effective in 2002 than he was the prior season. Johnson went 24-5 with a 2.32 ERA and iced 334 batters in 260.0 innings. The 10-time All-Star seized his fifth, and final, Cy Young Award in 2002. The Big Unit was enshrined into the Hall of Fame on July 26, 2015.

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2003: Roy Halladay

Halladay was a Toronto Blue Jays icon. Halladay especially flourished north of the border in 2003 and amassed a 22-7 mark with a 3.25 ERA. For his feats on the mound, Doc made the All-Star squad and collected his first Cy Young Award. Tragically, a 40-year-old Halladay perished when his plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico near Holiday, Florida, on November 7, 2017.

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2004: Johan Santana

Santana is one of the premier southpaws in baseball history. Santana was also the game’s preeminent hurler through the mid-to-late 2000s. In 2004, the sensational lefty went 20-6 with a 2.61 ERA and he whiffed 265 hitters over 228.0 frames. The Minnesota Twins’ Hall of Famer, who also topped the league in wins, strikeouts and ERA, won his first Cy Young Award that season.

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2005: Chris Carpenter

Carpenter endured six subpar seasons as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. Following 20 months on the shelf to recover from a torn glenoid labrum, a 30-year-old Carpenter debuted for the St. Louis Cardinals on April 9, 2004. Although solid in 2004, Carpenter was a genuine craftsman on the hill in 2005. During that campaign, the three-time All-Star finished 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA and earned the Cy Young Award. Roughly four years after retiring, Carpenter was elected to the St. Louis Cardinals’ Hall of Fame in 2016.

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2006: Johan Santana

Santana captured the second Cy Young Award of his career in 2006. To gain the accolade, Santana went 19-6 with a 2.77 ERA, won the Triple Crown, and compiled 245 strikeouts over 232.2 frames. The four-time All-Star retired as a New York Met at the age of 33 in November 2012. Although unlikely, Santana has an outside chance to gain permanent residency in Cooperstown.

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2007: Jake Peavy

Peavy was an extremely formidable hurler for the San Diego Padres back in the mid-late 2000s. However, Peavy especially excelled on the mound as a Padre in 2007. That season, Peavy finished 19-6 with a 2.54 ERA. Shortly after securing the Triple Crown, the three-time All-Star was presented with the Senior Circuit’s Cy Young Award. The 37-year-old Peavy remains the San Diego Padres’ all-time strikeouts leader.

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2008: Tim Lincecum

Lincecum was indeed “The Freak” on the hill for the San Francisco Giants. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Lincecum went 18-5 with a 2.62 ERA in his first full season as a Giant. “The Freak” also fanned 265 batters in 227.0 frames and walked a mere 84 hitters. Lincecum topped the National League in strikeouts and earned its Cy Young Award.

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2009: Zack Greinke

The 2009 Kansas City Royals finished in the basement of the American League Central with a hideous mark of 65-97. Despite the Royals’ ineptitude, Greinke flourished and cemented his status as a bonafide ace.The sixth overall selection in the 2002 draft went 16-8 with a minuscule 2.16 ERA. Accordingly, Greinke procured the 2009 AL Cy Young Award. The 34-year-old Greinke is currently employed by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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2010: Felix Hernandez

The Seattle Mariners were utterly pathetic in 2010. However, like Zack Greinke and in spite of the Mariners’ uselessness on the diamond, Hernández was a sunny presence that season in Seattle. Hernández finished 13-12 with a 2.27 ERA. Voters realized that Hernández’s middling record was caused by the Mariners’ offensive futility and he was named the AL Cy Young Award winner. The 32-year-old Hernández now works out of the Mariners’ bullpen.

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2011: Justin Verlander

Former Detroit Tigers star Justin Verlander clinched the Triple Crown in 2011. Hence, Verlander also won that season’s AL MVP and Cy Young awards. During that remarkable campaign, Kate Upton’s husband went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and he whiffed 250 batters in 251.0 innings. Verlander, who powered the Houston Astros to a World Series championship last fall, seems destined to become a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

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2012: R.A. Dickey

By a slim margin, former New York Mets ace R.A. Dickey outdid past Tampa Bay Rays stopper David Price in 2012. Dickey was royalty in Queens that season and he finished 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA. The knuckleballer also struck out 230 hitters over 233.2 frames. For his dazzling outings, Dickey secured the NL Cy Young Award. The 43-year-old Dickey is presently a free agent without any known suitors.

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2013: Clayton Kershaw

In a roundabout way, Los Angeles Dodgers megastar Clayton Kershaw is this decade’s answer to Greg Maddux in the 1990s. Kershaw was borderline untouchable in Tinseltown throughout the 2013 campaign. The seven-time All-Star compiled a record of 16-9 with a 1.83 ERA and fanned 232 batters in 236.0 innings. Voters appreciated Kershaw’s brilliance and presented him with the NL Cy Young Award.

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2014: Clayton Kershaw

Kershaw was arguably the sport’s foremost pitcher in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Nonetheless, Kershaw’s genius on the hill reached a different stratosphere in 2014. That season, the 2011 Triple Crown winner went 21-3 with a microscopic 1.77 ERA. Kershaw also struck out 301 hitters in 232.2 frames. Kershaw, who collected his third NL Cy Young that November, is a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer.

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2015: Jake Arrieta

Arrieta was one ferocious Cub on the North Side in 2015. Arrieta finished that season 22-6 with a sterling 1.77 ERA and topped the sport in triumphs on the hill. Justifiably, Arrieta was presented with the Senior Circuit’s CY Young Award. As of August 13, the 32-year-old Arrieta is 9-7 with a 3.33 ERA as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

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2016: Max Scherzer

In a manner similar to Clayton Kershaw, Washington Nationals’ sensation Max Scherzer has utterly baffled lineups throughout this decade. Still, Scherzer was especially tremendous in 2016 when he went 20-7 with a 2.96 ERA. Moreover, the six-time All-Star fanned 284 hitters in 228.1 innings on the hill. For his vast accomplishments in the nation’s capital, Scherzer collected his second Cy Young Award.

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2017: Corey Kluber

Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber vanquished lineups in 2017. Kluber topped the American League in wins (18) and ERA (2.25) last season. Suitably, the three-time All-Star obtained his second AL Cy Young Award. The 32-year-old Kluber is in the midst of enjoying another phenomenal campaign with the Indians and more accolades seem inevitable.

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