No. 2: Minnesota Twins’ Bert “The Frying Dutchman” Blyleven
Years with the Minnesota Twins: 1970-1976, 1985-1988 (11 Seasons)
Key Stats with the Minnesota Twins: 348 G, 2,566.2 IP, 149-138 W-L, 3.28 ERA, 2,035-674 K-BB, 141 CG, 29 Shutouts, 49.1 WAR, 2-Time All-Star, Three Top-10 Cy Young Finishes, Two Top-25 MVP Finishes, 1987 World Series, Hall of Fame
There was no doubt that Bert Blyleven would make this list, the only question was where. Despite being traded away by the Twins twice, Bert played more games with the Twins than any other team, and has been a huge part of the organization known as the Minnesota Twins.
Bert was a star as soon as he stepped on the mound, as his rookie numbers of 10-9 with a 3.18 ERA are excellent for a rookie, let alone a nineteen year-old with very little minor league experience. He would only go up from there, using his famous curveball to carry him to stardom.
Blyleven was a strikeout artist, totaling 2,035, second most in team history and his career totals land him fifth all-time. He’s third in innings pitched, complete games, and shutouts. He finished in the Top-10 of Cy Young Voting three times, and he finished in the Top-25 of MVP voting and was an All-Star twice.
He also was a league-renowned prankster, earning his nickname from setting his teammates shoelaces on fire. He was routinely listed as one of the funniest guys in the league and loved messing with his teammates.
In his second go round with the team, Bert wasn’t his amazing self, but he was good enough to be the second man behind Frankie V to help the Twins win it all in 1987, helping him earn his second World Series and the team’s first.
After he retired, he became the Twins color commentator in 1996, leading to many hilarious moments and questionable commentary. His most famous commentating bit is the Circle me Bert, where Twins fans bring a sign with that slogan and Blyleven circles them with the telestrator. He even made a song about it (Bert is wearing the wig):
Blyleven is a key part of Twins history, and is well deserving of the second spot on this list. He was elected to the Twins Hall of Fame in 2002, had his number retired in 2011, and finally made the Hall of Fame that same year. Bert may be slowly leaving Twins broadcasting, but he will never leave the hearts of Twins fans.
No. 1: Washington Senators’ Walter “The Big Train” Johnson
Years with the Washington Senators: 1907-1927 (21 Seasons)
Key Stats with the Washington Senators: 802 G, 5,914.1 IP, 417-279 W-L, 2.17 ERA, 3,509-1,363 K-BB, 531 CG, 110 Shutouts, 151.9 WAR, 1913 and 1924 MVP, Six Top-25 MVP Finishes, 3-Time Pitching Triple Crown Winner, 5-Time ERA Title, 1924 and 1925 AL Pennant, 1924 World Series, Hall of Fame
If you know anything about baseball in the Golden Age, you know who Walter Johnson is. If you don’t, let me be the first to introduce you to the The Big Train, the greatest pitcher in Major League baseball history.
Here’s a chart of where Johnson ranks all-time in key stats for pitchers:
- Games Started: 13th
- Innings Pitched: 3rd
- Wins: 2nd
- ERA: 12th
- WAR: 2nd
- Strikeouts: 9th
- Complete Games: 5th
- Shutouts: 1st
And if you’re wondering, Johnson also ranks first in every single one of those categories in franchise history. He won the MVP award in both 1913 and 1924 and finished in the Top-25 of voting six times. His individual awards don’t stop there.
The Big Train, also known as Barney (he had two very popular nicknames), won the pitching Triple Crown three times and won the ERA title five times. He was widely regarded as the best pitcher in baseball and downright scary to face as he stood 6′ 1″, very tall for most ball players.
He lead the Senators to the American League Pennant in both 1924 and 1925, winning the World Series in 1924 to cement his legacy. His career WAR (he added on 12.6 as a hitter) is 164.5, the second best in baseball history behind only Babe Ruth.
There should be no doubt that Johnson is the top pitcher in team history, but if you question him being number one all-time, check out Bleacher Report’s ranking or Athlon Sports’ Ranking. Johnson was simply that good.