Here is every team's best right-handed starter ever

May 28th, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on each player's career with that franchise. We've tackled catchers, first basemen, second basemen, third basemen, shortstops, left fielders, center fielders, right fielders and designated hitters. Next up is right-handed starting pitchers.

These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only, and fans were able to participate in Twitter polls to vote for their favorites. Here is the No. 1 right-handed starter for each club, as chosen by's beat reporters.

American League East

Blue Jays: Roy Halladay (1998-2009)
Key fact: Won the '03 AL Cy Young Award after posting a 3.25 ERA in 266 innings
Halladay’s career with the Blue Jays saw him become one of the great pitchers of his generation, but it wasn’t always headed in that direction. Halladay was forced to rebuild his game early in his career after opening '00 with a 10.64 ERA over 67 2/3 innings. His incredible return from those struggles showed the work ethic that would set Doc apart. Halladay was a true ace on the mound and a model pitcher for so many who have come after him -- including many of the current Blue Jays --- and the history of the team cannot be discussed without Halladay’s name being at the forefront. Blue Jays top 5 >

Orioles: Jim Palmer (1965-84)
Key fact: First-ballot Hall of Famer owns franchise record in nearly every major pitching category
If there was a Mount Rushmore of Orioles legends, Jim Palmer’s face would be a part of it. The franchise’s all-time leader in wins, starts, complete games, shutouts, starter ERA and strikeouts, Palmer was a three-time Cy Young winner, six-time All-Star and won four Gold Gloves. He won 20 games eight times, three league win titles and two league ERA crowns. He led AL pitchers in starts and shutouts twice, complete games once and innings four times. He is the only Oriole to pitch in all six of the franchise’s World Series appearances and the only pitcher in history to record a World Series victory in three different decades. Orioles top 5 >

Rays: James Shields (2006-12)
Key fact: Franchise leader in wins (87)
Shields is the most accomplished and durable right-handed pitcher in Rays history. During his seven-year stint with the team, he won 87 games, started 30 or more in six consecutive seasons and finished third in the AL Cy Young race in '11. He also threw a team-record 19 complete games. In an era when bullpens reign supreme, that record could stand for years to come. Aside from leading the franchise in wins and complete games, Shields is also atop the leaderboard in innings pitched (1,454 2/3), strikeouts (1,250), shutouts (eight) and games started (217). Rays top 5 >

Red Sox: Pedro Martinez (1998-2004)
Key fact: 190 ERA+ is tops in Red Sox history
As impressive as Roger Clemens was over his 13 years in Boston, Martinez gets the edge for his seven seasons of utter dominance. The stretch included a record of 117-37, a 2.52 ERA, 1,683 strikeouts in 1,383 2/3 innings, two Cy Young Awards ('99 and '00) and a World Series title ('04). The righty went 23-4 with a team-record 313 strikeouts in '99, leading the AL in ERA (2.07) by a ridiculous margin over second-place finisher David Cone (3.44 ERA). Some think Martinez was even better in ’00, when he posted a 1.74 ERA and career bests in ERA+ (291) and WHIP (0.737). Red Sox top 5 >

Yankees: Red Ruffing (1930-42, '45-46)
Key fact: 46.5 bWAR leads all Yankees right-handed starters
Ruffing won 231 games as a Yankee, including an AL-best 21 victories in ’38 and a league-leading five shutouts in ’39. A six-time World Series champion and six-time All-Star, Ruffing started his career with the Red Sox but was traded to New York in ’30 for outfielder Cedric Durst, who played only one season in Boston. Meanwhile, Ruffing became a star, going on to compile a 3.47 ERA (119 ERA+) over the next 15 seasons. The dominant innings-eater won at least 20 games during the Yanks’ four straight title seasons from ’36-39 and went 7-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 10 World Series starts. Yankees top 5 >

AL Central

Indians: Bob Feller (1936-41, '45-56)
Key fact: Indians’ all-time leader in bWAR among all starting pitchers
While a number of outstanding right-handers have donned an Indians uniform over the years, Feller stands out from all the rest. The Hall of Famer made his way to the big leagues at 17 years old, and even after giving up four prime years of his career to serve in World War II, he’s still the proud owner of a handful of club records. Feller is the Tribe’s all-time leader in wins (266), strikeouts (2,581), starts (484), complete games (279) and innings (3,872). He led the AL in wins six times and strikeouts seven times. The righty set single-season club records for strikeouts (348), innings (371), shutouts (10) and complete games (36) in '46. He pitched a franchise-record three no-hitters and 12 one-hitters and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer by an overwhelming margin in '62. Indians top 5 >

Royals: Bret Saberhagen (1984-91)
Key facts: Two Cy Young Awards, two All-Star Games, one Gold Glove Award
After a promising rookie season in '84 in which Saberhagen posted a 3.48 ERA in 38 games, he burst onto the national scene in '85 as the ace of the Royals staff. He went 20-6 with a 2.87 ERA, won his first Cy Young Award and carried the Royals to their first World Series title. He was the most valuable player of that Fall Classic. Saberhagen won his second Cy Young in '89, going 23-6 with an MLB-best 2.16 ERA and 12 complete games. “He was the total package as a starting pitcher,” said Hal McRae, who was both a teammate and manager during Saberhagen's time with the Royals. “Great stuff, great fastball, threw strikes and competed his tail off against every hitter.” Royals top 5 >

Tigers: Justin Verlander (2005-17)
Key facts: Second among Tigers pitchers in strikeouts, bWAR
Though Verlander won his only World Series ring with the Astros, he accomplished pretty much everything else in Detroit, from his Rookie of the Year Award in '06 to the AL Cy Young-MVP combo in '11 to a pair of no-hitters. He was selected to six All-Star teams in a seven-year span and won back-to-back winner-take-all AL Division Series games for the Tigers in Oakland, including a four-hit shutout in '12. Even in years when Verlander wasn’t statistically the best pitcher in the league, he was often the most formidable, and for many the most intimidating. Beyond the numbers, he was a key part to the revival of a franchise, and a lasting part of Mike Ilitch’s legacy as Tigers owner. Tigers top 5 >

Twins: Bert Blyleven (1970-76, '85-88)
Key fact: Only pitcher enshrined in Hall of Fame as a member of the Twins
Long before Blyleven was circling fans on his telestrator as a member of the Twins' television broadcast booth, he was twisting hitters in circles with the famous curveball inspired by Sandy Koufax, a pitch that powered a 22-year Major League career and earned him a spot in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Though he never won a Cy Young Award and only made two All-Star teams, Blyleven ranks fifth in Major League history in strikeouts (3,701) and won two World Series rings -- first with the '79 Pirates, then with the '87 Twins in his second stint with the club that originally drafted him. Twins top 5 >

White Sox: Ed Walsh (1904-16)
Key fact: Second in franchise history with 1,732 strikeouts
With Walsh having concluded his White Sox run more than a century ago, it’s easy to overlook his dominance. But some of his statistics are almost too good to be believed. In 1908, Walsh picked up 40 victories and threw 464 innings, which stand as single-season franchise records. He made 66 appearances and 49 starts during that memorable season, with 42 complete games and 11 shutouts. Walsh finished his career with a 1.82 ERA and a 2.02 FIP, each of which ranks as the best all time, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in '46. White Sox top 5 >

AL West

Angels: Nolan Ryan (1972-79)
Key fact: Set a Modern Era (since 1900) record with 383 strikeouts in '73
When the Angels acquired Ryan from the Mets in a trade before the '72 season, he was viewed as inconsistent because of his wildness on the mound. But Ryan put it together with the Angels right away, posting a 2.28 ERA with 329 strikeouts in 284 innings in his first year with the club. He was even more dominant in '73, when he won 21 games with a 2.87 ERA and set the Modern Era MLB record with 383 strikeouts in 326 innings. He threw two no-hitters that year and placed second to Jim Palmer in the AL Cy Young voting, which was his highest finish ever. Ryan threw another no-no in '74 and a fourth in '75. Overall, he went 138-121 with a 3.07 ERA and a club-record 2,416 strikeouts in 2,181 1/3 innings during his eight seasons with the Halos. Angels top 5 >

Astros: Roy Oswalt (2001-10)
Key facts: First in bWAR (45.7) and second in wins (143) in club history
Oswalt was the club’s ace in the early years of the 21st century and didn’t take a back seat when Houston signed Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte prior to the '04 season. Oswalt posted back-to-back 20-win seasons in ‘04-05 and helped the Astros go deep into the playoffs each time. In '05, his clutch win in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series in St. Louis clinched Houston’s first pennant. Oswalt won 143 games in 10 seasons with the Astros, putting him one shy of Joe Niekro’s club record. Astros top 5 >

Athletics: Catfish Hunter (1965-74)
Key fact: Tossed the first perfect game in A's history ('68)
Signing with the A’s out of high school in '64 for $75,000, Hunter bypassed the Minors for a spot on the big league club as a 19-year-old and didn't take long to settle in. His All-Star selection in his second season was the first of six in a legendary 10-year stint with Oakland that included an AL Cy Young Award in '74, which he won after leading the league in ERA (2.49) and wins (25). Hunter was the anchor of a talented A’s rotation that helped build a dynasty with three straight World Series championships from ‘72-74, a stretch in which he went 4-0 with a 2.13 ERA over seven Fall Classic games. Hunter's No. 27 is one of just five numbers that have been retired by the A’s, and he was elected to the Hall of Fame in '87. Athletics top 5 >

Mariners: Félix Hernández (2005-19)
Key fact: AL Cy Young Award winner in '10
The man known as King Félix truly does reign as royalty among Mariners pitchers. He finished his 15-year run with Seattle in September 2019 with his name atop the franchise lists for most wins, starts, innings, strikeouts and ERA. After being signed as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela, Hernández made his MLB debut in '05 at 19 and became a permanent member of the rotation by ’06, the Opening Day starter in ’07, an AL All-Star by ’09 and the AL Cy Young winner in '10. He finished in the top eight in the AL Cy Young voting six times and threw the first perfect game in franchise history in '12. Mariners top 5 >

Rangers: Nolan Ryan (1989-93)
Key facts: Two no-hitters, 5,000th strikeout and 300th win were all achieved with Rangers
Although he was 42 years old when he started pitching for the Rangers and was sometimes viewed as more of a gate attraction, Ryan was still able to perform at a high level during his five years with the club. Opponents hit .197 off him in that time, the lowest among qualifying Major League pitchers. He also led MLB with 10.06 K/9 and had the fifth-lowest WHIP (1.13), and he fired his sixth and seventh career no-hitters as a member of the Rangers. Rangers top 5 >

National League East

Braves: Greg Maddux (1993-2003)
Key fact: One of two pitchers ever to win four straight Cy Young Awards
Maddux won the first of four consecutive NL Cy Young Awards with the Cubs, then captured the next three while producing a 1.90 ERA and 219 ERA+ over his first three seasons ('93-95) with Atlanta. That incredible stretch will forever stand as one of the best in baseball history. But what might be forgotten is how great Maddux also was over the remainder of his 11-season stint with the Braves. The 2.90 ERA he produced from 1996-2003 ranked fourth among all big league pitchers, trailing only Pedro Martinez (2.40), Kevin Brown (2.60) and Randy Johnson (2.74). Braves top 5 >

Marlins: José Fernández (2013-16)
Key facts: 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Award winner; two-time All-Star
It's hard to mention the name José Fernández without wondering what might have been. A two-time All-Star by the age of 24, Fernández was killed in a boating accident on Sept. 25, 2016. In his brief but brilliant four-year MLB career with the Marlins, Fernández was often masterful. His pitching arsenal was electric, and he performed with great emotion and energy. Born in Cuba, Fernández became an instant sensation at the age of 20 when he made his MLB debut in '13, winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Fernández was nearly unbeatable at Marlins Park, going 29-2 with a 1.49 ERA in 42 career starts. Marlins top 5 >

Mets: Tom Seaver (1967-77, '83)
Key facts: Mets’ all-time leader in wins, ERA, strikeouts, complete games, shutouts and WAR
A near-unanimous first-ballot Hall of Famer, Seaver is widely considered among the greatest handful of pitchers to play the game. His 311 wins, 3,640 strikeouts and 2.86 career ERA speak for themselves. For Mets fans, the only misfortune -- and it’s a big one -- is that Seaver did not compile all of those statistics in New York. The team infamously and contentiously traded him in '77 to Cincinnati, where Seaver played six of his 20 big league seasons. He returned to the Mets briefly in '83, then won his 300th game in the AL with the White Sox, before ending his career in Boston. But the bulk of Seaver’s contributions came as a Met, including all three of his Cy Young Awards, 10 of his 12 All-Star appearances, two of his three pennants and his only World Series ring. Mets top 5 >

Nationals: Stephen Strasburg (2010-Present)
Key fact: Selected by the Nats with the first pick in the 2009 MLB Draft
Look at the Nationals and Expos pitching leaderboards and Strasburg's name is littered everywhere. Over his 1,438 2/3 regular-season innings, Strasburg holds a 3.17 ERA and 32.3 bWAR, which is third in franchise history. The homegrown right-hander owns the franchise mark in strikeouts (1,695) and his 112 wins are second to Steve Rogers' 158. For all Strasburg has accomplished in his 10 years in Washington, it is his '19 postseason performance that headlines his achievements. He became the first pitcher in MLB history to go 5-0 in the playoffs, and he won the World Series MVP Award for his work. In the Nats' championship run, Strasburg fanned 47 and issued only four walks while posting a 1.98 ERA in six games (five starts). Nationals top 5 >

Phillies: Robin Roberts (1948-61)
Key fact: 28 consecutive complete games over '52-53
In an era that included Warren Spahn, Early Winn, Whitey Ford, Bob Lemon and Don Newcombe, Roberts pitched as well as anybody. He won 199 games in the '50s, second in the NL only to Spahn’s 202, and led the league in strikeouts (1,516), complete games (237) and innings pitched (3,012) during the decade. His 30 shutouts ranked second to Spahn’s 33. His 3.32 ERA ranked fourth. He started for the NL in the '50, '51, '53, '54 and '55 All-Star Games, a true gauge of his stature and dominance in the league. Phillies top 5 >

NL Central

Brewers: Ben Sheets (2001-08)
Key fact: Ranks second in team history with 1,206 strikeouts
After being selected 10th overall by the Brewers in the '99 MLB Draft, Sheets gained fame the following year at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, where he went the distance to shut out mighty Cuba in the gold medal game for the baseball equivalent of hockey’s Miracle On Ice. With a steady diet of power fastballs and killer 12-to-6 curveballs, Sheets made four All-Star teams in eight seasons with the Brewers, starting with his rookie season in '01, and ending with his final season in Milwaukee in '08, when he became the first (and so far, only) Brewers pitcher to start a Midsummer Classic. Sheets’ finest season was ’04, the year he logged a 2.70 ERA and 264 strikeouts -- a franchise record that still stands. His signature performance came on May 16, 2004, when he set a club record with 18 strikeouts in a complete-game masterpiece against the Braves at Miller Park. Brewers top 5 >

Cardinals: Bob Gibson (1959-75)
Key facts: First in team history in wins, complete games, shutouts, innings and strikeouts
Few pitchers in the history of the game have intimidated like Gibson, with a low-slung cap and glaring eyes paired with a vicious slider and fierce fastball. A first-ballot Hall of Famer, Gibson had five 20-win seasons in a 17-year career that included two Cy Young Awards, an MVP Award, two World Series MVPs and a no-hitter against the Pirates in '71. He led the NL in strikeouts just once in his career, but had nine seasons with at least 200 K's and retired with 3,117, the most in Cardinals history. Gibson also ranks first in franchise history in wins (251), complete games (255), shutouts (56) and innings pitched (3,884 1/3), and his 81.7 WAR ranks fourth all-time in Cardinals history. The '68 season is remembered as his best: He finished with a 1.12 ERA and 13 shutouts, a record in the Live Ball Era (since 1920). Cardinals top 5 >

Cubs: Fergie Jenkins (1966-73, '82-83)
Key fact: Most pitching bWAR (53.0) in Cubs history
The April 1966 trade that sent Jenkins to the Cubs after just eight appearances with the Phillies served as the spark that lit an exceptional Hall of Fame career for the righty, who became a legendary workhorse for Chicago. While with the Cubs, Jenkins topped 20 wins in six consecutive seasons from 1967-72, made three All-Star teams, finished in the top three in the NL Cy Young Award race four times (winning in '71) and started Opening Day a team-record seven times. After tours with Texas and Boston, Jenkins returned to the Cubs to finish his 19-year career and recorded his 3,000th career strikeout on May 25, 1982. In franchise history, Jenkins ranks first in pitching WAR, strikeouts (2,038) and starts (347), third in innings (2,673 2/3), fourth in shutouts (29) and fifth in wins (167) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.4). Cubs top 5 >

Pirates: Babe Adams (1907-26)
Key facts: Franchise’s leader in pitching WAR; worked three complete games -- and won all three -- in the 1909 World Series
Imagine a rookie bursting onto the scene and posting a 12-3 record with minuscule 1.11 ERA in 130 innings, then dominating his team’s World Series victory with three complete-game wins capped by a Game 7 shutout. That’s what Adams did for the Pirates in 1909. Adams ranks sixth in Pirates history with 52.9 bWAR behind only franchise icons Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Paul Waner, Arky Vaughan and Willie Stargell -- all Hall of Famers. Adams and Sam Leever are tied for second, behind lefty Wilbur Cooper, on the Pirates’ all-time wins list. Adams ranks fourth in starts, sixth in complete games and first with 44 shutouts. Pirates top 5 >

Reds: Bucky Walters (1938-48)
Key fact: Won the NL pitching Triple Crown in '39
Arriving from the Phillies in a June 1938 trade, Walters quickly emerged as one of the NL’s best pitchers in Cincinnati. In '39, he was named NL MVP after leading the league with a 2.29 ERA, 27 wins, 137 strikeouts, 319 innings, 36 starts and 31 complete games as the Reds won the pennant. He just missed another Triple Crown in '40, going 22-10 with a 2.48 ERA, 29 complete games and 115 strikeouts over 305 innings before helping Cincinnati win the World Series. A five-time All-Star with Reds, Walters was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural '58 class. Reds top 5 >

NL West

D-backs: Brandon Webb (2003-09)
Key fact: Leads all D-backs right-handed starters with 33 bWAR
Webb and Curt Schilling are clearly the top two when it comes to right-handed starters in franchise history and you could make a case for either being No. 1. Webb gets the nod here because of his length of service with the team, and because we’re basing these rankings on what each player did with the organization, not on overall career. Webb won the NL Cy Young in '06, when he had a 152 ERA+, and finished second in the voting over the next two seasons. It was a dominant stretch during which he went 56-25 with a 3.13 ERA and a 150 ERA+. “His sinker is so good he could tell you it was coming and you still couldn’t hit it,” then-Arizona catcher Chris Snyder said at the time. D-backs top 5 >

Dodgers: Don Drysdale (1956-69)
Key fact: Threw 58 2/3 scoreless innings in '68, then an all-time record
The top two Dodgers right-handed starters (both Hall of Famers) are so similar, they even have the same first name. The biggest difference in their Dodgers resumes is that Drysdale was a key member of three World Series winners, while Don Sutton wasn’t. An intimidator with a sidearm delivery, Drysdale won a Cy Young Award and had two 20-win seasons. He was a league leader in wins and shutouts once each, strikeouts three times and games started four times. In his second-to-last season ('68), Drysdale threw 58 2/3 scoreless innings to set an all-time record that was eventually broken by Orel Hershiser, another Dodgers righty. Dodgers top 5 >

Giants: Christy Mathewson (1900-16)
Key fact: One of five players in the Hall of Fame’s inaugural induction class in '36
Armed with his famous fadeaway pitch (now known as a screwball) and precise control, Mathewson was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball history, going 372-188 with a 2.12 ERA over his 17 seasons with the New York Giants. “Big Six” won 20 or more games 13 times, recorded at least 30 wins each season from 1903-05 and captured five National League ERA crowns. During the 1905 World Series, Mathewson tossed three shutouts as the Giants beat the Philadelphia Athletics in five games to clinch their first championship. He won a career-high 37 games in 1908, setting a modern NL record. Mathewson, who died from tuberculosis at 45 in '25, continues to hold many franchise records, including wins (372), complete games (434), shutouts (79), innings (4,779 2/3) and strikeouts (2,504). Giants top 5 >

Padres: Jake Peavy (2002-09)
Key fact: Ranks first in franchise history with 1,348 strikeouts
Peavy spent eight seasons in San Diego, establishing himself as one of the best pitchers in the sport. From '04-08, Peavy won two strikeout titles, two ERA titles and the '07 NL Cy Young Award. He posted a 2.95 ERA and 1,010 strikeouts during that stretch -- trailing only Johan Santana in both categories. According to bWAR, Peavy owns each of the four best pitching seasons for a Padre this century. Padres top 5 >

Rockies: Ubaldo Jiménez (2006-11)
Key facts: In '10, Jiménez earned a club-record 19 wins, became the first pitcher in club history to start an All-Star Game and finished third in the NL Cy Young Award voting
Most fans remember Jiménez’s magical '10 season -- he went 19-8 with 214 strikeouts in 221 1/3 innings, and threw a no-hitter against the Braves on April 17. But because things went awry in '11 before he was traded to the Indians, he is often passed off as a one-year wonder. Not so. The buildup to the ‘10 season is not to be sneezed at. As a rookie in '07, Jimenez aided an injury-affected pitching staff by compiling a 112 ERA+, then posted a 2.25 ERA in three postseason starts. His breakout came during the Rockies’ second-half run to the '09 postseason, when he went 9-3 with a 3.08 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 102 1/3 innings. Jiménez, who is back with the Rox under a Minor League contract this spring, ranks first in club history in pitching bWAR (18.9), ERA (3.66) and several other categories. Rockies top 5 >