Picking the starting pitchers on here was hard, since there was a lot of greatness over the course of the decade, and there were a lot more to choose from. Some of them jumped out immediately to the top of the pack while others made me think long and hard who to leave on and who to leave off.
That being said, here are my picks:
Johnson pretty much staked his claim as No. 1 in the decade with three straight seasons of striking out over 300 batters and three consecutive National League Cy Young Awards. (2000-02) and he placed second in the Cy Young in '04 when he had 290 Ks. His WHIPs were never totally dominant, though he did have one year with an 0.9 showing, but he always was around the 1.1-1.3 range, which is still very good. He even placed as high as seventh in the MVP voting. He was a four-time All-Star.
There was a time in the 1990s, when Martinez was at the height of his game, that Red Sox fans would actually plan their social calendars around his starts during the summer. He was that good. While he wasn't as good during the decade afterwards, his filthy '00 season, the one where he pitched as if he was fuming that he wasn't named the American League MVP the previous year, was good enough to put him on the list. The numbers? A 1.74 ERA, 284 strikeouts, a .0737 WHIP and a second straight American League Cy Young Award. Add three other top five votings in the Cy Young Award and he's definitely deserving of being where he is on this list. He was a four-time All-Star.
3. Roy Halladay
People often think that Halladay just turned it on in the second half of the decade, but he actually won the American League Cy Young in 2003. He struck out over 200 batters five times in the decade and finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting four other times. He won 20 or more games twice. His WHIP numbers were always respectable, between 1.0-1.3, though he did have one season with a 0.960. he was a six-time All-Star.
Two American League Cy Youngs and four other top 10 finishes in the voting catapult Santana way up the list during this decade. Add the fact that he was a Rule V pickup for the Twins at the time and it's downright astounding. Five straight seasons of over 200 strikeouts is quite impressive too. Let us not forget the three straight seasons of sub 1.0 WHIPs. He was a four-time All-Star.
Yes, Clemens won two Cy Young Awards over the span of the decade, but I feel that the above pitchers had better seasons than he did overall, and his PED allegations also served to knock him down the list a bit. Also the fact that he stopped pitching after the 2007 season. He's STILL the fifth-best pitcher on here. He won 20 games twice and he was at his best in '05, when he had a 1.87 ERA and a 1.008 WHIP. He was a four-time All-Star.
Finishing second three times in Cy Young voting over the course of a decade is pretty impressive. Red Sox fans will forever revere him for his gutty pitching against the Yankees with sutures in his foot in 2004. He won 20 games or more twice and even had a 300+ strikeout season once. He was at his best in '05, when he had a 1.87 ERA and a 1.008 WHIP. He was a three-time All-Star.
7. Tim Lincecum
Lincecum burst on the scene during the later years of the decade, but the fact that he won two consecutive National League Cy Young Awards has GOT to count for something. That and his truly unorthodox pitching motion. His two straight seasons of at least 260 strikeouts and a strong WHIP between 1.047 and 1.172 are great as well. He was a two-time All-Star. He belongs on this list.
8. Cliff Lee
While Lee was inconsistent over the course of the decade, even getting sent to the Minor Leagues, he did hoist some hardware, winning the Cy Young once and placing fourth once. He was also just so darn cool pitching for the Phillies against the Yankees in the 2009 World Series. His best WHIP was a 1.110. He was on the All-Star team once.
9. CC Sabathia
Lee's former teammate also has a Cy Young award on his mantel, winning it in 2007 and the fact that he won at least 11 games from '01-'09 puts him above someone like Zack Greinke, who was inconsistent, even though it was for a really good reason - Social Anxiety Disorder. Sabathia never had a WHIP below 1.1, but part of that is from all the innings that he threw per season, which was well north of 200 five times. He was a two-time All-Star.
10. Tom Glavine
While Glavine could best be described as 'consistent" - he could be dominant, which while that period was mostly in the 1990s, he did place second in the National League Cy Young voting in '00. He won at least 10 games five times, and was a four-time All-Star. He had respectable WHIPs between 1.1-1.4 during that time.
As usual, let us know what you think of the list above. Should someone be higher or lower? Some added or excluded? Comment below!
Check out our previous entries on the Best MLB Players of the 2000's:
- 10 Best Catchers of the 2000's
- 10 Best First Basemen of the 2000's
- 10 Best Second Basemen of the 2000's
- 10 Best Shortstops of the 2000's
- 10 Best Third Basemen of the 2000's
- 10 Best Outfielders of the 2000's