Earlier this week, a few of the talents here at TSFJ came together to honor the career of Roy Halladay, and in the process of doing so, the question came up of if he truly was the best pitcher of his era. He had a few classic years, but where did his best work fall into the mix? And what’s more, what exactly are the best pitched seasons of the last couple decades? While an era can be defined variously, one definite way to break it down is by what one has seen firsthand. And for me, that opened up a challenge to not so much figure out whom the best pitcher of my lifetime has been, but instead what have been the best seasons I have ever seen pitched.
I began watching baseball in the late ’80s according to my father and, as I can recall firsthand, remembering it year to year since I was 10. That was in 1993, and since then, there have been some remarkable seasons to consider.
A pitcher that’s on top of his game is a sight to behold. He brings that sensation that every fifth day there’s no hope for the opposition. If you manage to get him, you better hope he makes the rare mistake, because there’s little hope to take him down if not. Sometimes this level is hit just for one year, or in the case of the Pedro Martinez’s, Greg Maddux’s or Randy Johnson’s of the world, it takes a fine-tooth comb to even separate their best years apart.
With Maddux likely headed to the Hall of Fame, Roy Halladay and Mariano Rivera retiring, it seems like a fine time to take a look back at the era they defined from 60 feet, 6 inches away. To find the cream of the crop, I pulled together the 30 best seasons from the last 20 years and took it from there. Enjoy, debate and remember some of the best artistry that a mound has ever seen … in my life at least.
I’m a firm believer that the closest I’ve gotten to Heaven is Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. In the meantime til we cross paths again, I’ll pass along the gospel of the Field of Dreams here, Cheap.Seats.Please, I70 Baseball, and ‘Live From The Cheap Seats’.