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Best pitching staffs in the MLB since 1980

  • Best pitching staffs in the MLB since 1980

    Baseball is known as America's favorite past time. When baseball was first played in 1845 in Hoboken, N.J., it was incredibly popular and drew a lot of attention from around the country. Over the decades, this sport has grown and changed into what it is today and has maintained as one of the country's favorite ways to spend time, either playing or watching it.

    Home runs and strikeouts are some of the best parts of baseball, along with steals, fast pitchers, quick runs, and amazing catches. Pitchers specifically play an exciting role in a team. Whether they are starters or closers, pitchers are essential to setting up the team for success, as well as maintaining that level of success. The Major League Baseball association was founded in 1869 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The MLB is one of the oldest major professional sports league in the United States. There are a total of 30 Major League Baseball Teams across the American League and the National League.

    Stacker has analyzed the best pitching staffs in the Major League Baseball since 1980. Teams are ranked by lowest ERA (earned run average) and ties were broken by lowest WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). Data was collected from the Baseball Reference from the 1980-2018 seasons. All teams averaged a 4.16 ERA since 1980. Seven teams have pitched under a 3.0 ERA for a full season since 1980, but only one team since 1989. Some of these teams went on to win the World Series during the season, while others faced defeat in postseason play or did not even make it that far.

    Read on to learn about the best pitching staffs in the MLB, their ERAs, starting pitchers, and closers, and how some of these players led their teams to success.

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  • #25. 1986 Houston Astros

    - ERA: 3.15
    - WHIP: 1.185
    - Record: 96 - 66
    - Strikeouts per nine: 7.2
    - Walks per nine: 3.2
    - Top starting pitchers: Mike Scott (2.22 ERA, 18-10), Bob Knepper (3.14 ERA, 17-12), Jim Deshaies (3.25 ERA, 12-5)
    - Closer: Dave Smith (2.73 ERA, 33 saves, 4-7)

    In September 1986, Mike Scott threw a no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants, which helped the Houston Astros win the National League West. Scott was one of the highest-paid players on the team that year, with his low ERA earning him one of the top starting pitchers positions.

  • #24. 2016 Chicago Cubs

    - ERA: 3.15
    - WHIP: 1.110
    - Record: 103 - 58
    - Strikeouts per nine: 8.9
    - Walks per nine: 3.1
    - Top starting pitchers: Kyle Hendricks (2.13 ERA, 16-8), Jon Lester (2.44 ERA, 19-5), Jake Arrieta (3.10 ERA, 18-8)
    - Closer: Hector Rondon (3.53 ERA, 18 saves, 2-3)

    The Chicago Cubs finished first in the National League Central in 2016 with a record of 103-58. Kyle Hendricks led the MLB in earned run average during the 2016 season with a 2.13 ERA.

  • #23. 1992 Atlanta Braves

    - ERA: 3.14
    - WHIP: 1.240
    - Record: 98 - 64
    - Strikeouts per nine: 5.8
    - Walks per nine: 3.0
    - Top starting pitchers: Pete Smith (2.05 ERA, 7-0), Mike Bielecki (2.57 ERA, 2-4), Tom Glavine (2.76 ERA, 20-8)
    - Closer: Alejandro Pena (4.07 ERA, 15 saves, 1-6)

    The Atlanta Braves lost the World Series 4-2 in 1992 to the Toronto Blue Jays, which was the first year a non-American team won the World Series. Tom Glavine won Pitcher of the Month in July of that season, played in the 1992 MLB All-Star League, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.

  • #22. 1993 Atlanta Braves

    - ERA: 3.14
    - WHIP: 1.221
    - Record: 104 - 58
    - Strikeouts per nine: 6.4
    - Walks per nine: 3.0
    - Top starting pitchers: Greg Maddux (2.36 ERA, 20-10), Steve Avery (2.94 ERA, 18-6), Tom Glavine (3.20 ERA, 22-6)
    - Closer: Mike Stanton (4.67 ERA, 27 saves, 4-6)

    Greg Maddux holds the record for most Golden Gloves awarded with 18 and is the only pitcher in MLB history to win at least 15 games for 17 straight seasons. The Atlanta Braves lost in the National League Championship Series 4-2 against the Philadelphia Phillies.

  • #21. 2002 Atlanta Braves

    - ERA: 3.13
    - WHIP: 1.265
    - Record: 101 - 59
    - Strikeouts per nine: 6.5
    - Walks per nine: 3.4
    - Top starting pitchers: Greg Maddux (2.62 ERA, 16-6), Tom Glavine (2.96 ERA, 18-11), Kevin Millwood (3.24 ERA, 18-8)
    - Closer: John Smoltz (3.25 ERA, 55 saves, 3-2)

    The Atlanta Braves lost in the National League Division series 3-2 to San Francisco Giants in 2002. Greg Maddux was awarded the Golden Glove award and John Smoltz was named the National League Relief Man of the Year for his performance leading the league with 55 saves.

  • #20. 1984 Pittsburgh Pirates

    - ERA: 3.11
    - WHIP: 1.256
    - Record: 75 - 87
    - Strikeouts per nine: 6.1
    - Walks per nine: 3.1
    - Top starting pitchers: Rick Rhoden (2.72 ERA, 14-9), John Candelaria (2.72 ERA, 12-11), Larry McWilliams (2.93 ERA, 12-11)
    - Closer: Kent Tekulve (2.66 ERA, 13 saves, 3-9)

    Rick Rhoden was both a professional golfer and a major league baseball pitcher. He played on numerous MLB teams during his 16-year career, and his most notable season was 1984 on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Although the team finished sixth in the National League East, the Pirates' pitching staff was very strong.

  • #19. 1985 New York Mets

    - ERA: 3.11
    - WHIP: 1.224
    - Record: 98 - 64
    - Strikeouts per nine: 6.3
    - Walks per nine: 3.1
    - Top starting pitchers: Dwight Gooden (1.53 ERA, 24-4), Sid Fernandez (2.80 ERA, 9-9), Ron Darling (2.90 ERA, 16-6)
    - Closer: Roger McDowell (2.83 ERA, 17 saves, 6-5)

    The New York Mets placed second in the National League East in 1985. Dwight Gooden had the second-lowest ERA in all of live-ball era baseball with a 1.53 ERA, earning him the major leagues' pitching Triple Crown.

  • #18. 1986 New York Mets

    - ERA: 3.11
    - WHIP: 1.222
    - Record: 108 - 54
    - Strikeouts per nine: 6.6
    - Walks per nine: 3.1
    - Top starting pitchers: Bob Ojeda (2.57 ERA, 18-5), Ron Darling (2.81 ERA, 15-6), Dwight Gooden (2.84 ERA, 17-6)
    - Closer: Roger McDowell (3.02 ERA, 22 saves, 14-9)

    The New York Mets finished first in the National League East with a record of 108-54. Bob Ojeda was one of the strongest pitchers on the team that year, with a 2.57 ERA. The New York Mets went on to win the World Series 4-3 over the Boston Red Sox.

  • #17. 2018 Houston Astros

    - ERA: 3.11
    - WHIP: 1.099
    - Record: 103 - 59
    - Strikeouts per nine: 10.4
    - Walks per nine: 2.7
    - Top starting pitchers: Justin Verlander (2.52 ERA, 16-9), Gerrit Cole (2.88 ERA, 15-5), Charlie Morton (3.13 ERA, 15-3)
    - Closer: Hector Rondon (3.20 ERA, 15 saves, 2-5)

    The Houston Astros in 2018 lost in the AL Championships to the Boston Red Sox 4-1. Their top pitcher, Justin Verlander, is a seven-time MLB All-Star and won the Pitching Triple Crown at the end of the 2011 season.

  • #16. 1983 Los Angeles Dodgers

    - ERA: 3.10
    - WHIP: 1.251
    - Record: 91 - 71
    - Strikeouts per nine: 6.1
    - Walks per nine: 3.0
    - Top starting pitchers: Bob Welch (2.65 ERA, 15-12), Alejandro Pena (2.75 ERA, 12-9), Jerry Reuss (2.94 ERA, 12-11)
    - Closer: Steve Howe (1.44 ERA, 18 saves, 4-7)

    The 1983 Los Angeles Dodgers team went 91-71 for the season and lost in the National League Championships series 3-1 to the Philadelphia Phillies. Alejandro Pena and Bob Welch both pitched over 30 games and 100 strikeouts during the 1983 season.

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