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Brantley's All-Time MLB Team Part 2: Starting Pitchers

For those just reading this series, welcome to the second edition of my All-Time MLB team! This time we're focusing on starting pitchers, and I'll provide the same explanation that was included in the first post that included position players.

This 3-part series is inspired by none other than Bill Simmons, who in his wonderful Book of Basketball described a great way to evaluate true all-time teams when talking about sports.

Let's say aliens invade and threaten to blow up the Earth, but they're going to play us in a 7 game baseball series to give us a chance to win back our planet.

They give us a time machine and tell us to go get whoever we want, to fill out a 25-man roster (because I like 25 more than 26 as a number) as we see fit, with a group of players from across eras.

Of course, not only would we have to pick the player, we'd also have to pick the specific season from which to pull him; a 2-pronged dilemma that focuses more on players at the peak of their talents as opposed to careers.

The more savvy amongst you might think "Wouldn't you just pick the best players from our current era and some steroid guys?" Yeah, if that scenario played out that would probably be our strategy.

But let's set aside the idea of human evolution meaning players today are far more talented than the players of the past and assume the aliens perform drug tests before this Universal Series, so to speak, begins.

Without any more of my needless and exhaustive babble, here are my choices for the starting pitching rotation.

Pedro Martinez, 1999

You could make the argument that this season was the best for any pitcher. Period. Full stop. End of story. Then you could turn around and say "Wait, but Pedro was arguably even better in 2000."

And you're not wrong. But Martinez had a 31 FIP- (where lower is better and it's the FIP metric measured against the league average, which is set at 100), lower than his 2000 total, and his 13.2 K/9 rate (or 33.1% K-BB ratio if you'd prefer that) was the highest of his career.

I must admit, I'm biased because Pedro is my favorite historical pitcher ever, but the reason that's the case is that he did all of these things while guys were juicing. Pedro continued to be that skinny little dude on the mound making everyone look foolish on a nightly basis.

He's our Game 1 starter.

Bob Gibson, 1968

We have to include the guy who caused rule changes because he was so dominant. Gibson in '68 may have benefitted from playing in a low run-scoring environment, and he may have been better according to his FIP- in '70, but you know why the run-scoring environment was so poor?

Because you had Bob freaking Gibson on the mound every fifth day for the St. Louis Cardinals, he directly contributed to the historic offensive scarcity, and I'm not going to simply dismiss his 1.12 ERA for the year because "Yeah, but offenses sucked that year."

I'm including Bob Gibson on this team. If you want to make an argument for his '70 season because of the aforementioned FIP- being a hair lower, go ahead. That's fine, I won't push back too hard.

But again. Let's not overthink this. 1.12 ERA.

Game 2, Bob Gibson is in.

Sandy Koufax, 1963

Koufax's greatness as one of the most talented pitchers to ever take the field is well-known, but it tends to be forgotten that '63 was not only a Cy Young year for Koufax (one of 3), but he also took home the MVP.

'63 was just his best, most well-rounded year for a multitude of reasons. He was able to limit his walks better than any other season while still maintaining a solid K-rate, and his 1.85 FIP was the lowest of his career.

Also, again, not that this should have an impact on our thought process, but he was dynamite in the World Series that year, submitting 2 amazing starts against a still-solid (but not quite their usual loaded) Yankee lineup.

Game 3, give me Mr. Koufax.

Shohei Ohtani, 2023

A current player? Not only a current player but a guy from just this past season?

You bet. Ohtani in the WBC this past year was some of the most entertaining baseball I think we'll ever see. Bringing him out of the bullpen, using him as a pinch-hitter/pinch-runner, I don't care.

We need him on the roster, and we'll slot him in as a starting pitcher because A) he's really good at that and could be more than capable if we needed to go to a 4-man rotation for the series (assuming the aliens took to the traditional format of World Series play with days off) and B) he's just the most fun athlete in the history of sport in my completely unbiased, baseball-crazed opinion.

I feel like Ohtani's performance is so fresh in our minds, let's not bother rehashing how amazing he was and just let this thing breathe for a second, void of statistics.

Give me Sho-Time, and let's get creative with his usage. Platoon him in the outfield? Super-sub pinch hitter? Middle innings guy? Cool. I love all of it.

Randy Johnson, 2001

There might be other starters who technically had better years than Johnson in '01, but leaving him off this rotation would be criminal, a crime against humanity of the highest degree.

He's 6'11, threw absolute filth, had a blazing fastball, and put it all together in '01 the height of the steroid era to the tune of a 2.13 FIP (47 FIP- for those that prefer that like myself, but I figured I'd switch it up) while submitting one of the greatest pitching performances in World Series history, leading Arizona to their first title.

He's a possible fireman-type reliever for if we get down in a big, series-deciding game and/or if one of the other starters struggles early in an outing.

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