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Leaderboarding: Best pitchers by decade, with a slight twist

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

Pick your dates wisely and anyone can be the best pitcher in baseball.
Pick your dates wisely and anyone can be the best pitcher in baseball. (USATSI)

MORE: FA tracker: position players | FA tracker: pitchers

Long-time big league right-hander Jack Morris is on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot for the 15th and final time this year. He has certainly been one of the more polarizing Hall of Fame candidates during my lifetime, with staunch defenders and equally committed detractors. I, for one, will not miss the annual ruckus.

One of the most popular points made in defense of Morris' Hall of Fame candidacy is that he was the winningest pitcher of the 1980s, which is very true. His 162 wins from 1980-89 were 22 more than second place Dave Stieb and that's awesome. Tip of the cap to Morris. Being the best at anything during a ten-season span is worthy of praise.

Now, here's the thing: who cares about the 1980s? Saying anyone is the best anything of the 1980s is slaving to round numbers -- ultimately, it's an arbitrary 10-year span bookended by convenient starting and ending points. Ten years is 10 years, whether that period starts with 1980 or 1981 or 1987 really doesn't matter.

So, in our latest edition of leaderboarding, we're going to look at the best pitchers in baseball (both in terms of wins and WAR) during various 10-year samples. The twist is that we're going to start in the middle of the calendar decade, so instead of 1980-1989, we'll go from 1985-94. Why should the guys who had the more fortunate timing get all the props? Away we go:

2005-2013

Most Wins: CC Sabathia (151)
Highest WAR: Roy Halladay (44.5)
Most Innings: Sabathia (1,999 1/3)

1995-2004

Most Wins: Greg Maddux (174)
Highest WAR: Randy Johnson (71.9)
Most Innings: Maddux (2,270 1/3)

1985-1994

Most Wins: Roger Clemens (163)
Highest WAR: Clemens (69.7)
Most Innings: Clemens (2,260)

1975-1984

Most Wins: Steve Carlton (180)
Highest WAR: Phil Niekro (55.3)
Most Innings: Niekro (2,619)

1965-1974

Most Wins: Gaylord Perry (182)
Highest WAR: Bob Gibson (62.7)
Most Innings: Perry (2,978)

1955-1964

Most Wins: Warren Spahn (190)
Highest WAR: Don Drysdale (46.5)
Most Innings: Spahn (2,613)

1945-1954

Most Wins: Spahn (166)
Highest WAR: Spahn (54.6)
Most Innings: Spahn (2,417 1/3)

1935-1944

Most Wins: Bucky Walters (170)
Highest WAR: Lefty Grove (45.1)
Most Innings: Bobo Newsom (2,665 2/3)

1925-1934

Most Wins: Grove (203)
Highest WAR: Grove (64.9)
Most Innings: Grove (2,510 1/3)

1915-1924

Most Wins: Pete Alexander (204)
Highest WAR: Walter Johnson (72.6)
Most Innings: Johnson (2,875)

1905-1914

Most Wins: Christy Mathewson (264)
Highest WAR: Johnson (71.5)
Most Innings: Mathewson (3,139 2/3)

1895-1904

Most Wins: Cy Young (273)
Highest WAR: Cy Young (91.8)
Most Innings: Cy Young (3,665 2/3)

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