The Best Lefthanded Batters and Lefthanded Pitchers in Baseball
Whitey Ford, Sandy Koufax and Steve Carlton were a step above the rest in their era,
but there were many other lefthanded pitchers among the best of their time.
Mike McCormick pitched 16 years (1956-1971), 11 with San Francisco and the rest with 4 other teams. He won the NL Cy Young award in 1967 with 22 wins, 10 losses, and a 2.85 era, but no more than 15 wins any other season.
Jim Kaat pitched 25 years (1961-1983), 15 with the Minnesota Twins. He won 283 games (31st all time), with 625 starts (17th all time) and 4530 innings (25th all time) and was 1966 AL Pitcher of the Year. He was a great fielder who won the Gold Glove award 16 consecutive years. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2022.
Tommy John is most famous for having an elbow surgery named after him, but that surgery helped him pitch 26 years (1963-1989) with 6 different teams. He won 288 games (26th all time) with 4710 inning (20th all time) over 700 starts (8th all time) and 46 shutouts (also 26th all time).
Wilbur Wood pitched 17 years (1961-1978) 12 with the Chicago White Sox. He finished with 163 wins and 148 losses and 3.18 era. Wood won 20 games or more 4 years in a row, part of a 5 year run where he started 224 games, pitched 1680 innings, and won 106 games. He was a relief pitcher with 57 saves in the years prior to this great run.
Mickey Lolich pitched 16 years (1963-1979), mostly with the Detroit Tigers. He pitched over 300 innings in four straight years, and had 195 complete games among 496 starts. He finished with 2832 strikeouts (18th all-time). Lolich was the hero of the 1968 World Series, leading the Tigers to victory with three complete game victories.
Mike Cuellar pitched 15 years (1964-1977) 8 with Baltimore, 4 with Houston, and 3 with 3 other teams. He won the AL Cy Young award in 1969, with 23 wins, 11 losses, and a 2.38 era and followed that by winning 24 games in 1970. He won 125 games over 6 season from 1969 to 1974, and finished with 185 wins, 130 losses and a 3.14 era.
Vida Blue pitched 17 years (1969-1986) mostly with Oakland and San Francisco. He won the AL CY Young with Oakland in 1971 with 24 wins, 8 losses, and a 1.82 ERA, and 301 strikeouts in 312 innings. He won 20 games in 2 other seasons, and finished with 209 wins, 161 losses, and a 3.27 ERA.
Randy Jones pitched 10 years (1973-1982) most with the San Diego Padres. He won the NL Cy Young award in 1976 with 22 wins, 14 losses, and a 2.74 era, which followed his 1975 season of 20 wins, 12 losses and a 2.24 era. Unfortunately he never had another winning season and finished with 100 wins, 123 losses, and a 3.42 era.
Mike Flanagan pitched 18 years (1975-1992), 15 with Baltimore and 4 with Toronto. He won the AL Cy Young in 1979 with 23 wins, and 9 losses. He finished with 167 wins, 143 losses, and a 3.90 ERA.
Frank Tanana pitched 21 years (1973-1993), with 8 different teams. He won 240 games (56th all-time), but lost 236. He had 616 starts (18th all time), 4188 innings (35th all time), and 2773 strikeouts (21st all time).
Fernando Valenzuela pitched 17 years (1980-1997), the first 11 with the Dodgers, and then with 5 other teams. He won the NL Cy Young and Rookie of the Year in 1981 with only 13 wins and 7 losses, but with 8 shutouts and a 2.48 era. He made the NL all-star team 6 years in a row, and he finished with 173 wins and 153 losses and a 3.54 era.
Frank Viola pitched 15 years (from 1982 to 1996) the first 8 with Minnesota. He won the AL Cy Young award in 1988 with 24 wins, 7 losses, and a 2.64 earned run average, and won 20 games for the New York Mets in 1990. He finished with 176 wins, 150 losses, and a 3.73 ERA.
Starting Pitchers - (played mostly from 1960 to 1990).