With many teams having pitchers and catchers beginning to report for spring training all the talk has been the Philadelphia Phillies and their possible new “greatest” pitching rotation of All-Time. Will it be the greatest, I don’t know but with multiple Cy Young awards under their belt ( 3 total ) it surely has the possibilities. Now I am only 30 years old, so in my lifetime the best pitching rotation I have ever seen assembled is that of the Atlanta Braves mid to late 90s. A rotation that included itself multiple Cy Young winners ( 7 total ). So for fun I thought I would compare these to dream team rotations and see who I thought was truly the best. Now since I am using one year for the Phillies I figured I would pick a specific year in the 90s of the Braves. Picking just one was tough. Do I go with the 1991, 1992, or 1996 staffs that each went to the World Series but lost? Do I chose the 1995 team that won their only World Series? None of the above for me. I am going with the 1993 team. That staff won 104 games ( second highest in the 90’s ) and included its best players in their primes. Ironic thing is the 1993 Braves would go on to be upset by the Phillies in the NLCS. So here we go…
Greg Maddux vs Roy Halladay
Greg Maddux was responsible for four of the Braves seven Cy Young awards and in my opinion the best pitcher of the decade. At age 27 in ’93 Maddux went 20-10 as the Braves number one starter and had a very impressive 2.36 ERA which would be his first in the line of three straight seasons leading the majors in ERA ( four in six seasons ).
Roy Halladay collected his second Cy Young last season while leading the majors in wins ( 21 ), his second time doing so. At the age of 33 his resume is not as impressive as Maddux but then again who is but Halladay has arguably been the best pitcher in baseball over the last 4-5 years ( not just saying that cause most of career spent with my favorite team the Toronto Blue Jays ).
Winner: Greg Maddux
Tom Glavine vs Cliff Lee
Glavine won a career best 22 wins in 1993, one of four season that he won 20 or more games in the decade. Finishing 3rd to teammate Greg Maddux in the Cy Young voting. Tom would contribute 2 Cy Young awards to this great Braves staff ( 91 and 98 ). Glavines 3.20 ERA in ’93 would be a career high for most but for a pitcher the level of Glavine it was an off-year since it was the second highest ERA he would record for a season from 1991 – 1998.
Lee is a hard one here. He was not with the Phillies last year but i in his second stint with them. Cliff spent several years the best pitcher on bad Indians teams and went from Cleveland to Philadelphia to Seattle to Texas just to return now to the Phillies. That being said his numbers are some what hard to judge. He went a combined 14-13 in 2009 and just 12-9 last year. In 2008, his last full season with just one team. Lee was a very dominate 22-3 with a league leading 2.54 ERA and despite his less than stellar win loss records the last two season he would have an ERA of 3.22 in 2009 and 3.18 in 2010.
Winner: Tom Glavine
John Smoltz vs Roy Oswalt
Smotlz won one Cy Young in 1996 with a league leading 24 wins and 2.94 ERA. Double digit losses from 1989 – 1994 puts a damper on Smoltz’s argument though, including a 15-11 mark in 1993.
Oswalt spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Houston Astros. Winning 20 games twice, including a league high 20 in 2004 and 20 again in 2005 while help leading Houston to the World Series. He went just 13-13 last season overall but 7-1 after coming to Philadelphia.
Winner: Roy Oswalt
Steve Avery vs Cole Hamels
Avery would win 18 games in 1993, tieing his career his with 18 wins in 1991. He would go the remainder of his career( 94-99, short stint in 2003 ) only winning more than 10 games once, while having a losing record for three straight seasons.
Cole has still a possible long way to go in his career but in his short time in the majors ( 5 seasons ) has won 60 games with a career high 15 wins in 2007 and World Series MVP in 2008.
Winner: Cole Hamels
Now the difference in the game between 1993 and 2011 is huge but that didn’t factor in my decision. How dominating you are in your generation speaks for itself. While I came up with a tie, the 1993 Braves four starters went 105-57 that season so I guess the 2011 Phillies at least know where the bar is set.