Top Left-Handed Pitchers in Baseball History

Randy Johnson and Tom Glavine are the most recent southpaws to enter the Hall of Fame. But how do they measure in the history of the game? These are the top 10 left-handed pitchers to ever take the mound in a major league game.

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Lefty Grove

circa 1930: Portrait of American baseball player Robert 'Lefty' Grove (1900 - 1975), pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics, wearing his uniform and cap.
Photo File/Getty Images

One of the most underappreciated pitchers in baseball history. Others have more wins - Grove won his 300th game in his final start of a 17-year career - but in other areas, he was unparalleled. He led the American League in strikeouts seven consecutive years, victories four times and ERA nine times. If he had played in an era with the Cy Young Award, he would have won it as much as Roger Clemens. Grove did win the MVP award in 1931 when he went 31-4 with a 2.06 ERA and five saves to boot. He also has two World Series wins and went 4-2 with a 1.75 ERA in the postseason in his career.

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Warren Spahn

Warren Spahn
Warren Spahn #21 of the Milwaukee Braves pitches during an Major League Baseball game circa 1964. Spahn played for the Braves from 1942-64. Focus On Sport / Getty Images

Nobody was as good for as long as Spahn, who won 363 games, tops among lefties. He won 357 of them for the Boston/Milwaukee Braves from 1946-64. He pitched for 21 seasons and went 23-7 at age 42. He was a 14-time All-Star, had an astounding 382 complete games and career ERA of 3.09. He led the league in strikeouts four times, won four World Series games and had two career no-hitters.

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Randy Johnson

Randy Johnson
Randy Johnson #51 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Houston Astros during the game at AT&T Park on July 5, 2009 in San Francisco, California. Brad Mangin / Getty Images

Johnson became the sixth left-hander to win 300 games in 2009. Playing in an era in which hitting reigned supreme, the Big Unit (6-foot-10) was feared more than any in his era. He won 20 games three times, led the league in strikeouts nine times, won the Cy Young Award five times and is second on the all-time strikeouts list. He also was 3-0 in the World Series with a 1.04 ERA.

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Sandy Koufax

Sandy Koufax Pitching a No Hitter
(Original Caption) 9/9/1965-Los Angeles, CA: Sandy Koufax, who later claimed to have known all along he was pitching a no-hitter, shows the strain of a perfect game in this ninth inning action shot. Koufax's fast ball motion knocks the hat off his head as he follows through facing pinch-hitter Joe Amalfitano (the second out in the inning). Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

While Spahn, Grove and many of the others were greater for longer, no pitcher was better - ever - than Koufax was in the final six years of his career for the Dodgers. He went 129-47 and won three Cy Young Awards, leading the league in strikeouts four times. He whiffed 382 in 335 2/3 innings in 1966. He won three World Series rings with Los Angeles and went 4-3 with a 0.95 ERA in eight World Series appearances. He was a supernova, retiring at age 30 after the 1966 season with a left arm that was already out of gas.

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Whitey Ford

Whitey Ford
Whitey Ford #16 of the New York Yankees pitches during an Major League Baseball game circa 1963. Focus On Sport / Getty Images

On a team full of great players, sometimes Whitey Ford gets lost. But as one of the finest pitchers of the great 1950s-1960s Yankees teams. he stands on his own. Ford won one Cy Young Award - going 25-4 in 1961 - and collected 236 wins in 16 seasons. His career ERA of 2.75 is even better than Sandy Koufax - bet you'd win a bet with that. He was a consistent winner on some great teams and won 10 World Series games, which is the best of any player in the pre-divisional era (when there only was the World Series, no playoffs).

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Steve Carlton

Steve Carlton Pitching In Baseball Game
Philadelphia Phillies player Steve Carlton pitching against the New York Mets on April 5, 1983 with the crowd behind him. Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Carlton went 329-244 in 24 seasons, and not always for great teams. His Cy Young Award-winning season in 1972 - the first of four in his career - was astounding, as he won 27 games for a Philadelphia Phillies team that won 32 games all season when anyone else started. He hung on too long, but struck out 4,136 in his career, fourth all-time behind Nolan Ryan, Johnson, and Clemens, and won a World Series in 1980 with the Phillies.

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Carl Hubbell

Carl Hubbell Winding Up To Pitch 1936
(Original Caption) 9/10/1936-New York,NY- Here you see the star moundsman of the NY Giants in action. He is Carl Hubbell, from whom manager Bill Terry expects great things in the forthcoming world series with the NY Yankees. Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Hubbell is best remembered for striking out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in succession in the 1934 All-Star Game. But the New York Giants lefty was pretty good the rest of the time, too. In a Hall of Fame career, he went 253-154, with an ERA (2.98) better than Grove, Johnson, Spahn, ​and Carlton. He won more than 20 games every season from 1933-37 and was named MVP in 1933 and 1936, but fizzled out in the final six years of his career.

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Tom Glavine

Tom Glavine of the New York Mets pitching
Tom Glavine of the New York Mets pitching during regular season MLB game against Baltimore Orioles, played at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York on Sunday, June 18, 2006. The Mets defeated the Orioles 9-4 during interleague play. Bryan Yablonsky / Getty Images

With 305 victories after being cut by the Atlanta Braves in 2009, he might be the last left-hander with 300 wins for a long time. He won 20 or more games five times, had two Cy Young Awards and compiled a solid career ERA of 3.54.

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Eddie Plank

Eddie Plank 1914
Eddie Plank, starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics, warms up in Shibe Park before game two of the 1914 World Series vs. the Boston Braves on October 10. Transcendental Graphics / Getty Images

The best lefty of the dead-ball era, he won 20 games eight times and had 326 wins in 17 seasons for the Philadelphia A's. The only person with more wins on this list is Warren Spahn. He won four pennants with the A's, part of a great pitching staff that included Chief Bender and Rube Waddell.

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Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth Pitching
(Original Caption) New York: Babe Ruth Pitching: The 'Sultan Of Swat' Pitches Winning Game. Babe Ruth, baseball's 'Big Bam' in action as he pitched the New York Yankees to victory over the Boston Red Sox in the closing game of the baseball season. Ruth pitched the full nine inning game, holding the Sox hitless until the sixth inning. His homer in the fifth inning helped the Yankees win. The score was 6 to 3. Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

This might be a controversial pick, as he won just 94 games on the mound. But, like Koufax, no left-hander was better in a short period - he was 1915-18 before he became the greatest power hitter in baseball history. He went 23-12 with a 1.75 ERA in 1916 at age 21 for the Boston Red Sox, and finished his pitching career with a 94-46 record and a 2.28 ERA, the best on this list. He even pitched a complete game win for the Yankees at age 38 in 1933.