The following is a list of the ten pitchers with the highest win percentages in major league baseball history. To make this list, a pitcher had to have at least 1,000 innings pitched in the major leagues and pitched after 1880.
Al Spalding, who went on to co-found Spalding Sporting Goods, compiled a record of 252-65 (.795) from 1871 to 1877. Spalding has the highest win percentage in baseball history, but the rules in baseball were a lot different in the 1870s and I’m not including him on this list.
As a baseball fan, I love this list because a number of New York Yankees pitchers are on it and the Yankees are my favorite team. Every New York Yankees pitcher on this list won multiple World Series titles with the Yankees.
Ten Pitchers with the Highest Win Percentages in Major League Baseball History
1. Spud Chandler – .717
Right handed pitcher Spud Chandler of the New York Yankees compiled a record of 109-43 from 1937 to 1947. Spud Chandler’s win percentage of .717 is the highest in major league baseball history (after the 1870s).
In 1943, Spud Chandler had a record of 20-4 (.833), and he was named the American League MVP. Spud Chandler, who did not make his major league debut until he was 29, never had a losing record in his career. Chandler would likely be in the Baseball Hall of Fame had his major league baseball career began when he was a younger man.
T-2. Whitey Ford – .690
New York Yankees lefty pitcher Whitey Ford has the second highest win percentage of all-time at .690. Whitey Ford had a record of 236-106 for the Yankees from 1950 to 1967.
Whitey Ford’s best season was in 1961, when he went 25-4 and won the Cy Young Award. Whitey Ford also went 2-0 in the 1961 World Series, which the Yankees won over the Cincinnati Reds. Whitey Ford won the World Series six times with the Yankees.
T-2. Dave Foutz – .690
Right handed pitcher Dave Foutz compiled a 147-66 (.690) record in the major leagues from 1884 to 1894. His win percentage is tied with Whitey Ford for the second best in major league baseball history.
Dave Foutz had an advantage as a pitcher because he was such a good hitter that he would play first base or the outfield when he was not pitching.
4. Bob Caruthers – .688
Right handed pitcher Bob Caruthers had a record of 218-99 (.688) pitching from 1884 to 1892. Caruthers won 40 games in both 1885 and 1889.
5. Pedro Martinez – .687
Right handed pitcher Pedro Martinez compiled a 219-100 record in the major league from 1992 to 2009, for a win percentage of .687. Pedro Martinez won the Cy Young Award three times in his career (1997, 1999, and 2000), and his best season was in 1999 when he went 23-4 for the Boston Red Sox.
6. Don Gullett – .686
Lefty Don Gullett had a record of 109-50 (.686) while pitching in the major leagues from 1970 to 1978. Don Gullett never won 20 games in a season, but he did win four consecutive World Series titles. Two with the Cincinnati Reds in 1975 and 1976, and two with the New York Yankees in 1977 and 1978.
7. Lefty Grove. – 680
The appropriately named Lefty Grove compiled a 300-141 (.680) record while pitching in the major leagues from 1925 to 1941. Lefty Grove had many great years pitching in the majors, but his best season came in 1931 when he went 31-4 for the Philadelphia A’s, and was named American League MVP.
8. James Jay Hughes – .675
In only four seasons in the major leagues in the late 1800s and early 1900s, right handed pitcher James Jay Hughes had a record of 83-40 for a win percentage of .675. Hughes best season was easily 1899, when he went 28-6 for the Brooklyn Superbas.
Hughes only pitched for four years in the majors because he was from California and he did not like the East and there were no West Coast teams in the majors during his time. He pitched for a few years in the Pacific Coast League after he left the majors.
9. Smoky Joe Wood – .672
Right handed pitcher Smoky Joe Wood had a record of 117-57 (.672) in the major leagues. Smoky Joe Wood’s best season was easily in 1912, when he went 34-5 for the Boston Red Sox. Wood also led the Red Sox to the World Series championship in 1912, going 3-1 in four games as the Red Sox beat the New York Giants in seven games.
10. Babe Ruth – .671
In addition to being the greatest hitter in baseball history, lefty Babe Ruth was also a tremendous pitcher who compiled a 94-46 record (.671) in his career. Most of Babe Ruth’s wins and losses as a pitcher were with the Boston Red Sox, but he did go 5-0 as a pitcher with the New York Yankees.
Babe Ruth was also a tremendous World Series pitcher. He went 3-0 with a .87 ERA pitching in three World Series games and leading the Red Sox to World Series titles in 1916 and 1918.