As the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep the sports world in a state of slumber, theScore is looking back and remembering greatness from Major League Baseball's recent history. Today, we're breaking down the 10 best seasons from pitchers during the last decade. Check out our list of the 10 best seasons by a position player.
In the interest of diversity, Kershaw makes only a couple of appearances on this list. The three-time Cy Young winner's 2016 campaign is merely his fifth-best by FanGraphs WAR - he didn't even qualify for the ERA title, which was won by Kyle Hendricks' 2.13 mark.
But, simply put, it's one of the most remarkable seasons ever put together by a starter. The eight-time All-Star walked just 11 batters over 149 innings, striking out more than 15 per free pass. The only other pitcher to throw at least 140 innings and post a better K/BB is Candy Cummings, who did it in the National Association in 1875.
Fernandez's 2016 season ranks just 29th by FanGraphs WAR in the last 10 years. However, this is a campaign we'll remember forever.
The right-hander struck out 12.49 batters per nine innings, which, at the time, had been managed in only four other full seasons: twice by Randy Johnson (2000, 2001), and once by Pedro Martinez (1999) and Kerry Wood (1998).
Fernandez died just before the end of this season, and there's no question he should have earned far more posthumous Cy Young consideration for his incredible performance.
Britton's 2016 stat line is almost unfathomable.
By ERA, it's the single greatest season ever pitched by a reliever. Merely 13 qualified relievers ever have had an ERA under 1.00, and Britton is the only one under 0.60. The left-hander allowed just four earned runs all year. To help put that into context, 2019 American League Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander allowed four or more earned runs in seven separate starts last year.
Kluber's second Cy Young-winning season has easily been the most dominant of his career. His brilliance in 2017 went beyond his absurd 222 ERA+, career-high 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings, or 7.36 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
In an era defined by abbreviated starts and bullpen superiority, Kluber authored five complete games and three shutouts across a 200-plus-inning campaign. No pitcher has thrown more than three complete games or two shutouts in a season since.
This season was one of the most difficult ones for National League Cy Young voters. Between Greinke, Kershaw, and Jake Arrieta (who won), the electorate couldn't really go wrong.
If they had a do-over, though, more voters may have lobbied for the runner-up. Greinke's 1.66 ERA was the lowest among starters with at least 200 innings since Greg Maddux in 1995.
The greatest strikeout artist of his era, Scherzer finally joined the 300-K club in 2018 while also leading NL pitchers in K/9, WHIP, K/BB, and innings pitched, among other categories.
He was the NL strikeout leader for the third straight year and punched out over 230 batters for a seventh consecutive season. This was Scherzer at his finest, and if not for another pitcher on this list, he would have easily walked away with his third straight - and fourth career - Cy Young.
Halladay's Cy Young-winning year of 2010 - which featured a perfect game and postseason no-hitter - garners more attention, but "Doc" was better in 2011.
He posted a lower ERA and FIP than in 2010 while leading the league in the latter and ERA+. Halladay recorded a career-high 8.5 strikeouts per nine to go along with his NL-low 1.3 walks per nine. Perhaps most impressively, he limited the long ball - just 10 home runs allowed for a 5.1% home run-flyball rate - despite calling cozy Citizens Bank Park home. By WAR, this was the second-best season of the decade.
Verlander established himself as a superstar in 2011 with an award-winning season for the ages. He won the AL pitching Triple Crown and led both leagues in two of the three categories - his 24 wins are tied for the most by a pitcher this century. Verlander also led the majors in innings, WHIP, and ERA+, and he tossed his second career no-hitter.
In addition to his unanimous AL Cy Young win, he was named AL MVP in a close vote, making him the first starting pitcher to earn the honor in 25 years. Verlander is one of only two pitchers in history to win Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP during his career.
The single greatest season by WAR over the past decade belongs to deGrom.
Since 1969 (the year MLB lowered the mound), only three qualified pitchers have posted both a sub-2.00 ERA and FIP: fellow Mets legend Tom Seaver in 1971, Kershaw in 2014, and deGrom in 2018.
He also probably should have gotten more than one NL MVP vote. Christian Yelich - with 7.6 WAR - got the other 29 to win the award.
Kershaw's 2014 is both an easy choice for the best of the decade and on the shortlist of the greatest pitching seasons ever.
He led the majors in virtually every major category, missing the Triple Crown by just three strikeouts. His 1.77 ERA - his record fourth consecutive ERA title - was the lowest since Bob Gibson's in 1968, while his 0.86 WHIP was the third-lowest in the divisional era.
Kershaw threw a no-hitter in June that was a throwing error away from perfection, spun a 41-inning scoreless streak, and went unbeaten in three separate months. He ran away with both the NL Cy Young and MVP awards, becoming the first NL pitcher to win the latter since Gibson.