Discussion: How Many Aces In MLB?

A week ago I kicked off a discussion among MLBTR writers about how many true ace starting pitchers there are in baseball.  I was surprised to find that my own off-the-cuff list totaled 18, with another eight falling into my "borderline" group.  My list of aces, in no particular order:

Adam Wainwright
Roy Halladay
Cole Hamels
Roy Oswalt
Cliff Lee
C.C. Sabathia
Dan Haren
Jered Weaver
Josh Johnson
Justin Verlander
Felix Hernandez
Jon Lester
David Price
Tim Lincecum
Chris Carpenter
Clayton Kershaw
Matt Cain
Tommy Hanson

My borderline group:

John Danks
Yovani Gallardo
Brett Anderson
Ricky Romero
Zack Greinke
Ubaldo Jimenez
Francisco Liriano
Trevor Cahill

I didn't crunch any numbers here – just good old-fashioned gut feelings.  But could there really be almost 20 ace starters in MLB?  Let's see your list in the comments.


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347 Responses to Discussion: How Many Aces In MLB? Leave a Reply

  1. Cole Hamels is NO Ace

    • how is he not?

      • 2-9 in his career against the Mets of all teams

        • Encarnacion's Parrot 4 years ago

          I tried to pretend that W-L records meant anything for the sake of your comment, but the risk of turning into a pumpkin was too overwhelming.

        • And 61-37 against all other teams…

          Cole has dominated the Reds, though…6-0, 1.07 ERA, 42 K, 18 BB

          And that’s not even including his complete game shutout, 9 K, 0 BB performance against them in the NLDS last year.

      • Encarnacion's Parrot 4 years ago

        Because he simply hasn’t pitched as well as his ERA would indicate. He’s a very good pitcher, but an ace he is not (yet).

    • vinnieg 4 years ago

      Not a shot. Tim, you have too many aces. Yes the guys you listed are great pitchers. But Aces are guys who will end a 4 game loosing streak. Guys who when your bullpen is aching you know will go 7+. Aces are guys that will stop a hot team. In my humble opinion here are the 8 aces.

      Halladay, Lee, CC, Felix, Lester, Lincecum, Wainwright, Josh Johnson with Weaver lurking in. I think the next one to take it to the next level is Kershaw. I really hate to not put Johan Santana in this list.

      • JTT11 4 years ago

        I agree with your notion that his list was entirely too large and i agree with your definition of what an ace should be. For me, its Halladay, Lee, CC, Verlander, Felix and Carpenter. (i know im going to catch some flack for carpenter, but if you have ever seen him pitch, he is a fighter. You just dont worry when he is out there.)

        The next group – Young Aces or Aces in training. These are very fine pitchers, really the tops, but havent been around for 3-4 plus years of Ace-dom or to the point where i dont worry if the other team may match up good with him. They are Lincecum, Johnson, Wainwright, Grienke, Kershaw, and Weaver. Each of those seem like they need one more year of putting for evidence of ace-dom.

        Then Price and Lester. Not sure where they fall in yet.

        Then you have your Very good 2s and excellent 3’s – Haren, Hamels, Ubal (though he may move up) Cahill, and the rest.

        Loriano – I wouldnt trust with my lunch money, let alone the ball in a big game.

    • MannyBeingMVP 4 years ago

      Cole Hamels is a very good pitcher, but he is no ace. I know that Johan Santana is injured, but I would have put him on the list with an asterick.

    • Amazing that the first comment on this post was that Cole Hamels (former NLCS and World Series MVP) is no Ace…but not that Tommy Hanson (former top prospect who hasn’t done much of anything in the Majors) is no ace…

    • ludafish 4 years ago

      yeah a couple of these guys are low. Hanson? Cain? Great pitchers but they havent done things too impressive for too long. Hanson had one decent season, and he’s an ace? Hamels had like one good season…

    • Look at his numbers. He’s virtually the same pitcher as John Lester. Except for the win-loss record which frankly doesn’t mean a thing anymore. Very few would argue that Lester isn’t an ace, so why wouldn’t Hamels be one too?

      • Encarnacion's Parrot 4 years ago

        In the last couple seasons Lester has put up a 3.20 and 2.99 SIERA. Hamels has a 3.55 and 3.19 SIERA. In the same time, Lester has a 3.15 and 3.13 FIP with Hamels having 3.72 and 3.67.

        It’s pretty evident that Lester is a better pitcher, and more consistant. Hamels is at best a fringe ace, but a No. 2 seems more appropriate.

  2. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    Grienke in borderline?

    • Yeah, I don’t know how he’s borderline and David Price, Matt Cain, and Cole Hamels are aces.
      Greinke sandwiched one of the best seasons of the past 10 years between 2 very solid seasons (~5 WAR both of those years).
      Basically, Greinke’s last 3 seasons are arguably better than any of the above 3’s best seasons…

      • Again, not cranking up WAR to make the list.

        • Even without WAR, though, it seems obvious that Greinke’s historic 2009 combined with the very solid seasons surrounding it make him better than the guys Austen said.

          • Greinke = never done anything outside of one great 2009 season on a bottom-feeder team.

            Cain & Hamels = Aces on their respective teams at one point who were key if not main reasons why their team won a title.

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            how is what team a pitcher is on lower their value? That makes no sense

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            “Greinke = never done anything outside of one great 2009 season on a bottom-feeder team.”

            except average better than 5 WAR per year in 2008 and 2010, something only about half of the names on tim’s list have been able to do. neither cain nor hamels have produced 5 WAR in one season, let alone averaged more than that over 2-3

          • I could have a WAR above 5 if I was on the Royals, that can’t be a serious argument can it?

          • WAR is normalized across all players on all teams. Not just the team the player is currently on.

  3. TheHotCorner 4 years ago

    Good list. I could see sliding Brett Anderson up into the top group. I know it is all gut feeling – my gut tells me he is going to be good.

  4. I would move Dan Haren to the “borderline” group, but only because of how ace-like Weaver is pitching this season

    • That brings up a question Nick Collias asked: should there only be one ace per staff? Do bad rotations still have an ace?

      • That’s a great question, I guess you could look at it either way. I “feel” like there should be only one, but looking at a rotation like the Phillies, it makes it hard to do that.

      • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

        Teams can definetely have more than one Ace.. just because a rotation is good a player who has done enough to be considered an elite pitcher shouldn’t lose it because he decided to join a team with Roy Halladay on it.

        bad staffs do not have an ace by default.

        • I think this is a good way of putting it. A bad staff definitely shouldn’t have an “ace” by default, they should have someone with dominating numbers but happen to be surrounded by mediocre lineups. (See: King Felix)

      • I’ve always looked at it this way. Every team as an “ACE” being their #1 starter. Such as Bronson Arroyo the Reds’ Ace in my mind.

        However, I also believe the league only has a small number of “True Aces” which are the CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay etc. So yeah, in this sense, a team could have multiple “True Aces.” In the way I say True Aces, I mean that they could come in and be the #1 on just about any team.

        I have to agree also with a couple posts up. Cole Hamels, while a great pitcher, is more of a #2 or #3 in a lot of teams…he could be the ACE of many other teams though. Zack Grienki I would have to say if he’s not a True Ace, he’s as close as you can get to being one without actually being one.

        • MannyBeingMVP 4 years ago

          Who is an ace, Cliff Lee or Tim Stauffer? Cliff Lee clearly is inferior to at least one pitcher on his team, Halladay. Stauffer was an opening day starter and with Latos having issues this season, Stauffer is the best starting pitcher on the Padres. But, obviously, Lee is an ace, and Stauffer is a pleasant surprise who would be a fifth starter on the Phillies.

          • Stauffer could be designated the “ace” of San Diego’s staff, but not necessarily an “ace” when compared to the staffs around MLB.

          • Dylan 4 years ago

            Dustin Mosely?

          • RobMor 4 years ago

            Yup, Just like Guthrie is the Baltimore Orioles Ace. I like this term because every team should have a pitcher they look to in order to stop a losing streak. Guthrie fits that perfectly but in the grand scheme of things, clearly isn’t an “ace”.

      • In a fair and just world.. there should only be one ace per staff but the world simply doesn’t work that way. Some teams have better farms/funds or both and are capable of putting together a team that clearly has more than one standout pitcher.

      • If we use actual definitions of words rather than coming up with our own random criteria for a word, there is absolutely only one ace per pitching staff (although the ace doesn’t have to be a starter…just the best pitcher).

        So, yes, there are 30 aces, although people are free to debate which pitcher on which team is the ace.

        I would rant on this further, but it’s pointless because people are morons and decide to make up their own rules and regulations regarding their interpretation of a word with a definition that leaves no room for interpretation.

        -C

        • Out of curiosity, what document defines the word “ace” (as it pertains to baseball) suitably such that only morons would oppose it?

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            apparently anything that doesn’t coincide with his personal definition

          • Not my definition. I have no desire to redefine a word and confuse others when the term’s current definition works just fine.

            -C

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            you have no clue what the current definition is, thats the problem. you’re going off of what some guy at websters wrote down what he thinks. .

            I just looked up dirtbag and scrappy on websters, do you think David Eckstein showed up?

          • Depends on your definition of showed up…scrappy means “having an aggressive and determined spirit,” which you could certainly say is a quality Eckstein possessed. So, yes, he showed up.

            I don’t think Webster’s has caught on to dirtbag yet, but feel free to submit it. That would be a proper submission, as the goal would be to clarify and expand upon the definition, as opposed to confuse to the point that no one knows exactly what you mean when you use the word, as in the case of ace.

            -C

          • The definition of the word ace, in baseball terms, strictly means a team’s best pitcher. It’s in the dictionary as such.

            -C

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            “the” dictionary lol

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            Apparently he has the dictionary of baseball jargin .

        • MannyBeingMVP 4 years ago

          So Heath Bell or Mike Adams is the one ace for the Padres? Cliff Lee was an ace until he changes teams and then he is no longer an ace?

          • no mat latos is the ace. but i agree with your point.

          • MannyBeingMVP 4 years ago

            FYI:

            Latos in 2011: record 0-4 era 4.98 whip 1.338
            Adams in 2011: record 0-0 era 0.64 whip 0.214

      • “Ace of this staff…” is a phrase used often which implies that every staff has to have an ace, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the pitcher is of “ace-caliber.”

        In other words, baseball is screwy and difficult to explain.

      • jb226 4 years ago

        I think it depends on context.

        When we hear ace, we typically hear it in a context like “ace of the staff.” In that case, there’s only one such pitcher on a given staff and even bad rotations have one.

        If we’re talking about an ace quality pitcher, ie, one who could be the best starter on the vast majority of teams regardless of how we shook up all the starting pitchers around the league, then there can be multiple per team and bad rotations don’t necessary have one (but might). It also implies a hard limit of 30 of them, but not necessarily that there IS 30 of them (if you’re an ace by default, you’re not really ace-quality). It doesn’t matter how those 30 shake out (five per team on six teams? one each on every team?) but logically I don’t think one can define ace as “can be the best pitcher on a team” and have more of those than there are teams.

        In context of this article, I’d say we’re talking about ace quality pitchers.

        Looking at your list of pitchers, I’d make these adjustments:

        Aces

        Adam Wainwright
        Roy Halladay
        Roy Oswalt
        Cliff Lee
        C.C. Sabathia
        Dan Haren
        Jered Weaver
        Josh Johnson
        Justin Verlander
        Felix Hernandez
        Jon Lester
        David Price
        Tim Lincecum
        Chris Carpenter
        Zack Greinke

        Borderline

        Clayton Kershaw
        Cole Hamels
        Ubaldo Jimenez
        Yovani Gallardo
        Matt Cain

        I can see the arguments for Cain and Gallardo, but while they are both exceptionally good pitchers I’m not sure I go running off to acquire them to front my staff in some hypothetical fantasy draft. From my non-scientific observations, and without running out for stats, Gallardo tends to be really strong or really bad, and while he’s strong more than bad I have to call him borderline. Cain is exceptionally solid, but I’m not sure he brings that “oh hell yeah, we’re going to win this game” belief that aces tend to have no matter how hard the team is struggling. Kershaw has the potential to be an ace because of his dominating stuff, but his contributions to the staff in his career (with a tendency toward short starts) leaves him shy for me. Jimenez had an amazing season last year. If he repeats that kind of dominance I’d probably move him up, but at least right now he’s struggling.

        Some of the others you have mentioned have the potential to be aces, but I’m not willing to give it to them yet because I don’t believe they have demonstrated the consistent level of success required of aces. I tend to be tough with things like that; I didn’t believe Carpenter was a Cy Young-caliber pitcher even after he won it because it came so far out of nowhere for me. Now, obviously, I do. So there’s definite potential with some of the young guys, but I’m not going to call them aces yet.

  5. Avi Miller 4 years ago

    Mine is more limited in terms of who is a true ace, more borderline guys for me. And only includes one extra (Guthrie):

    Adam Wainwright
    Roy Halladay
    Roy Oswalt
    Cliff Lee
    C.C. Sabathia
    Jered Weaver
    Josh Johnson
    Justin Verlander
    Felix Hernandez
    David Price
    Tim Lincecum
    Clayton Kershaw

    My borderline group:

    Yovani Gallardo
    Brett Anderson
    Zack Greinke
    Ubaldo Jimenez
    Francisco Liriano
    Trevor Cahill
    Matt Cain
    Jeremy Guthrie
    Chris Carpenter
    Jon Lester

    • I’d be curious to see why you’ve included Jeremy Guthrie. While he’s pitching better this year, previously he’s never been anything more than a league average guy, a 4 or 5 on a good staff.

      • Avi Miller 4 years ago

        More based off of his recent numbers and ability to lead the [mediocre] Orioles staff. He’s the most “on the bubble out of any of them, though.

    • 0bsessions 4 years ago

      Wait, so you consider David Price and his one good year a more solid ace candidate than Jon Lester, who’s been one of the top two or three lefties (He’s had the second best xFIP and third best FIP and WAR of any lefty, right behind Lee and Sabathia, third best ERA too if you limit it to 150+IP in that period) in the MLB the last three years running? Almost as ridiculous as your inclusion of Guthrie and his career 4.68 FIP.

      Lester is undoutably an ace and probably one of the ten best pitchers in the MLB overall right now.

      • sherrilltradedooverexperience 4 years ago

        I think Avi is letting the team’s record factor into his decision a little bit. Red Sox as a team are struggling and have a <.500 record.

        • RedSoxDynasty 4 years ago

          That should have nothing to do with this discussion and Lester is off to a great start. Easily a top 10 pitcher and only CC can be argued as a better lefty? And you lose even more credibilty with the inclusion if Guthrie who is a 3-4 starter at best!

        • 0bsessions 4 years ago

          I hope not, because that would be a really stupid thing to do, especially considering he has King Felix on there and the Mariners have just as bad of a record.

    • Jeffrey 4 years ago

      I’m not sure how Kershaw can make your list over Lester. Can you defend? Yes, he’s young and arguably more potential than Lester, but in terms of today’s skills, there’s not many that would consider him a better pitcher, or more than an ace. I would think that either both deserve to be on there at the very least. I don’t have Kershaw on my short list.

      • Avi Miller 4 years ago

        I took Tim’s description of who an ace is to not be specifically about stats, but to also include reputation and the team’s current situation. In that case, I don’t think of Lester as an ace, but more just as a top left handed pitcher in the game. That’s all. No disrespect to him. It’s just the reputation I think of behind his name. When I think Red Sox, I think of a combination of Beckett, Lester, and Lackey that head off a staff. Lester is the best of the 3, but I don’t look at him on his own as an ace, like I do Price at this point.

        • 0bsessions 4 years ago

          By that definition (Which is about the weakest rationale you could’ve given this side of “win percentage,” I would’ve called “I don’t like his face” a better rationale), you’d have to knock Halladay, Lee and Oswalt off of your list. I mean, sure, they’re among the top pitchers in the game, but they cancel each other out. Your rationale is terrible.

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            lol

            I dont like his face rationale.. classic

    • NathanielS 4 years ago

      No Dan Haren invalidates your list.

    • Bluduke28 4 years ago

      You added Guthrie and fully got rid of Haren? Lol good one.

      Oh, and Greinke and Lester are bona fide aces. Those dudes are phenomenal. Better than Price at the very least.

    • sportsnut969 4 years ago

      LOL if Guthrie is a Ace then so is Fausto Carmona ROTF

    • lol Jeremy Guthrie is borderline but Cole Hamels is no where to be found? If I didn’t have a 15 page paper to write tonight, I’d ask for some of what you’re smoking.

  6. I stopped reading after Matt Cain…Terrible just plain terrible

    • stl_cards16 4 years ago

      That was my first thought with Cain, but what he did in the playoffs last year, was the definition of an ACE.

      • Reaper87 4 years ago

        No pitcher has been screwed on run support worse than Cain in the last 3 to 4 years. Put him on the Yanks or Red Sox and he wins 18+ every season and ESPN drools all over him like they do CC and Doc

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      5 straight years of 3.5 WAR plus doesn’t do it for you?

      He may not be a lock to be considered an ace, but your over exaggeration of his inclusion is just as terrible as what you are protesting

  7. Savino36 4 years ago

    There is nowhere near that many TRUE aces in MLB. Take off Carpenter, Hamels, Oswalt, Haren, and Cain. Jimenez is definitely a ace

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      Add Jimenez, but subtract others who have accomplished more?

      • Savino36 4 years ago

        It’s not about accomplishments, it’s about who’s a true ace right now. Carpenter has accomplished more in his career but since 2007 Jimenez has pitched almost twice as many innings.

        Johan Santana has tons of accomplishments but would you take a healthy Santana or Jimenez if you had one game to win?

        If Haren was a “True Ace” more than 2 teams would have been seriously after him when he was available at the deadline and Arizona would have gotten at least one Blue Chip prospect for him.

        • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

          how many true scotsmen are there in the league

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          your rationale of Haren not being an ace because of his trade value is laughable.

  8. whatsacominago 4 years ago

    By definition I’d think there are 30 #1’s, not 20.

    • Who asked how many #1s there are?

    • phoenix2042 4 years ago

      there are 30 #1 guys on the 30 teams, but there are not 30 aces. put it this way: Pavano pitched opening day for the twins, is he now an ace?

      • Actually, you have this completely backwards by definition. By definition, there are 30 aces. There may be more or less than 30 #1s.

        Definitions: They’re not just for fun.

        -C

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          you keep writing about these concrete definitions.. where exactly are you getting that definition from?

          • A popular reference book called the dictionary.

            -C

          • MaineSox 4 years ago

            Use it to look up the word “tool.”

          • RedSoxDynasty 4 years ago

            You sure you’re not using the “Baseball For Dummies” book!

  9. Lucas Kschischang 4 years ago

    Roy Halladay, Josh Johnson, Tim Lincecum, CC Sabathia, David Price, Felix Hernandez.
    That’s it.

    Those are the guys that are CONSISTENTLY dominant.

    Everyone else is borderline. The word Ace is thrown around way too much.

    • This is my favorite answer so far. I wouldn’t have a problem adding Jared Weaver this year if his end of year numbers are similar to last year’s.
      -wtk

      Edit: I know he’s young but I like Kershaw too.

    • I like the number 15, but I can’t help takin out 4 of those 18, namely Chris Carpenter, Clayton Kershaw, Cole Hamels and Tommy Hanson. Your definition, for me, is like surefire HoF, which is more than ace. And I’d take away Sabathia away from this mix.

      • Jeffrey 4 years ago

        Surefire HOF is kind of a stretch. In each decade, there’s only 1 or 2 pitchers in the moment that you can identify as surefire HOF, and many times they are nearing the end of their career. I think at any given time there are 10 aces in the game, and those guys, should they continue to pitch at their current elevated level for 5-7 years, that makes them a HOFer. Alternatively, they can be very very good for 15 years.

        Taking a recent example: Johan Santana in 2004-7 was an ace. There’s very few who would doubt that by 2007. He had just won two Cy Young awards, put up sub 1.000 WHIP, struck out almost 1,000 batters in 4 years and had won 70 games for the Twins. However, just 4 years later, he’s not even close to surefire HOF. If he puts up 10 more mediocre seasons, or if he becomes dominant again for 2 seasons, he might get there, but it’s not a sure thing.

        That being said, Santana belongs on the ace list, although I have him on my Ace DL list.

      • CaseyBlakeDeWitt 4 years ago

        How could you possibly not put Sabathia down as an ace, but include David Price?
        Price has put together one ace season, but Sabathia has put one up every year for the last 5 years, with 2 of those 5 seasons being better than Price’s 1 ace season.

    • 0bsessions 4 years ago

      What is the Price hangup? The guy has had one great year, last year, yet he’s getting the nod by some over guys like Lester, Weaver and Verlander?

      I know there’s a large market bias, but the small market bias is about twice as ludicrous and three times as hard to justify. All three of those guys have been consistently dominant and for a lot longer than Price and I’d bet dollars to donuts the only reason some of you guys are including him over the others is because he plays for the little guy, which makes no sense considering both people making this ignorant assertion are putting Sabathia in their lists.

    • David Price has only been consistently dominant for one season. For me that’s not enough track record yet that you can put him up with those other top tier guys.

    • MaineSox 4 years ago

      I was going to tell you that Price has not been consistently dominant, but I see that several other people already have, so I wont tell you that Price has not been consistently dominant…

    • JacksTigers 4 years ago

      So Justin Verlander is borderline? What?

    • No Wainright? If Johnson is in there, then you have to put AW in there.

    • deliciouspie 4 years ago

      Lee and Verlander are better than Sabathia and Price. Overall, though, I agree with the sentiment. There are very few legitimate aces in the major leagues at any given time.

  10. Greinke literally has one exceptional season. 2 that are very good, but not in the discussion of “ace.”

    Putting him in the borderline category even seems a bit silly right now. He’s an above average pitcher who had one incredibly good year. He hasn’t shown himself to be a dependable #1 or “ace” starter outside of that.

    • Between 2008-2010 Greinke was 4th in all of baseball in pitcher WAR. He put together 3 true All Star seasons, one of which was exceptional. How can you say that’s not ace worthy?
      Heck, there were only about 10 pitchers total over the course of the last 3 years whose performance is even close…

      • Playing up Greinke’s WAR is to suggest he has no control over anything but walks, strikeouts, and home runs. He gave up a hit per inning in all but his Cy season. Can you convince me that that should not be accounted for at all when deciding an ace? FIP put him at 3.34 last year, and a proven better stat, SIERA, said 3.70.

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          I think his realization of his time in KC ending was a big factor over his stats last year.. He eliminated pitches from his repetoire down the stretch.

          I guess that works on both sides of the argument, on one hand its possible that he’s much better than he showed last year, on the other hand, he kinda quit on his team.

        • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

          not understanding that as counterargument to greinke as much as it is a tangent against FIP

          if you use tRA, which like accounts for batted ball data like SIERA, greinke has still produced 19.9 WAR over the previous three seasons. his tRA was 3.7 last year, but the league average was 4.85. chris carpenter – an ace on your list – posted 4.08

          sure, in 2009 carpenter’s was 2.59. but greinke’s was 2.28

          again, not seeing an argument against greinke in the appeal to SIERA/tRA

        • matchmade 4 years ago

          How many of those “hits” were only scored hits because the excessively poor defense behind him couldn’t even get to the ball. The last several years including his Cy Young season he had an infield with gloves the likes of Callaspo at 2B, Betancourt at SS, Betemit at 3B and Billy Butler at 1B. A beer league softball team could get grounders through that infield.

          And let us not forget the ever fleet footed Jose Guillen patrolling RF.

  11. Where is Tim Hudson?

    • Jeff 4 years ago

      Hudson’s the ace, not Hanson. Hanson could become one if he gets some consistency and better inside command.

    • LioneeR 4 years ago

      Him and Hanson in the borderline category imo.

  12. wild05fan 4 years ago

    Liriano lol…The guy has no worth ethic to ever be a true ace.

  13. stl_cards16 4 years ago

    I pretty much agree with it. Besides I’d probably move Hamels and Hanson to the borderline. I just don’t think they’ve ever had to carry a team, but I think they will get there. Not sure about Haren being a true ace anymore. And Greinke probably moved up to the true ace list. Like you said though, if I really went and looked at the numbers I could be wrong on this, just a gut feeling.

    • Hamels was the best pitcher on a team that won a World Series, and he was the NLCS and World Series MVP. How has he never carried a team?

      • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

        they couldn’t name the entire philly offense WS MVP

    • Hamels is the 08′ World Series MVP. Gotta count for something right? I’ll agree though, he hasn’t been consistent enough to be a true ace but he is young and seems to be improving.

      • Reaper87 4 years ago

        It does count for something… recognition for helping your team get rings. He’s no ace, if he is Josh Beckett should be on the list because he dominated in the playoffs both in 03 and 07

    • Hamels is the 08′ World Series MVP. Gotta count for something right? I’ll agree though, he hasn’t been consistent enough to be a true ace but he is young and seems to be improving.

  14. Joe Kurioo 4 years ago

    Johan Santana

  15. I know Johan Santana is injured but he seems to be a legit ACE. I think he should be on this list.

  16. Rick Garcia 4 years ago

    might as well put blanton on that list with all those phillies

  17. rockfordone 4 years ago

    Oswalt is no ace – Guys I like are Brett Myers – Bronson Arroyo – Santanna when healthy

    • Oswalt is a borderline HoF pitcher who is past his prime but certainly was an ace. Brett Myers is a somewhat above averageish pitcher, and Bronson Arroyo is literally a bad/league average pitcher.

      • slasher016 4 years ago

        Arroyo is no ace…but you can’t seriously say he’s a bad/league average pitcher. You don’t throw 200 innings for six consecutive seasons if you’re “bad.”

    • Muggi 4 years ago

      Wow.

    • sherrilltradedooverexperience 4 years ago

      you totally messed with a bunch of people’s sarcasm detection sensors with that post

  18. No Johan Santana? when he is healthy, no one competes like him. Tommy Hanson is not an Ace.

  19. I’d be interested to see your take on this, All-Star Game selection style. As in, one representative from every team. Because by many definitions, the “ace” is a team’s Opening Day starter – the guy you’d want to throw in a one-game playoff with the season on the line?

    That said, I like your list. Think Tim Hudson deserves a nod somewhere, though.

    • stl_cards16 4 years ago

      Wouldn’t it be pretty easy to make a list of every teams best pitcher?

    • I wouldn’t define an “ace” as a team’s Opening Day starter because every team doesn’t have someone I would be comfortable putting out there on Opening Day. There are some players that aren’t shut down, “blow it by you” pitchers that I would be comfortable putting out there to give me 6-7 innings (ex: Buehrle, Lowe, Hudson) because I know they will manage a game from the mound.

    • phoenix2042 4 years ago

      sure let’s go by opening day starters. Liriano is a borderline ace right? well that makes sense because he was a number 2 starter this year, giving way to the true ace and opening day starter of the twin’s staff: carl pavano! you see how that argument falls apart?

  20. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    My list..

    Roy Halladay
    Felix Hernandez

    Everyone else.

    • start_wearing_purple
      start_wearing_purple 4 years ago

      That’s usually what my list looks like. The problem is there’s no real definition of ace so we all use a different one. I just remember the feeling in Boston whenever Pedro took the mound. There was this feeling among the fans, an acknowledgement that game was pretty much over. I really only get that feeling now from watching Hernandez and Halladay and to some extent Lincecum.

      • Except for, you know, the actual definition of ace, you just might be right.

        The people who state there is no real definition for ace should type ace in merriam-webster’s site and take a look at 6b.

        -C

        • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

          dictionaries reflect changing usage because — get ready — usages change! insisting on a particular definition of a word simply because that definition appears in a dictionary is a foolish practice

          want people to use a definition? offer a reason for them to and maybe they will agree. if they don’t, tough luck. you don’t get to decide how other people use words

          • You’re right – you can use words however you wish. However, if you expect yourself to be taken seriously, you should probably use a given word’s agreed-upon meaning, which is handily recorded in a dictionary. But, hey, people are free to present themselves as morons as often as they please. Feel free to play Mad Libs with your resume.

            -C

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            LOL

            Whats absolutely hilarious is that you keep puting people down for not using the correct ‘definition’ of the word ace. Meanwhile the true definition of the word ‘ace’ has nothing to do with baseball, it was a coined term that ended up spreading..

          • MaineSox 4 years ago

            I know that Webster’s uses the example “b : the best pitcher on a baseball team (the ace of the staff),” but they are not an authority on baseball lingo they were simply using it as an example to give context to the word. If you do the proper thing and look at the definition of Ace as an adjective (since we’re looking at the quality of a pitcher we are using Ace as a descriptive word, hence adjective) they define it as “of first or high rank or quality (an ace mechanic),” or in other words the top tier or best of the best.

            Thanks for playing.

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            well wikipidia says that ‘despite popular belief not all teams have an ace, especially poor pitching teams’

            so especially in our day and age

            Wikipidia > Websters

          • Wikipedia does not > Websters in any fashion.

            I can change Jose Bautista’s wiki page to say he was the first female to belt over 50 home runs, and it would be there for at least awhile. Doesn’t make it factual or correct.

            -C

          • MaineSox 4 years ago

            Proper English does > what you just did

          • East Coast Bias 4 years ago

            ahahahah your reply deserves a standing ovation!

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            and what makes websters factual or correct?

            Especially in reference to slang and expressions.

          • Interesting note: Wikipedia doesn’t say that anymore.

            But wiki > Webster’s

            -C

          • Read the subject line, “How Many Aces In MLB?” and tell me again that the word is used as an adjective.

            -C

          • MaineSox 4 years ago

            It’s a headline, not a proper sentence. The word pitchers is implied: “How Many Ace Pitchers in MLB?” would be a proper sentence. An ace is not a different thing than a pitcher, the word ace describes the type of pitcher they are. So again, it’s an adjective.

            Have you looked up the word tool for me yet?

          • I don’t know why I’m arguing this point with someone who thinks, “How Many Ace Pitchers in MLB?” is a proper sentence.

            I agree that there’s a word omitted in the headline, but that word is a verb rather than a noun.

            If you want to make an actual sentence, you should probably write, “How many aces are in MLB?” You see, that would be an actual sentence.

            Aces, in any form, is not an adjective. It is a plural noun, or perhaps a present tense verb…

            -C

          • MaineSox 4 years ago

            Right, “How Many Ace Pitchers are there in MLB?” Better? The point (which you conveniently ignored) remains the same, “Ace” is not what they are; pitcher is what they are, and ace is the type of pitcher they are.

          • We can argue this back and forth all day long, but the sentence is perfectly fine without pitchers and wrong without are.

            -C

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            your prescriptivist theory of and approach to language is older than most of the words in the dictionaries you worship. prescriptivism failed and failed hard a long time ago and nothing’s changed since

            the uses (and thus the meanings) of words change over time, despite blowhards blowing hard about how “moronic” it is to stray from standard usage. you’re lucky the publishers of various dictionaries do not share your view, otherwise those books would be worthless except to museums

            the resume analogy is just goofy. in that context, one is attempting to gain favor with an audience by playing by rules one assumes that audience endorses. it’s got bunk to do with a casual conversation about baseball, for example — even when one of the participants in it fancies himself an internet scholar

            and even if it were a good analogy, as someone who’s done quite a bit of hiring i can assure you that an applicant’s diction is one of the last things considered precisely because of its triviality. someone with an understanding of the flexible nature of something as fluid as language — who can then adapt his behavior in stride with it — is infinitely better suited to perform just about any task than the uncreative thumper of a rule-book he didn’t write and can barely understand well enough to discern its usefulness from one context to another

            i’m not telling you how to write. i’m telling you to waste less time trying to tell others how to write. it’s useless and it’s boring

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            you have dragged me down into boringland with you

            wait is that the right definition of boringland. let’s look it up to make sure

          • I’m all for evolution of the language, but this isn’t proper evolution. When hundreds of people start using the same word differently, that’s not progress or evolution.

            It’s confusion, and that’s not good for language because the word essentially becomes meaningless…which, if you read this discussion, the evidence certainly supports an argument that the term ace has lost its meaning amongst you linguistic barbarians.

            -C

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            “proper evolution”

            this is not a coherent concept and is probably the source of your troubles here. you don’t get to decide what the proper evolution of a word’s meaning is, because you aren’t the king of english (YET??)

            the intersubjective consensus between a language’s users determines the meanings of its words. dictionaries record these determinations, but you are getting the cart before the horse in thinking that they are authoritative

          • I’m not trying to decide anything. I’m trying to use terms properly according to how the consensus has determined in order to provide clarity in my statements. The easiest way to accomplish this task is by using the terms as they’ve been recorded, if you live in a society that actually values such things. I think that may be the root of the problem.

            As for the second part, perhaps…am I just wrong for believing people should actually try to use words in the same fashion in which the consensus has already decided upon, when deviating from that path offers little benefit?? Am I wrong to use the word in the manner that provides the least confusion??

            I’m sure you can at least agree that countless different definitions of the same word, no matter how close or far apart some may be to each other, provides much greater confusion than adhering to the previously-agreed-upon term.

            In short, I’m technically right (and a tool, in this particular case), but no one else really cares enough for my correctness to remotely affect their belief.

            -C

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            “I’m trying to use terms properly according to how the consensus has determined”

            lose the word “properly”. you simply ARE using terms according to their standard definitions as listed in a dictionary. we know. you’re also trying to insist to other people that it’s moronic to do anything else. and that’s where you begin to be very wrong

            i am all for clarity. i think if people are knowingly using non-standard definitions of words, they should say so. that makes sense. but insisting that standard usage is “correct” or “proper” is a mistake. standard use is just — ready? — standard

            i sympathize with your motivation, but you’re going about it the wrong way. you are “correct” that failing to define terms is sloppy and problematic. you are not at all correct that there is such a thing as a “correct” or “proper” definition of a word

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            whens the last time you lost an argument??

          • East Coast Bias 4 years ago

            It was raining, and I believe Reagan was in office…

    • Loody 4 years ago

      Add Josh Johnson to that group to form a triumvirate and I’ll agree completely with you.

      • Loody 4 years ago

        Oh and Tim Lincecum of course. Those 4 and everyone else can take a hike.

        • JacksTigers 4 years ago

          Again, Josh Johnson is below Verlander and Lincecum is hand in hand with Justin.

          • Josh Johnson below Verlander? You’re drinking hometown kool aid.

          • JacksTigers 4 years ago

            Have you seen him pitch?

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            JJ healthy > Verlander

            however health concerns can’t be completely deducted

          • Reaper87 4 years ago

            Yes, and while he’s a stud, Timmy and JJ are better. Plus they don’t try to pick off the guy in the batters box (had to add that in, funniest balk I’ve ever seen)

          • HAHAHA

          • JacksTigers 4 years ago

            HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

          • East Coast Bias 4 years ago

            Oh god, I can’t stop laughing at this. So stupid, yet so clever!

  21. I think the recent winning of a Cy Young means you have to be an ace. Zach Greinke will have to be judged this year though I suppose. Also As a Met fan I don’t think Johan Santana is an ace anymore.

    • Infield Fly 4 years ago

      He’s an ace a million times more than Mike chokin’ Pelfrey will ever be. 😀

  22. What about Johan Santana?

  23. wickedkevin 4 years ago

    Maybe a poll? Either that or we can read as every person writes and posts their own list.

  24. jarg8 4 years ago

    Why is Danks borderline, era over 3.7 past two years, especially Liriano after his start to the year. also why are people hating on hamels, he had one bad year in 09, but eras under 3.1 in 08 and 2010, including a world series mvp.

  25. Liriano, Guthrie, Oswalt…what an awful list

  26. BenchedMark 4 years ago

    If you look to revise this list at the end of the year, I’ll bet my wagon Brandon Morrow will be in the discussion.

    • phoenix2042 4 years ago

      you have a wagon?

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      I’m willing to bet the same, except I don’t have a wagon…

      However its just a hunch, only time will tell

      He needs to go deeper in to games and pile up the innings before he gets mentioned

    • whitesoxfan424 4 years ago

      Oxen included? So long as they don’t drown trying to ford the river?

      • I caulk the wagon because I’m an extreme sports junkie, and the thought of drowning my brother is enticing.

        -C

        • MaineSox 4 years ago

          You care about proper word usage, but not proper punctuation? Weird.

          Edit: cute how you fixed it after.

  27. Jeremy Guthrie should at least be on the borderline and when healthy Johann Santana is dominant

  28. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    to do the opposite of a gut-feeling approach, here’s a blinded list of cumulative performances over the past 3 seasons

    WAR (IP)

    21.3 (733.1)
    20.9 (667.1)
    20.8 (660.2)
    19.6 (651.2)
    19.1 (720.2)
    18.0 (665.1)
    17.1 (621.2)
    17.0 (680.1)
    16.8 (689.1)
    16.3 (638.1)
    14.1 (595.1)
    13.1 (612.0)
    12.5 (608.1)

    there’s a huge difference between the top of this list and the bottom, but where should we draw in an ace-level line? i have a hard time thinking of a starter who produces 5+ WAR per year for three years as less than an ace, so i might suggest 15+ WAR over 3 seasons as the threshold. but there could be reason to pick a different one

    here are three guys from 07-09 who had down years in 2010

    17.5 (668.0)
    16.9 (587.1)
    16.5 (644.1)

    should they count? there’s also the issue of guys who have only been great for two years now, but have been really great for those two years

    12.0 (439.2)
    11.9 (392.2)

    do they count yet? interesting to think about

    • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

      so if we accept the 5 WAR average as the threshold, we get this list:

      halladay 21.3 (733.1)
      lee
      lincecum
      greinke
      sabathia
      verlander
      lester
      haren
      hernadez
      jimenez 16.3 (638.1)

      hard to make an argument against any of those guys as aces, i think

      if we include the latter two groups i mentioned (which contained haren and jimenez by mistake, turns out), these are the only other qualifiers for the ace group:

      beckett 16.9 (587.1)
      vasquez 16.5 (644.1)
      johnson 11.9 (392.2)

      johnson has the lowest total, but the best performance of the group. vasquez and beckett have mile-long lists of detractors, but by the ace standard set above, both belonged as recently as last year

      borderline cases from the original list

      wainright 14.1 (595.1)
      weaver 13.1 (612.0)
      danks 12.5 (608.1)

      • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

        given his injury time in 2008, Adam Wainright actually makes the cut by the Josh Johnson standard as he’s produced 11.8 WAR over the past two seasons

        here are the not yet mentioned names from tim’s list that didn’t make the 5-WAR cut:

        3 years

        Cole Hamels 11.9 (629.2)
        Roy Oswalt 11.1 (600.2)
        Matt Cain 11.2 (658.2)

        2 years

        Chris Carpenter 9.3 (427.2)
        Clayton Kershaw 8.9 (373.1)
        Tommy Hanson 6.9 (330.1)
        Yovani Gallardo 7.3 (370.2)
        Ricky Romero 6.8 (388.0)
        Brett Anderson 6.3 (287.2)
        Francisco Liriano 7.2 (320.2)
        Trevor Cahill 2.7 (375.1)

        • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

          david price is in kind of a 1 year category – 4.3 (375.1). to be fair, liriano anderson and hanson kind of have to be considered that way too

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            is it lonely up there on your high horse?

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            it must be a pony because your comment has gone over my head. do you think i’m being condescending by listing this data and offering an opinion of it?

            how can someone be condescending while sitting on a pony, come on now

          • MaineSox 4 years ago

            If it’s a fricking sweet pony

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            HEAR THIS DATA, LESSER BASEBALL FANS, AND FEAR ME

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            no no not what I meant at all

            I meant the fact that you go through all this work and provide data in a meaningful well written post yet no one replied or liked it.. meanwhile writing hamels is not an ace with no backup or anything gets 25 likes

            guess I used the wrong phrase.

  29. The term “Ace” is so subjective. All the pitchers you listed are excellent, and capable of shutting down good lineups on any given day. To me, though, the genuine “Ace” does it on a regular basis, dependably–to the point where you’re surprised when they are less than dominant.

    Based on my own fuzzy definition of Ace, I’d move 5 from your Ace list into the “Borderline” group:
    -Hamels – hasn’t dominated regular seasons
    -Haren – shaky last year, and in 2nd half throughout career
    -Kershaw – has he put together a complete, great season yet? Not saying he can’t, he just hasn’t yet.
    -Cain – not a knock, but he just strikes me as prototype for a workhorse #2–last year’s postseason notwithstanding
    -Hanson – hasn’t earned the title yet, though I expect he will in the next year or two

    I have to echo your disclaimer, though–this is based on my gut, and on various stats I may or may not be remembering precisely. I will say, though, that there seem to be more Aces, Borderline Aces, and Likely Future Aces around now than there has been in a good 25 years. In fact, I just though of 3 more who at least deserve mention:

    -Josh Beckett – If he’s really back this year, then he would definitely qualify
    -Tim Hudson – Maybe more of a workhorse #2 like Cain, but he’s been doing it so regularly for so long, he deserves mention
    -Johan Santana – Out with TJ surgery, but it wasn’t that long ago when he was the best pitcher in baseball.

    • tacko 4 years ago

      Wainwright is out with TJ surgery, not Santana.

      • Wow, I thought it was just stats that I would misremember….do I at least get partial credit for remembering that Santana had some kinda really bad surgery?

        Anyway, I’m thinking Wainwright can’t really claim Ace status anymore either since he’s presumably out for the year, and chances are he won’t be back to his old self until 2013 at the earliest. I overlooked that on my first pass.

    • The word is much less subjective when you actually look up its definition.

      -C

      • Just curious–where did you find a [baseball-related] definition for Ace? I just tried to search for one, with no luck.

        To me, “Ace” is subjective in the same sense that “Hall of Famer” is. Meaning, we all have our own standard for who qualifies.

        • Merriam-Webster, definition 6b: the best pitcher on a baseball team

          I agree with your second part…everyone can have their own standard as to what makes a pitcher the best on his/her team. Some may say Halladay’s the ace for the Phillies, while others could say Lee, Oswalt, or Hamel. There’s room for interpretation in figuring out who exactly the ace is. However, as the definition clearly states, an ace is simply any team’s best pitcher.

          The real problem is the word best. It’s superlative, singular, exclusionary, and subjective in nature. There can’t be two bests. If the definition didn’t use the word best, sure, the Phillies could have 3 or 4 aces. Likewise, the Royals or Pirates could have none.

          -C

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            buddy, you’re making a fool out of yourself

            Ace in baseball terms is SLANG, there for SLANG may not have a black and white definition because it doesn’t have an origin. Why do you believe that websters dictionary is the most authoratative voice for sports jargin?

            Oxford dictionary is far superior to Websters. . and they have this

            ‘informal a person who excels at a particular sport or other activity’

            which is where the term ‘ace’ in baseball comes from. Its not the opening day starter, or the best starter on staff, its someone who excels at pitching.

          • Here’s the problem, in this case. You are looking at an informal definition of the word, meaning it is slang. Good for slang, I love it…incredibly useful in most cases.

            However, if the word does have a concrete, formal definition pertaining to the specific context in which it is being used, i.e. baseball, that is the better definition. As long as the source is reputable, and both are in this case, use the better definition.

            In the end, the goal is clarity. How many, “He’s an ace!!,” No, he’s not!!” discussions have there been in this thread alone simply because people have chosen to manufacture their own definition of the word?? This is precisely the situation in which actually looking a word up is beneficial for all involved…and yet everyone would rather drop the ball.

            -C

          • MaineSox 4 years ago

            *does have

            ftfy

          • You’re right. I went ahead and fixed it.

            -C

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            “In the end, the goal is clarity. How many, “He’s an ace!!,” No, he’s not!!” discussions have there been in this thread alone simply because people have chosen to manufacture their own definition of the word?? This is precisely the situation in which actually looking a word up is beneficial for all involved…and yet everyone would rather drop the ball.

            you are observing a problem created by [people not defining their terms] and calling it a problem with [people not using a dictionary definition of a term]

            they aren’t the same thing. the solution to the clarity problem need not be “refer to a dictionary” (see what other people once meant by that word) but instead “say what you mean by that word”

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            hall of famers are a concrete thing that people still discuss and debate..

            Why do you think everything has to be concrete black and white??

            Ace is not a concrete, formal definition. If it was you would be able to research and state the origin of the word, which you cannot..

          • Using that definition, though, there would have to be 30 “Aces”–one on each team. And using that definition, this whole topic becomes incredibly boring, unless you want to pore over the Royals’ staff to figure out who’s the best, or least crappy.

            But I think most everyone would agree that there are at least a dozen teams without an Ace; and that, at the very least, Philly has two in Doc & Lee. Or just go back a dozen years to those Atlanta staffs–most would agree that Maddux was their #1, but Glavine was also an Ace, and Smoltz was usually their best starter in the postseason and surely qualified as an Ace as well.

      • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

        “The word is much less subjective when you actually look up its definition”

        …which was decided subjectively by its users and then, later, subjectvely deemed to be worth recording and printing by the publisher of a (not “the”) dictionary

        …a book which was later used by a guy on the internet to argue that the word’s definition is not subjective lololol

  30. Devern Hansack 4 years ago

    I’m surprised you omitted Mark Buehrle.

  31. Johan Santana should be added to the ace category
    Francisco Liriano should be dropped from the borderline category
    If Romero and Danks are in the borderline, I’d put Chad Billingsley there too.
    If Cahill and Anderson are in the borderline, Gio Gonzalez should definitely be added.
    I’d put Josh Beckett in the borderline category, although I accept it’s debatable.

    This all revolves around what we want to define as “ace”. It seems like the definition being used here is a reliable, sub 3.50era, #1-2 starter. If we want to narrow it down to guys you want out there if you need to win a game, the list will be shrunk to: CC Sabathia, Felix Hernandez, Roy Halladay, Josh Johnson, Adam Wainwright, and Tim Lincecum. I think if you ask people who they want out there, 80-90% of people will say one of these 6 guys. The other 10-20% will be around: Jered Weaver, Jon Lester, Cliff Lee, Justin Verlander, David Price, Johan Santana, Clayton Kershaw. Everyone else is a notch below.

  32. Jeffrey 4 years ago

    Using the gut feel for a what is an Ace, the Ace really has to be a stopper. He has to be the guy that when your team goes against him, you pencil in a loss, and when he pitches for your team, you pencil in a win. He’s the guy that when he catches a loss, you’re kind of amazed. When the team loses with him starting, it almost always the bullpen or the offenses fault, not his. He’s “on” almost every time, and only loses tough luck losses or when he’s up against a better ace. To use a terrible stat: every start is a Quality Start or (significantly) better.

    Many of these guys don’t really fit that category. Informally, I usually only imagine there to be about 10 Aces in the game at any time. 10 seems like the right number, and it’s a very arbitrary cut off. Looking at no stats, I would say these guys make it:

    Roy Halladay
    Cliff Lee
    C.C. Sabathia
    Jered Weaver
    Josh Johnson
    Justin Verlander
    Felix Hernandez
    Jon Lester
    David Price
    Tim Lincecum

    I originally had Haren on my list, but had to remove him to get to 10. It’s an arbitrary cut off; but of all these guys, Haren impresses the least. It’s also worth noting that Haren has been an every day starter for 6 years and has only once been in the top 5 in Cy Young voting. The award itself isn’t a great barometer, but it does tell you something about his peers. All of the others either have a Cy Young award, have finished in the top 5 a few times, or have significantly less service time (David Price, Josh Johnson, Jared Weaver)

    • dbreer23 4 years ago

      Apologies, Jeffrey – I was crafting a similar post while you had already posted yours.

  33. Sandy Karoll 4 years ago

    Although he technically does not belong on the list, I nominate Mark Buehrle for 2 reasons

    1) One of two active pitchers with multiple no hitters

    2) Every pitcher in the MLB should take a lesson in how to work quickly form Mark. Went to his game at Yankee Stadium last week, 2 hours and 11 minutes. Not those 4 hour marathons like the Red Sox. It was fun, enjoyable and no long boring delays. The way the game is meant to be played!!

    • Jessamynn 4 years ago

      Those are certainly admirable accomplishments/traits, but c’mon…at some point, the pitcher needs to demonstrate some level of (sustained) dominant performance, and Mark Buerhle is not that type of pitcher.

      I’m not hating on the guy; he’s still a quality pitcher and quality person, but…sustained performance at an elite level has to be the first thing we consider here.

    • Not….even…..close.

  34. randog 4 years ago

    Liriano? Borderline? That’s hilarious! It’s 2011 not 2006. I’m pretty sure the Twins would swap their borderline “Ace” for ANY other ace listed…

  35. If Romero is on the bubble, then Latos definitely deserves consideration.

  36. redsox927 4 years ago

    CC
    Lester
    Price
    Verlander
    Weaver
    King Felix
    Halladay
    Lee
    Josh Johnson
    Carpenter
    Wainwright
    Greinke
    Kershaw
    Lincecum

    Thats IT for aces, every other pitcher who is “close” falls into one of three categories:

    Has Potential to become an ace: CJ Wilson, Jiminez or Dan Haren would be good examples of this.

    Has a one or two really good years, but not a true ace (either he used to be or he never will be in my opinion): Tim Hudson and Johan Santana would fit the “used to be”…. Mark Buerhle would fit the “he’s good but will never be a true “ace””.

    Too young right now (and in some cases also injured), but shows great promise: Brian Matusz, Brett Anderson, Stephen Strasburg

  37. aceman515 4 years ago

    Sigh…how is tim Hudson not on here? his career era is better then Lee’s, and hes been pretty consistent his entire career

  38. $1742854 4 years ago

    Twins without an ace? What a surprise.

  39. toddboss 4 years ago

    My list is similar to the orig:

    Aces:
    Florida Josh Johnson
    Washington
    Phila Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee
    Atlanta
    NY Mets Johan Santana
    Pittsburgh
    Cincinnati
    Cubs
    STL Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright (uninjured)
    Milwaukee Zack Greinke
    Houston
    Colorado Ubaldo Jimenez
    San Diego
    SF Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain
    LAD
    Ariz

    Boston Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz
    Tampa Bay David Price
    NY Yankees CC Sabathia
    Baltimore
    Toronto
    KC
    Detroit Justin Verlander
    Minnesota Francisco Liriano
    Chi WS
    Cleveland
    Seattle Felix Hernandez
    Texas
    Oakland
    LAA Jered Weaver, Dan Haren

    Borderline:
    Florida Rickey Nolasco
    Washington Steven Strasburg (uninjured)
    Phila
    Atlanta Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson
    NY Mets
    Pittsburgh
    Cincinnati Aroldis Chapman (if they make him a starter)
    Cubs Carlos Zambrano, Matt Garza,
    STL Jamie Garcia
    Milwaukee Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum
    Houston Wandy Rodriguez
    SF Madison Bumgarner, Jonathan Sanchez,
    LA Dodgers Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda
    Ariz Daniel Hudson,
    Colorado
    San Diego Matt Latos, Clayton Richardson

    —————————————–
    Boston Josh Beckett
    Tampa Bay Jeremy Hellickson
    NY Yankees AJ Burnett, Phil Hughes
    Baltimore Brian Matusz
    Toronto Ricky Romero
    KC
    Detroit Rick Porcello
    Minnesota
    Chi WS Jake Peavy (uninjured), Jon Danks?
    Cleveland Fausto Carmona
    Seattle
    Texas: CJ Wilson, Brandon Webb (uninjured)
    Oakland Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill
    LAA Scott Kazmir

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      lol

    • Bluduke28 4 years ago

      What the hell was this? See how many pitchers you can possibly name? SCOTT KAZMIR? Lol dude is downright awful these days.

    • JacksTigers 4 years ago

      Max Sherezer is closer to being an ace than Rick Porcello is.

    • RedSoxDynasty 4 years ago

      Kazmir! Oh no you didn’t!

  40. dbreer23 4 years ago

    It might be helpful to distinguish between those that have ace ‘stuff/potential’, those that are #2 SPs (which are still extremely good), and those that are truly aces…

    I define an ‘ace’ using 3 parameters:
    1) durability (200+ IP per season)
    2) sustainability (durability for multiple seasons – i.e. not injury prone, even if minor injuries like blisters – case in point, Josh Beckett)
    3) dominance (high K/9, reasonable K/BB, BAA, and BABIP values)

    There are a lot of young pitchers who have ace stuff/potential, but for one of the three reasons above I cannot consider them a true ace. Many of them (Price, Kershaw, Anderson) just haven’t been around long enough to show sustained dominance, or have only flashed dominance here and there (Haren, Hamels).

    I ranked the aces based on my preference of who I would give the ball to in a ‘must-win’ situation. I did not rank the near aces.

    Aces (7) – ranked
    Roy Halladay
    Tim Lincecum
    Cliff Lee
    Felix Hernandez
    Jon Lester
    C.C. Sabathia (would’ve been higher 2 years ago)
    Adam Wainwright
    Ubaldo Jimenez (just barely makes it)

    Ace Stuff/Potential (9) – not ranked
    Josh Johnson (see point 2, otherwise he’s between Felix and Lester above)
    Cole Hamels
    Clayton Kershaw
    Tommy Hanson
    Brett Anderson
    Zack Greinke
    Dan Haren
    Justin Verlander
    David Price
    Jered Weaver

    #2 SPs (8)
    Roy Oswalt
    John Danks
    Yovani Gallardo
    Ricky Romero
    Trevor Cahill
    Chris Carpenter
    Matt Cain
    Francisco Liriano
    Josh Beckett

    • redsox927 4 years ago

      first, it is nice to see someone else not giving 30 guys the Ace label (although i gave more than you).

      Second, i have to point out that two of the 7 “aces” in your list violate one of your criteria. Jiminez doesn’t have sustainability in my opinion. he’s got one good year and a couple of solid years, but his struggles early this year make me wonder if he’ll ever be a true “ace” year in and year out…. Also, wainwright is out for a year with Tommy John surgery. So if Beckett doesn’t make it for blisters (although i don’t think he’s a true ace either way) you can’t give a guy who’s on the shelf for tommy john durable.

      I do agree more with your list though than pretty much anyone elses.

      I think there have to be closer to 10 true aces than 20. either they’re too young, too injury prone, or not good enough.

      • dbreer23 4 years ago

        Fair enough, re: Wainwright – perhaps I should’ve prefaced the list with ‘going into 2011.’

        As for Ubaldo, I initially thought the same as you, that it was 2010 + a couple of above-average seasons. However, if you really dig into his 2008 & 2009 seasons, he’s really been an ace in the making for 3 years – his K/9 has been above 8 each year, he’s thrown nearly 200+ IP in each year (ok, ok, he was at 198 for 2008), and his FIP values have been impressive. I suppose the argument could be made that only 2009 & 2010 were really ‘dominant’ which slips him into the ace stuff/potential category, and I wouldn’t have a big problem with that. His 2011 is starting to worry me, though….but it’s only one month in!

      • It’s nice to see people use a word incorrectly??

        -C

  41. no way hamels is, or oswalt at this stage. hanson is borderline at best.
    Adam Wainwright
    Roy Halladay
    Cliff Lee
    C.C. Sabathia
    Dan Haren
    Jered Weaver
    Josh Johnson
    Justin Verlander
    Felix Hernandez
    Jon Lester
    David Price
    Tim Lincecum
    Chris Carpenter
    Clayton Kershaw
    Matt Cain
    wainwright
    greinke

    • Ferrariman 4 years ago

      thats how awesome wainwright is, He’s listed twice!

    • pick one:
      pitcher A – 365 innings, 3.10 ERA (128 ERA+), 1.166 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 2.91 K/BB
      pitcher B – 392 innings, 3.38 ERA (121 ERA+), 1.242 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 2.27 K/BB

    • You’re right…Oswalt only has the best numbers in baseball dating back to his trade to Philadelphia.

  42. Aces

    Hernandez
    Weaver
    Buehrle
    Verlander
    Sabathia
    Lester
    Lincecum
    Carpenter
    Gallardo
    Halladay
    Lee
    Oswalt
    Hudson
    Johnson

    Borderline:
    Haren
    Price
    Kershaw
    Jimenez
    Wainwright
    Greinke

    Nobody else deserve consideration.

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      No way Gallardo, Buerhle is ranked ahead of Kershaw, Grienke, Jimenez, Price

    • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

      i think it’s funny when people get all authoritative about their opinions without having provided any guidelines whatsoever

      tim acknowledged his list was based on gut impression and not data, which is cool and can be fun. unlike you and most people in this thread, he didn’t conclude his post with NOBODY ELSE DESERVES CONSIDERATION. I HAVE SPOKEN

      because that would be absurd

    • 14 Rocks 4 years ago

      LOL at Buehrle being called an ace.

  43. Bucs 4 years ago

    I think people use the term ace too loosely. To me an ace is a pitcher that if he is on you have no chance to win, if he is average you’ll have a hard time hitting him, and on a rare bad day he still only gives up a few earned. The only pitchers that fit my criteria for best of the best are:
    CC
    Lincecum
    Halladay
    Josh Johnson
    King Felix

    These 5 are my aces. A lot of the others mentioned are #1 starters, not aces. There is a difference between the two. I also would list wainwright before the injury, and could easily add Lee. Ubaldo’s start to this season eliminates him as an ace. Price, Lester, and Cahill could soon be on my humble list.

    • BoSoxSam 4 years ago

      Personally, and not only because I’m a Boston fan (although that helps), I’d take CC off that list. Last year and this year he’s seemed pretty hittable, and while he stays in there and gives you a good game every game, he also doesn’t seem to be dominant as often lately. Lee probably goes up there before CC for me.

      • 0bsessions 4 years ago

        The only time I’m afraid of CC is when Christmas Crunch season rolls around. Bluntly speaking, the guy has a lot more money than me and that stuff is hard enough to find in the northeast as is without a guy making $20MM+ who likes Captain Crunch even more than me in the general region.

        Great pitcher, but yeah, he’s not a guy I’m generally terrified of. If you can get his pitch count up, he tends to make mistakes around the sixth or seventh inning. A guy like Lee who isn’t going to give you free pitches is a lot scarier to me. I mean, if we’ve got Wakefield on the mound, we’re screwed, but if our pitcher can contain the Yanks to a few runs, he’s beatable.

        • BoSoxSam 4 years ago

          Of course, that’s a big if you’ve got there at the end. And thus why CC -looks- scarier I think, that he’s always got some major run support. On a team scrapping for every run, I’m thinking the Giants or something, his general lack of intimidation and domination would make his non-aceness a bit clearer.

  44. LordD99 4 years ago

    Yeah, an individual’s definition of an “ace” will color the final construction of a list. Yes, every team has their ace, but that ace might not be all that spectacular. And some teams, such as this year’s Phillies, have more than one.

    I’m removing Hamels, Haren, Cain, Hanson, Kershaw and Carpenter, for a variety of reasons, from not enough track record, or consistent health issues, to where they pitch. (I give guys like Lester and Price extra credit for the league/division, pushing them ahead of a Kershaw.) I’m adding in Santana. It’s tricky because Johan is not quite the pitcher he was at his peak, and now he’s injured, but I won’t write him off until I see he’s not longer the pitcher he was prior to the surgery, and that man was still producing 130+ ERA+ season using one quick, down-and-dirty stat. Santana is an ace, even if he’s not in that highly durable, workhorse category of a CC Sabathia. I have to remove Carpenter becuase of consistent health issues throughout his career, and now his age and the belief he’s not quite the pitcher he once was. I know some people have removed Oswalt, but he has been consistently very good, and he’s still good. We’re talking about a guy who may end up in the HOF if he keeps going.

    Adam Wainwright
    Roy Halladay
    Roy Oswalt
    Cliff Lee
    C.C. Sabathia
    Jered Weaver
    Josh Johnson
    Justin Verlander
    Felix Hernandez
    Jon Lester
    David Price
    Tim Lincecum
    Johan Santana

    No shame being in the “near ace” group. Some of these guys wil move up to ace status with one more top season.

  45. Jaye Teel 4 years ago

    Just out of curiosity after the first name mentioned….could you possibly any more of a Phillies fan? Good grief.

    • 0bsessions 4 years ago

      Isn’t Dierkes an admitted Cubs fan?

      I don’t see Big Z on there.

  46. hawkny1 4 years ago

    30 teams in baseball = 30 aces= #1 starter on each staff.
    Question is, who, among those listed, has the career records to make the HOF?

    How about Lincecum, Sabbathia, Hallady, Lee and Santana?

    Some criteria…multiple Cy Young Awards, consistently wins more than 50% of starts, averages more than 7 innings per start, with career ERA under 3.50?

  47. How can you say hamels isn’t? besides from the blip in 2009, hamels has been downright disgusting. he was our ace in 2008 with a ~3 ERA, had that blip in 2009, ~3 ERA 2010, which might I add, he had the best ERA of any left hander after the all star break if I’m not mistaken. I mean I can understand putting him at borderline but hamels stuff and his new approach to the game is just ridiculous.

  48. Wow, Tim Dierkes snubbed Johan Santana, once again nobody gives respect to the Mets =(

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      Considering Santana pitched more ace like when he was on the twins..

    • twins33 4 years ago

      I don’t think it has to do with the Mets. I think people honestly think he doesn’t deserve to be on the list. I’ve seen it said multiple times before this post. I would disagree. I think it has to do with the contract that he signed and the extremely high standards that come with it. He definitely isn’t as dominant as he was with the Twins but he’s still a top level pitcher. He’s still an ace.

      I would gladly take 600 IP, 40 W’s, 2.85 ERA and 496 K’s in three years from a pitcher. Gladly. He’s been unlucky too as the Mets behind him (defense and bullpen) have blown a lot of games for him. I just would never want the Twins to pay that contract. He might have been better off with the Twins though, because the Mets seem to run pitchers into the ground more and I hear bad things about their medical staff (Twins medical staff sucks too). The only good thing that happened to him due to changing teams was that the amount of money in his wallet increased greatly.

  49. psanford421 4 years ago

    I figured Jon Lester would be in the ‘borderline’ group…..but not even. You’re really going to tell me you’d put lefties like Romero and Danks above him? Really?

    • psanford421 4 years ago

      i think those two would piss themselves if they had to pitch against Lester

      • 0bsessions 4 years ago

        You know, technically you CAN be ticketted for J-Walking in MA.

        While we’re on the subject of rules that I have never seen any hard evidence of existing, but people assure me are true.

    • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

      not-so-new rule: one may not criticize a writer until one is able to read

  50. myname_989 4 years ago

    I see a lot of people mention things like past performances and accolades when trying to define what an “ace” actually is, when in all reality, that should have no standing in regards to what a player does in the here and now, and what makes them an “ace,” here and now.

    With that in mind, right now, Cole Hamels is easily one of the game’s best left handed starters and should be considered an ace.

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      How exactly do you make projections with out basing them on past performances?

      So Jesse Litsch tosses 7 innings of 1 hit ball, we’ll just throw him in the Ace conversation then?

    • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

      i think we should go one step further and base in on future performance! that’ll make this easy

      seriously though by your standard every pitcher who gets on a hot streak is an ace until he regresses

      • myname_989 4 years ago

        That wasn’t what I was saying, in regards to both comments. When you look over some of the comments, people are going back way too far in regards to pitchers like Roy Oswalt, etc. In regards to Cole Hamels, right now, he is one of the best pitchers in baseball.

        Peopl who don’t agree will bring up past struggles to argue that fact. In reality, right now, Cole Hamels is as good a starter as there is in baseball. That makes him an ace in my book.

        • diehardmets 4 years ago

          Than by your thought process, Chris Young is an ace as well. Typical Philly fan mentality, overvaluing any player on your team.

          • myname_989 4 years ago

            Typical Mets’ fan mentality, thinking that anything they say is relevant.

            On a serious note, is Cole Hamels not one of the best left handed starters in the game right now? Looking at his numbers, I’d happily take my chances with Hamels on the mound against any team in baseball, and I think that’s what makes a pitcher an ace. I’m not overvaluing him at all. I just know that watching him pitch this season, he is an ace.

            To be honest, I could care less what people really think about him.

  51. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    the cubs would really appreciate it if someone would mention matt garza

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      everyone is selling low on garza, despite having a dominant month.

      gotta love the wins are all that matters for a pitcher club

  52. Santana not being on this list is completely nonsensical … if an injured Wainwright is on there, Santana HAS to be …

    Different stages of their careers? Santana is only THIRTY TWO … younger than FOUR of the aces you listed …

    Insanity …

    • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

      if you knew better than to use ERA, you’d know why santana has missed the cut for the past 4 years

      • And if you knew better than to use only stats, you’d have watched this guy carry an underachieving team on his back for the past four years.

        • Michael Brown 4 years ago

          Fail.

        • But if you use the right stats, you eliminate that team off his back entirely…and see that he’s been a whole lot of injured and not a whole lot of amazing for awhile now.

          -C

        • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

          lolled so hard. thank you

          • I just find it hard to believe that so many people believe that someone like Tommy Hanson or Ricky Romero is a more credible ace than Santana …

            He has pitched less that 199 inning once in his tenure with the Mets. Finishing the season hurt most times, I understand that … but when the Mets are already out of contention year after year, and some of them were injuries that he would’ve played through had they been in the hunt, of course he’s going to get shut down …

            And you don’t need to eliminate the team from the equation … he played with basically a AAA team behind him in 2009, and an incomplete team behind him last year as well …

            It’s a shame that his decision to come to NY hasn’t been as fairytale-esque as he (and many of us Mets fans) have hoped, but for anyone to discredit his status as an ace just doesn’t seem right in my eyes … his poise, reputation, demeanor, fielding abilities, and accomplishments make him an ace …

            Of course, an unsuccessful return from surgery can completely discredit my theory … but the same can be said about Wainwright, and no one else seems to be sharing that ideology …

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            you’re being as careful as you can to refer to facts without referring to stats, but only because checking statistical facts will screw you over

            i don’t care that you don’t want to use them. you just shouldn’t expect your poetry to be especially persuasive

          • MaineSox 4 years ago

            We should probably list Clemens, Johnson, Pedro, and Mattox too then because, ya know, they haven’t been aces recently, but for anyone to discredit their status as aces just doesn’t seem right.

        • Replied to the wrong box, see response below …

        • 0bsessions 4 years ago

          Carried on his back would imply that he’d gotten anywhere. I have a friend who weighs about 350 lbs. I myself weigh about 160. I tried carrying him on my back once. I hurt my ankle and haven’t been able to throw more than 100 innings a year since.

          You know what, I take back my criticism. Yours was a perfectly valid metaphor, unfortunately it exhibits exactly why Santana is no longer considered an ace.

  53. diehardmets 4 years ago

    There are some serious problems with this list.
    1 – Cole Hamels is NOT an ace. He’s an above average lefty, but not even close.
    2 – Matt Cain is NOT an ace. Not even close. He’s been consistently overrated over the past few years.
    3 – Tommy Hanson is NOT an ace YET. Give him another season or two, right now I wouldn’t put him in that category.
    4 – If we’re going on current performance, Chris Carpenter is not an ace.
    5 – If we’re going on current performance, Brett Anderson is totally an ace. Seriously, look up the kids stats, their insane.
    6 – I would drop Liriano from the borderline group. He’s never been consistently dominant, and this year he’s sucking it up.
    7 – Johan Santana should be in the borderline group. Depending on his performance later in the season, he could fall off the list completely, but right now he’s still there for sure.
    8 – Billingsley is borderline if Danks is.

    On the other hand, I like the inclusion of Romero, the exclusion of Jiminez from the ACE category, and the exclusion of Buchholz (God is he overrated).

    • Pick one:
      Pitcher 1 – 327 innings, 3.49 ERA (123 ERA+), 1.243 WHIP, 7.0 K/9
      Pitcher 2 – 365 innings, 3.10 ERA (128 ERA+), 1.166 WHIP, 8.0 K/9

  54. Bucs 4 years ago

    Any pitcher that you have to justify a bad year and/or pull out strong stats they excel in is not an ace. Also, someone being your favorite pitcher pr on your favorite team does not make them an ace.

  55. James 4 years ago

    What about Johan?

  56. In your borderline group, Ubaldo Jimenez is the only guy who should be there. Another guy who deserves to be on that borderline list is Matt Garza. Despite the W-L, his peripherals are damn good.

    And Yovanni Gallardo is a guy whose never been able to stay healthy, and hes been awful so far this year.

  57. JacksTigers 4 years ago

    Why do so many people think that Verlander is not as good as Ubaldo and Josh Johnson? He is a supperior to both of them. Look at his numbers.

  58. Terrible list. The only people i consider aces are
    Tim Lincecum
    Roy Halladay
    Felix Hernandez
    CC Sabathia
    Johan Santana

    These guys have accomplished so much in their career to deserve the title. The word ace is thrown around too much. The rest listed have potential to be an ace

    • Michael 4 years ago

      Look what Waino has done since 2006. I know he’s hurt now but that in my opinion that shouldn’t keep him from being considered as an ace. If his injury keeps him out more than this year then take him off

    • Dylan 4 years ago

      Santana? Right now? No. Who knows what he will have when he comes back.

  59. Also how does Kershaw make it as an ace and not Carpenter?

  60. $7562574 4 years ago

    only weaver and haren are aces. if you can find anyone pitching better, you can list them, ha, ha!!!!!!!!!!!

  61. face79ctxzr 4 years ago

    These are guys that would have been on this list had some type of injury/bad season along the way happened to them:

    Johan Santana (when healthy dominant ace)
    Jake Peavey (see Santana)
    Edison Volquez (TJ Surgery hurts some longer than others)
    Josh Beckett (like it or not he was a top of rotation threat)
    Matt Latos (if he can keep his head out of his butt)
    Brandon Webb
    Dan Haren (come back kid?)
    Chien-Ming Wang (it wasn’t all offense support)
    Barry Zito (someone had to bring it up)
    Chris Young (if he stays in the saftey of the CITI he could put one more gem of a season together)
    Dontrelle Willis (dunno what happened)
    Jeremy Bonderman (the ace before Verlander)
    Ben Sheets (if he could only stay healthy for 20 games maybe he’d win them)
    Cole Hamels (definitely has performed like an ace since the World Series MVP)

  62. Ferrariman 4 years ago

    this is the sort of conversation that really polarizes the sabermetric crowd and the tradionalist crowd. Some people think of an Ace as a guy you can turn to, a guy to pick up a starting staff, someone who can stop losing skids and starting winning ways, someone whose been in all sort of situations and exceeded in them, though might not put jaw dropping K:BB numbers or WAR because they transcend that. Some people are strictly saber-sticklers. It really is a question with no right answer.

  63. Triple Hawpes Brewed 4 years ago

    Not sure why folks are talking about Santana as an ace. He used to be, but now, not so much. Diminishing velocity and K’s, he’s 32 and injury-prone. He’s a good pitcher, but not an ace.

  64. Hey everyone, David Price is not actually that good. That is all.

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      thats probably the single dumbest thing anyone wrote in this thread.. and I just argued with a guy about the dictionary meaning of baseball slang.

  65. Lincecum
    Halladay
    Lee
    Sabathia
    Johnson
    King Felix
    Greinke

    Those are ACES, the cream of the crop. Kershaw, Lester, Price, Latos, Cain, Oswalt, Santana, Beckett, ect.. Guys like that are either former ACES or guys who are just on the cusp. Lester, Price, and Kershaw could be true aces by the end of the AS break.

    • slider32 4 years ago

      I like Lester,Kershaw, and Price more than Lee, and Greinke.

  66. Triple Hawpes Brewed 4 years ago

    Hamels, Cain, Hanson, and Price are dubious selections.

  67. BleedingBlue 4 years ago

    How many of these guys do you want pitching Game 7 of the World Series? That’s the only definition of “Ace” that matters.

  68. jazznbluz 4 years ago

    AL – Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, C.C. Sabathia, Jon Lester, Jered Weaver

    NL – Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Josh Johnson, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright (DL), Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain

    List of pitchers who could be an ace either this year or next:

    AL – David Price, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Dan Haren

    NL – Tommy Hunter, Cole Hamels, Stephen Strasburg (DL), Zack Greinke, Yovanni Gallardo, Clayton Kershaw, Mat Latos, Ubaldo Jiminez, Jhoulys Chacin

    List of pitchers who have ace stuff, but just need to harness it and show more consistency:

    AL – Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Max Scherzer, Ricky Romero, Kyle Dabek, Jeremy Hellickson, Francisco Liriano, Ervin Santana, Gio Gonzalez, Michael Pineda

    NL – Jair Jurrjens, Jordan Zimmerman, Johnny Cueto, Jamie Garcia, Chad Billingsly, Jonathan Sanchez,

    • Triple Hawpes Brewed 4 years ago

      You forgot Tommy Hanson. He easily has ace potential.

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      add Brandon Morrow to your last list.

      • jazznbluz 4 years ago

        Morrow needs to prove he can stay healthy and pitch more than 6 innings per game.

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          List of pitchers who have ace stuff, but just need to harness it and show more consistency

          Thats brandon morrow. .. You listed Drabek c’mon

  69. jazznbluz 4 years ago

    AL – Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, C.C. Sabathia, Jon Lester, Jered Weaver

    NL – Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Josh Johnson, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright (DL), Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain

    List of pitchers who could be an ace either this year or next:

    AL – David Price, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Neftali Feliz (if he joins the rotation), Dan Haren

    NL – Tommy Hunter, Cole Hamels, Stephen Strasburg (DL), Zack Greinke, Yovanni Gallardo, Clayton Kershaw, Mat Latos, Ubaldo Jiminez, Jhoulys Chacin

    List of pitchers who have ace stuff, but just need to harness it and show more consistency:

    AL – Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Max Scherzer, Ricky Romero, Kyle Dabek, Jeremy Hellickson, Francisco Liriano, Ervin Santana, Gio Gonzalez, Michael Pineda

    NL – Jair Jurrjens, Jordan Zimmerman, Johnny Cueto, Jamie Garcia, Chad Billingsly, Jonathan Sanchez,

  70. num1nymets 4 years ago

    No Oliver Perez?

    LMAO JK

  71. This list sucks

  72. nats2012 4 years ago

    Strasburg should be on there.

    • Not yet, but soon my friend soon….

    • Triple Hawpes Brewed 4 years ago

      The guy has thrown a total of 68 innings in the bigs, and you want to call him an ace? Could you BE anymore of a Nats homer?

  73. NYBravosFan10 4 years ago

    In my opinion, the term “ace” doesn’t exactly fit here. When I think of “ace” I think of the best starting pitcher in your staff. An ace is the best card you can play so your best pitcher is your ace. When I think of what this post is about I’d go with the term “elite” rather than “ace”.

  74. sherrilltradedooverexperience 4 years ago

    Would Don Sutton have been considered an “Ace”? What about Fernando or Hershiser? The post that talked about the future HOF’er definition for ace made me think of my team, famous for guys flaming out after a good 3-5 years of dominance due to overwork/injury so they lacked longevity. Sutton is the opposite, never owning the league or gaudy k/rates but having super longevity.

  75. Wade 4 years ago

    Let’s clarify what an ace is, and a number 1 is….. There is a difference. There are only 5-7 aces.

  76. MichiganMan2424 4 years ago

    To me an ace is a guy who you can rely on to pitch a gem when needed, give your bullpen a break, stop a losing streak, etc. To do that, at least for me, you have to be able to stay on the field. A guy like Johan, who has been regressing recently and is now starting to look like an injury risk, doesn’t make it. A guy like Wainwright does because he’s younger and could potentially be better after this surgery.

    I like Tim’s list, but I’d leave off Hamels for reasons stated above. I’d also leave off Hanson and Price due to them only being up for 2 seasons. I’d also leave off Cain because he seems to be a little lucky every year. Besides that it’s fine.

  77. Braydon Gervais 4 years ago

    I would put Brandon Morrow in my borderline list. I think he will be the Jays best pitcher and an ace by the end of this season. As a Jays fan I can see something special developing here.

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      He’s filthy and his bb/9 has been in check..

      he still throws too many pitches, the strikeouts are nice, but it takes more pitches to strike someone out than to get them to ground to short.

      I definitely have high hopes for him though, a full season of health will go a long way in seeing what he’s made of

  78. harmony55 4 years ago

    My fantasy team in a 10-team mixed league has four of the listed aces: Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Dan Haren and Tommy Hanson (with Jeremy Hellickson, Zach Britton and Kyle McClellan fighting for the fifth rotation slot each week).

    Now if I only had closer and hitters who could hit for average …

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      I’ll trade you Sam Fuld and Jed Lowrie for Roy Halladay

  79. You can’t have Liriano and then post an article a couple hours later where he should be pulled from the rotation.
    I do not know why Buchholz has not been mentioned as a boderline. He is not an ace yet but certainly could be.
    Latos is better than Danks, Liriano and Gallardo. (Marcum and Buchholz also for that matter)
    If you are going to include injured players then Hughes and Peavy need to be considered as borderline (although I think Peavy will never be the same)
    C.J. Wilson should not be on the list, but I would take him over Danks and Liriano.

  80. I disagree with almost every pick on here. A legitimate ace, follows the law of 2’s. A consistant ERA in the 2’s with an occassional low 3, 200 IP 200 k’s and at least a 3-1 K/BB ratio.

    In my opinion, Lincecum and Halladay are the only true aces in baseball right now. Guys who, if on the right team you can hand the ball every 5th day, guarantee a quality start or better, have potential to go all 9 often, and absolutely dominate hitters.

    Borderline guys who are very close include Jon Lester, CC Sabathia, Josh Johnson, and Cliff Lee

    But calling guys like Liriano who were almost DFA’d 2 years ago borderline seams silly to me regardless of recent success. Price doesn’t have enough innings under his belt to be considered, nor the ERA shy of 1 year.

    • Weaver and Hernandez must at least make your borderline list.
      My definition of an ace is a guy I check to see if he is going to face my favorite team a week in advance. A second definition is a pitcher I feel is going win no matter who is the competition. That definition would bring Verlander into the conversation and move Lester, Johnson and Sabathia into ace status.
      However I like your list better than the original. Liriano and Danks? please spare me.

  81. nysportfan 4 years ago

    i cant agree with the list… Cole hamels , Matt Cain, David Price and Tommy Hanson? If u have these guys and not Johan Santana your crazy… If their on there then why not cj wilson or steven strasburg… Every team may have an ace meaning thier number 1 pitcher but there are only about 10-12 true aces in the league.. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Adam Wainwright, Tim Lincecum, Felix Hernandez, Dan Haren, Josh Johnson, Chris Carpenter, Johan Santana, Jon Lester and CC Sabathia…

  82. cdubs 4 years ago

    No Johan Santana? That’s not right…

  83. sportwarrior 4 years ago

    Not sure why Matt Latos isn’t on the list when guys like Liriano or Jimenez are.

  84. Southgadawg 4 years ago

    Two “aces” have been omitted and they are both on one team. If they were split and separate teams, any other team and they would both be ace caliber pitchers for that team and they are from the Braves rotation. They are Tim Hudson and Jair Jurrijens.

    • 14 Rocks 4 years ago

      I am a Braves fan but neither Jurrjens nor Hudson are aces. Hanson is the only true ace on the team.

  85. ItsJustJake 4 years ago

    My definition of ‘Ace’ is: If all teams disbanded and chose from a list of current pitchers (Based only on ‘talent’, and disregarding Salary, Age, etc), these would be the First pitchers taken. There could be several from one team, and other teams might not be represented at all.

    It’s still entirely subjective, and one person’s definition of ‘Ace’ might not match another, but it’s a completely arbitrary title anyway. Fun to talk about, but hardly something you can really ‘define’ any further than that.

  86. To all of you who have left Jon Lester off your definite “ace” list:

    When will you realize that you can’t compare pitchers apples to apples? The only reason people seem to leave Lester off is because his numbers don’t quite hold up to some of the other “aces”.

    Ever think to adjust for 1) the AL East, including the Yankees and their tremendous lineup 2) the AL in general, especially due to the DH 3) Fenway Park? People drool over Adam Wainwright and yet ignore how many outside factors benefit him (especially his home ballpark…ever look at his home/away splits?)…I’m not knocking Wainwright, as he’d be an excellent pitcher anywhere, but to many people he would clearly be regarded as better than Lester due to his superior numbers, and I find that to be poorly thought out.

    Lester has pretty much everything you want in an ace. He’s a horse (almost all aces are), he has tremendous stuff (close to 10 K/IP each of the past two years), solid command, can win without his best stuff, and he has absolute ice in his veins.

    Short of Roy Halladay, I don’t think there’s another SP in baseball who is clearly better than Lester. He’s basically Cliff Lee with better stuff and less command.

  87. To wit: everyone has Tim Lincecum as a surefire, no doubt ace (which he is), and yet plenty are happy to call Lester a “potential ace”. Think about all the advantages Lincecum has…that nice pitcher’s ballpark in SF, no DH, the often mediocre/bad lineups of the NL West. We can never be sure how much Lincecum benefits, and how much Lester is handicapped, but we can ABSOLUTELY SURE that it’s silly to just plop their numbers next to each other and compare.

    Case in point…in 11 career interleague starts (home or away), Lincecum has a 3.99 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, and 81 K’s in 70 innings. His stuff is still there, but as a max effort pitcher, Lincecum can be worn down and/or issue more walks to DHs and deeper lineups.

    Meanwhile, in Lester’s 13 career interleague starts, he has a 2.66 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 77 K’s in 81 innings. As a pitcher who gets a lot of K’s with subtle movement and (due to the nature of the AL East) who tries to be efficient, he doesn’t see a huge boost in K’s or WHIP, but it’s easier for him to keep his ERA down than in his AL situation.

    Again, I’m not knocking Lincecum, and we always have to be wary of the small sample size alert…but it doesn’t take much digging to realize the Lester puts up near ace numbers with virtually every outside factor against him. Personally (and this is just my opinion, not trying to start a debate), given his success in even the toughest setups and situations, I’d pick Lester over Lincecum to start Game 1 for me, without a second thought.

  88. neoncactus 4 years ago

    I would agree that Lester deserves to be on here, but not Matt Cain. He hasn’t had the consistency to be considered an ace. Johan Santana should definitely be on this list.

  89. lincecumthefreak 4 years ago

    Tim Hudson needs to be on that list of aces

  90. lincecumthefreak 4 years ago

    Tim Hudson should be considered an ace

  91. Rick Garcia 4 years ago

    that was my first thought he should be borderline at least

  92. Howard asked that as well. I graded the seriousness of their injuries differently, and also they are at different points in their careers.

  93. stl_cards16 4 years ago

    Good one. Also if we’re already going to throw Hanson into the true ace list, Couldn’t Jaime Garcia at least get a borderline?

  94. He’s like 12 years old, I’d like to see him carry a rotation for 2+ years before anointing.

  95. Latos has got to lose his strict pitch count and 9 game losing streak first.

  96. stl_cards16 4 years ago

    Out to lunch

  97. I think this is a MLB list, not AAA

  98. stl_cards16 4 years ago

    I went and looked at Garica’s numbers ready to make an argument. And I seen that you are 100% right. LOL I guess I forgot how much he fell off the end of last season. So he can stay on the “Not even close” list.

  99. phoenix2042 4 years ago

    lol

  100. 0bsessions 4 years ago

    Nope.

  101. MaineSox 4 years ago

    Buchholz hasn’t shown the consistency to be considered, and there are also major doubts about whether he can replicate what he did last year. He had an Ace like ERA but his FIP and xFIP were more “really good” than Ace, and he doesn’t strike many people out.

  102. guydavis 4 years ago

    Santana’s gotta be on here dude

  103. JacksTigers 4 years ago

    No offense, but terrible argument.

  104. Pick one:
    Pitcher 1 – 392 innings, 3.38 ERA (121 ERA+), 1.242 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 2.27 K/BB
    Pitcher 2 – 365 innings, 3.19 ERA (128 ERA+), 1.166 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 2.91 K/BB

  105. Jeffrey 4 years ago

    Excellent point. I’m an AL East guy, so I had no idea the numbers Hanson has been putting up. Price has a slightly higher profile overall, having been an All Star and coming in second for the Cy Young last year. Also, he pitched in the World Series (which I recognize is luck of being on a good team). All of this is why he makes my list (arbitrarily of course).

  106. RedSoxDynasty 4 years ago

    I agree that Buchholz needs to have more than one dominant seasonto be considered an ace or even borderline yet pitchers with similar numbers and time like Hanson, Price and Kershaw are not being held to that same standard. IMO, none of them should be on this list unless they have put up consecutive dominant seasons otherwise Clay deserves the same recognition!

  107. MaineSox 4 years ago

    The only difference is that those other guy need a longer history of success, Buchholz’s numbers don’t appear to be sustainable, so there are questions about whether or not that was the “real” Buchholz last year. But yes, if he does continue with his success he belongs right along with those other guys.

  108. This site has some weird love affair with Tommy Hanson.

    If Tommy Hanson is an ace, than Cole Hamels has to be by default. If for no other reason than that he was the ace and MVP of a team that won the World Series just three years ago and had the best season of his career last year.

    Hanson has 61 career regular season starts and 1 postseason start in which he got lit up (4 IP, 4 ER). Hamels has 154 career regular season starts and 12 postseason starts in which he is 6-4 with a 3.45 ERA including NLCS and WS MVP awards.

  109. slider32 4 years ago

    I wouldn’t think of any of your borderlines as aces, or Hanson,Beckett,Greinke, or Oswalt.

  110. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    On one side, yes Clay won’t/shouldn’t be able to sustain his success with his splits, however, many things suggest his splits, namely his k/9 will rise.

    So in short his numbers should get better. Someone who has his stuff and swing rates etc should be striking out more batters.

  111. MaineSox 4 years ago

    Yeah, I’ve actually made that case several times myself. However the question about whether it will happen or not is why he doesn’t make a list like this, that’s the only point I was trying to make.

  112. Jeffrey 4 years ago

    In light of this comparison, you’re right – Hanson has better numbers (Pitcher #2) than Price. He dominates more (K’s, K/BB) has a roughly equivalent ERA and slightly fewer innings. Price really had a breakout year last year, so he immediately comes to mind. Of course Hanson is not putting up big win totals, but we can safely ignore that. I think neither guy really deserves the title, but both belong in the “Young Elite Ace” list, which would also include Kershaw and a few others. The characteristic of that list would be something like: “on a clear trajectory to be an ace, already has ace stuff, but not the resume.” I would expect 70-80% of the guys on that list would morph into legitimate aces.

    By the way, I love debates like this because there’s no way you can be wrong, it’s completely subjective.

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