MLB ERA Leaders By Year—1990s
Pitchers like Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens dominated hitters in the ‘90's, and Maddux is still doing that as of 2008. In the ‘90's, all three of those guys led the majors in earned run average at some point, including four times by Maddux and twice by Martinez. Here is a breakdown of that decade's leaders in ERA:
1999-Pedro Martinez, Boston Red Sox (2.07)
In his second season with Boston, Pedro Martinez had what was arguably his best season ever, going 23-4 with a league low 2.07 ERA. That ERA is even more amazing when you consider Martinez pitched in the DH-heavy American League. Martinez also had a career best 313 strikeouts, with just 37 walks, in 213 innings pitched on his way to winning the AL Cy Young Award and finishing second for the AL MVP.
1998-Greg Maddux, Atlanta Braves (2.22)
Greg Maddux has always been a consistently great pitcher, but in the ‘90's, he was at his peak. 1998 was the fourth year in the decade that Maddux led the majors in ERA, even though his Braves did not reach the World Series. Maddux went 18-9 with a 2.22 ERA, and 204 strikeouts to just 45 walks in 251 innings of work.
1997-Pedro Martinez, Montreal Expos (1.90)
In his last season with Montreal, ace pitcher Pedro Martinez stepped up his game in a big way, winning the NL Cy Young Award. That season, Martinez went 17-8 with a league low 1.90 ERA, striking out 305 batters while walking only 67 in 241 innings pitched.
1996-Kevin Brown, Florida Marlins (1.89)
Kevin Brown was a journeyman pitcher who had flashes of brilliance during his 19-year career. In the mid-nineties with Florida, Brown had two great seasons, including 1997 when he helped them win a championship. In 1996, Brown led the majors in ERA with a 1.89 clip. He also went 17-11 that year with 159 strikeouts to just 33 walks in 233 innings of work.
1995-Greg Maddux, Atlanta Braves (1.63)
The 1995 season began a bit later, since the 1994 strike carried over into the spring of the following year. But either way, Greg Maddux had what was probably his best season overall, and his numbers from that season are stunning. Maddux went 19-2 with a major league best 1.63 ERA, and had 181 strikeouts to just 23 walks in 209 innings pitched. Maddux won the NL Cy Young for the fourth straight season and finished third for the NL MVP Award.
1994-Greg Maddux, Atlanta Braves (1.56)
Though he only started 25 games in the strike-shortened 1994 season, Greg Maddux once again made his starts count, going 16-6 and leading the majors in earned run average with a career best 1.56 mark. Maddux had 156 strikeouts to just 31 walks in 202 innings of work on his way to winning a third straight NL Cy Young Award.
1993-Greg Maddux, Atlanta Braves (2.36)
1993 was the second straight season that Greg Maddux won 20 games, and amazingly, it was also the last time in his storied career that he's won 20. That season, Maddux won the first of four straight NL Cy Young Awards by going 20-10 with a league best 2.36 earned run average. He struck out 197 with just 52 walks in 267 innings pitched.
1992-Bill Swift, San Francisco Giants (2.08)
Bill Swift had a pretty nice 13-year career, but his best overall season by far was in 1993 when Swift won 21 games, finishing second in the NL Cy Young voting to Greg Maddux. But the previous year, 1992, Swift led the majors in ERA with a 2.08 mark. He went 10-4 that season for the Giants with 77 strikeouts and 43 walks in 164 innings of work.
1991-Dennis Martinez, Montreal Expos (2.39)
Dennis Martinez pitched for an astounding 23 seasons, and even though he was very effective throughout his career, he never had more than 16 wins in a single season. In 1991 while with Montreal, Martinez led the majors with a low ERA of 2.39. He went 14-11 that season, striking out 123 and walking 62 batters in 222 innings pitched.
1990-Roger Clemens, Boston Red Sox (1.93)
1990 was Roger Clemens' seventh year in the big leagues, and it was the first time that he led the majors in ERA, finishing with a mark of 1.93. Clemens finished second in the AL Cy Young voting that season, going 21-6 with 209 strikeouts and just 54 walks in 228 innings of work.