List of Major League Baseball career ERA leaders

In baseball statistics, earned run average (ERA) is the mean of earned runs given up by a pitcher per nine innings pitched (i.e. the traditional length of a game). It is determined by dividing the number of earned runs allowed by the number of innings pitched and multiplying by nine. Runs resulting from defensive errors (including pitchers' defensive errors) are recorded as unearned runs and are not used to determine ERA.

This is a list of the top 100 players in career earned run average, who have thrown at least 1,000 innings.

Ed Walsh holds the MLB earned run average record with a 1.816. Addie Joss (1.887) and Jim Devlin (1.896) are the only other pitchers with a career earned run average under 2.000.

Ed Walsh pitching
Ed Walsh, the career leader in earned run average.


Rank Rank amongst leaders in career earned run average. A blank field indicates a tie.
Player Name of player.
ERA Total career earned run average.
* denotes elected to National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bold denotes active player.[a]


20140919 Clayton Kershaw windup during 20th victory in 2014
Clayton Kershaw, the active leader and 30th all-time in career earned run average.
  • Stats updated as of July 16, 2019.
Rank Player ERA
1 Ed Walsh * 1.816
2 Addie Joss * 1.887
3 Jim Devlin 1.896
4 Jack Pfiester 2.024
5 Smoky Joe Wood 2.033
6 Mordecai Brown * 2.057
7 John Montgomery Ward * 2.099
8 Christy Mathewson * 2.133
Al Spalding * 2.133
10 Tommy Bond 2.138
11 Rube Waddell * 2.161
12 Walter Johnson * 2.167
13 Mariano Rivera * 2.209
14 Jake Weimer 2.231
15 Orval Overall 2.233
16 Will White 2.276
17 Babe Ruth * 2.277
18 Ed Reulbach 2.284
19 Jim Scott 2.298
20 Reb Russell 2.334
21 Andy Coakley 2.350
Eddie Plank * 2.350
23 Larry Corcoran 2.355
24 Eddie Cicotte 2.380
25 George McQuillan 2.381
26 Ed Killian 2.382
27 Doc White 2.391
28 Harry Coveleski 2.394
29 Carl Lundgren 2.417
30 Clayton Kershaw 2.420
31 Nap Rucker 2.421
32 Candy Cummings * 2.424
33 Jeff Tesreau 2.428
34 Joe Benz 2.429
35 Jim McCormick 2.431
36 George Bradley 2.434
37 Terry Larkin 2.455
38 Chief Bender * 2.455
39 Hooks Wiltse 2.471
40 Sam Leever 2.473
Lefty Leifield 2.473
42 Hippo Vaughn 2.486
43 Bob Ewing 2.492
44 Cy Morgan 2.509
45 Ray Collins 2.513
46 Hoyt Wilhelm * 2.523
47 Lew Richie 2.536
48 Noodles Hahn 2.546
49 George Zettlein 2.547
50 Frank Owen 2.552
Rank Player ERA
51 Grover Cleveland Alexander * 2.560
52 Slim Sallee 2.564
53 Deacon Phillippe 2.586
54 Russ Ford 2.590
55 Frank Smith 2.593
56 Ed Siever 2.598
57 Bob Rhoads 2.612
58 Cherokee Fisher 2.613
59 Fred Glade 2.618
60 Tim Keefe * 2.627
Cy Young * 2.627
62 Vic Willis * 2.628
63 Red Ames 2.629
64 Barney Pelty 2.632
65 Claude Hendrix 2.649
66 Jack Taylor 2.653
67 Joe McGinnity 2.657
Dick Rudolph 2.657
69 Pete Schneider 2.663
70 Nick Altrock 2.669
Carl Weilman 2.669
72 Charlie Ferguson 2.674
73 Charles Radbourn * 2.678
74 Johnny Lush 2.680
75 Cy Falkenberg 2.682
76 Jack Chesbro * 2.684
77 Fred Toney 2.689
78 Bill Donovan 2.690
79 Larry Cheney 2.698
80 Vean Gregg 2.701
81 Dick McBride 2.706
82 Mickey Welch * 2.712
83 Ned Garvin 2.718
84 Bob Wicker 2.726
85 Fred Goldsmith 2.729
86 Nick Cullop 2.733
87 Harry Howell 2.738
88 Whitey Ford * 2.745
89 Dummy Taylor 2.747
90 Howie Camnitz 2.749
Roy Patterson 2.749
92 Babe Adams 2.755
93 Dutch Leonard 2.759
94 Dan Quisenberry 2.759
95 Sandy Koufax * 2.761
96 Jeff Pfeffer 2.774
97 Al Demaree 2.775
Earl Moore 2.775
99 Jack Coombs 2.781
100 Ed Karger 2.787

See also


  1. ^ A player is considered inactive if he has announced his retirement or not played for a full season.


Bob Caruthers

Robert Lee Caruthers (January 5, 1864 – August 5, 1911), nicknamed "Parisian Bob", was an American right-handed pitcher and right fielder in Major League Baseball who played primarily for the St. Louis Browns and Brooklyn Bridegrooms. The star pitcher on five league champions in a ten-year career, he was the top pitcher in the American Association, leading that league in wins and shutouts twice each, winning percentage three times, and earned run average once. His 175 wins in the Association were the second most of any pitcher, and his league ERA of 2.62 was the lowest of any pitcher with at least 2,000 innings in the league; he was also the only pitcher to have 40-win seasons for two different Association teams. His career winning percentage was the highest of any pitcher prior to 1950 with at least 250 decisions; some sources recognize him as having compiled the highest winning percentage of any pitcher with at least 200 decisions (and retired as of 2006) in major league history.

Bobby Mathews

Robert T. Mathews (November 21, 1851 – April 17, 1898) was an American right-handed professional baseball pitcher who played in the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, the National League of Major League Baseball and the American Association for twenty years beginning in the late 1860s. He is credited as being one of the inventors of the spitball pitch, which was rediscovered or reintroduced to the major leagues after he died. He is also credited with the first legal pitch which broke away from the batter. He is listed at 5 feet 5 inches tall and 140 pounds, which is small for a pro athlete even in his time, when the average height of an American male in the mid-19th century was 5 feet 7 & 1/4 inches tall.

Candy Cummings

William Arthur "Candy" Cummings (October 18, 1848 – May 16, 1924) was an American professional baseball player. He played as a pitcher in the National Association and National League. Cummings is widely credited with inventing the curveball. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.

Carl Lundgren

Carl Leonard "Lundy" Lundgren (February 16, 1880 – August 21, 1934) was an American baseball and football player and coach.

Lundgren played football and baseball for the University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign and played eight seasons of Major League Baseball as a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs. In eight years with the Cubs, he compiled a record of 91 wins and 55 losses. His best season was 1907 when he won 18 games, pitched 207 innings without allowing a home run, threw seven shutouts, and gave up only 27 earned runs in 28 games. His 1.17 earned run average was the second lowest in the Major Leagues, and his average of 5.652 hits allowed per nine innings was the lowest in the Major Leagues.

Control problems held him back from greater renown. The Atlanta Constitution in 1913 summarized Lundgren's strengths and weaknesses: "He had everything including speed to burn green hickory and an assortment of curves that would keep a criptograph specialist figuring all night but he was wild as a March hare in a cyclone and couldn't locate the plate with a field glass."After retiring as a player, Lundgren became a coach. He was the head baseball coach and assistant football coach at the University of Michigan from 1914 to 1921. He was the head baseball coach and assistant athletic director at the University of Illinois from 1921 until his death in 1934. Lundgren's baseball teams at Michigan and Illinois won eight Big Ten Conference baseball championships, a total exceeded by only three other coaches in Big Ten history.

Charles Radbourn

Charles Gardner Radbourn (December 11, 1854 – February 5, 1897), nicknamed "Old Hoss", was an American professional baseball pitcher who played 12 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB). He played for the Buffalo Bisons (1880), Providence Grays (1881–1885), Boston Beaneaters (1886–1889), Boston Reds (1890), and Cincinnati Reds (1891).

Born in New York and raised in Illinois, Radbourn played semi-professional and minor league baseball before making his major league debut for the Buffalo Bisons in 1880. After a one-year stint with the club, Radbourn joined the Providence Grays. During the 1884 season, Radbourn won 60 games, setting an MLB single-season record that has never been broken. He also led the National League (NL) in earned run average (ERA) and strikeouts to win the Triple Crown, and the Grays won the league championship. After the regular season, he helped the Grays win the 1884 World Series, pitching every inning of the three games.

In 1885, when the Grays team folded, the roster was transferred to NL control, and Radbourn was claimed by the Boston Beaneaters. He spent the next four seasons with the club, spent one year with the Boston Reds, and finished his MLB career with the Cincinnati Reds. Radbourn was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.

Charlie Buffinton

Charles (Charlie) G. Buffinton (born Buffington) (June 14, 1861 – September 23, 1907), was an American right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1882 to 1892. One of the workhorse pitchers of the 1880s, he won 20 games seven times and his 1,700 career strikeouts are the ninth-highest total of the 19th century.

Cy Young

Denton True "Cy" Young (March 29, 1867 – November 4, 1955) was an American Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher. Born in Gilmore, Ohio, he worked on his family's farm as a youth before starting his professional baseball career. Young entered the major leagues in 1890 with the National League's Cleveland Spiders and pitched for them until 1898. He was then transferred to the St. Louis Cardinals franchise. In 1901, Young jumped to the American League and played for the Boston Red Sox franchise until 1908, helping them win the 1903 World Series. He finished his career with the Cleveland Naps and Boston Rustlers, retiring in 1911.

Young was one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the game early in his career. After his speed diminished, he relied more on his control and remained effective into his forties. By the time Young retired, he had established numerous pitching records, some of which have stood for over a century. He holds MLB records for the most career wins, with 511, along with most career innings pitched, games started, and complete games. He led his league in wins during five seasons and pitched three no-hitters, including a perfect game.

Young was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. In 1956, one year after his death, the Cy Young Award was created to honor the best pitcher in Major League Baseball for each season.

Dick McBride

John Dickson "Dick" McBride (June 14, 1847—January 20, 1916) was an American Major League Baseball player from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who was the star pitcher and the player-manager for the Philadelphia Athletics of the National Association from 1871 through most of 1875 until Cap Anson took over as player-manager for the remaining eight games of the season. He had a pitching record of 149 wins and 74 losses during that period. In 1871, he went 18-5 and led Philadelphia to the NA championship. McBride finished his major league career in 1876 when he was signed by the Boston Red Stockings of the National League after the Association failed. He had a record of 0-4 before his career came to an end. McBride died in Philadelphia at the age of 70, and is interred at Lawnview Cemetery in Rockledge, Pennsylvania.In 1864, while serving in the Union Army during the Civil War, he was allowed to take a 3-day furlough to participate in a series of baseball exhibitions between clubs from Brooklyn and the local Philadelphia clubs. It was during this time that the north's attention had turned to military defense, not baseball, so Brooklyn strategically scheduled these events hoping to take advantage of the situation to get some well sought after wins in "enemy" territory. The presence of McBride didn't do much, as all Philly teams were beaten soundly.

Doc White

Guy Harris "Doc" White (April 9, 1879 – February 19, 1969) was an American left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball. He played for two teams, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago White Sox, during his career which lasted from 1901 to 1913.

Born in Washington, D.C., "Doc" White was a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Dentistry. He started his professional baseball career in 1901 with the Phillies. In 1903, he jumped to the White Sox of the new American League.

From 1903 to 1906, White won at least 16 games each year; his earned run average was in the league's top four each year, as well. He led the league in ERA in 1906 with a 1.52 mark and went 18–6. That year, the White Sox won the pennant and their first World Series. In Game 5, White recorded the first save in Series history.

The following season, White set a career-high in wins with 27. He pitched effectively for Chicago until 1912, had an off-year in 1913, and then went to the Pacific Coast League from 1914 to 1915.White also gained some recognition as a composer, publishing at least four songs (such as bestseller "Little Puff of Smoke, Good Night" in 1910) with his co-writer Ring Lardner, who was a sportswriter in Chicago during that period.White died at age 89 in Silver Spring, Maryland, just eight months after witnessing Don Drysdale surpass his record of 45 consecutive scoreless innings on June 4, 1968.

He was the last surviving member of the 1906 World Champion Chicago White Sox.

Ed Morris (1880s pitcher)

Edward Morris (September 29, 1862 – April 12, 1937), nicknamed Cannonball, was a 19th-century Major League Baseball pitcher. He played for the Columbus Buckeyes (1884), Pittsburgh Alleghenys (1885–1889), and Pittsburgh Burghers (1890). He has been described as the first great lefthanded pitcher in major league baseball.

Jim Devlin

James Alexander Devlin (June 6, 1849 – October 10, 1883) was an American Major League Baseball player who played mainly as a first baseman early in his career, then as a pitcher in the latter part. He played for three teams during his five-year career; the Philadelphia White Stockings and the Chicago White Stockings of the National Association, and the Louisville Grays of the National League. However, after admitting to throwing games and costing the Grays the pennant in the 1877 Louisville Grays scandal, he and three of his teammates were banished permanently from Major League Baseball.

Joe McGinnity

Joseph Jerome McGinnity (March 20, 1871 – November 14, 1929) was an American right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the late 19th and early 20th century. McGinnity played in MLB for ten years, pitching for the National League's (NL) Baltimore Orioles (1899) and Brooklyn Superbas (1900), before jumping to the American League (AL) to play for the Baltimore Orioles (AL) (1901–1902). He returned to the NL with the New York Giants (1902–1908). McGinnity continued to pitch in the minor leagues, eventually retiring from baseball for good at the age of 54.

In MLB, he won 246 games with a 2.66 earned run average (ERA). He had seven 20-win seasons and two 30-win seasons. Including his time in the minor leagues, McGinnity won close to 500 games as a professional ballplayer. He led MLB in wins five times (1899, 1900, 1903, 1904, and 1906) and ERA once (1904). With the Giants, he won the 1905 World Series. His teams also won NL pennants in 1900 and 1904.

McGinnity was nicknamed "Iron Man" because he worked in an iron foundry during the baseball offseasons. His nickname came to convey his longevity and durability, as he routinely pitched in both games of doubleheaders. He set NL records for complete games (48) and innings pitched (434) in a single season, which still stand. McGinnity is considered one of the better players in the history of the New York Giants. The Veterans Committee elected him to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.

Pretzels Getzien

Charles H. Getzien (sometimes spelled Getzein) (February 14, 1868 – June 19, 1932) was an American professional baseball player from 1883 to 1891. He played all or parts of nine seasons in Major League Baseball with four different National League teams from 1884 to 1891. He was the first German in MLB history.

Getzien was known by the nickname "Pretzels". Sources conflict as to whether the nickname was derived from his German ethnicity or from the belief that he was able to throw a "double curve" following "the curves of a pretzel." During nine major league seasons, Getzien compiled a 145-139 win-loss record and a 3.46 earned run average (ERA). He threw 277 complete games, a total that ranks 58th in major league history. Only three pitchers threw more complete games in major league careers shorter than Getzien's nine-year career.

Getzien had his most extensive playing time with the Detroit Wolverines, compiling records of 30-11 and 29-13 in 1886 and 1887. In the 1887 World Series (which Detroit won, 10 games to 5), Getzien pitched six complete games and compiled a 4-2 record with a 2.48 ERA. He also won 23 games for the Boston Beaneaters in 1890.

Van Lingle Mungo

Van Lingle Mungo (June 8, 1911 – February 12, 1985) was a Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher known for his career with the Brooklyn Robins/Dodgers. Mungo played for the Dodgers from 1931 to 1941 and finished his baseball career with the New York Giants.

Will White

William Henry "Whoop-La" White (October 11, 1854 – August 31, 1911) was an American baseball pitcher and manager from 1875 to 1889. He played all or parts of 10 seasons in Major League Baseball, primarily for the Cincinnati Reds in the National League (1878–1879) and the Cincinnati Red Stockings in the American Association (1882–1886). He had three 40-win, and one 40-loss, seasons in Cincinnati. During the 1882 and 1883 seasons, he led the American Association in wins, compiling an 83–34 win–loss record and a 1.84 earned run average (ERA).

Over the course of 10 major league seasons, White compiled a 229–166 record with a 2.28 ERA. His career ERA ranks ninth on the all-time list of Major League Baseball career ERA leaders. White also set a number of major league pitching records and still holds several. His 1879 totals of 75 complete games, 75 games started, 680 innings pitched, and 2,906 batters faced remain major league records. He was also the player-manager of the Red Stockings for 71 games during the 1884 season, compiling a 44–27 managerial record. He is also remembered as the first, and for many years only, major league player to wear eyeglasses on the baseball field.

Multiple stat
Base running


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