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Was Nolan the Greatest? No, He Was Not

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  • Was Nolan the Greatest? No, He Was Not

    When I ask most people who they believe is the greatest pitcher ever, most come up with the obvious answers, Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Roger Clemens, etc. Outside of those names, however, there is always a constant...Nolan Ryan. Many consider him to be the greatest pitcher of all-time. I have tried posting this topic on other websites, but 3/4 of the people on those sites are immature and can only fire back with phrases such as, "Nolan is the greatest you fag" or "Shut the hell up moron". I know that almost all of you guys on this website are mature and can read through this post and see my points, because I do believe that Nolan Ryan is one of the most overrated baseball players of all-time.

    My biggest complaint with Ryan would have to be his total lack of control. In addition to striking out 5,714 batters, he also walked 2,795 which is nearly 1,000 more than Lefty Carlton, who ranks second on the all-time list. He also threw 277 wild pitches, which is over 70 more than Jack Morris, who ranks second on the all-time list. Bob Feller once said that Ryan was, "nothing but a thrower that couldn't get the ball over the plate" when comparing Ryan and his former teammate Tom Seaver. He has a point, and the stats prove it.

    Another complaint that I have with Ryan is his extremely mediocre career winning percentage, and his absolutely horrific amount of losses. Ryan lost 292 games, which is the most for any modern-era pitcher and third all-time. His career winning percentage was .526, and he was only 32 games over .500. Something a lot of people like to say is, "Well, Ryan did play on bad teams". While this may be the case, it's no excuse. Let's look at some other pitchers like that. In 1946, Bob Feller had a 26-15 record, a 2.18 earned run average, 348 strikeouts, 36 complete games, and a 153 *ERA+. The Indians had a 68-86 record that season. In 1910, Walter Johnson had a 25-17 record, a 1.36 earned run average, 313 strikeouts, 38 complete games, and a 183 *ERA+. The Washington Senators finished the season second to last in the American League with a 66-85 record. Lastly, in 1992, Greg Maddux posted a 20-11 record, a 2.18 earned run average, 199 strikeouts, and a 166 *ERA+. The Cubs posted a 78-84 record. Also, contrary to belief, the teams that Ryan played for had a combined .506 winning percentage while he played for them. Ryan had only a .023 better percentage than the teams he played on. Walter Johnson's Senators didn't even win the pennant until his 18th season, yet he managed to have a .107 better percentage than lowly Washington. In the nine seasons that Ryan had a losing record, he had an earned run average above 3.30 seven times, and had an earned run average above 3.50 four times, showing that even if his team didn't give him run support, it was because he gave up runs in the first place. In fact, he had an earned run average above 3.50 nine times. Walter Johnson only did it three times. Bob Gibson also did it three times. Whitey Ford never had an ERA over 3.24.

    Ryan never won a Cy Young either. Say what you want about the awards, the Cy Young shows the pitcher that dominates their league, and considering the highest Ryan ever got was second place once, it shows that he wasn't as dominate as everyone likes to say he was. In his twenty-seven seasons, he played in only eight All-Star games, he got to the postseason five times and has a 1-2 record in seven starts.

    I mean, come on, how can you put a guy who had no control, was 32 games over .500, and won one postseason game, ahead of guys like Walter Johnson, Greg Maddux, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Cy Young, Bob Feller, and many others that were far and ahead of Nolan Ryan.

    And do keep in mind, this is all strictly in my humble opinion, and I do thank you all for liste...sorry...reading my post.
    5,008 innings pitched, 13th all-time, most active
    355 wins, 8th all-time, most active
    3.16 lifetime ERA
    3,371 strikeouts, 10th all-time
    109 complete games, most active
    18 Gold Gloves, most all-time
    First to win four consecutive Cy Young Awards

    He could throw a baseball through a lifesaver if you asked him!-Joe Morgan

  • #2
    You're definitely at the right place. That's pretty much the consensus opinion here.

    A dominating presence, a clear first ballot HOFer, and by all accounts a good fellow, but not really Top 10 material. As I've written before, I would rank four or five pitchers just from his generation ahead of him.
    3 6 10 21 29 31 35 41 42 44 47

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree with you completely. Ryan was a decent pitcher, and many of his stats came from longevity. Like what you said about his winning precentage, Johnson played for a lot of bad teams and won over 400 games
      Originally posted by bhss89
      "Hi. My name is John. I'd like you to meet my fastball. Can you catch up to it?
      Didn't think so. I'll see you again tomorrow night around the top of the ninth."
      Originally posted by ChineseDemocracy
      Why can't they just air the doubleheaders? Those programs aimed at children are crap anyway.

      Comment


      • #4
        yea, unfortunately I've had this arguement with far too many people who think ryan was the greatest thing since slice bread.

        Top 20-25 pitcher, sure why not (though I am still in the process of ranking my all time pitchers so I cant say exactly where I'd put him). But to rank him in the top 10, which MANY people seem to do, is just flat out wrong in my opinion.
        "all the mets road wins against the dodgers this year have occured at Dodger Stadium"---Ralph Kiner

        "Blind people came to the park just to listen to him pitch"---Reggie Jackson, talking about Tom Seaver

        Comment


        • #5
          Maddog, you forgot to mention Steve Carlton in 1972 for the Phillies.
          Last Player to hit for the Cycle: Matt Kemp, San Diego Padres (August 14, 2015)

          Last Pitcher to throw a Regular Season No-Hitter: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals 2-0 (October 3, 2015)

          Last Pitcher to throw a Postseason No-Hitter: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies 4-0 (October 6, 2010)

          Comment


          • #6
            Great post, TheMadDog31. Ryan was a solid pitcher who got a lot of his stats from playing a long time, but I wouldn't ever call him anything near the greatest pitcher of all time, or even his era. His average record was 12-11 - which really isn't too impressive - and he walked over 200 batters twice in his career. That is terrible control.

            Comment


            • #7
              And neither is Pete Rose one of the top nine OF's of all time, or Ernie Banks one of the top 2 SS's, or Brooks Robinson (?) one of the top two 3Bmen. It doesn't take a genius to know that the All-Century team crowd doesn't really get a lot of stuff. Ryan isn't a top 25 pitcher.
              "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

              Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by geezer View Post
                Maddog, you forgot to mention Steve Carlton in 1972 for the Phillies.
                My oh my, yes I did. Thanks for pointing that out. I'll go ahead and do that now.

                In 1972, Carlton posted a 27-10 record, a 1.97 earned run average, 310 strikeouts, and 30 complete games. The Phillies posted an absolutely abysmal final record of 59-97, and finished dead last in the NL East, 37.5 games behind of the Pirates, and 11 games behind Montreal, who was second to last.

                I'm glad I get a lot of support on this website. Thank you guys for actually taking the time to read all of it and see the facts.
                5,008 innings pitched, 13th all-time, most active
                355 wins, 8th all-time, most active
                3.16 lifetime ERA
                3,371 strikeouts, 10th all-time
                109 complete games, most active
                18 Gold Gloves, most all-time
                First to win four consecutive Cy Young Awards

                He could throw a baseball through a lifesaver if you asked him!-Joe Morgan

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ElHalo View Post
                  And neither is Pete Rose one of the top nine OF's of all time, or Ernie Banks one of the top 2 SS's, or Brooks Robinson (?) one of the top two 3Bmen. It doesn't take a genius to know that the All-Century team crowd doesn't really get a lot of stuff. Ryan isn't a top 25 pitcher.
                  Yes, I agree with all you said. Just out of curiosity, do you think Paul is getting into the Hall of Fame when he is eligible?
                  5,008 innings pitched, 13th all-time, most active
                  355 wins, 8th all-time, most active
                  3.16 lifetime ERA
                  3,371 strikeouts, 10th all-time
                  109 complete games, most active
                  18 Gold Gloves, most all-time
                  First to win four consecutive Cy Young Awards

                  He could throw a baseball through a lifesaver if you asked him!-Joe Morgan

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TheMadDog31 View Post
                    Yes, I agree with all you said. Just out of curiosity, do you think Paul is getting into the Hall of Fame when he is eligible?
                    If he has a ticket.

                    Paul O'Neill is my favorite player of my lifetime. Absolutely fantastic clubhouse guy -- great intensity -- great love of the game, realatively good at all aspects of offense and defense... but he just wasn't quite HoF great.
                    "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

                    Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Ryan was a very poor fielder, or worse.

                      For his career, 1.28 plays per nine innings, about 30% below league average 1.89. Fielding average .895(!), about 115% more errors than league average .952. That low "range" is associated with his strikeouts and it should be embodied in his ERA, which is why some people ignore pitcher fielding. That high error rate, on the other hand, charges team fielding rather than his ERA with some of the runs scored.

                      Ryan's poor fielding probably cost the Astros their first World Series in 1980.
                      For the Phillies en route to their only championship, that was quintessential Ryan, just as much as Pete Rose catching the foul pop off Bob Boone's glove was quintessential Rose.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ElHalo View Post
                        If he has a ticket.

                        Paul O'Neill is my favorite player of my lifetime. Absolutely fantastic clubhouse guy -- great intensity -- great love of the game, realatively good at all aspects of offense and defense... but he just wasn't quite HoF great.
                        Yes, Paul is Top Ten favorites for me as well. But, I have been around for a very long time, so I'm sure my lifetime stretches farther than yours. I mean, let's look at it this way.

                        If Nolan Ryan can get into the Hall of Fame with almost a unanimous vote, maybe O'Neill can get into the Hall of Fame sometime in the future.
                        5,008 innings pitched, 13th all-time, most active
                        355 wins, 8th all-time, most active
                        3.16 lifetime ERA
                        3,371 strikeouts, 10th all-time
                        109 complete games, most active
                        18 Gold Gloves, most all-time
                        First to win four consecutive Cy Young Awards

                        He could throw a baseball through a lifesaver if you asked him!-Joe Morgan

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The main reason Ryan shows up in these types of conversations is because of what he did towards the end of his career. When he got his 6th and 7th no hitter, and struck out his 5000th batter, the media ate it up. He was a powerful, but wild pitcher. Someone a 500 HR dominated media could relate to. He even got top billing over Rickey Henderson in several papers because the day Henderson broke the SB record and declared himself the best player in the history of the game, Ryan pitched a no-no.

                          The guy was well-liked and what he did in his 40s was amazing, but I wouldn't put him in the top ten of all time. Top 20, probably.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TheMadDog31 View Post
                            Yes, Paul is Top Ten favorites for me as well. But, I have been around for a very long time, so I'm sure my lifetime stretches farther than yours. I mean, let's look at it this way.

                            If Nolan Ryan can get into the Hall of Fame with almost a unanimous vote, maybe O'Neill can get into the Hall of Fame sometime in the future.
                            Well, I'm still on the good side of 30 for another year or two, so I guess that places me.
                            "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

                            Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Some other pitchers who did well with a sub-.500 team:

                              Jim Colborn: 20-12, 3.18 ERA. Team: 1973 Milwaukee Brewers, 74-88
                              Teddy Higuera: 20-11, 2.79 ERA. Team: 1986 Milwaukee Brewers, 77-84

                              Comment

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