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Three Short Reasons Why Nolan Ryan is Overrated


Not one of the three reasons.


Nolan Ryan is a legend; he might’ve been the first pitcher I ever learned about. After all baseball fans love hard throwers, and Ryan was a hard thrower like none other. Here’s the thing though: he’s overrated, massively. Ryan is still an above average pitcher, make no mistake, but for all the talk about best pitchers ever he should never be brought up as a legitimate candidate, and here’s why. 

To begin let’s state some of Ryan’s storied accomplishments, namely that he’s the all-time leader in no-hitters (seven) and strikeouts (5,714) and won 324 games. Ryan averaged almost 10 strikeouts per nine during his 27 year career and allowed less than seven hits per nine. Ryan also averaged 6.6 innings per start over his career while never suffering an arm injury.

Now let’s address why he’s overrated. Ryan walked 4.67 batters per nine – adding five base runners per game. His career ERA+ is 111, Wilson Alvarez, my beloved Rays’ opening day starter way back in 1998, had a career ERA+ of 112. In fairness to Ryan he averaged around 40 more innings per season than Alvarez and ERA+ isn’t a perfect indicator of talent, but the likes of Bob Gibson and Greg Maddux have ERA+ measures of over 120. 

The final reason Ryan is overrated is beyond his control, as I began with Ryan is a legend. He’s the prototypical "Texas flamethrower’ guys like Kerry Wood and Roger Clemens are endlessly compared to Ryan. Obviously we can’t measure this in statistical form, but constantly hearing how great Ryan is has built up a sense of iconic measures compared to the hype received by the likes of Bert Blyleven amongst others.