30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nolan Ryan... is he overrated?

Every now and then... I have a huge brain fart and I can't think of anything to write about. That's when I turn to
www.todayinsport.com. It's a site that lists births, deaths, and major events that occur on any specific date.

So that's what I did today and that's when I discovered that on July 7th, 1991... Nolan Ryan almost threw his 8th no-hitter, which made me think: How many one hitters did this guy throw?

I eventually strolled across this page, which says he threw 12 one-hitters, which is tied for the most in MLB history with the great Bob Feller. This blew me away... because it somehow made his MLB record of seven no-hitters even cooler.

Which leads me to today's question of the day:

Based on his performance on the field,
do you think Nolan Ryan is overrated?

I've read this debate in forums before and as a kid I thought The Ryan Express was a pretty amazing pitcher. Then over the years, I read arguments about his zero Cy Young awards, 292 career losses (3rd in MLB history), and 2,795 walks (1st in MLB history)... and that made me start to second guess myself. Thankfully... today I took the time to look at his statistics again and read a few different arguments... which made me realize just how great he was.

So he only had 32 more wins than losses over a span of 27 seasons. And he may not have had the best control in the history of baseball. But the fact is... he's the all-time strikeout leader, no-hit leader, hits per 9 IP leader... was an 8x all-star... led his league in strikeouts eleven times, holds the AL record for strikeouts in a season (383 in 1973), and was a first ballot HOFer.

Do I think he's the greatest pitcher of all-time? Probably not. But as of today... I don't consider him to be overrated either. I just think of this guy as being one helluva pitcher and I'm glad I had the honor of watching him pitch on several occasions.

Plus... if you grew up in the 70's, 80's, and early 90's... then you know that Ryan was a household name. Anyone remember this card commemorating Ryan's 7th no-hitter?

1991 Leaf "Gold Rookies" #BC25

I worked at a card shop at the time and can remember these (along with the Rickey Henderson card from the same set) being ultra hot. Not positive... but I think we sold them for $10 to $15 each. Today you can pick one up for twenty cents on COMC. Ahhh... those were the days. Regardless of whether you think he's overrated or not... it's hard to argue his place in our hobby.

Happy Thursday everyone... and sayonara!


  1. And he was in his 40s when he headlocked and kicked the crap out of Robin Ventura. That was awesome.

  2. yep, not overrated...and like you said, he is what he is...strikeout pitcher for bad teams...

    maybe not the best pitcher of all time, but I am sure that is ok with him...

    the only thing overrated was his cards during the last few years of his career...now they are back down to levels where they probably should be....mark

  3. Definitely not over rated. One of the mos unique attractions in the sports history. A physical marvel. At times-absolutely un hitt a ble!! And I too still treasure the moment he headlocked Ventura and gave him the noogie from hell.

  4. Nolan didn't have the perfect control of some pitchers, but he was dominating on the mound like no other. He had so many strikeouts, walks, and one- and no-hitters because players just couldn't get the bat on the card good enough to beat him. If he had a good team behind him, especially in his prime, he would have won more games, some Cy Young awards, and maybe a couple more no-hitters. Houston won the division only once, the Angels only won once (1979, the last year he was with the team), and you can forget about the Rangers. He was too young and had to go up against Tom Seaver on his own team when he was with the Mets.

    He was the best of his era, and one of the best of all time. His control issues led to a lot of walks and hit batsmen, but that was part of his aura. Are you going to dig in against someone throwing 100 MPH without knowing where it's going?

  5. I only started watching baseball in 1992, when I was about 9 year old, but I remember thinking he was the greatest pitcher in the game even at that late stage. And yes, the Robin Ventura moment cemented him as just about the coolest pitcher in the game. In 1998 I remember the trivia question that he's the only man to give a HR to Mark McGwire (the new leader at the time) AND Roger Maris. I don't think he's overrated, I think he had a truly dominant and long-lasting career, even if the traditional stats don't show him as a "winner".

  6. I did not follow baseball very closely when I was a kid, but I remember the Ryan Express. Its hard to say he's overrated when the stats are fairly clear-cut that the guy was a dominant pitcher.

  7. I'll bet many Cy Young winners would trade that award for Nolan's longevity, strikeouts and no-hitters. He was a machine for most of career and I LOVE that he's in charge here in Texas.

  8. I think you could probably pick apart any great player for a weakness in a few areas. For hitters, take a look at the All Time Career leaders in strike outs and the majority of them are in the Hall of Fame, considered the best in the game.

    Nolan Ryan's win percentage was .526, the teams he played for over his career had a win percentage of .503. For the majority of career he played on teams that we the lowest run producers in the league.

    I think the stat for least career hits per 9 innings is the telling one. On average only 6.5 hits per 9 innings.

    Was his control off at times? Most definitely. He is 2nd on the all time list for wild pitches. But you don't last 27 years in Major League Baseball unless you are doing something seriously right.

  9. I'm going to be a contrarian here and say he was overrated....but only in the sense that a lot of people think he's one of the top five pitchers of all time.

    This is not to say he wasn't great and worthy of all the accolades. He was probably the scariest pitcher to ever face because even he couldn't control half the time in his prime.

    He had a lot of dominant games and didn't allow many hits, but the walks really added up for him. His WHIP was a mediocre 1.25 for his career even with having the lowest H/9 rate ever.

    So, he's overrated because he;s not properly rated by the general baseball watching public...if that makes sense...not top 5, but top 15 is a more realistic rating.

  10. Not overrated, unless you consider him to be the greatest pitcher ever. Which I don't.

    Over 100 career WAR, 9.55 K/9 IP, FIP under 3.00.

    A Hall of Famer, indeed.

  11. Although his W-L record is fairly close to .500 his career ERA is only 3.19 and he did pitch 222 complete games.These days the so called experts will say ERA is more important than Win Loss stats.I don't know if he is over rated but I don't believe he is in the top 5 pitchers of all time.

    Lets be honset,who would you rather go and watch pitch, a guy who has a great record but is a ground ball pitcher or a guy who is an out and out fireballing K machine? I know what my answer would be.

  12. One could certainly hope that at some point in each of our lives, we could all be considered as over-rated. And I am completely assuming it all depends on who's doing the rating, and who you are being rated against...

  13. Everyone has said my piece for me, definitely not overrated.

  14. Not overrated. Let's see who's the next pitcher to throw seven no-hitters.

  15. People have a tendency to look back and feel nostalgic, especially the good old days!

    Ryan was a hall of fame pitcher, and a strikeout pitcher which fans like, Wins are regardless example Roy Halladay!

    And a great pitcher can be acantact specialist!

  16. This is so unbelievably sad. It immediately brought tears to my eyes, as I have a 7 year old boy and a 3 year old boy. I just cant imagine how such a freak accident could happen. If precautions can be taken, it needs to be seriously considered, this cant happen again. A little 6 year old boy doesn't have a father anymore - what a tragedy.

  17. the lost collector - classic moment in baseball... i'm still hoping to find the bloody mcfarlane on clearance somewhere

    ryan g - to think that the mets didn't even use him as a full time starter... but by looking at his stats, he didn't start dominating until he went to the angels. can you imagine if ryan and seaver stayed together through the 70's... that would have been one sweet tandem.

    matt - i heard the maris/bonds thing too... pretty cool piece of trivia.

    play at the plate - i bet you're right. i mean... who would most people rather be? nolan ryan or pat hentgen.

    baseball nut - wow 27 years... that's just cool.

    dan - i understand and agree with your point. i don't think he's one of the top 5 starting pitchers (of all-time) either... but he's definitely in the top 15.

    oakley sunglasses - i can't believe it happened. it's one of the saddest things i've read in recent times. my thoughts go out to the little boy and and his family... along with the Texas Rangers and their fans.

    side note: i wrote this post before i heard the Texas Ranger fan story.

  18. Jeter hit #3000... and I'm in the middle of a new post in honor of him. Which means... I'm locking down this post for contest points. A new one will be up shortly.