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Twins two-step to Nolan Ryan territory

A new documentary on a fascinating pitcher

Houston Astros Nolan Ryan... SetNumber: X33554 TK1 R10 F17

The Twins’ mid-week series in Houston has thinking about two things:

First, it may be the only place Carlos Correa doesn’t hear boo-birds or cat-calls.

Secondly, Houston is a frequent stomping ground of legendary flamethrower Nolan Ryan. I recently watched this new documentary about the Ryan Express...

Not only did I enjoy “Facing Nolan” immensely (10/10 stars!), but it got me thinking about Ryan in ways I hadn’t previously.

Despite pitching until 1993 and the age of 46, the Texas legend exited the major league stage just as I was entering its fandom. With the exception of Advil commercials, I never really got to experience Nolan’s aura.

Looking at the stat sheet, Ryan seems like a contradiction in terms in many categories:

  • He won 324 games—but lost 292 (.526 WP)
  • He piled up a ridiculous 5,714 strikeouts (11 times leading the league)—but also 2,795 walks (8 black ink marks) and heaps of wild pitches (6 lead-leagues).
Texas Rangers
K signs must have been a cottage industry unto themselves for Ryan starts
Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images
  • His career WHIP is 1.247—solid, but not exactly the stuff of legends.
  • A career 9.5 K/9 rate—paired with a 6.6 H/9.
  • His 7 no-hitters are unmatched—but he never took home Cy Young Award hardware.

Yet, as the doc often reminds viewers, the Nolan Ryan legacy can’t be fully appreciated via a ledger. He had arguably the livest arm in the history of a 35+ year pitcher (he actually was better with the Astros & Rangers than earlier stints with the Mets & Angels), he was a born-and-bred Texan who starred for both state franchises, and he was tough as nails.

Against the Minnesota Twins alone, Ryan posted this line: 296 IP, 20-11, 2.77 ERA, 21 CG, 4 SHO, 1.291 WHIP.

N. Ryan Walks Off; 383 On Scoreboard
Ryan’s final whiff of the almost incomprehensible 383 K 1973 season was Rich Reese of your MN Twins.

Nolan is often present at TX baseball contests to this day, so it’s possible fans could catch a glimpse of him this week. For those who got to experience some/all of his career, I’d love to hear your thoughts on where he ranks on your list of all-time greats.