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POLL: Nolan Ryan and the Hall of Fame

Posted by Andy on May 10, 2011

On another thread, we debated a bit about Nolan Ryan's career and legacy. I have long felt that some people give Ryan too much credit, but I'm not as sure that he doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame anyway.

When it comes to Ryan's career, there are 3 things that most people think of in terms of his accomplishments:

  • 5,714 career strikeouts, which is first all-time
  • 7 no-hitters
  • 300+ career wins (324 actually, which is 14th all-time)

Let's attack those 3 main accomplishments.

Regarding his career strikeouts, although his total is #1 all time, his K/9 is "only" 4th at 9.548. The 3 guys ahead of him are more recent players--Randy Johnson, Kerry Wood, and Pedro Martinez, so it's a bit unfair to hold that against Ryan. Since strikeout rates have been increasing all the time, it's a little bit easier these days to rack up higher strikeout totals. Nevertheless, it serves as a reminder that Ryan's career total is thanks at least in small part to his longevity.

Ryan also leads all of MLB in career walks, and his K/BB ratio of 2.044 is only 246th all-time. So he piled up a ton of strikeouts and a ton of walks, but relatively speaking he walked a lot more.

This segues into his 7 career no-hitters. They are very impressive, no doubt. Ryan's rate of hits per 9 innings is 6.555, also first all-time. So he was clearly the best-suited guy to rack up a pile of no-hitters, and that's exactly what he did. But we might overestimate how good of a pitcher he was based on those no-hitters. When it comes to keeping guys off base, his career WHIP is just 266th all-time. Think about that--the guy with the lowest hit rate of all time falls to 266th when you add in his walks.

Finally, as far as his career wins go, while he's 14th in career wins, he's 3rd in career losses. His overall record of 324-292 isn't all that impressive. His neutralized pitching stats put his W-L% at just about the same number.

There are tons of other things we could say about Ryan's career. All I've tried to do here is dispel some of the aura of the numbers of particular note to make sure that we look past them a little bit. I can't really imagine Ryan not being Hall worthy, but I'd like to hear your thoughts.

197 Responses to “POLL: Nolan Ryan and the Hall of Fame”

  1. Dave V. Says:

    I haven't read any of the comments yet, but I do wish there had been a Poll choice in between Top 10 and Top 50. That's quite a gap IMO. I voted him Top 10 as I think he's close to the Top 10 than he is to being "only" Top 50 (if there was a choice in between though, I would have voted there).

  2. Dave V. Says:

    My comment @101 - that should say I think he's closer to the Top 10 than he is to being "only" Top 50...

  3. John Autin Says:

    @100, RACope re: why Ryan fared so well in the HOF vote:

    Bill James addressed the inflation of Ryan's legend in the Historical Baseball Abstract. Here's a link to the book on Amazon; the Ryan passage is on pp. 861-62.

  4. MikeD Says:

    I am a bit surprised that about 30% of voters have Ryan in the top ten all time, so that lends support to the idea that he's overrated. Yet I do think that certain segments became so focused on the negative (his walks) that they ignored all his other positives and he became underrated.

    The poll would have been much more difficult if there was one more choice. I don't have him top ten, but I'm comfortable he's in the top 50. If there was a choice of top 25, that would have caused me to pause and think a lot more.

  5. Doug B Says:

    To people who would put Ryan in the top 15...

    how would you rank these 4?

    Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Tom Seaver.

  6. MikeD Says:

    @105, I'd have Clemens, Seaver and Johnson ahead of Ryan, yet I'd have the first three in my all-time top ten, at least I think. The only way I know for sure was to put together a list of my top ten, which I haven't done in a while. Ryan's not top ten. He's not top 15. It gets trickier after that and a lot will depend on how people weight peak value vs. career value.

  7. Doug B Says:

    A more odd question but 1 that I think is interesting...

    would you rather have 20 Nolan Ryan starts or 12 Pedro Martinez starts and 8 AAA replacement level pitcher starts?

    I think you could make a case for either one. You might go 12-8 with Ryan, 9-3 with Pedro and 3-5 with the AAA picther and it all comes out in the wash.

    An amazing difference shows when you look at career leasders in WAR and pitching wins comparing Pedro and Ryan.

  8. Jared Says:

    Just a general comment about a few previous posts. Several have mentioned that a walk is worth about .33 runs, and a single at about .47 runs. If you do the math on Ryan's career Hits allowed/9 innings and walks allowed per 9 innings, if we assume that every hit he allowed was a single, and using his career rate of 87.7% of runs allowed were earned, those numbers would result in him having a career ERA of 4.08, and that's just factoring in walks and him only ever giving up singles. I don't think we can reliably use those values for singles and walks. They will consistenly over estimate a pitcher's ERA.

  9. Voomo Zanzibar Says:

    @#91, autin -

    I think the W/L question is relevant because of what the argument would look like if it were different. If there is an anomaly, say of 30 games, and his record was 354-262, I don't this discussion happens.

  10. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Jared, you would also need to subtract runs for the outs Ryan got. Read about Linear Weights. This looks like a decent intro:

  11. Biff Says:

    Why are we debating Nolan Ryan when the voters just inducted in the poor man's Nolan Ryan (Bert Blyleven)?

  12. Johnny Twisto Says:

    would you rather have 20 Nolan Ryan starts or 12 Pedro Martinez starts and 8 AAA replacement level pitcher starts?

    Interesting question. It depends which Nolan or Pedro you are referring to, and I guess on what the rest of your team is made of. As a quick & dirty approach, I looked at their WAR per start for their best 5 consecutive seasons (which I chose as '72-'76 for Ryan, '97-'01 for Martinez). Martinez averaged almost twice as much WAR per start as Ryan. So in his 12 starts he'd total about 3.25 WAR, while Ryan is 2.86 in his 20. If you assume the "replacement level" starters are 0.0 WAR, then Martinez narrowly gets the edge.

    Pedro has the reputation of being fragile, but people forget that he pitched a lot of IP per start in his prime. He tended to miss a few starts each year, but '97-'00 he averaged 7.4 IP per start. That's only slightly less than Ryan, and much more impressive considering the era.

  13. Dr. Doom Says:


    Thanks, JT. I was just about to say the same thing. I was only posting about the relative value of a walk and a single, so that people could see that. But, obviously, walks have to be accounted for. I believe the Wikipedia entry on linear weights is good as well, and if not, I know Tangotiger has a kind of sabermetric wiki, and the entry on linear weights in there is quick and dirty. Just some further suggestions.

  14. ctorg Says:

    Like most others here, I think it is clear-cut that Ryan is both overrated and a Hall of Famer. There are a number of HOF pitchers who are better than he was, but he stands out anyway. He was a freak of nature and set a strikeout mark that seems bafflingly high in an era when only a few starters get to 200 IP per year.

    His longevity is part of what made him great. I got into baseball in the late 80s when Ryan was considered an old man of the game, and he still had a couple of no hitters in him.

    But yes, he walked far too many guys. His shortcomings are often missed because of how amazing he was in other areas. Walking 200+ batters in a season is way, way too much, and he did it more than once.

  15. LLD Says:

    A few Nolan Ryan career stats to ponder (and all-time rankings)

    Win-Loss Pct %: .5260 (529th)
    Adjusted ERA +: 112 (276th)
    BB/9 innings: 4.7 (not in top 1000 best of all-time)
    WHIP: 1.2473 (266th)
    ERA: 3.193 (246th)
    Avg W-L per 162 gms: 14-13
    Total W-L rec / pct of all teams he played on: 2171-2143 .503*
    Ryan's career record: 324-292 .526
    Total W-L rec / pct of all teams he played on
    (minus Ryan's W-L): 1847-1851 . 499*
    *includes the entire 1966 Mets season (66-95, .410) even though Ryan played in only 2 games.

    Everything adds up to a slightly above average pitcher who happened to strike out a ton of batters (but also walk a ton of batters) and have flashes of dominance. Many have made the argument that he played with bad teams throughout his career, but that is obviously not true. His teams were incredibly average overall, and he was slightly above that. His career record through age 41 was 272-252, .519. Just because he had the physical ability (hopefully not on roids) to be above average for five additional seasons after age 41 doesn't mean that he still wasn't just slightly above average for his career.

    A great deal of attention is given to Ryan's seven no-hitters and 5716 K's, but his average per 162 game numbers are a 14-13 record and WHIP of 1.27

    Not a HOFer (but close) in my opinion. Too many people treat him like some sort of saint -- I don't get it.

  16. RACope Says:

    You have the choice of the following 3 pitchers to start a franchise with, let's assume all three are in their 'prime'. Who do you choose:

    Nolan Ryan, Satchel Paige or Bob Feller

  17. MikeD Says:

    @115, unfortunately almost all the stats you use against Ryan relate to wins, losses and winning percentage, which as Felix Hernandez showed last year doesn't tell us much at all. Ryan himself could talk about the flaws in rating a pitcher by his wins with quite a few seasons playing for mediocre teams, including his 1987 season where he was 8-16, while leading the league in ERA and ERA+. Even ERA+ isn't tremendously helpful since it's not defense independent. I can cherry pick some stats too, like say Ryan has the lowest hits-per-nine-innings of any pitcher ever, or has a .205 BA against or only a .298 SLG average against, yet those also wouldn't tell the Ryan story.

    He's rated #16 all-time based on B-R WAR, and Bill James had him 24 all-time in his Historical Baseball Abstract. I have him somewhere in between those numbers. Doesn't really matter where. He's more than just average or slightly above average when we look at the entire work of Ryan.

  18. Voomo Zanzibar Says:

    @115, yeah, a 'saint' who would literally attempt to kill you if you tried to bunt.

  19. Pageup Says:

    IMO the argument for Ryan for the Hall of Fame is the same as for guys like Winfield and Sutton and, soon Biggio, that is, how can you keep him out?

  20. Hartvig Says:

    JR @ 41 "(There will never be another pitcher to strikeout 300 batters in a season)"

    In the less than 20 years since Ryan retired that feat has be accomplished 8 times by 3 different pitchers plus 4 additional seasons over 290 which includes yet another pitcher. I would be amazed if it doesn't happen again within the next 5 years.

    And a lot has been said about Ryan losing 200 games in which his team scored 2 or fewer runs. The majority of Ryan's innings were between 1966 & 1983 when offense was between historical lows and below average for the most part. Don Drysdale, who started more than 300 games less than Ryan and played roughly equal portions of his career in high/low run scoring environments as Ryan started 163 games in which the Dodgers scored 2 of fewer runs (163 out of 465) and produced a record of 31-109. I suspect that a lot of pitchers who's careers were centered around the 60's & 70's would have similar or even higher ratios (Seaver, Gibson, Marichal, Carlton, Niekro, Perry, Bunning, Palmer, Kaat, Lolich and others). And I'm sure the pre-1920 rates would be even higher.

  21. Random Sports Guy Says:

    He stinks. John Tudor was better.

  22. Simarc Says:

    It's not even debatable. The "Express" is definitely a HOF'er. Is he overrated ? That's a tough call. I'd say that he was more likely over-hyped than overrated. I have never heard his name mentioned as an answer for "the guy you'd give the ball to in game 7". If he was hyped as "that" guy I would say he was overrated. I've heard for years that guys would stand around and get tired when they played behind him. He would always go deep into counts, which would tire his fielders. Maybe they took that out to the plate with them ? Who knows ? It always seemed like his teams hit worse when he was on the hill than when others were. Maybe this is why ? He was still a great show, because any day he could throw a no-no. Definitely worth the price of admission.

  23. Neil L. Says:

    Wow, work a long day, miss BRef for 12 hours and fall 100+ posts behind!

  24. Timmy P Says:

    @65 John Austin - Well since I'm not running for anything or trying to sell anything, I don't care if you take me serious or not. And just to be clear it's the Coriolis force, not the Coriolis effect, big difference. As far as the topic at hand, I think the question of Ryan in the hall was designed to create a big response and it did. I'm sure whoever started it was aware that there might bet a few sarcastic responses and they have braces themselves, talked with a support group, talked with a phsyciatrist, and will be able to handle the sarcasm aimed at them. I don't think any serious babeball person can argue Ryan should not be in the HOF. Silly!

  25. Neil L. Says:

    Timmy, it's John Autin to you!!! Get it right.

  26. Jared Says:

    In response to post #114: Without you even realizing it, the first sentence of your post argues against the very point you're trying to get across. By definition, you can't overrate a player and believe he is overrated at the same time. If you believe that people are generally in concensus (at least in this thread) that he is overrated, then that means that those who actually overrate him are in the minority. If those who overrate him are in the minority, then it is logically impossible to designate him as overrated. Be careful of the availability heuristic. This cognitive bias can lead people to overestimate the presence of something (in this case, people who think Ryan was better than he was) merely based on a small, but vocal, minority. Just because a few people overrate him doesn't mean that in general he is, in fact, overrated.

  27. Robin Ventura Says:

    Regardless of whether he was overrated or underrated, Nolan Ryan gives a heckuva noogie and that has to count for something.

  28. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Well since I'm not running for anything or trying to sell anything, I don't care if you take me serious or not.

    A lot of time taken to write so many posts if you don't care how they are received.

  29. Timmy P Says:

    Neil, you sound like you're still sore from the spanking I gave you over Pierre, put some ointment on it and you'll feel better. I understand you're from Canada, but haven't you ever had someone disagree with you before? Don't they have that up there? Cause they have it here, happens all the time in my business. Johnny, I put the truth out there, if you're mind is not open you'll miss out. I'm giving free insight into how things work and making a serious effort to help you.

  30. John Autin Says:

    Such juvenile behavior -- and in a public forum, too....

  31. John Autin Says:

    Sidetrack: Chris Carpenter entered tonight's game winless in 7 starts this year, his longest drought to start any season. Meanwhile, in 302 career starts before tonight, he had never allowed more than 12 hits. The Cubs reached Carpenter for 13 hits tonight, but only 4 runs, and Carpenter got his first win of the year.

  32. Timmy P Says:

    Well you guys can have a big laugh at my expense later, I have $1000 on AZ beating Timmy L. tonight in SF. But if I win I'll be getting paid +183 on my money which was the peak payout, gametime went off at +160 so I'm pretty proud of myself win or lose. That's American money Neil!

  33. RACope Says:

    Does everyone really take themselves that seriously on this forum when they post? I wonder how many times a poster thinks, "When Rob Neyer reads this he is going to LOVE IT." I imagine it happens a lot more than it doesn't.

    Seriously though there needs to be a topic "Jim Creighton and the Hall of Fame" because he is the most worthy HOFer not in the HOF.

    P.S.,: Rob, if you're reading this, I have a fanzine that I would LOVE to interview you for.

  34. Dr. Doom Says:


    Love it!

  35. Timmy P Says:

    Next HOF discussion should be why it took so many years for Wahoo Sam Crawford to get into the hall. Seriously, it took forever because of the way he ended his career. He went out west to play in the PCL and I don't think MLB ever forgave him. Along with Cy Young, Wahoo Sam holds a major career record that will never be broken.

  36. birtelcom Says:

    For what it's worth, Ryan had the 8th highest pitching WAR total of the 1970s, and then he moved up to the 7th highest pitching WAR total of the 1980s. That does give a sense of how good he was and for how long. Of course it also might be worth noting that Blyleven had the 4th highest WAR total of the 70s (behind only Seaver, Niekro and Gaylord Perry) and then was 4th again in the 80s (behind only Stieb, Welch and Valenzuela).

  37. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Johnny, I put the truth out there, if you're mind is not open you'll miss out.

    Among your myriad ramblings I have no idea what you think the truth is. Lefties can't throw the ball because of the rotation of the earth? Juan Pierre has 2400 hits?

    I'm giving free insight into how things work and making a serious effort to help you.

    You write as if you want attention, not as if you want to share insight. Get over yourself son, you ain't curing cancer in this piece.

  38. Doug B Says:


    I'd take Satchel. I think a lot of people forget we have MLB stats for the guy to validate the legend.

    How many pitchers can match Satchel's 125 ERA+ and 9.7 WAR after turning age 42?

    A: Roger Clemens and Hoyt Wilhelm.

    I'd wager he was every bit the pitcher Lefty Grove was but most of America only really got a chance to appreciate him at age 42, 43, 44.

  39. Doug B Says:

    Why do I feel like in 10 years people will have this identical debate but the name will be Ichiro?

  40. Timmy P Says:

    Johnny if you have a study disproving the Coriolis force and it's affect on baseball please share it. If you're able to come up with one yourself, please share it. The Coriolis force is a force and it exerts itself on all objects esp the further north or south of the equator you get. If you refuse to beleive it than blow me off, what are you getting so upset about? Hook up with some of buddies that still thing the Earth is flat and a BBQ this weekend, won't bother me in the least. You're the same guy that poo-poo'd the idea of soaking the balls in Denver, "Oh that'll never work, that's stupid".

  41. Timmy P Says:

    @139 - Ichiro 1st ballet HOFer.

  42. kds Says:

    Win/Loss is pretty meaningless over a season, but over a long career things tend to even out. I like to look at a pitcher's W/L compared to the rest of his team. Take the number of his decisions each year and see how many games above, (or below), the rest of his team he was. For his career Ryan was 21.6 games above his teammates, a good number, but not great. I haven't checked everyone, but I don't think Ryan is in the top 40. Blyleven, who was specifically said to have won less than he should given his runs allowed, was 26 games better than his teammates.

    Well if Ryan didn't have a great ability to win games in general, maybe he was great in the clutch? Fangraphs has been figuring a clutch score for every player/season starting in 1974, so we miss the first 20+% of Ryan's career. But, for the rest he was more than 8 games below average. That is he was more likely to get a strikeout or other out(s) when it mattered less toward winning a game then when it mattered more, compared to an average pitcher.

  43. Doug B Says:


    Who said Ichiro will not belong in the hall? That was part of my point... both Ichiro and Nolan Ryan are hall of famers. But it would be a mistake to think Ichiro had the same value as Hank Aaron.

  44. hawk Says:

    "Johnny if you have a study disproving the Coriolis force and it's affect on baseball please share it."

    The burden of proof lies on the person making the claim, and just saying it over and over again doesn't count as proof. Pierre's limp noodle arm and Mark Grace's pretty swing also don't count as proof.

  45. hawk Says:

    Also, this, since you persist on using water drainage as proof.

  46. Timmy P Says:

    I agree with your point, I was just making my point that I think he should get in on the first ballot. You are right that there will be an argument.

  47. Timmy P Says:

    What are you getting so mad about Hawk? Why the hostility? If you don't agree, fine. I'll bet you and Neil are government employees, I know Neil is. You guys can't stand to have someone disagree with you.

  48. jr Says:


    Hartvig, since 2003, only one pitcher (Randy Johnson) has struck out more than 270 batters. The next highest total was 269 by Verlander. It will be a long time before someone k's 300 batters in a season again. The closest guy that could do it would be Lincecum, but I doubt it will happen.

  49. Timmy P Says:

    Hawk - The Snopes article has nothing to do with what I'm talking about, and nothing to do with baseball. The Coriolis force acts on everything, including undisturbed tanks of water as has been proven in tests. It does not dictate the drainage to be clockwise or counter-clockwise as the Snopes article mentions, and I challenge you to show me where I made that claim, I did not. Mark Grace's swing is beautiful with or without the Coriolis force, and occasionally generated powerful blasts to right field. Since Grace is retired I would like you to watch Carlos Zambrano next time he plays. His swing from the left side is beautiful and generates a tremendous amount of power from what appears to be little effort, he truly has a beautiful swing. No one has challenged my observation that left handed swings are more beautiful than right, nor has anyone mentioned a right handed swing that is as smooth.

  50. Dr. Doom Says:


    Obviously, lefties have prettier swings than righties. That's because they torque their bodies TOWARDS first base, which is the direction in which they will be running. Righties have to turn AWAY from first base, and then BACK TOWARDS it. That's got nothing to do with distance from the equator. Rather, it means that years and years of jerking the body one way and then the other leads to shortened, less "beautiful" swings, by necessity. If runners were allowed to circle the bases in whichever direction they chose, there's no doubt in my mind that righties would have just as beautiful of swings as lefties.

    Also, Pat Burrell had a lovely righty swing, in spite of the odds being stacked against him.

    And also, I would say that the people you're insulting have no problem with your disagreement - rather, you seem to have a problem with theirs.

  51. Dave V. Says:

    Why does anyone give Timmy P any attention? He is a troll. Please everyone ignore his posts šŸ™‚

  52. John Autin Says:

    Dave V -- Motion seconded.

  53. Neil L. Says:

    I responded to him with respect after his first few posts. But then........

  54. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @126/ Jared Says: "In response to post #114:... ... This cognitive bias can lead people to overestimate the presence of something (in this case, people who think Ryan was better than he was) merely based on a small, but vocal, minority. Just because a few people overrate him doesn't mean that in general he is, in fact, overrated."

    Jared: yes, but it wasn't a "small, but vocal monority" or "a few people" who overrated him. In a 1999 general-audience poll, Ryan was voted the #1 pitcher of the 20th Century - that sounds like a whole lot of people. That pretty fits the definition of "overrated'.

  55. John Autin Says:

    Re: Ichiro -- Interesting parallel to the Ryan discussion. It seems almost certain that he will elected to the HOF, and I think he will deserve it. Unlike Ryan, I don't think Ichiro is exactly overrated; but I think the distribution of his value is widely misunderstood.

    He's overrated on the offensive side; all those singles (many of them infield hits) just don't put a lot of team runs on the board. Although he's led the league in AB and hits most of his seasons and has averaged 734 PAs per year, he has never led the league in runs, even when the M's had a solid offense (2001-03, 2007). In fact, just once has he ranked higher than 6th in AL runs scored.

    But while he's just good offensively, he's marvelous on defense; he's 6th among active players in career defensive WAR. And the combination adds up to the 4th-highest total WAR among position players over the past 10 years -- higher than Chipper Jones, Scott Rolen, Todd Helton, Lance Berkman, Derek Jeter, Vlad Guerrero and Jim Edmonds. The 3 players above him (Albert, A-Rod and Barry) are all clearly top-tier HOFers (judged on performance only), while those next 7 include a couple of certain HOFers and the rest fringe candidates.

  56. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @154/ OOPS, the last sentence shoud read
    "That pretty MUCH fits the definition of "overrated'."

    I should also know better than to get into an argument about logical reasoning with someone who sounds like they are an _expert_ in logical reasoning - but I still think Nolan Ryan is overrated. I also think he's a no-doubt HOFer.

    An interesting comparison on the opposite end of career length is with Sandy Koufax, who is also a no-doubt HOFer, but is frequently somewhat overrated by the casual baseball fan.

  57. BSK Says:

    Lefty swings also tend to "look" better because of the angle. Traditionally, the camera has been positioned over the pitcher's right shoulder, giving a better vantage point for viewing a lefty's swing than a righty's.

  58. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    "The Coriolis force is a force and it exerts itself on all objects esp the further north or south of the equator you get."

    That is true. But it it important to remember the scale of the force, which is based on the differential in the earth's rotational surface velocity between one point and another. When you are shooting mortars miles to the north or south or calculating the future position of weather systems, it's something you need to calculate carefully or you will never be accurate. On the scale of a ballpark, it's not going to make more difference than a mild breeze.

    Also, it will disappear almost completely when the ballpark is oriented such that the pitch path is mostly E-W.

    The only effect it has that could possibly affect LH more or less than RH pitchers is on sideways breaks. Also, while there is a tendency for parks to be aligned so that the pitcher is N of the batter, there are some parks which are the opposite, and a number of parks which are primarily EW oriented. In these cases, any differential effect of coriolis by handedness will be mitigated or even reversed, limiting the average effect.

    Just for kicks, I did a little calculation of what the maximum coriolis affect on a pitch would be. Near the poles where the effect is strongest, assuming a perfect NS orientation of a ballpark, the rotational velocity difference between pitcher's mound and home plate would be around .003 mph or around 15.8 feet per hour (at typical US or canadian ballpark locations it would be 8-12 ft per hour, the closer to the equator, the smaller the difference).

    A typical major league pitch is between 80 and 100 miles per hour and takes about 1/2 second to travel from the pitchers hand to home plate. Even a very slow junk pitch will be at least 50-60mph and take well under 1 second to reach home plate.

    A junk pitch at 50mph thrown in a regulation ballpark with the pitchers mound at exactly the north or south pole would have a coriolis displacement of about 1 millimeter.

    That's the maximum possible displacement.

    In a typical MLB ballpark with the pitch path oriented true N-S, on a normal breaking pitch speed of 80-85mph, the displacement would be between .33 and .5 millimeters.

    Remember this is the maximum effect, not an average.

    I don't think there's any way that coriolis has significantly advantages any particular handedness in its ability to get batters out. A mild breeze or small ballpark variation will make more difference than coriolis.

  59. Doug B Says:

    so in other words it probably has the same effect as a fart in the 3rd row on the first base box seats.

  60. BSK Says:

    Doug B-

    You've clearly never smelt or felt one of my farts. I'm good for at least a millimeter and a half.

  61. Neil L. Says:

    Woah..... Iā€™m eating lunch as I read.

    Thank you for the calculation, Michael.

    Even on a throw across the diamond or from the outfield the Coriolis displacement is likely to insignificant. That was my original point in the post @31 in the blog

  62. Bastaducci Says:

    @ post 155. you seem very knowledgable so don't take what I say here as picking at you. but..that is my problem with defensive war...a lifetime rightfielder (think he had 1 year at center) is 6th all time in defensive war? I mean there is 30 (at least) catchers ,centerfielders and shortstops every year that mean more defensively than Ichiro does in rightfield. defensive war has a long way to go and as of now it has no significance whatsoever.

    That being does not change the fact about your point of him also being a great defensive player besides being a excellent offensive player.

  63. Kaiser The Great Says:

    Hall of Fame, not Hall of Great Stats. That's the way it should be anyway, but never the way it seems to be.

  64. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Bastaducci, defensive WAR as shown here is *only* the player's performance in comparison to others at the same position. I think the correct way to show it would be combining the player's performance and his position, which would eliminate the problem you speak of. That is not a flaw with WAR, it's just a choice in how the numbers are being presented.

    Since positional value is not included in the Play Index, there is no easy way to list which players truly have the most total defensive value. It can be done, you'd just have to check all the players.

  65. John Autin Says:

    @162, Bastaducci -- No offense taken. Constructive criticism is always welcome. Two counterpoints:

    (1) I said Ichiro is 6th among active players in career defensive WAR, not 6th all-time. His all-time dWAR ranking is 42nd.

    (2) SS and 2B are fundamentally more important defensive positions than RF -- but that doesn't mean that every SS or 2B is more valuable defensively than every RF. Dan Uggla is a very bad defensive 2B; does he add more defensive value to his team than Ichiro adds to his? In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Ichiro could play a better 2B than Uggla.

    BTW, I accept that dWAR is imperfect, but when the other assessments line up (including range factors and Gold Gloves), I see no reason to doubt Ichiro's dWAR score.

  66. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Right, last season WAR rates the positional difference between a full-time RF and 2B as being worth 11 runs. So a very good RF who rates 11 runs better than the average RF would have as much total defensive value (according to WAR) as an average 2B who rates 0 runs above average.

  67. Jared Says:

    @154: There is another cognitive bias called the recency effect. This is the tendency to rate more recent events as more important than earlier events. Translated into the sports world, we tend to rate current or recent athletes more favorably than previous athletes of similar accomplishment. Even if we take your evidence as true that Nolan Ryan was popularly viewed as the greatest picther of the 20th century in 1999, we also know that 1999 was the year that Ryan was elected in a landslide to the Hall of Fame, all of his major accomplishments being brought to the forefront. Thus, it is likely the recency effect was in place at the time the poll was being administered. So, if we assume your evidence is true, all you've really proven is that Nolan Ryan was overrated in 1999. The recency effect dictates that the further away we get from Nolan Ryan's career, the less overrated he will become, and I think we see that happening today. Are there people out there who still overrate him? Yes, but I did an quick internet search on where people are rating him these days, and most of them don't have him in the top ten. Except for a small but vocal minority, I think the general overrating of Ryan is a thing of the past, which is supported by your original post that most in the chat room agree that he is overrated. See my previous post for how it's impossible for most people to believe someone is overrated and for that person to actually be overrated at the same time.

  68. fredsbank Says:

    @ 158 so timmy p just got told...

  69. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @167/ Jared - Thanks for taking the time to disagree with my argument in a reasoned but polite way. I guess we will just have to "agree to disagree" - I believe Ryan is still _somewhat_ overrated by the general baseball fan, even if he is not overrated as much as he was in 1999.

    I've got to admit that I hadn't considered that he was just elected/inducted to the HOF the same year that poll was taken (1999), that's a good point.

  70. MikeD Says:

    @167, Jared, yes, I think the recency effect did impact him.

    Ryan is a seductive figure. Just as people are fascinated by the HR figure, they are equally seduced by the power pitcher, who can hit 100 mph and strike out any batter. In that way, there is no more seductive pitcher than Ryan, who Bill James in 2001 perhaps summed it up best in his HBA, saying that perhaps in "another ten years we might have a better perspective on him" when trying to balance the positives and the negatvies. It's now ten years later, and I don't think we're there yet. I think we have a little better perspective, but my guess is it may take another ten, twenty or thirty years for the overall baseball community, and the sabremetric community, to truly figure out the Ryan Express. It's possible his star my dim slightly with the general fan community, but could increase some with the advanced metric community. Either way, he's an easy HOFer.

    Seeing the fan buzz around Strasburg, and now Chapman, I would have loved to have seen Ryan come along today. His last pitch, at age 46 and with a torn ligament, was clocked at 98 mph. His 100.9 mph pitch in 1974, clocked by Rockwell engineers several feet in front of home plate, equates to 108.1 mph by today's method. If nothing else, he always made for an interesting discussion, and long after his retirement, he still does. In Ryan's case, perhaps the recency effect is still in play.

  71. Jared Says:

    @169: In a sense, I think we're probably both right. Nolan Ryan presents an odd dichotomy not usually seen among successful pitchers. On the plus side, he was the least hittable pitcher in major league history, as measured by his hits allowed per 9 innings, he threw 7 no hitters, struck out more batters than anyone else, won 300 games, and piched successfully in the bigs until he qualified for Medicare. On the other hand, he lost a lot of games and allowed way to many free passes. He never meaningfully contributed to a world championship team, and he never won the Cy Young award. So on the one hand, he's got a resume like no one else in history, but on the other hand his resume is significantly incomplete. I think that sort of dichotomy sets people up to either over or under value his career depending on how they weight his accomplishments. I definitely agree that there are people who still overrate him (and probably always will be). I just think that as more time passes between now and the end of his career, fewer and fewer people will overrate him. We're seeing that now with Ryan being replaced in the "best of all time" discussion with Maddux and Clemens, which I think is ridiculous, by the way. We all know that the best pitcher of all time was Jesse Orosco.

  72. Nolan Ryan’s ranking all-time among pitchers » Baseball-Reference Blog » Blog Archive Says:

    [...] my Nolan Ryan post from yesterday, the second poll asks readers to classify Ryan's rank all-time. Judging by the first thousand votes [...]

  73. Timmy P Says:

    @158 Once again, you are looking at the problem as being the coriolis effect, and not the Coriolis force. When you talk about ballparks that are configured north/south you are completely missing the point. Even with your skewed approach you came up with the game being affected the same a mild breeze. I contend it's more because of the displacement of a ball that is rotating along with the body of a hitter and the arm of a thrower. But nonetheless a mild breeze in the same direction over the course of millions and billions of throws and swings will have a significant affect. Hence the force helping lefty hitters and hurting lefty outfielders. Thanks

  74. Rich Says:

    Timmy P is either the worst poster ever or some sort of troll. Either way, I wish it was possible to ban him

  75. Timmy P Says:

    That's it, ban guys that disagree with you. If you want to go back you can see that I am polite and respectful until made fun of by Neil.

  76. Johnny Twisto Says:

    That's the thing though, no one disagrees with you because you don't actually stake any positions. You seem to claim Juan Pierre is awesome, BUT then that great players don't make 5 errors in a month -- so what are you actually saying? You claim you want to discuss the coriolis force's effect on lefthanders, but provide no evidence that it has any effect or what the effect would even be (except your subjective opinion of a "flowing" swing). You type a lot and say nothing. As I posted before, I found it humorous at first. Then you started becoming combative and repetitive. IMO you are not interested in discourse but in getting attention. I suppose that's the definition of a troll, even though I think people are too quick to throw that term out anyone one who seems to break the conventions of an Internet community.

  77. fredsbank Says:

    @ 173
    if the coriolis effect and the coriolis force are different things, why does searching for them on google return the same wikipedia page as the number one result for both entrants?

  78. Nash Bruce Says:

    @Jared(171) I had mentioned quite awhile ago, that there should be a "(profane) your pants" rating/statistic of some kind....measuring the feeling, that the other team had, when facing said player- the higher the rating, the better, for said player. (I think that the post might have had something to do with John Franco, and his HOF chances.) Another poster, a regular, I forget who(sorry!), said that he'd, himself, proposed such a stat, quite awhile before, himself.
    So, let's take Ryan. I mean, is he, as someone else said, the pitcher, that you would think of, when Game 7 came around?, probably not. But just throw out a random number, say Game, oh, I don't know, 92. 143. 17. Or, even "Game 7". What are the chances, that, on that day, he will be the most untouchable pitcher, who has ever played the game? Compared to a pitcher, like say, Phil Niekro, who (while I also agree, was quite underrated) I'd say Nolan's "PYP" rating would be off the charts.
    I guess that this post is not a response, to those of you, who have put together quality, solid lists, of pitchers who are better than Nolan. But, how can anyone say, that maybe he's not even HOF worthy??? Really?
    Good luck, to you, if you were in a Game 7 against him, and he was on. I'd have taken him over anyone.

  79. Nash Bruce Says:

    arrrgggh, meant to say,"Niekro, (who, I'd also agree, was quite underrated) I'd say........."
    sry šŸ™

  80. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    The "coriolis force" is not a real physical force that acts on things, it is merely a mathematical convenience in classical mechanics to treat the displacement caused by the earth's differential rotational velocity as if it were a force. This why it is called a "fictitious force".

    The effect, the displacement of things, is all there is to it. The effect on the scale of the human body is too small to be noticeable. That it could matter at all in a baseball context only makes sense on long throws (pitch or longer), and my calculation demonstrates that the effect is of very little significance. One pitcher gets a .1-.5mm extra break on some of his pitches in some parks, while another gets .1-.5mm smaller break. That's it. That's the effect. The effect on fielders throws is essentially the same for all players, a slight displacement.

    The fact that the ball is spinning is irrelevant to any coriolis effect on baseball play. It might be relevant to microscopic beings living on the surface of the baseball who are trying to throw things accurately toward/at each other. It may be relevant to intricate calculations about how the individual molecules of the baseball react. It's not relevant to how the ball with throw. The spin of the ball will react with the air to create various curve effects. That's fluid dynamics and has nothing to do with coriolis, except to the extent of the very small coriolis displacement that I calculated.

    The only possible way it could affect anybody negatively relative to other players would be pitchers on sideways breaking balls. All hitters will see the same displacement. All throwers will see the same displacement. No hitter depends on the ability to put controlled sidespin on the ball when they hit it, nor do throwers in the field. What matters is velocity and direction, all of which are affected by coriolis in the same way no matter what hand you throw or hit with.

  81. Rich Says:

    @ 175
    In this thread, you mention another poster needing ointment after the spanking you gave him.

    In the first post I ever saw from you, you said "Some numb nut said there are dozens of players in AAA that are better than Juan!"

    Yep, you sound really polite

  82. Chuck Knoblauch Says:

    Not cool, dude. Now I have to come up with an answer besides "Coriolis Force, son. Coriolis force." when my kid asks me why I couldn't make an easy throw to first and got shipped out the Left.

  83. Timmy P Says:

    @180 "The "coriolis force" is not a real physical force that acts on things, it is merely a mathematical convenience in classical mechanics" That is absolutely, 100% false. That is not true! Everything you said has to do with observation, the so-called effect.

  84. Timmy P Says:

    Besides baseball there is no other sport that requires a round ball to be thrown anywhere from 200' to as much as 400'. Let's say throws to home from medium outfield depth of 275' - 300' to nail a runner at the plate. Leave lefty 1b and pitchers out of it, because of the distance and the fact that lefty pitchers make adjustments to spin to counteract the Coriolis force, they just don't know it. My bringing up the Coriolis force has nothing to do with pitching or the movement of pitches, only long outfield throws. You seem to concentrate on the actions of the ball after it leaves the players hand, and are not taking into consideration the required arm motion, or for hitters the swing. Even with your flawed analysis you come up with fractions of mm's for throws of 60' 6", now take those fractions of mm's and add 200' to the throw. Over the course of millions of throws you will see a difference in statistics in lefty vs. right handed throwers.

  85. dennis Says:

    How many atheletes in American professional sports have had their numbers retired by at least three different franchises in their sport.....

    Of course Jackie Robinson and Wayne Gretzky were honored by all the franchises in their sports. After that, two, only two atheletes have had their numbers retired by three franchises.

    1. Wilt Chamberlain in the NBA....Warriors, 76ers, lakers
    2. Nolan Ryan in MLB Angels, Rangers, Astros

    Ryan was good for his teams and for baseball.....he was a role model for hard work and modesty, he pitched 27 consecutive years....2 MORE years
    then any other pitcher in the history of baseball

    And he put up some extraordinary numbers. A great pitcher with the capbality to completely dominate in any game In my mind maybe somewhere between the 25th and 30th best of all time...,

  86. Dave V. Says:

    I was doing some research into Ryan's career just now. I came across the 1983 season, sorted by WAR for pitchers with 100 IP's or more. Ryan had a 2.7 WAR in 1983, which was 48th amongst pitchers. But what stood out to me is that Phil Niekro was listed on the line right below Ryan, as he also had a 2.7 WAR. Glancing at the numbers, that seemed like a huge mistake. Take a look at the numbers for both Ryan and Niekro in 1983:

    Ryan: 14-9 record
    Niekro: 11-10 record

    Ryan: 29 games/29 starts - 196.1 IP - 5 CG & 2 shutouts
    Niekro: 34 games/33 starts - 201.2 IP - 2 CG & 0 shutouts

    Ryan: 134 Hits - 6.1 H/9 (led league) & 101 BB - 4.6 BB/9; 1.197 WHIP
    Niekro: 212 H - 9.5 H/9 & Niekro: 105 BB - 4.7 BB/9; 1.572 WHIP

    Ryan: 183 K - 8.4 K/9
    Niekro: 128 K - 5.7 K/9

    Ryan: 2.98 ERA & 114 ERA+
    Niekro: 3.97 ERA & 98 ERA+

    Ryan: 9 HR's, 5 WP's
    Niekro: 18 HR's; 6 WP's

    Ryan: .195 BA, .300 OBP%, .277 SLG%, .577 OPS%
    Niekro: .276 BA, .362 OBP%, .391 SLG%, .754 OPS%

    I know that one example of stats doesn't invalidate an entire season. But looking at the numbers, it is inconceivable to me that WAR could say that Phil Niekro was equal to Nolan Ryan in 1983. The only stat that Niekro was better in was making 4 more starts and pitching 5 more innings (of course, Ryan pitched more innings per start than Niekro did, by coming up only 5 innings short of Niekro in 4 less starts).

    I don't have enough info to state whether Ryan should have had a higher WAR relative to all the other pitchers in MLB that year. But there's no way Niekro should be as high as Ryan. Park factors,m defensive metrics and whatever else you want to account for, there's just no way Niekro pitched even close to Nolan Ryan in 1983. Niekro's name has been mentioned in this thread (or is it the other Ryan thread?) and they are both HOF pitchers, so its just interesting to me that WAR considers both of their 1983 statistically the same. I wonder if there are other years like this as well? Unfortunately I don't have time for all that research right now...

  87. Dave V. Says:

    I should proofread before clicking on Submit. In my second-to-last paragraph, I meant to say "I know that one example of stats doesn't invalidate an entire system".

  88. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Timmy. I did not say coriolis doesn't affect outfield throws. I said it affects all outfield throwers the same way. They all have to aim something like a few millimeters off (or less depending on how fast they throw, and the compass orientation of the throw). Doesn't matter whether they are righty or lefty. The ball will end up in a slightly different spot than if there were no coriolis. But it's the same for everybody, and in adjusting for the park and the breeze, they will automatically also adjust for coriolis.

    The only way it affects left or right handers differently is if you are trying to make the ball curve sharply left or right. Then, in certain orientations and certain kinds of curves, it can work for or against your natural curve. The only players who care about the break of a ball rather than just where it ends up are pitchers, so that is the relevant calculation.

  89. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    "I don't have enough info to state whether Ryan should have had a higher WAR relative to all the other pitchers in MLB that year. But there's no way Niekro should be as high as Ryan. Park factors,m defensive metrics and whatever else you want to account for, there's just no way Niekro pitched even close to Nolan Ryan in 1983. "

    First, looking at raw numbers will lead you very very wrong here, because Niekro pitched in a major batters park, while Ryan was pitching in a major pitchers park (108 v. 93). So looking at WHIP, H/9, BB/9, K/9 and raw ERA are going to make Ryan look *much* better than he really was relative to neikro.

    So the huge ERA gap, when corrected for park is only *1/2* a run, rather than a full run.

    Next, WAR looks at all runs, not merely earned runs, and Niekro gave up fewer unearned runs than did Ryan.

    Secondly, WAR adjusts for fielding. The astros in 1983 had an excellent fielding team worth 34 runs over average according to TZ. The braves had a relatively poor fielding team worth -16 runs on average. That's a difference of 50 runs over the season which works out to about 7 runs in 200 IP.

    So Ryan saw 74 runs with 6.85 saved by his fielders (relative to Niekro), while Niekro saw 94 runs. 81*(1.08/.93) for the park adjustment is 93.7 runs. Given that Niekro pitched 5 more innings, by this metric they were just about the same.

    Since that is the metric WAR uses, that is the reason they come out to having the same WAR.

    If you don't like using total runs, you can do the calculation using ER only. Then you get 89 runs for niekro, and adjusting you get 83.43 for Ryan. That will give a WAR difference of around .56

    The real answer to who pitched better is probably somewhere in that range. It's likely that Ryan did have a slightly better year and that some of the difference in unearned runs was due to luck rather than skill. So I suspect that WAR is off here, but not by nearly as much as you seem to think.

  90. Dave V. Says:

    @189 - Ryan gave up 9 unearned runs and Niekro gave up 5 unearned runs. If you look at total RA, Ryan moves from a 2.98 ERA over to a 3.40 RA. Niekro moves from a 3.97 ERA over to a 4.20 RA. Still a big edge for Ryan.

    I get that WAR accounts for park factors and defensive metrics as mentioned and you mention "looking at raw numbers will lead you very very wrong here" but IMO, when you can't look at raw numbers at all, then that's a problem.

    I mean, Ryan beats Niekro in every single raw number. If there is literally nothing at all visible to the naked eye to show that Player X is better than Player Y and only a calculator can show that Player X is equal (or better than) than Player Y, well that's not good.

    Take Felix Hernandez and his Cy Young last year. Though he didn't have a gaudy W/L record, you could still look at his raw stats and see that he had a great season. You could directly see that he outpitched everyone else in the AL (and thus was a deserving Cy Young winner). Now obviously neither Ryan nor Niekro were Cy Young-caliber in 1983. But when we get to a point where actual raw stats can't be looked at to tell a picture, I'm kind of at a loss. Some pitchers have good seasons despite pitching in a hitter's park and/or having a weak defense. Some pitchers have bad seasons despite pitching in a pitcher's park and having a great defense. You deal from the hand you're dealt. Saying that a guy who pitched well is equal to a guy who pitched poorly is wrong, regardless of the circumstances IMO. I'm a fan that tries to look at things from both an "old-school" and sabermetric viewpoint, but if this makes me sound "old-school" (and thus in some people's eyes, uninformed), well so be it.

  91. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    You are comparing a pitcher in one of the best hitters parks to a pitcher in one of the best pitcher's parks. Raw numbers are going to be worthless. It's like looking at the raw stats of a hitter in coors in 2000.

    If you compare raw numbers of pitchers in comparable parks, then yes, you'd think if pitchers were comparable, then most of the raw numbers would be comparable, or favoring different guys.

    With felix vs. CC, the raw numbers (except for W-L where being on the Yankees vs. Mariners was a huge advantage for CC) actually favored Hernandez unfairly, as he was in a real pitcher's park, while CC was pitching in a hitter's park. Looking purely at raw numbers (and ignoring w-l) the gap looks much larger than it really was between felix and CC. Felix is still comfortably ahead after making adjustments for these things, but it would not look as dramatic in the raw stats if their parks were not so disparate.

    Raw numbers are nearly worthless for making fine distinctions. If a guy has the best raw numbers in the league, sure, you can tell he's at least really good, and if he has the worst, he's probably really bad.

    But for deciding between two guys who are both pretty good, both mediocre, or both excellent, or deciding whether somebody is pretty good or excellent, or a bit below versus a bit above average, or a bit below versus replacement level -- raw numbers are useless.

  92. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Dave, there's nothing wrong with looking at the raw numbers. They are what actually happened. But if you dismiss anything that conflicts with them, then you should ignore WAR. There would be no point in having WAR if it just rubber-stamped what you already know to be true. I mean, this is kind of the goal of sabermetrics in general: the search for *objective* knowledge about baseball. Ryan pitched in a more favorable park, and probably had a superior defense, and yes, each had to deal with the hand he was dealt. WAR attempts to strip away those contextual factors which were outside the pitcher's control. If you think a 3.00 ERA is always better than a 4.00 ERA, that is your right. I believe sometimes the 4.00 ERA has more value. Context context context.

  93. Dave V. Says:

    I don't dismiss anything that conflicts with the raw numbers and I tried to convey that when mentioning "I know that one example of stats doesn't invalidate an entire system" (though I posted that sentence incorrectly in my first post and made the correction in the post right below) šŸ™‚ I do however think that WAR is wrong in this specific case for sure.

    Niekro had two teammates in 1983 who had pretty successful seasons despite pitching in the same ballpark and having the same defense that Niekro did. Craig McMurty and Pascual Perez finished 10th and 17th respectively in pitcher WAR that season. And for the most part, both seem to have respectable raw numbers unlike Niekro. They managed to pitch well, as did Ryan (they all dealt with the hand they were dealt). Niekro didn't pitch well, at least this season IMO. He shouldn't get undue credit just because of where he pitched. Sometimes a pitcher in a tough pitching situation is just a mediocre or bad pitcher IMO (obviously I'm not saying Niekro was mediocre/bad his whole career of course).

  94. Jared Says:

    A few things to consider for those discussing ballpark factors between Ryan's and Niekro's 1983. It's easy to compare performance by removing the ballpark factor. This can be done by comparing each pictcher's performance on the road, meaning they each pitch in a variety of ballparks, which should even things out statistically. Ryan still outpitched Niekro pretty convincingly in virtually every category. Now, that doesn't factor in the defensive prowess of the team playing behind them. However, over the course of the season, 8 hitters reached on an error while Ryan was pitching and 9 reached on an error while Niekro was pitching. Not much difference there on this particular measure of fielding. One more thing to consider is how well Ryan pitched in Niekro's ballpark (a hitter's park) and how well Niekro pitched in Ryan's ballpark (a pitcher's park). Looking at the splits, Ryan pitched in Atlanta once that year, allowing 2 hits and 2 runs over 8 innings. Niekro pitched once in Houston, allowing 8 hits and 3 runs in 4.2 innings. You can't speculate too much over one start each, but it highlights the problems with applying adjustments based on the aggregate to individuals. It puts you in a position where you are adjusting individual stats due to aggregate base rates, which always introduces error. One last note, ERA+ is adjusted to the ballpark, and Ryan's was 114 and Niekro's was 98, pretty much nullifying the ballpark factor. WAR can be a useful number, but I think the comparison of the two seasons shows that it has flaws just like any other advanced stat.

  95. Timmy Patrick Says:

    @186 Dave V. - Great example, I am always skeptical of WAR. I don't mind so much if it's comparing the best of the best, but if it's used to keep a player out of the HOF I don't like it.

  96. Rich Says:

    Dave V, you may be severely underestimating what a crazy pitcher's park the Astrodome was, esp at that time.

  97. Fireworks Says:


    I'm the one that said that early in his career that Ryan was told to reduce his wildness and didn't have much success doing it. While a comment of that nature from Ryan or people that worked with him early in his career is perhaps self-serving, and your statistics of his performance with the bases loaded is interesting, I'm not particularly moved. If all other things were equal, then you'd have a case, but the myriad of differences between most situations and a bases loaded situation don't make for a reasonable comparison. Are hitters more aggressive? I imagine they are but I don't have those figures in front of me. Are pitchers more inclined to try to get the ball over the plate, but also really wary of giving up a big knock? I imagine they are but again I don't have those figures. But that's only part of the question. The other part of the question is how does facing Nolan Ryan with the bases loaded affect your mindset/approach as a hitter? Do you tell yourself that whether he walked (or HBP) one or all of the runners on base he isn't going to want to walk you? Do you try to draw a walk and get K'd instead as Ryan trying to get it over the plate instead of being his own worst enemy yet again? What goes on in Ryan's mind? I don't think that can be answered and again feel uncompelled by your usually compelling analysis.

    Additionally, I should note that Ryan was set to quit baseball very early in his career, IIRC a combination of homesickness/dislike of the big city and (probably) frustration with his performance. Considering that and that there was somewhat more bias against pitchers walking batters at the beginning of his career, I don't buy that he just 'chose' to be unhittable rather tha be more effective.

    Lastly, I didn't make that comment to pretend like he was a better pitcher than he was--I made it because Ryan's critics have always pointed to his wildness, and I just don't buy that he was selfish, apathetic, or ignorant. I still like the anecdote that Randy Johnson attributes Nolan Ryan with helping him. Ryan wasn't a pitching coach, wasn't on the same team, but he saw something that no one else saw (or something that Randy had been told about but didn't listen to when received from other sources). I'm not sure how that anecdote fit into my post before but I meant for it to be as evidence of his maturity as a pitcher over the years.