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11-29-2012, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Czech Your Math View Post
Ryan's peak greatness is debatable. He wasn't a Cy Young award level generally, but then he did throw more no-hitters than anyone.

Where he definitely falls short is the "all-around" department. He wasn't even an above average fielder or hitter. He could throw that speedball by ya, make you look like a fool and that's it. It would be like calling Manute Bol a great all-around player.
I think critiquing a pitcher's hitting skills is like criticizing a goalie's wrist shot. Pitchers hit 9th in the order for a reason (they rarely practice batting), on top of which Ryan spent a total of 13 years in the AL where he didn't hit at all. Fielding percentage never affected a pitcher's chances with the HOF, just as no one discusses whether Gordie Howe dropped to block shots.

A pitcher is incredibly reliant on team success (run support) to prime his own win-loss stats. Bert Blylevyn is an another example of that. He finally got into the Hall, but did so with career win numbers of 287-250. Blyleven was a fantastic pitcher who did not spend a career on powerhouse teams. In 1987 Ryan's record was 8-16, yet he came in 5th in Cy Young voting. He was 40 years old in '87, led the league in ERA and also happened to strike out 270. Throwing that speedball by ya is the pitcher's primary roll, and Ryan did it very well for a very long time. He's not only #1 all time with career strikeouts (5,714), he's #1 all time with fewest hits allowed per 9 innings. For a guy with a 27 year career and 5,300+ innings, that's a telling stat.

Originally Posted by DisgruntledGoat View Post
. . . Firmly eliminate Nolan Ryan from contention, in my opinion (and pending any rebuttal).

What made Howe Howe isn't just the longevity; its his dominant, all-around play through that long career that seperates him from the pack.
Howe was about sustained longevity. His ample skills aside, he was a physical freak of nature that allowed him to remain highly productive at an age where his peers where shadows of their former selves or out of the league completely. Guy Lafleur had a peak. Esposito had a peak. Was Gordie Howe's peak the 95 points in 52-53, or the 103 points in 68-69? In '79-80 Howe put up 41 points, better than kids like Bob Nystrom, Al Secord and Rick Vaive. A 35 year old Ron Ellis put up 23 points that year. To anyone reading this who hasn't hit 40 yet, you'll understand soon enough what kind of rarity it is to be able to sustain a high level of performance at such an age.

Like Howe, Nolan Ryan was a physical outlier. His talent didn't fade away through his 40s while trying to hang on (yes I'm talking to you Chris Chelios and Willie Mays). At 45 years old Ryan struck out 157 batters in 157 innings. A 29 year old Justin Verlander averaged 9.03 strikeouts per 9 innings this past season.

And if none of this means anything, a 46 year old Ryan beat up a 25 year old Robin Ventura when he charged the mound. If that's not an echo of Gordie Howe, I don't know what is.

Last edited by mobilus: 11-29-2012 at 11:41 AM.
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