Welcome to Texas Rangers Demystification Day, in which we have a little fun with the franchise that’s getting the full sainthood treatment from writers and broadcasters. We hope you stick around!
Oh my heavens! It’s Nolan Ryan! He could throw the ball 150 miles per hour! He only eats raw meat! He’s a hometown boy and now he owns the team! He’s the face of the franchise!
Seriously, just look at this redneck douchebag:
That’s one of the saddest photographs I’ve ever seen. Posing for a picture with some idiot fan, reliving one of the saddest moments of glory anyone will ever have. “Hey, remember that time you threw at a guy’s head like a thug and then gave him a noogie? SO AWESOME! Can we pose like that for a quick pic? Here, if I put my hand right here it will hide your ample old-man belly.”
Ryan is overrated for several different reasons.
As a pitcher
There’s no doubt Nolan Ryan was a great pitcher, a Hall of Famer. But he could have been much, much better if he weren’t so stupid and stubborn.
Ryan has often been praised for his attitude on the mound, which amounted to: “I’mma throw this here heater by you, and I ain’t gonna give in to you.” Yay, American hero?
In practice, that lead to a shit ton of strikeouts…and a shit ton of walks. Despite having 17 percent more strikeouts that the second pitcher on the all-time Ks list, Ryan’s career K:BB ratio was only 2.04. That’s because he had 52 (!!) percent more walks than the second pitcher on the all-time BBs list. That is SO many walks, you guys.
Do you know who had a K:BB ratio better than 2.04 in 2011? Jair Jurrjens. Aaron Harang. Brian Duensing. Fucking A.J. Burnett. 2.04 is worse than mediocre. But no one cares, because Ryan’s career took place before the great baseball enlightenment, and we didn’t realize how harmful and important walks are. But you know what? We still had a pretty good idea that runs mattered.
Ryan’s career ERA+ — which adjusts a pitcher’s ERA for his ballpark and puts it in scale where 100 is league average — was 112. Good? Sure. All-time great? No fucking way. Pedro Martinez has a career ERA+ of 154. Walter Johnson’s at 147. Those are all-time greats. Down in Ryan’s 112? neighborhood? Derek Lowe. Britt Burns. Waite Hoyt. Barry Zito. Good pitchers. Not non-brainer first-ballot-inducted pitchers.
BUT TEH FLAME-THROWING!
As an owner
Ryan also receives credit for turning the culture of the Rangers around after he and his partners arrived in town. Why, there’s a new boss in town and he ain’t gonna stand for any of these young pitchers pussy-footing around no more. He ain’t gonna listen to your sissy innings limits and pitch counts. Them boys gotta throw and throw hard or their arms will get soft like a girl’s.
Magically, a year or two after Ryan took charge, the Rangers’ young pitching started improving. Well, by my math, it must be because of their improved conditioning and refusal to behold to “robot baseball” pitch counts. Or maybe…just maybe…young pitchers like Neftali Feliz, Alexi Ogando, Derek Holland, and Matt Harrison, just matured at the right time and it was all a big fucking coincidence that it happened under Ryan’s watch.
Ryan’s plan seems especially moronic given that the Rangers are blessed with a great bullpen, so needlessly pushing starters deep into games will only hurt the team. And luckily for the Rangers, Ron Washington (for all of his myriad bullpen management flaws) doesn’t seem to give much credence to Ryan’s opinions once the games actually start.
As a person
Nolan Ryan is friends with George W. Bush. Nolan Ryan campaigned for Ron Paul. Nolan Ryan has appeared in ads for the NRA.
Fuck Nolan Ryan.