It seems that just about every week an argument erupts in the baseball world around Nolan Ryan’s place among baseball’s elites. Some argue that his lack of Cy Young awards leaves Ryan outside the top tier of pitchers. However, one thing that can’t be argued, are the Nolan Ryan stats that just don’t seem to be real.
Nolan Ryan Stats:
Over the course of his career, Nolan Ryan put up some incredible seasons as a member of the Astros, Angels, Rangers and briefly the Mets.
Nolan Ryan Stats – Total Strikeouts
When looking at a pitcher like Nolan Ryan, the first group of stats that jump off the page are his incredible strikeout records:
5,714 strikeouts (most in MLB history) and just under 1,000 more than Randy Johnson in second place.
Another way of appreciating just how insane this record is, for a pitcher making their debut to reach Ryan’s total, they would have to average just over 9.5 strikeouts while pitching 30 games a year for 20 years, or 600 career starts.
Currently, Zack Greinke leads MLB active pitchers with 540 games started, and while he has accumulated an impressive 2,977 strikeouts, he is still 2,737 away from the most insane of the Nolan Ryan stats.
Additionally, Nolan Ryan struck out Tony Gwynn more than any other pitcher, striking out Gwynn 9 times in 67 appearances.
Nolan Ryan Stats – Yearly Strikeout Leader
Over his career, Ryan led either the American League or National League in strikeouts in 11 seasons, trialing only Walter Johnson, who did it 12 times. While Johnson may have the record, Ryan did it in an era with significantly stiffer competition.
Additionally, Ryan led a league in strikeouts in three different decades, winning the award 7-times in the 70s, 3-times in the 80s and once in the 90s, making him the only player to win in 3 different decades.
To help visualize how long Ryan pitched, he struck out both Ken Griffeys, Bobby and Barry Bonds and all three Almoars, Sandy Sr, Jr, and Roberto.
Nolan Ryan Stats – Inning Pitched
For his career, Ryan finished with 5,386 innings pitched, placing him in 5th place all-time. Again, Greinke is the active leader, this time with 3,384.1 innings pitched. If you combined his innings with Charlie Morton (9th on the active list), they still wouldn’t equal Ryan’s insane total.
In 1974, Ryan set his career-high with 332.2 innings pitched. In 2023, Logan Webb led baseball with 216 innings pitched. The last time a pitcher threw for over 300 innings came all the way back in 1980 when Steve Carlton finished the season with 304.
All of these innings allowed Ryan to throw 222 complete games during his career. For his entire career, Ryan averaged 10 complete games per season. Meanwhile, no MLB player has thrown 10 complete games in a season since James Shields in 2011.
Nolan Ryan Stats – The Walks
Perhaps unsurprisingly considering how many innings he pitched, Nolan Ryan also set the record with 2,795 non-intentional walks. Ryan threw so many walks, that he finished his career with almost 1,000 more walks thrown than Steve Carlton, who is in second place.
Over the course of a season, Ryan averaged 120 walks. During the 2023 season, no pitcher has allowed more than 100 walks, something that Ryan did 11-times (while twice allowing more than 200 walks).
While there is a fiery debate around Ryan’s place in baseball history, one thing that can’t be debated, is just how insane these Nolan Ryan stats have aged, especially when pitchers rarely throw complete games.
What are your favorite Nolan Ryan stats? Let us know in the comments below!
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