The word wild isn't synonymous with best, so why is it that we regard pitcher Nolan Ryan as one of baseball's greatest and most polarizing figures?
Certainly, he had a great career, setting the record for most career punch outs, and also attaining over 300 victories, but many other players have had great careers, while also setting records; yet they aren't near as cherished as Ryan is.
And really, why is Ryan so cherished?
Having never won a Cy Young award, Ryan can never claim that he was the most outstanding pitcher in any given year. And certainly, to be considered one of the best, you need an award that goes only to the best.
But not for Ryan.
A quote that I've heard and believe in sincerely is that, "Great players find a way to win". And ironically, teams that win, win championships. Ryan has won a single ring, but it was in his third career season, and he was yet to be a star; (he experienced the third worst season of his career this same year).
Tom Seaver was the player on the Mets who made the champion season happen, not Ryan, so Ryan cannot be attributed with being the reason as to why the Mets won it all that season.
Over the next 24 seasons, Ryan put up impressive numbers, but failed to win a world series. Ironic is the fact that he had no Tom Seaver on any of these teams to help his team win games like he did on that '69 Met's squad.
It is also my understanding that Nolan Ryan set the career bench mark for most walks in a season with an unheard of 2,795 base-on-balls. Now, I'm not meaning to insult your intelligence when I say this, but to get registered a walk, you have to throw four balls; and balls aren't strikes. If he was this wild with his control, then how could he have also set the mark for most strikeouts in a career as well?
Well it certainly wasn't because he was hitting the strike zone on a consistent basis. Has it crossed your mind that perhaps a majority of his K outs were because of hitters swinging and missing at balls?
And last time I checked, great pitchers had great control; and Ryan didn't have much control of the course of his career.
Of all pitchers in the Hall of Fame, Ryan had over 1,000 more walks than the next leading pitcher: Early Wynn (1,775). Ryan's 292 losses also rank third all time, being bested only by Cy Young (316) and Pud Galvin (308).
Rightfully, Nolan Ryan is in the hall of fame. Unrightfully however, is the fact that he is considered one of the best ever.