Saturday, March 7, 2009

Seaver vs. Ryan



I love this match-up. It is the sexy strikeout numbers and no-hitters of Ryan against the unmatched consistency and excellence of Seaver. I not only had the privilege of watching these two greats on television for years, but also saw each of them pitch in person.
Nolan Ryan is the lifetime strikeout king with almost a thousand more than the next closest pitcher (Randy Johnson). He also had seven career no-hitters, the last of which was in 1993 at age 46. He pitched for 27 seasons and pitched at a high level. On the other hand, he had a lifetime winning percentage of only.526 and never won the Cy Young Award. He won 20 games 0nly twice and had the most walks in major league history.

Tom Seaver pitched in the same era and while he didn’t have the strikeouts or no-hitters that Ryan had, he was quite the power pitcher in his own right. He managed to win three Cy Young Awards, win twenty games five times and be named to twelve all star games. He had a winning percentage of .603 during his twenty seasons toeing the rubber. Seaver also had a career ERA of 2.86.

Ryan had the longer career and the huge strikeout totals, but one question comes to mind with him. That question is “was there ever a time during his career when people would say that he is the best pitcher in baseball.” I think the answer to that is no. While Ryan was compiling his records, the likes of Vida Blue, Gaylord Perry, Jim Palmer, Steve Carlton and yes Tom Seaver were winning the annual Cy Young award. Nolan Ryan is an amazing story and was a dominant strikeout pitcher, but this comparison goes to Tom Terrific.







7 comments:

  1. I think that you were partly right that Seaver had a better winning percentage but to have 7 no hitters, thats amazing. To dominate one game like that is amazing but 7! Thats impossible.

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  2. Joe P. makes a very good point and lets not forget to mention Ryan's 12, count 'em 12, one hitters. Of course, his career of playing on poor teams affected his winning pct and while Tom Terrific was clearly one of the all time greats, to characterize Ryan as a compiler is not to appreciate that he was consistently the most feared pitcher in his time by opposing hitters.

    IMHO, There have been other pitchers who have approached and surpassed many of career marks set by Seaver but I don't think we will ever be able to say the same about Ryan.

    Great blog, keep up the good work.

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  3. Jim, to say that Ryan played on some poor teams without also saying the same about Seaver is irresponsible. Seaver is more than 100 games over .500 playing for sub .500 teams his whole career. (with a smattering of above .500 seasons mixed in, admittedly) Seaver also equaled Ryans shutout toatals in 126 fewer games started and bested him in CG. Also, Seaver has the record for most opening day starts by ANY pitcher. Seems Ryan may not have even been considered the best pitcher on his own team much of the time. Early in his career, Ryan was considerd a one trick pony. Strikeout or walk. If you were patient you could get to him. Seaver was a virtuoso on the mound and always considered dominant. Let us not forget the intangibles as well, Seaver was a leader on his teams while Ryan was content to be lead.

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  4. Ok, Ok, Mr. Anonymous, you convinced me. Besides, I would never want to be considered "irresponsible" when it comes to ranking pitchers.

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  5. Jim, its me, PJ. Did I really convince you or did you think it unwise to argue with an insane anon. dude?

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  6. Hey PJ, never let it be said that I cannot be swayed from my position with a good arguement and of course the insane anon thing was also a factor.

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  7. Anthony Young dominates both.

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