A couple of years ago I read a discussion in the Houston Chronicle about Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan and who was the better pitcher. Recent developments have convinced me that Nolan Ryan is and always will be a better pitcher. Here’s why.
First there is that whole steroid thing. If you have been watching ESPN, the news or not hiding under a rock, you have probably heard about the recent steroid scandal that has rocked baseball. This week Clemens will appear in congressional hearing regarding his alleged use of steroids. Even if Clemens is cleared there will always be an asterisk by his name. There will still be that nagging thought in the back of your mind that maybe he did use performance enhancers. Ryan has never been linked to performance enhancers. Ryan just doesn’t look like he has used them.
Another reason Ryan is a better pitcher is longevity. At 27 seasons Ryan has one of the longest careers in baseball history. As of 2007 Clemens has played 24 seasons. Ryan retired at the age of 46 making him one of the older players in the league. There have only been about 10 pitchers still playing at that age. Clemens turns 46 this year. Maybe he will pass Ryan on this one.
Overall Ryan has better stats. Ryan had 5,714 strikeouts almost 1,000 more than Clemens at 4,672. At 354 wins Clemens does have 30 more career wins than Ryans at 324 wins. However with 7 no-hitters Ryan has more than any other pitcher in history. Clemens doesn’t have any no-hitter games. Ryan averaged 9.55 strike out per 9-innings. He is one of only three pictchers (1500+ innings) to average a strike out per inning. Sandy Koufax and Randy Johnson are the other 2 pitchers. Ryan recorded 10 or more strikeouts in 215 games. He is also the oldest player to have 10+ strikeouts in a single game. Both Ryan and Clemens were named to the All-Century Team in 1999.
Ryan is the only MLB player to have his number retired by 3 different teams: Texas Rangers, Houston Astros & California Angels. Good ole #34 is the first number retired by the Rangers. Of course, Ryan could easily be the greatest Rangers player ever.
It is my opinion that Ryan is clearly a better pitcher than Clemens. Yes, I know that Clemens has more wins but he never played for the Rangers. There were several years that Ryan had the lowest ERA but the Rangers had one of the worst records in the league. So what do you think?