LA Angels: Who is the greatest starting pitcher in franchise history?

Nolan Ryan, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images)
Nolan Ryan, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images) /
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ANAHEIM, CA – 1973: Pitcher Nolan Ryan #30 of the California Angels sits on the bench during an MLB game circa 1973 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images) /

1) Nolan Ryan

When there’s only one Hall-of-Fame pitcher who made his name pitching for the organization, it makes it pretty easy to guess who the greatest starter in Angels history is.

Nolan Ryan pitched at least five seasons for four different teams, but his longest and most productive tenure came during the prime of his career with the Angels. He finished his Halo career second in career wins above replacement (40.0), third in wins (138), fourth in ERA (3.07), and first in strikeouts (2,416), complete games (156), and shutouts (40).

He pitched four of his amazing seven career no-hitters while starting for the Halos.

The right-handed starter, who was acquired from the Mets in 1971, was a workhorse who would seem completely unfamiliar to the modern baseball fan used to seeing pitchers pulled in the 5th or 6th innings.

Ryan started 39, 39, and 41 games, respectively between 1972 and 1974, three of the highest number of starts in franchise history. He led the league in innings pitched (332.2) during his ’74 campaign. He finished at least 20 complete games in five of his first six seasons in Anaheim.

Ryan stepped off the rubber and delivered to the plate more than any other Angels pitcher not named Chuck Finley. And he did so while striking out hitters at a record-setting pace. From 1972 to 1979, his last in Anaheim, he led the league in strikeouts in seven of those eight seasons.

The Texas native was an All-Star five times as an Angel, and he finished within the top three of Cy Young voting three times (1973, 1974, and 1977).

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It’s overwhelmingly clear that the best pitcher in Angels history is Nolan Ryan.