Nolan Ryan – SP (1973)
Every year it seems to be the same predicament in the offseason; when will the Angels acquire a big-time pitcher? It was less than ten years ago when the Angels marched out four former All-Stars in their starting rotation (2012; Weaver, Haren, Santana, Wilson), and it was seen as a strength of the team. Since then, the team has seen continuous turnover from the position. While the offense has built into the obvious strength, the starting group has continued to struggle to keep up.
What the Angels have been longing for is an ace of the rotation. A guy they can send out to the mound every fifth day gives the team a chance to compete and take the stress off the bullpen. While the team had that ace many times in their history, few did as well as Nolan Ryan did back in 1973.
After being acquired from the Mets in a package for Halos great Jim Fregosi prior to 1972, Ryan went from young stud pitcher flashing with potential to elite ace as soon as he arrived in California. Ryan’s debut in 1972 saw the right-hander break out, as he led the league with 329 strikeouts, a huge uptick from the 137 he had the year before. Ryan also threw nine shut-outs to go along with a 2.28 ERA and 6.3 WAR. However, his best work was yet to come.
Nolan Ryan is the type of ace the Angels have been searching for.
In 1973 he increased his strikeouts with 383 along with a 2.87 ERA and 2.49 FIP. It’s mind-boggling to think that Nolan Ryan never won a Cy Young award in his career. This was the closest he got after finishing second behind Jim Palmer. Looking back with the advanced stats that we have nowadays, Ryan’s strikeout numbers would likely give him the advantage in the voting as his 7.7 bWAR was better than Palmer’s 6.3. However, with the Orioles winning their division with a 97-65 record compared to the Angels 79-83, the Baltimore ace came out on top with the voting.
The eye test of Ryan’s intimidating presence while throwing 100mph on the mound, while being a workhorse, the Angels would love to have a pitcher like this anchoring their rotation right now. While times have changed since back then and Ryan’s 39 starts and 26 complete games are numbers that likely won’t be seen again, this would solve the Angels recent desperation for an ace of their rotation.