Experience: 27 seasons (1966, 1968-93)
Teams: New York Mets (1966, 1968-71), California Angles (1972-79), Houston Astros (1980-88), Texas Rangers (1989-93)
Career stats: 773 GS, 324-292 (.526), 3.19 ERA, 5,386.0 IP, 5,714 K, 222 CG, 61 SHO
Angels stats: 288 GS, 138-121 (.533), 3.07 ERA, 2,181.1 IP, 2,416 K, 156 CG, 40 SHO
World Series titles: 1 (1969)
Bottom line: A case could be made for Jered Weaver, Frank Tanana or Dean Chance, all worthy candidates. But Nolan Ryan made his original mark on the game with the California Angels.
Misused by the New York Mets for five years, the flamethrower found stardom with the Angels in 1972 when he posted the first of six 300-strikeout campaigns and won his first of 11 strikeout crowns. Over his eight-year term in Anaheim, Ryan led the majors seven times in strikeouts — with 300-plus in five of those years.
The highlight of those seasons was his 383 K's in 1973 to beat Sandy Koufax’s all-time mark by one. Ryan also struck out 19 batters in a game four times. Four times.
In 1972, batters hit just .171 against Ryan — an all-time low. He threw four of his seven career no-hitters, and six one-hitters, for the Angels. Ryan’s seven career no-hitters are the most in MLB history, and he is the all-time leader with 5,714 strikeouts, 839 ahead of No. 2 Randy Johnson.
With the Angels, he averaged 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings, better than his career 9.5 K/9, which ranks No. 7 all-time in MLB history.
Ryan remains the Angels' franchise leader in complete games (156), shutouts (40) and strikeouts (2,416). And the team retired his No. 30.