Nolan Ryan Displays The Baseball From His 383rd Strikeout -1973
Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer are amazing pitchers. In 2019 Cole struck out 326 hitters in 212.1 innings and Scherzer fanned 300 batters in 220.2 innings in 2018. Chris Sale and Clayton Kershaw have also struck out more than 300 batters in the past five years.
You’d think in this age of batters striking out more frequently than Le Pétomane farting, a pitcher will one day break Nolan Ryan’s 1973 single season record of 383 strikeouts. But unless Chris Davis, Joey Gallo or Gary Sanchez is the opposition at every at bat, Ryan’s record is probably safe.
It comes down to the number of innings pitched. Modern managers and baseball analytics have pitchers rarely going through the batting order a third time. A “quality start” is one where the pitcher has completed six innings – a ridiculous two thirds of a game. That’s quality?
Consider the California Angels Nolan Ryan for a moment. There was no such thing as a pitch counts in the 1970s.
On Thursday, September 27, 1973 Ryan eclipsed Sandy Koufax’s modern record of 382 strikeouts, while battling a late inning leg cramp. Ryan threw three high inside fastballs by the Twins Rich Reese for his 16th strikeout in the eleventh inning for the final out in a 5-4 triumph.
The 26-year-old Ryan passed Koufax, compiling 39 starts, 26 complete games and 326 innings in 1973.
Nolan Ryan left the Angels after 1979 going to the Houston Astros. Ryan remained with Houston until signing as a free agent in December 1988 with the Texas Rangers where he finished his career.
Ryan was pitching until the age of 46, leading his league in strikeouts four consecutive seasons from 1987 -1990 from age 40-43. His career stats: 324-292 with a 3.19 ERA and a record 5,714 strikeouts.
That is durability.