As lefty Zangara once said: “You is Kruk man too!”
John Kruk said Nolan Ryan was the fastest pitcher he faced. Faster than Rob Dibble and Dwight Gooden, whom Kruk also named. But Kruk was emphatic when asked: Nolan he replied multiple times. This was during the ESPN Sunday night game in Boston between the Yankees and Red Sox Aug. 3, 2014.
I wasn’t sure when Kruk would have faced Ryan so I looked it up: 1986, 1987, 1988. But here’s the thing. Nolan Ryan was born January 31, 1947 in Refugio, TX. So in those seasons Ryan was 39, 40, 41. Those seasons were Kruk’s first three in the majors (ages 25, 26, 27), playing for San Diego against Ryan who was in his final three seasons with Houston before switching to the Texas Rangers 1989 through 1993, ages 42 through 46.
Maybe Kruk was overly impressed by Ryan’s reputation and attributes more speed than acumen to Ryan’s performance. Kruk’s 21 plate appearances against Ryan are here:
Two singles and one home run in 18 at bats, plus three walks; OPS .619.
...The problem with the control theory is that Ryan’s control improved in 1979 at age 32. Why did his SO improve at age 40? The changeup? That must have been one whale of a changeup.
Every season Ryan led a league in strike outs (SO) he also led in SO per nine innings pitched (SO9). In 1991 at age 44 Ryan led in SO9 but not in SO (203). Since he pitched in both leagues, one with a DH, one without, it makes sense to look at his SO9 compared to the league average. His first season of 1966 is omitted because he pitched only three innings. Numbers with only one decimal place were copied from baseball-reference.com so the result may be slightly less accurate than it could be but should not reduce the overall understanding. Data for graph below is in this link; also below the graph.
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