It’s not the same. They’re nothing alike. Nolan Ryan was traded by the New York Mets early in his career to the California Angels. He was a few years younger than Noah Syndergaard is now, a few months before he is set to make his debut with the Los Angeles Angels—a franchise that can’t decide what exact geographical location they want to represent.
On December 10, 1971, the Mets made their worst trade in franchise history when Ryan was packaged with three other players in exchange for Jim Fregosi.
But I don’t really want to talk about that today. I want to talk about how, of all places, Syndergaard ended up with the Angels.
Mets history is repeating itself with Noah Syndergaard playing the Nolan Ryan role
A pair of hurlers from Texas whose main focus was throwing heat, Syndergaard and Ryan have been compared to each other in the past. It’s understandable. Each wore number 34, Thor doing so in honor of the Ryan Express. Ryan would also wear the number 30 on his back, something Syndergaard won’t get a chance to do in Los Angeles because it’s retired out there. He’ll have to stick with 34, the number Ryan wore during his days with the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers.
Off the field, I suppose there are a few other similarities. Both probably enjoy jerky and have a strong opinion about Walker, Texas Ranger. As far as baseball is concerned, they share the similarity in possibly leaving the Mets too soon.
I think the fear with Syndergaard has always been that he’d leave the team before reaching his prime. In part because he never could piece everything together for a long stretch, Syndergaard leaves the Mets with some potential on the table.
His time in New York ends with a 47-31 record, 3.32 ERA, and a win in the World Series. It’s good, not spectacular, and entirely too short for what everyone believed was coming our way back in 2015 when Syndergaard was an intimidating rookie.
Ryan’s career was quite the opposite of Syndergaard. He was the ultimate workhorse, pitching until 1993 at age 46. I hate to call him a compiler because that adjective feels better reserved for non-Hall of Fame talent who just didn’t want to retire and spend time with their kids. Ryan is one of baseball’s all-time greats who just happened to pitch in 27 seasons.
Meanwhile, nobody is quite sure what to expect from Syndergaard nor have we ever quite known. Injuries and some ups and downs have made him an impossible to predict player. Removed from his early 2020 Tommy John Surgery, the questions loom even larger.
Will Syndergaard end up as the next Ryan? Not quite. Even if he does reach his full potential, the Mets never did fully give up on him. He wasn’t a trade casualty like Ryan was so many years ago. Instead, about 50 years later, this kid from Texas left the Mets by choice. Even so, I can’t help but feel like history is doing a little rhyming.