Perfection, and its polar opposite

(Trying out a different format here; let me know how it plays. I can only scratch the surface of all that happened on this crazy day.)

Phil Humber‘s perfect game was the first CG shutout this year by a non-Giants pitcher.

I still haven’t seen a clear angle on that last pitch, but I think Brendan Ryan might be feeling what Dale Mitchell always felt. (Go to the 2:50 mark.)

Red Sox relievers faced 26 batters and got 9 outs. They matched the known record of 5 pitchers allowing at least 1 run in less than an inning, done four times previously (including one that went the other way).

In 107 prior games this year when a team was held to 1 run or less in 6+ innings by the starter, no such team finished with more than 8 runs.

The Yankees had two 7-run innings. Their previous high inning this year was 4 runs. The Red Sox allowed an 8-run inning to Texas last Tuesday.

Potential bad news in Washington, despite the win: Ryan Zimmerman was a late scratch with right shoulder inflammation. Zimmerman’s throwing has been visibly affected since last year’s abdominal injury, and you have to hope the change in his motion hasn’t led to a major injury.

I do not understand how a closer walks a batter when doing so brings up the tying run. Brad Lidge, Frankie Francisco, we’re looking at you…. Lidge walked Hanley Ramirez on 4 straight balls after getting ahead 0-2, then served a game-tying HR to Logan Morrison. Francisco didn’t throw a single strike to Nate Schierholtz.

Another reason to like the way Terry Collins is running the Mets: When Francisco started with a 3-run lead but put the tying runs on base with 1 out, Collins pulled him and played matchups — lefty Byrdak against Hector Sanchez (a young switchy who looks better from the left side), then righty Rauch, who’s been by far the best Met reliever to date. I don’t think Francisco is a bad pitcher, but he’s done nothing in his career to deserve being treated as the sacrosanct closer. If you want the respect of being the “do or die” guy, you have to earn it.

Mark Teixeira had 33 multi-HR games before today — but just one in April. And it was against the Yankees.

Mike Napoli homered in his 5th straight game. The last longer streak was 6 in 2010 by Carlos Pena in 2010. (Mets fans won’t believe this, but Jason Bay once homered in 6 straight.) His slugging percentage after 7 games was .100; after 12 games, it’s .721.

Some winning moves don’t show up in the box score. In the 9th inning, Mets pinch-runner Scott Hairston swept Buster Posey‘s leg with a clean slide at home. Hairston was forced out, but his slide seemed to disrupt Posey’s return throw to 1st base, which sailed wide and allowed the winning run to score.

Humber’s perfecto, in his 56th game (30th start), was not just his first shutout, not just his first complete game. It was his first time lasting 8 innings.

The only modern perfect game within the pitcher’s first 67 career games was by Charlie Robertson of the White Sox on April 30, 1922, in his 5th game. Robertson had a CG in his previous start. Dallas Braden‘s perfecto in his 68th game was also his first outing of at least 8 innings.

Robertson finished with a record of 49-80.

Roy Halladay walked 4 for just the second time in 74 Philly starts, including the postseason. Before this year he had averaged exactly 1 walk per start for the Phils.

No-hitters by former Mets: Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Mike Scott, Al Leiter, Dwight Gooden, David ConeHideo Nomo, Philip Humber.

Alfredo Aceves is the first pitcher this year with 3 games facing at least 2 batters without retiring anyone. He had never done that in 114 games before this year (105 relief games).

Stephen Strasburg’s 6 scoreless innings gave the Nats 11 starts of 6+ IP and 2 runs or less, tops in the majors. The walk-off win kept pace with the 1981 Expos for the best start in franchise history (12-4).

Duane Below‘s 6-goose-egg relief stint was the first such game in the AL since 2007. He also stranded the 2 runners he inherited from Rick Porcello‘s epic fail. Below has not allowed a run in 10 IP this year, tying him with Toronto’s Luis Perez for the MLB lead, and has stranded all 6 inherited runners. Nice.

Am I the only one who has flashbacks seeing the name “DeJesus” atop a Cubs box score? Ivan De Jesus scored 104 runs leading off for the ’78 Cubs, but he never had a .400 OBP like David DeJesus has now.

Matt Kemp, who hit his 9th HR in game #15, is the best player in the world … right now. But let’s not forget how a scorching start in 2010 — through 14 games, he had 7 HRs, 20 RBI and an 1.150 OPS — devolved into the worst year of his career, ending with a .249 BA and his own front office questioning his make-up. (Yeah, I don’t think that’s happening again, either, but it’s my job to remember history.)

Clayton Kershaw + the Astros = recipe for his first win of the year. He’s allowed 2 runs in his last 28 IP against Houston. (I kind of miss the old NL West, when the Dodgers and Astros were rivals. Kershaw has only pitched 6 times against Houston in 4+ years; Fernando faced them 6 times in 1986 alone.)

It’s fun to watch Dee Gordon run, and scoring 9 times in 14 games looks fine. But no amount of fancy baserunning can make up for a .295 OBP and no HRs.

Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira are the first teammates with 6+ RBI in one game since the Rangers’ 30-run outburst in 2007. One of the big hitters in that game, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, was on the wrong side of today’s outcome, though he had 4 hits. The Yanks last did it in 2005, with A-Rod & Tino.)

Humber’s 96 Game Score tied Matt Cain for the season high. The last higher Game Score was a 100 in 2008 by Brandon Morrow. Of the 16 perfect games in the searchable era, it was the first 96 Game Score. The only number not filled between 92 (Dennis Martinez) and 101 (Sandy Koufax) is 99, i.e., 12 strikeouts. That’s also the only Game Score between -12 and 100 that has not been done by an active pitcher.

When you’re facing the best team and they’ve bludgeoned their way to 8 straight wins, it sure is nice to have a stopper.

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105 Comments on "Perfection, and its polar opposite"

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Raphy
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John –
The stats are great as always, but I prefer the old system.
I need to digest the stats from one game at a time.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Who will be the next ex-Met to throw a nono?
I nominate Bruce Chen.

Doug
Guest

Two players with 6+ RBIs. Today was the 20th time that has happened since 1918 – more often than I would have guessed.

Interestingly, 11 of the 20 have occurred in the span of just 13 of those years since 1918 – 4 in 4 seasons (1922-25) including thrice in less than a year (Aug 1922-Jun 1923), 3 in 4 seasons (1949-52), and 4 in 5 seasons (2003-07).

Longest span between occurrences – 15 years from 1962 to 1977.

Richard Chester
Guest
I can think of at least one other game at Femway where the Yankees overcame a 9-run Red Sox lead for a victory. On Opening Day April 18, 1950 they grabbed a 9-0 lead early in the game and their ace, Mel Parnell, took a 1-htter into yhe 6th inning. The Yankees got to Parnell for 4 runs in the 6th. In the 8th Parnell and the Sox relief staff imploded and the Yankees scored 9 runs. Final score was 15-10. Billy Martin made his ML debut in that game in the 6th inning. In the 8th he had his… Read more »
Neil L.
Guest

Excellent memory, Richard, Here is the link.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BOS/BOS195004180.shtml

Did you remember all the details without checking anything? That would be impressive.

Richard Chester
Guest

All I remember is the score of the game and the fact that the Yankees overcame a big lead. The details I gleaned from B-R boxscores and Charlton’s Chronology.

Doug
Editor

And, here’s another Yankee-Red Sox game where New York came back from a 9-0 deficit to win. Against Roger Clemens, no less.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA198706260.shtml

I remembered this game because it came up in another post – one of only a handful of games with both starters having a single-digit game score.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

When it was 12-9 Yankees, Tex and Swisher was the ONLY two players to drive in the Yankees runs, with six apiece.

Doug
Guest

3 games facing 2 batters with none retired.

Aceves is well on his way to matching or breaking the season record of 7 such games, by Doug Creek of the Giants in 1996.

45 pitchers (none more than once) have 5 or more such games in a season, none before 1961 and 31 times since 1990. Most recent were Marc Rzepczynski and Joe Beimel last year.

Doug
Guest

Humber had no 3 ball counts until the 9th inning. He started the frame going 3-0 to Michael Saunders, then struck him out on 3 more pitches. Ryan struck out on a full count to end the game.

Humber got through the middle 3 innings on only 20 pitches.

bstar
Guest

Humber completed his perfect game in 96 pitches, the second lowest total ever. David Cone needed only 88 pitches to throw his perfect game against the Expos on 7/18/1999. Cone had zero 3-ball counts in that game and only reached a 2-ball count five times.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA199907180.shtml

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

How far back do pitch-count totals go on B-R? Addie Joss’ 1908 perfect game took only 74 pitches (Wikipedia). I’m going to guess Cy Young’s 1904 perfect game also took less than 96 pitches.

Doug
Editor

I believe B-R has pitch-count data for almost all games back to 1988. Sporadic before that – lots of earlier Dodger games have those counts because Dodgers were tracking these data.

DaveR
Guest

Would that have been a painful way to lose a perfect game if Ryan had actually RUN to first, instead of arguing the call?
Worst way, except maybe for Gallaraga’s in 2010.

bstar
Guest

John, the last pitch to Dale Mitchell in Don Larsen’s game was a called strike, which would differ from Brendan Ryan’s questionable swinging strike. It does look like Dale check-swung at the final pitch, but ump Babe Pinelli did not point to Mitchell to imply he was out on a swinging strike. Wikipedia verifies the pitch as a called strike:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Larsen
scroll down to “Perfect Game”

Or maybe you were implying that Mitchell always said the pitch was a ball?

sjhax56
Guest

Somewhere Armando Gallaraga may be thinking, where was Brian Runge when I needed him for the 27th out? No, of course Jason Arnold was clearly out, and that last pitch to Ryan yesterday was probably a checked swing ball four.

Neil L.
Guest

Sjhax, even the umpires want to be a little part of baseball history too, don’t they? The strike zone is going to expand greatly on that last batter in a no-no.

Evil Squirrel
Guest

Which is why I have the ultimate respect for Jim Joyce. Even though he obviously got the call wrong, he still called it as he saw it, and didn’t just knee-jerk the call that would have cinched the historical moment, regardless of what he actually saw. The last out of Anibal Sanchez’s no hitter was quite questionable as well, and I think a forced call by that umpire (can’t recall who it was now)… not very professional of the men in blue (or black now, I guess) to do that….

Tristram12
Guest

Dee Gordon = Juan Pierre – 10 years

Fireworks
Guest

Little flaw in your equation:

Dee Gordon = Juan Pierre – 10 Years + SS

Fixed.

Phil Gaskill
Guest

I sure wouldn’t call that Hairston slide “clean.”

Neil L.
Guest
JA, it was certainly a bizarro afternoon at Fenway. Your interesting factoids regarding the Yankees’ comeback and the Red Sox collapse got me all juiced up to try and see just how bad the relievers were. Thanks for the juicy details. The pitchers for Boston accumulated a WPA of -0.787, kept from being even worse by Felix Doubront’s very decent 6-inning outing with a WPA of 0.150. I thought such poor team pitching performances would have been really rare, historically speaking, but was surprised to find that since 2000, in 9-inning games or less, the Red Sox pitching was only… Read more »
ATarwerdi96
Guest

Strasburg has now gone 10 straight starts (dating back to 2010) in which he has not allowed a home run, the longest active streak. Kyle Lohse and Ted Lilly have 8 straight starts.

Ed
Guest

Haven’t seen anyone mention this but back on Friday night road teams went 12-2. The only home teams to win were Washington (2-0 over Miami) and the Angels (6-3 over Baltimore). Not sure how to approach that as a potential record but it seems like a pretty remarkable occurrence.

AlbaNate
Guest

The odds of this happening should be fairly simple to calculate. It’s a binomial distribution problem. Let’s say that the visiting team has a 45% chance of winning. (Don’t know if this is the actual figure–just guessing here) The odds of the visitors winning 12 or more of 14 games is a bit higher than .2%, which means that it should happen once every 500 days, or about once every three seasons.

Neil L.
Guest

Alba, nice calculation. The simple answer is it shouldn’t happen very often.

I have no idea what the exponent should be in the binomial distribution calculation, but 0.45 seems fair enough.

I assume the home field/court is greater in the NFL or NBA than in Major League baseball.

Ed
Guest

Thanks guys! It’s been too long since my advanced stats classes so I was having a hard time wrapping my head around the calculation. I found an post on the old B-R blog where Andy posted home-road win records by season. The .45 assumption seems reasonable based on that post.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Brendan Ryan gets screwed out of an infield triple, and now he’s called out on a pitch three feet outside. But sorry Buddy, you need to swing the bat there. That ump wasn’t going down in infamy, period.

Neil L.
Guest
A random observation with no connection to JA’s nightly recap. Looking at the standings, it seemed to me that division races might already be in jeopardy. 🙂 At this early date in the season, as of last night, the six division leaders have a combined 16.0 gamne lead over their nearest rivals. This seems like a large cumulative total for so early in the season, suggesting that teams are starting to run away with their divisions. A quick eyeball on year-after-year April 21st standings shows that this is the largest cumulative lead since the current divisional format was instituted in… Read more »
Timmy Pea
Guest

The Rangers look good winning small today against a good Tigers team. The Phils look rough.

James Smyth
Guest
In Humber’s perfect game he had 13 flyouts and only five groundouts. I thought that was unusual for a perfect game. Until I looked up the others that have PBP data: Pitcher K GO FO Philip Humber 9 5 13 Roy Halladay 11 8 8 Dallas Braden 6 7 14 Mark Buehrle 6 11 10 Randy Johnson 13 7 7 David Cone 10 4 13 David Wells 11 6 10 Kenny Rogers 8 7 12 Dennis Martinez 5 17 5 Tom Browning 7 10 10 Mike Witt 10 13 4 Len Barker 11 9 7 Catfish Hunter 11 7 9… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
Doesn’t anyone else find it a little strange that over half of the perfect games are clustered so recently in the timeline? And that so many of those came in a hitter’s era? Larsen’s performance seemed like a miracle not only for being in the World Series but also for the fact that nobody had pitched one in 34 years. The fact that the previous one to Humber’s was two whole seasons ago, by golly, and the one before that was way back 20 days earlier and the one before that the previous year—I’m skeptical without knowing why or what… Read more »
Shping
Guest

No, you’re not alone in wondering about that. It seems to be the complete opposite of what you’d expect, for all kinds of reasons (including the slow demise of the complete game).

Can’t think of any similar “patterns” — or actually “anti-patterns” — in baseball either. Weird.

MikeD
Guest
My first reaction is the increase in perfect games is simply randomness at play, but now I’m pretty sure it’s not. Heading into 1994 there were only 14 perfect games tossed in the prior 120 or so years of MLB history. Since then, another seven have been thrown, or 50% of that number, in a little less than 18 years. (It’s really even higher if Armando Galarraga’s game was included, which would have been the third perfect game tossed in less than a month’s time.) So why the increase? Let’s call it the new ballpark effect. No, I’m not really… Read more »
Shping
Guest

Very good points MikeD. I too was thinking about improved defense. But has the equipment, etc really improved that much since 1960, or 1990? I think its improved dramatically since 1910, but not nearly as much during the more recent “era of the no-hitter/perf game.”

Then again, maybe those minute differences are indeed enough to throw off the delicate balance, just like a minute change in ocean temperatures can have a huge effect on climate?

I don’t know. I guess i’m still in the randomness camp, despite my suspicions that something must be causing it.

no statistician but
Guest
Your case seems insightful to me, but overstated. The increase in perfect games actually begins the 1980s. The three (or four, if you throw in Harvey Haddix’s 11 innings) that came in the Sixties were in a pitchers’ era, and then came a lull that ended in the Eighties when it began snowballing in our current direction. I don’t agree on better infield conditions. They are the province of the home management and have been adjusted to suit the home team from the beginning of time (irony alert). Gardening has been a highly developed science since the 17th century, at… Read more »
MikeD
Guest
Perhaps I overstated slightly for effect, although I don’t think so. My point isn’t that any single improvement has led to an increase in perfect games, but the collective has led to an increase, even if it’s slight. I do think infields are more consistently in better shape than they were a generation or two back. I recently watched a replay of one of the games from the 1960 World Series (the one where Tony Kubek was injured with the bad hop) and I was struck by how poor I thought the infield dirt was groomed. Another area I didn’t… Read more »
Albanate
Guest

There was a minor leaguer named Ron Neccaia who accounted for all 27 outs in a 1952 game.

Neil L.
Guest

Albanate, please tell us more. Who did he play for and in what year?

AlbaNate
Guest
Neccaia pitched for the Bristol VA team in the Class D Appalachian League, which was a Pirates farm team. On 5/13/52, playing against the Welch, W. VA team, Neccaia struck out 27 batters. He walked a batter, hit another with a pitch, and there was one ground out to the infield. The catcher missed catching the ball on a third strike, which is how Neccaia managed to fan 27 even with a groundout. He struck out 24 in his next start. Later that season, he had a brief stint with the Pirates, but that was his only time in the… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest

Necciai, actually. Good story. Unusual that he had only one walk in that game. Super-K prospects rarely can find the plate that often, even with batters standing in halfway to the dugout.

Doug
Editor

Actually, the catcher deliberately missed catching the third strike. And, deliberately omitted to pick it up and throw to first.

But, can’t really blame him in that situation.

Mark in Sydney
Guest
JA @ 73 On the double-play, intuitively I agree with you, and tried to prove it. But the numbers just don’t back it up in a little study I did. Since ’62, a team will turn, on average 149 DPs a year, close to one a game. The max was the ’66 Pirates with 215 DPs, and they finished 92-70. The next highest DP turning teams 1980 Jays and the Red Sox, both turning 206. They finished that year 67-95 and 83-77. At the other end, the lowest number of DPs (162 games played) is 100 by the ’63 Astros… Read more »
Shping
Guest
@75 — Ok, i guess we’re fully off on a tangent here, but your last points are interesting. I do think DPs can be very important in the context of a single game. But i also think one of the best lessons that the great Bill James and many other sabermetricians continue to teach us, is that our initial perceptions about what we think is true and valuable, are often proven incorrect when we look at new, innovative stats. (30 years ago, for instance, steals, outfield assists and rbis were all drastically overrated) So maybe DPs arent statistically as valuable… Read more »
Mark in Sydney
Guest
Shping, I am torn. Your are right, the balance is delicate and, when done right, a DP is a thing of beauty and one of the best plays in baseball. I do think that there is a legitimate breakup (the runner actually has a chance of making the base) and a “take out the thrower” kind. It is the latter I’d like to see penalized. Look at Hairston: he takes aim at Posey and kicks at his back leg. He is smart enough to reach for the base as part of the “play”. All perfectly in keeping with 2012-style play:… Read more »
Evan
Guest
One thing to remember when looking at DPs is that they only occur when there are runners on base and less than 2 out (obviously). Offenses with higher OBP are more likely to hit into DPs because of greater number of opportunities (St. Louis offense last year is a good example), likewise teams with weak pitching who put more runners on base are more likely to turn more DPs. In order to determine whether DPs are having an impact on winning percentage you would need to factor out OBP/ OBP against (since the impact of OBP on run scoring is… Read more »
Shping
Guest

This is appropos of nothing, but the best light-hearted way i can put a cap on our discussion for now.

Sometime in 1934 or 35, (I think it was the 34 W.Series) the great Dizzy Dean was running from 1st to 2nd when he was beaned in the head by a relay throw from 2nd to 1st. He was hospitalized and fortunately turned out to be ok, but created one of the best headlines of all time: “X-Rays of Dean’s head reveal nothing.” Sorry, but i love that story!

Scoops
Guest

I keep seeing all kinds of comment and controversy about Brendan Ryan’s checked swing at the end of Phil Humber’s perfect game.

Here’s a fun fact: a check swing call is entirely up to the umpire(s). There is no definition about “breaking the plane”, or anything, in the rules. If the umpire says it was a swing, it was.

Doug
Editor

No-hitters by former Mets:

Also Saberhagen, Erickson, Rogers, Candelaria, Ellis, Chance.

But, all of these guys played for the Mets AFTER their no-hitters.

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