Wednesday, April 27, 2016

MLB Pitching Trivia, Mostly About No Hitters and Perfect Games

     With Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta recently throwing a no hitter (his second one, in fact), I got to thinking about no hitters and perfect games.  Just as a review, a no hitter in baseball is when a pitcher gives up no hits (obviously) in a complete, 9 or more inning game, but does allow at least one base runner, either by a fielding error, walk, hit batsmen, etc.  To qualify for a perfect game, though, the pitcher can't allow any baserunners, for any reason--27 guys up, 27 outs.  Because this is so difficult, there have been only 23 perfect games ever, 21 since 1900, and no pitcher has thrown more than one.  So here's some trivia about these special games, along with a couple of other pitching tidbits.

1) Multiple pitchers have thrown 1 or 2 no hitters (sometimes combined with 1 perfect game), but only three men have thrown more.  Nolan Ryan threw 7 no hitters, Sandy Koufax threw 3 no hitters and 1 perfect game, and Bob Feller accumulated 3 no hitters.

2) The only brothers to each throw at least one no hitter are the Forsch brothers.  Bob threw 2 with the St. Louis Cardinals (on April 16th, 1978 and on Sept. 26, 1983), and Ken threw one with the Houston Astros on April 7th, 1979.

3) Consider poor Dave Stieb, who pitched from 1979-93, and 1998.  On Sept. 24, 1988, while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays, he lost a no hitter at the most agonizing time, with 2 outs in the 9th inning, or one out to go.  Then, in his very next start, on Sept. 30th, the same thing happened.  The next year, on August 4th, 1989, he lost a perfect game with 2 outs in the 9th.  Finally, on Sept. 2, 1990, he finally completed a no hitter.

4) "Sad Sam" Jones of the Chicago Cubs was the first African-American pitcher to throw a no hitter, vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 12, 1955.

5) On a similar note, on June 15, 1963, Juan Marichal of the San Francisco Giants was the first Latin American pitcher to throw a no hitter, vs. the Houston Colt 45's (later the Astros).

6) The pitcher with the most wins to never throw a no hitter/perfect game was Grover Cleveland Alexander, 4th on the all time list with 373 wins.

7) Horace Clarke was a mediocre-at-best player from 1965-74, mostly with the New York Yankees.  However, in 1970 he broke up 3 no hit attempts in the 9th inning within a month.

8) Preston Gomez, who managed the San Diego Padres from 1969-72, the Houston Astros from 1974-5, and the Chicago Cubs in 1980, made two extremely controversial managing decisions.  Padre pitcher Clay Kirby (July 1971) and Astro hurler Don Wilson (Sept. 1974) were both throwing no hitters, and Gomez took them out of the game before the 9th inning!  Both were losing the game, but still--that's cold!  (Also, both saw their relief pitches give up a hit to blow the no hit attempt.)

9) Johnny Vander Meer set a no hit record that will be nearly impossible to beat.  On June 11, 1938, while pitching for the Cincinnati Reds, he no hit the Boston Braves.  Incredibly, in his very next start, against the Brooklyn Dodgers on June 15th, he did it again.  To be fair Ewell Blackwell, also of the Reds, pitched one no hitter (on June 18th, 1947 against the Boston Braves), and in his next start, lost a second consecutive no hitter with one out in the 9th.  But I doubt anyone will every throw 3 no hitters in a row (or even throw 2), so Vander Meer's accomplishment seems very safe.

10) This one's a bit subjective, but I think Philip Humber (April 21, 2012 while with the Chicago White Sox) and Charlie Robertson (April 30, 1922 also with the White Sox) are the two worst pitchers to throw a perfect game.  Humber's final stats were a won-loss record of 16-23, a 5.31 ERA, a 1.420 WHIP (walks and hits per inning), and an ERA+ (adjusted ERA, factoring in time period, ball park, etc. with 100 being average) of 81.  Robertson's numbers were 49-80, 4.40 ERA, 1.518 WHIP, and a ERA + of 90.  The other perfect game throwers are mostly Hall of Famers, or at least multiple All-Stars.

11) The record for catching the most no hitters is 4.  Jason Varitek, who played with the Boston Red Sox from 1997-2011, caught those thrown by Hideo Nomo in 2001, Derek Lowe in 2002, Clay Buchholtz in 2007, and Jon Lester in 2008.

12) And here's the freakiest no hitter bit of trivia, Dock Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates claimed to have been high on LSD (acid) when he threw his no hitter on June 12, 1970 against the San Diego Padres.  Full disclosure, he only admitted this over a decade later.  Some dispute his claim, saying his teammates, coaches, fans, and the announcers would have noticed during the event if this were accurate.  But if it is true, that's amazing!

13) Again, the worst no hitter is a matter of opinion.  Here's the two "best worst" candidates, in my opinion.  Cincinnati Red pitcher Jim Maloney's no hitter on August 19, 1965 against the Chicago Cubs included 9 walks and one hit batsman, in 10 innings.  Similarly, Florida Marlin A.J. Burnett walked 9, in 9 innings, in his no hitter vs. the San Diego Padres.  Surprisingly, neither gave up any runs.

14) Finally, while also being subjective, I consider Mike Warren of the Oakland A's to be the worst pitcher to throw a no hitter.  His career stats include a 9-13 won-loss record, a 5.06 ERA, a 1.500 WHIP, and an adjusted ERA of 75.

15) Moving away from no hitters, these days, starting pitchers are usually pulled after they throw around 100 pitches.  I was interested in who threw the most in a game. Alas, exact records have only been kept since 1988.  Pittsburgh Pirate Tim Wakefield's 172 on April 27, 1993 is the highest definite amount (and since he threw the knuckleball, which causes less strain on the arm, this helps explain why his manager let him throw so many).  Washington Senator Tom Cheney is alleged to have thrown 228 in the 16 inning game where he set the strikeout record (21) on Sept. 12, 1962 vs. the Baltimore Orioles.  However, while unofficial, it sure stands to reason that Joe Oeschger (Boston Braves) and Leon Cadore (Brooklyn Robins/Dodgers) probably surpassed this total.  They each threw a staggering 26  innings in a game that ended as a suspended-by-darkness 1-1 tie.  Or they came 1 inning short of throwing 3 complete games in one day!  Researchers estimate that Cadore threw about 345 pitches, while Oeschger threw about 319.

16) For the same reason, the record for fewest pitches thrown in a complete, 9 inning game is disputed.  Both Aaron Cook (for the Colorado Rockies vs. the San Diego Padres on July 25, 2007) and Carlos Silva (for the Minnesota Twins, vs. the Milwaukee Brewers on May 20, 2008) threw only 74.  However, many believe that Charles "Red" Barrett threw only 58 in his complete game win for the Boston Braves vs. the Cincinnati Reds on August 10, 1944.  He gave up 2 hits in a 2-0 shutout, and only struck out 1 batter.

17) Yusmeiro Petit, who's pitched from 2010-2016 with the San Francisco Giants, and currently the Washington Nationals, has been a below average pitcher for his career, going 21-27 won-loss, a 4.54 ERA, a 1.260 WHIP, and an adjusted ERA of just 90.  However, he holds an all time record.  Over several, mostly relief outings, he retired 46 batters in a row.

No comments:

Post a Comment