Friday, July 24, 2009

Baseball Kudos and Stats

I meant to post this earlier today, but as is often the case, work got in the way. Things are busy for me pretty much all the time these days, but it's been worse that this even recently. And shit, I'm still employed so you will not hear me complaining. But Kudos to Mark Buerhle of the Chicago White Sox, who on Thursday night pitched just the 15th perfect game in Major League Baseball history for his second no-hit performance in a couple of years. And kudos to Sox center field Dewayne Wise, inserted as a defensive replacement in the top of the 9th inning, who made an absolutely incredible catch in top of the 9th, hauling one in from clearly over the center field wall to preserve Mark Buerhle's perfect game in most manly fashion. Here is where i would normally have embedded the youtube video of the catch, but MLB has nothing better to do than to require everyone to pull down their videos, even from little blogs and not-for-commercial-purposes showings like this. Because, of course, you know how bad it would be if a guy like me was actually hyping up a baseball play on my blog on the night of a historic accomplishment in the sport. Just terrible.

Anyways, you gotta love the shit people can do in the field when a no-hitter or perfect game is on the line for the pitcher. I've seen more great diving stops in the infield and more homers hauled back into the park by the outfielders in this situation than probably any other, and on Thursday night Mr. Wise stepped up in a big way on the road to history. As I mentioned, Buerhle's gem is the 15th perfect game ever pitched in the majors, and lifts Buerhle into very exclusive company among only five other pitchers in ML history with at least two career no-hitters, including a perfect game. The others on this list?

Randy Johnson -- Perfect game in 2004, plus one other no-hitter.
Sandy Koufax -- perfect in 1965, with three other no-hitters.
Jim Bunning -- perfect on Fathers' Day in 1964 for Your World Champion Philadelphia Phillies, plus one other no-hitter.
Addie Joss -- perfect in 1908, one other no-hitter.
Cy Young -- perfect in 1904, with two other no-hitters.

Now that's some pretty good company, like I said.

There was also some interesting discussion on Mad Dog Radio on SiriusXM earlier about just how rare a perfect game is. A caller posed the question to Mad Dog whether a perfect game was roughly as rare as someone hitting for the cycle. After looking up some basic stats, it turns out that a perfect game is far rarer than someone hitting for the cycle, as there have apparently been four cycles just in the 2009 season so far (barely over halfway through) and I guess over 500 cycles over all Major League records, as compared to just 15 perfect games. One of the co-hosts, however, made the interesting point that hitting for the cycle is still far rarer than pitching a perfect game if you consider how many more opportunities there are for a player to hit for the cycle and not do it. In other words, sure there's only 15 perfect games in history, but only one pitcher has one chance to pitch a perfect game every night for a particular team. Whereas, each of eight or nine batters a night get to take a crack at the cycle, night in and night out.

Then the discussion turned to no-hitters: are those roughly as rare over baseball history as hitting for the cycle? Answer: not really. There have been well more than 100 no-hitters over all time according to the guys with the Mad Dog, but still not really approaching the more than 500 times someone has hit for the cycle since records have been kept for such things.

After much searching, the team on SiriusXM was able to come up another baseball feat very comparable to a perfect game over the history of baseball: hitting four home runs in a game. Surprisingly to me, that feat itself has been accomplished 15 times, most recently by Carlos Delgado, I believe when he was with Florida. So someone has hit four HRs in a game roughly as often as a perfect game has been pitched over the past hundred-some years of baseball in this country. But is that the most rare individual feat in the game? Nope. The team scrounged until they found what they believe to be the single rarest element of baseball, and they found something that's only been done eight times over the entire recorded history of the sport. Any guesses?

The unassisted triple play. Only eight times in baseball history, or roughly once ever 15 years or so. Pretty cool if you've ever gotten to see one, even better if it was live.

And getting back to what Mark Buerhle accomplished on Thurday night, I should also mention that the Elias Sports Bureau reports that Buerhle's opponent, the Tampa Bay Rays -- who are currently third in the Major Leagues in runs scored -- are easily the best offensive team out of all fifteen times a perfect game has ever been pitched. So in a sense, what we just saw might have been the greatest pitching performance of all time. And all the more impressive what little-known DeWayne Wise did putting his body on the line to save Buerhle's big game after inserted into the game for just that purpose. What a night for America's pastime.

Have a great weekend everybody. Back at ya on Monday!

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Blogger Riggstad said...

That's a good post Hoy. May I mention that Mickey Morandini who played for the WORLD PHUCKING CHAMPION Philadelphia Phillies completed an unassisted triple play.

I can also tell you that the announcers also made a very condescending point during yesterdays game, but one that must be considered.

His point was that even though Tampa has a very active offense, they are also very young.

He went on to show a pile of pitches that were swung at by the less than experienced Rays. His point was that a more veteran team would have been more patient and waited on him than the Rays did.

Like I said, it's a condescending point, but one that has some logic.

I don't want to take anything away from Buerhle. What he did is awesome. But it combats the fact that his should be viewed with higher esteem than anyone else's just because it was done against a very solid offensive team.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Astin said...

Delgado was with the Jays when he hit the 4 dingers in a game. 2003.

1:43 PM  
Blogger MHG said...

I had a triple-play single handedly in a coach-pitch game when I was 9 or 10--still my sports crowning achievement!

12:46 AM  
Blogger VinNay said...

Just out of curiosity, are you leaving out Don Larson 1956 Perfect Game because it was in the playoffs? Otherwise isn't it 16, not 15 in modern era?

12:18 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Hmmm that's a good question, Vinnay. I am just repeating the stat I saw on ESPN about 500 times this weekend. That might have been just "regular season" perfect games, I'm not sure. Nor does it matter much.

But I would think after he pitched what is still the only perfect game in World Series (or post-season baseball) history, you should at least spell Don Larsen's name right. ;)

3:15 AM  
Blogger l.e.s.ter said...

Last night the Royals didn't have a single assist, one of only five teams in history to go nine innings without. Monday Josh Willingham hit two grand slams in the same game, one of only 13 occurrences of that. Both feats rarer than a perfect game and happening within a few days of it, part of why I love baseball.

7:48 PM  
Blogger NumbBono said...

How about Fernando Tatis hitting two grand slams in one inning off Hideo Noma back in sometime around 1998-1999 or so.

Rare enough to have two slams in a game, but in one inning, off the same pitcher...?

9:31 AM  

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