Saturday, April 21, 2012

Strikeouts/Groundouts/Flyouts in Perfect Games

UPDATE - Early morning on June 14: I originally wrote this right after Philip Humber's perfect game on April 21. Matt Cain has just retired all 27 Astros he faced, pitching the 22nd perfect game in major league history. I've added Cain's remarkable night to the post. He struck out 14 Houston batters, equaling Sandy Koufax for the most ever in a perfect game. I've also updated this after Felix Hernandez dominated the Rays for his perfect game.

Chicago White Sox right-hander Philip Humber just pitched the 21st perfect game in major league history against the Seattle Mariners. He struck out nine M's hitters while having a groundout/flyout ratio of 5 to 13. I was surprised that he had nearly three times as many outs in the air as on the ground. That was until I looked up the ratios for the last 16 perfectos. The first five PG's (Lee Richmond, John Montgomery Ward, Cy Young, Addie Joss and Charlie Robertson) do not have play-by-play data.

Pitcher K GO FO
Felix Hernandez
Matt Cain
Philip Humber
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
Sandy Koufax 14 3 10
Jim Bunning 10 6 11
Don Larsen 7 6 14

It turns out that having such a ratio in a perfect game is not unusual. Ten of the 18 have more flyouts than groundouts. Five have more groundouts than flyouts. The perfect games by Halladay, Johnson and Browning had the same number of both.

Humber's 2.6 ratio of air outs to groundouts is only surpassed by Koufax (10/3, 3.33) and Cone (13/4, 3.25).

Common sense says the more strikeouts you have, the better chance you have of retiring all 27 hitters, since luck and randomness have a lot to do with where batted balls end up. 11 of these 17 gems saw the pitcher rack up double-digit strikeouts. The lowest K total is by Dennis Martinez, whose 17 groundouts dwarf anyone else's total.

Cheers to Phil Humber, a guy who has overcome a lot and never gave up.

Also, he's yet another former Met to throw a no-hitter elsewhere. The Mets have now played 7,982 games without holding an opponent without a hit. The seven pitchers to leave Flushing and toss a no-no are Nolan Ryan (who threw a record seven), Tom Seaver, Mike Scott, Dwight Gooden, Cone, Hideo Nomo and Humber.

EDIT: HA! Johan Santana took care of that about six weeks after the original post.

No comments:

Post a Comment