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Tuesday 20th Feb 2018

Last year I wrote a piece for KFFL entitled Maybe Hitting is Just Lousy.

In it--and I encourage you to hit the link--I noted how terrible OBP was last year, and that maybe these days of great pitching is helped a lot by crappy hitting.

Well, on the heels of Matt Cain's perfect game--and, sorry, I was not there, so I did not work it--I started thinking more about that crappy hitting in the context of the perfectos.

Well, think about this:

  • In 1880 the first two perfect games were tossed, believe it or not five days apart. One on June 12 (Lee Richmond) and then June 17 (Monte Ward).
  • The next was 24 years later, in 1904, by the one and only Cy Young.
  • Followed by Addie Joss, in 1908.
  • And then there was a 14-year drought till Charlie Robertson tossed one in 1922.
  • The next was 34 years later, by Don Larson, in the 1956 World Series.
  • Jim Bunning tossed the first one after the first expansion, in 1964,
  • and Sandy Koufax then tossed one in 1965.
  • Three years later it was Catfish Hunter, in 1968.
  • In 1981 it was Len Barker, of the Indians.
  • In 1984 Mike Witt tossed one.
  • 1988 was the year of Tom Browning's perfecto.
  • 1991 was Dennis Martinez.
  • 1994 was Kenny Rogers.
  • 1998 was David Wells.
  • 1999 was another David: David Cone.
  • The Big Unit threw his in 2004.
  • And then Mark Buehrle in 2009.
  • In 2010 it was both Dallas Braden (I did work that one) and Roy Halladay (there was also Armando Galarraga, which was one, even if it did not count.)
  • And this year--so far--it has been Philip Humber and Matt Cain.
  • Now, surely some of the frequency of this occurance has to do with that expansion as more teams means more hitters, and instead of the 224 best hitters alive, which is what there was essentially to 1962 with the first expansion, to now 30 teams, who, at 14 hitters per team, 644 hitters.

    So, again, there is the factor to the hitting base is diluted.

  • But, from 1880-1900 there were two or 9%.
  • From 1900-1910, there were two more (9%).
  • From 1911-1950 there was one (4.5%)
  • In the 1950's there was one (4.5%)
  • In the 1960's there were tthree (14%)
  • In the 1980's there were three (14%)
  • In the 1990's there were , there were four (22%)
  • In the first decade of the new century there were two (9%)
  • And, then in the last two three seasons--2010-2012--there have been four, or 22%. Again, not counting Galarraga.
  • Now, again, the focus on that KFFL piece I wrote is how terrible hitting--and in particular OBP--how suffered over the past few years, partially because younger players are being promoted sooner.

    I think part of this is also that home runs are much not just what owners want, but how a player gets noticed, so working a count and taking advantage of strike zone knowledge have become less of a focal point it seems.

    Which supports my thought that the "art" of hitting has shifted from Rembrandt and Matisse to the likes of Thomas Kinkade.

    Of course this makes my brain kind explode with possibilities for study, from strikeouts per year, to number of walks to number of home runs, and then pro-rating everything to see how per player of "x" games--for remember, before expansion, 154 games was a season--strikeouts and OBP totals for hitters, while strikeouts and HRs allowed, for example among pitchers has changed.

    Now, I do realize that a lot of the above might have already been done, but well, I am thinking about stuff I might do when I retire from having to do anything other than baseball to generate income (I do, but almost there).

    But, I do think there is something to 22% of the total of one of baseball's rarest occurances all took place over the past three years.

     Mind you, I am not trying to diminish the accomplishments of those who have indeed tossed perfect games.

    But, well, there is indeed something happening here and what it is is really not exactly clear. You know?



    0 #1 Todd Zola 2012-06-20 02:50
    Our friend Ron Shandler wrote about this recently, implying that PED's could be involved, with pitchers benefiting more than hitters.

    Personally, I think another one of our friends, Steve Moyer has a lot to do with this with the advances his company (and others) have made with data collection. The info teams have with respect to knowing how to attack a hitter is sick. Notto mention, defensive positioning is more advanced than ever. Teams are also focusing more on defense which in turn means less talented hitters are in the lineup so the combo of better defense and weaker hitters has led to BABIP dropping 10 points in the past few years. This is BABIP, the number that is supposed to be out of the pitcher's control.

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