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Justin Verlander joins the short list of pitchers with multiple no-hitters

Posted by Andy on May 7, 2011

Pitchers since 1919 with more than one regular-season complete game allowing no hits:

Rk Player #Matching W L W-L% ERA GS CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP
1 Nolan Ryan 7 Ind. Games 7 0 1.000 0.00 7 7 7 0 63.0 0 0 0 26 94 0.41
2 Sandy Koufax 4 Ind. Games 4 0 1.000 0.00 4 4 4 0 36.0 0 0 0 8 43 0.22
3 Bob Feller 3 Ind. Games 3 0 1.000 0.00 3 3 2 0 27.0 0 0 0 13 24 0.48
4 Don Wilson 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 18.0 0 0 0 9 28 0.50
5 Johnny Vander Meer 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 18.0 0 0 0 11 11 0.61
6 Virgil Trucks 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 18.0 0 0 0 2 15 0.11
7 Jim Tobin 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 14.0 0 0 0 4 7 0.29
8 Bill Stoneman 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 18.0 0 0 0 12 17 0.67
9 Warren Spahn 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 18.0 0 0 0 4 20 0.22
10 Allie Reynolds 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 18.0 0 0 0 7 13 0.39
11 Hideo Nomo 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 18.0 0 0 0 7 19 0.39
12 Jim Maloney 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 19.0 0 0 0 15 25 0.79
13 Sam Jones 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 16.0 0 0 0 9 11 0.56
14 Walter Johnson 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 16.0 0 0 0 2 12 0.13
15 Randy Johnson 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 18.0 0 0 0 6 21 0.33
16 Ken Holtzman 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 18.0 0 0 0 7 6 0.39
17 Bob Forsch 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 18.0 0 0 0 2 9 0.11
18 Carl Erskine 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 18.0 0 0 0 3 4 0.17
19 Dean Chance 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.64 2 2 1 0 14.0 0 1 0 5 12 0.36
20 Steve Busby 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 18.0 0 0 0 7 7 0.39
21 Jim Bunning 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 18.0 0 0 0 2 22 0.11
22 Mark Buehrle 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 0.00 2 2 2 0 18.0 0 0 0 1 14 0.06
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/7/2011.

Justin Verlander joined this group earlier today with his second career no-hitter.

This entry was posted on Saturday, May 7th, 2011 at 7:40 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

66 Responses to “Justin Verlander joins the short list of pitchers with multiple no-hitters”

  1. Largebill Says:

    Why the arbitrary 1919 cut off? Does your game by game data base only go that far back or is it something to do with the live ball era starting in 1920?

  2. Bus Stop Rat Bag Says:

    I guess Roy Halladays 2 in one season dont count??

  3. Larry Corcoran disapproves of the 1919 cutoff

  4. Shazbot Says:

    ..and Roy Halladay.

  5. DavidRF Says:

    A lot of people only do regular season only. And 1919 is the cutoff for the player game-log database here... it means they can search it really quick.

  6. masternachos Says:

    @Bus Stop Rat Bag-
    EVERYONE knows postseason stats aren't 'real,' silly!
    ...For some reason...

  7. Dark Leviathan Says:

    @2

    I believe it's not displayed because the second no-hitter happened in the postseason.

  8. Pud Galvin, Larry Corcoran, Ted Breitenstein, Cy Young, Addie Joss, Frank Smith and Dutch Leonard, Al Atkinson, Adonis Terry, Christy Mathewson are the pre-1919 guys who deserve some respect here

  9. fredsbank Says:

    im assuming post-season doesnt count, as with most stat-keeping, so that's why halladay isnt here??

  10. I cannot these Morons don't Include Halladay nor Post season where Competition is at its most difficult!

  11. DavidRF Says:

    Pre-1919:

    3:
    Larry Corcoran
    Cy Young

    2:
    Dutch Leonard
    Addie Joss
    Al Atkinson
    Pud Galvin
    Adonis Terry
    Ted Breitenstein
    Christy Mathewson

  12. DavidRF Says:

    @8 Beat me to it.... and I forgot Frank Smith.

    Halladay certainly deserves special mention, but I don't understand the surprise when post-season events don't come up in a search like this. Post-season records are usually kept separately. (HR totals, H totals, etc).

  13. @1, probably the database cutoff. Larry Corcoran pitched three (19 Aug 1880, Chi vs Bos; 20 Sep 1882, Chi vs Wor; 27 June 1884, Chi vs Pro), Galvin pitched two, also William (Adonis?) Terry, Ted Breitenstein, Christy Mathewson, Frank Smith, Thomas Hughes, John Stivetts, Red Ames, Ed Walsh, and Cy Young. Some of these don't count by modern rules (less than 9 innings, or not a complete game). I don't guarantee the list to be complete.

  14. Yes, the main database search covers only the regular season, which is Roy Hallday didn't make the list. I have edited the text above to reflect that it is regular season only.

    Those who fear that I do not give Roy Halladay his due may wish to read some of my back posts:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/8565

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/1519

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/7140

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/8660

  15. Hartvig Says:

    Phillydkidder @ 10 If you can't play nice, go away

  16. Neil L. Says:

    Can't wait for the detailed pitch data to come out on Verlander's game. It was a masterpiece.

    Listening to a lot of the game, I think it was the change thrown for strikes that made him so effective. He was toying with the opposition today.

  17. Several of the people on this list actually don't have two no-hitters under current rules, because the list includes games of fewer than 9 innings. Specifically, it includes 5-inning "no-hitters" by Jim Tobin and Dean Chance, and 7-inning "no-hitters" by Sam Jones and Walter Johnson.

    Chance's games were 19 days apart, a 5-inning "perfect game" on August 6, 1967, and a 9-inning no-hitter on August 25 in which he allowed a run (on two walks, an error, and a wild pitch) before getting the second out in the first inning.

  18. Am I crazy or am I not seeing Anibal Sanchez on this list?

  19. John Autin Says:

    @18, Brady -- The list is of pitchers with more than 1 no-hitter. Anibal Sanchez has just 1.

  20. When did Sanchez pitch a second no-hitter? I can't find any record of it.

  21. I wrote a post about Sanchez nearing pitching a second no-hitter and that may be what confused him.

  22. John Autin Says:

    Seeing that Verlander had just 4 strikeouts got me looking at other low-K no-hitters.

    One of the best-known is Ken Holtzman's 1969 no-hitter against Atlanta, with no strikeouts. Holtzman had 176 Ks in 261.1 IP that year (6.1 K/9), with 3 double-digit games. The no-hitter was his only game of zero strikeouts all year; it was also the only one of his 108 complete games from 1966-75 with no Ks. (Holtzman did throw 2 more K-free CGs in 1976, one for Baltimore and one for the Yankees.)

    On the other hand, low K totals against the Braves were nothing new for Holtzman. In 1968-69 combined, he had just 11 Ks in 44 innings against Aaron's team.

    I sort of assume that no-hitters usually have an above-average number of strikeouts for that pitcher; there is, after all, a negative correlation between strikeouts and hits allowed, in general. But many no-hit games are freak occurrences, so perhaps the K correlation doesn't hold.

  23. John Autin Says:

    Other low-K games by "strikeout pitchers":

    -- Carl Erskine, 1 strikeout, 1952-06-19, BRO vs. CHC: Erskine's 131 Ks in 207 IP look puny by today's standards, but he ranked 5th in the NL at 5.7 K/9. (He would rank 2nd in K/9 each of the next 2 years, with a high of 6.8.) The Cubs had the 2nd-most Ks in the league that year, albeit with an average of under 5 per game. Erskine made 3 other starts against the Cubs in '52; in 2 of them, he threw a CG with 7 Ks (allowing 6 and 7 hits), while in the other he was knocked out in the 1st without retiring a batter. Erskine threw another no-hitter, in 1956, with just 3 Ks.

    -- Francisco Liriano, 2 strikeouts, 2011-05-03, MIN vs. CHW: Liriano began this season with a career average of 9.3 K/9, though he has yet to top 5 Ks through 6 starts this year.

    -- Tom Seaver, 3 strikeouts, 1978-06-16, CIN vs. STL: Safe to say that Seaver was a strikeout pitcher, and 1978 was his last big year in that regard (226 Ks in 259.2 IP). In his 5 CG 1-hitters (all with the Mets, grrrr), Seaver averaged over 10 Ks per game. On the other hand, the '78 Cardinals, though a bad team, had the fewest batter strikeouts in the NL; of their 9 regulars, only Garry Templeton reached even 70 Ks on the season (and he put the ball in play all 4 trips against Seaver).

  24. I wonder if 'since 1919' has anything to do with the Dead Ball Era. . .

  25. John Autin Says:

    Random note:
    There have been 2 previous no-hitters (at least) with the same basic pitching line as Verlander's (9 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 1 BB, 4 SO):
    -- John Montefusco, 1976-09-29, SFG vs. ATL; and
    -- Carl Hubbell, 1929-05-08, NYG vs. PIT.

    One difference:
    Montefusco faced 28 batters, Hubbell 30.
    Verlander faced the minimum 27.

    P.S. to Neil L -- Verlander's game score was 90, only the 4th-highest of this young season. Cliff Lee has the high game of 92, a 3-hit shutout with 12 Ks and 1 walk. Ian Kennedy and Dan Haren each had a 91 game score. The recent gems by Jaime Garcia (2-hit shutout) and Tim Hudson (1-hitter) are tied with Verlander at 90.

  26. It's kind of interesting that 2 of the pitchers who tossed a 1-strikeout no-hitter - Howard Ehmke and Carl Erskine - at one time held the World Series single-game strikeout record (13 and 14, respectively)

  27. Who thinks 7 no-hitters is impressive (especially for a guy that played 28 years)

  28. My favorite Nolan Ryan "stat:" He had three more complete games (9+ IP) without allowing a hit in his career than he had complete games without allowing a walk.

  29. John Autin Says:

    Here's an incredibly trivial Nolan Ryan factoid: In his 2nd no-hitter, the 1973-07-15 game against Detroit with 17 Ks (and little Tigers fan John Autin in the stands with his family, celebrating his brother's birthday), 2 of the 4 walks Ryan issued went to Gates Brown. The Gator was 0 for 17 against Ryan when that game began, and wound up 0 for 24 in his career -- by far the biggest career "oh-fer" against the Express (next was 0-16). What's weird is that Brown only fanned 5 times in 31 PAs, which is a fairly low K rate against Ryan, especially since these matchups all came in 1972-74, his peak strikeout years. Brown also drew 7 walks, giving him a .226 OBP against Ryan despite a .000 BA.

    There were a couple other players who faced Ryan at least 10 times without getting a hit but still posting a healthy OBP: John Cangelosi drew 6 walks in 10 PA, and Jerry Hairston (Sr.) drew 6 walks in 14 PAs.

    Some of the batters whose matchups against Ryan resulted in nothing but strikeouts and walks:
    -- Leron Lee, 4 BB, 3 K
    -- Dave Hamilton (yes, the pitcher), 3 BB, 2 K
    -- Jose Cruz, Sr., 3 BB, 2 K
    -- Don Buford, 3 BB, 1 K

    Finally ... Frank Thomas came up 15 times against Ryan. He drew 2 walks, was hit once, and whiffed 11 times. His only ball in play was an infield popout.

  30. Juan Pierre, 2 for 3, 2 singles, 1 run, 1RBI, 1HBP, 0 SB, 0 Errors

  31. mccombe35 Says:

    @29

    Ryan just owned Thomas. That was the .330+ hitting Thomas in his prime vs a mid 40s Ryan.

    @30 Pierre is a disaster.

  32. Neil L. Says:

    @25
    John Autin, thank you for calculating Verlander's gamescore. Surprising that it isn't higher but I guess more strike outs would have topped it up. It puts Brandon Morrow's 17-SO, 1-hit game from last season in perspective.

  33. Neil L. Says:

    @29
    "(and little Tigers fan John Autin in the stands with his family, celebrating his brother's birthday),"

    JA, I thought you were a Met's fan!

  34. @27, I think pitching seven no-hitters is impressive. I think pitching 28 seasons is also impressive. What's your point?

  35. I think his point is that while Ryan's hit rate was low (his hits/9 is 6.5553, good for first all time) his overall WHIP is much less impressive (1.2473, 265th all time). The no-hitter is an impressive feat that Ryan's skill set was particularly well-geared toward, but his no-hitters isn't necessarily a great measure of his overall quality as a pitcher.

  36. The talk of futility vs. Ryan reminds me of a tidbit I saw in the paper a while back. Cory Snyder, upon flying out against Roger Clemens in 1988, received high fives all around when he returned to the dugout, as it as the first time in his career he put the ball in play against Clemens, having struck out in every plate appearance against him in 1986 and 1987.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/play-index/batter_vs_pitcher.cgi?batter=snydeco02&pitcher=clemero02#ajax_result_table_1::none

  37. I am repeating myself...I wrote about this before:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/1261

  38. Did someone mention there's 27 players?

  39. Oops since 1919, I see now

  40. shoewizard Says:

    Most one hitters

    Ryan 13
    Feller 11
    Sutton 6
    Carlton 6

    8 tied with 5

    http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/Jn2XE

  41. Justin Bailey Says:

    The amazing thing is that Verlander only missed a perfect game because the home plate ump called a very close pitch a ball. I was following on MLB Gameday at the time, and going just by PitchFX, it looked like it really could have gone either way.

    That's two Tiger pitchers in the last two years who could have had perfect games if not for an umpire's call. Granted, the called ball four for Verlander was not obviously wrong like Joyce's call in the Gallarraga perfecto, it was a very close pitch, but still. It's ironic.

  42. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Speaking of no hitters in whatever Sky Dome is called now with the Tigers as the visiting team, Roy Halladay did come very close once to pitching a no-no at home against Detroit, in his second career start. He lost both parts of the "no" (hits and runs) with one out in the ninth, but he still won the game. So without Philadelphia native Bobby Higginson's home run, he may have had two career regular season no hitters. (Depending, of course, on what the hitters that followed Higginson would have done.)

    Am I correct in my understanding that the phrase "no-no" refers to a game with neither hits nor runs, and thus Joe Cowley and Darryl Kile, among others, never pitched a no-no?

  43. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Also, if someone had told me as I was leaving work on Friday that before I was scheduled to return on Monday, a pitcher who already had a no hitter in the majors would pitch another one, I would have thought I was watching Derek Lowe doing it up until the 7th inning on Friday night.

  44. Neil L. Says:

    @42
    Double, you are correct.

    The Skydome is now called the Rogers' Center after the media conglomerate that owns the Blue Jays and half of Canada's cable/wireless market.

    Who can keep up with the naming rights for ballparks that have exactly the same dimensions but a different name?

    Ah, the almighty buck.... Canadian or American!

  45. [...] four of them and Feller recorded three while the rest of the list all put together two. Out of the entire list, six of the players are already in the Hall of Fame (Ryan, Koufax, Feller, Walter Johnson, Warren [...]

  46. @35 Andy:

    True, and it's funny how upset some people can get if anyone hints that Ryan might have been overrated.

    I've always been a huge Nolan Ryan fan, and think that he deserved to enter the HOF just based on either his career strikeout total or his seven no-hitters. And he was a great guy, a hard worker, and a family man. But if you look closer at the numbers, he wasn't that great. The brilliance of his seven no-hitters and all the strikeouts he had tends to make his failings seem less obvious.

    Let's talk about great pitchers who never had even one no-hitter. Roger Clemens never pitched one, and would you rather have Clemens' career or Ryan's?
    But Clemens was a juicer, you say? Well then, what about Greg Maddux? He also never pitched a no-hitter. Would you rather have Maddux's career or Ryan's?

    Ryan certainly had the flash, but he was simply overrated. And when everyone who ever saw Ryan pitch has died, he'll probably move further down the list of great pitchers.

    It hurts to say this, but it's true. Ryan was very good, but not great.

  47. John Autin Says:

    All these years, I never knew that a "no-no" was a subset of no-hitters; I thought it was just a slangy term.

    Next, I'll be learning that "grand salami" is a specific type of 4-run homer. Or that a rhubarb is different from both a brouhaha and a donnybrook.

  48. Johnny Twisto Says:

    In my memory it was a complete game, but I see it was only 8 IP. I had Verlander on my fantasy team when on 5/17/06 he beat the Twins (and Johan Santana -- didn't remember that either) by going 8 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 0 R. And 0 K. I remember wondering how a guy who threw 100 mph could pitch a scoreless game without striking anyone out.

    In that ROY season, he only averaged 6.0 K/9. Since then he's averaged 8.7, although his overall performance hasn't been any better. I don't see him enough to know what the difference is and I wonder if anyone has any thoughts. I saw a quote from his no-hitter that his curve wasn't working that well, which is why he only struck out a few guys. I wonder if his curve wasn't as great as it is now through all of '06. And if so, how was he so effective?

  49. I thought a rhubarb was just an argument, a brouhaha a lot of yelling, and a donnybrook a brawl. The first two can be applied to the same situation, the third is bigger.

    Always thought no-no was just a no-hitter regardless of runs - no-no just being a "don't do that!" doubled for emphasis

  50. Nash Bruce Says:

    @46 Jeff: ok, so Nolan is maybe overrated........is it to the point, of, 'he doesn't deserve, the Hall Of Fame'........

  51. Nash Bruce Says:

    sorry, I submitted without finishing, sorry.......:(
    my point is, if he is 'overrated', and yet, STILL, deserves to go into the Hall.....wow. How many players could say THAT????

  52. Wikipedia has has a list of no-hitters with extensive footnotes about the games and it also lists shortened no-hit games (which no longer count as no-hitters).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Major_League_Baseball_no-hitters

    Baseball Almanac has a list of pitchers with multiple no-hitters.
    http://www.baseball-almanac.com/recbooks/rb_noh1.shtml

    It's interesting to note that including Halladay's post-season no-hitter, there are five pitchers who threw two no-hitters in one year: Allie Reynolds, Johnny Vander Meer, Nolan Ryan, Virgil Trucks (5-19 for the season), Roy Halladay.

    There was a game in 1917 between the Reds and the Cubs when both pitchers did not give up a hit through nine innings. Fred Toney of the Reds got the 1-0 win an no-hitter while Hippo Vaughan lost the game and his no-hitter in the 10th. There has been at least one 9-inning minor-league game in which there were no hits by either team. Since minor-league doubleheader games are only seven innings, there is a dichotomy there with 7 and 9-inning no-hitters. A Red Sox farm club in the Florida State League was involved on the losing end of a double 7-inning no-hitter about twetny years ago.

  53. I have no problem agreeing that Ryan was overrated. But he's one of the few pitchers that when he was on, it was something you couldn't take your eyes off.

    I remember watching his final no-hitter and his fastball was zippy and that big curveball was going over for strikes. Watching hitters look fastball and get curveball or vice versa filled you with a sense of well, just saying, "jeezus, that is just not fair." I think that's why he gets a boost in the ratings.

  54. The term no-no certainly derived from the original description of a "no-hit, no-run game". And DoubleDiamond is correct that it wouldn't apply to a game where a run was allowed (earned or otherwise.) But I think sometime in the 1980s, most people started using "no-no" as simply a nickname for "no-hitter" and the idea that it also referred to no runs was lost.

    So I don't really object to someone calling Kyle's game a 'no-no' even though it doesn't quite agree with the original derivation of the term.

  55. I don't get where this "Nolan Ryan is overrated" stuff is coming from. I don't often hear people imply or state that Ryan is somehow an inner-circle Hall of Famer. I think that statement that he was merely very good, not great, is short-sighted though and so in a nod to pedantry I shall address it.

    There are several things about Ryan other than the two/three/four things casual fans know (the no-hitters and the single-season/career Ks and the wildness/walks):

    Ryan was feared. Okay, wait, casual fans know this. Still, he was feared. Not in the "Let's construct a narrative to boost Rice's HoF case" sort of fear. Because when I heard that stuff it was sportswriters saying it--I don't remember the pitchers Rice faced saying such things. I've seen scores (okay not scores--that's hyperbole) of former MLB batters talk about being afraid to step in against Ryan, or being happy to draw a walk, or waiting on him to throw a curve and if he threw three fastballs down the middle then they were gonna be struck out looking.

    I suppose that's not a compelling argument for greatness. Well, what about this? Ryan is not just the guy who threw seven no-hitters--he's the guy who is the least hittable in MLB history. You could argue that his wildness contributed to his low H/9 but don't do that 'cause it's not cool. Fact is, you can't really blame Ryan for his wildness--he did what was asked of him early in his career and trying to have more command over his fastball by slowing it down just made it hittable. Wild and unhittable is better than hittable. Anyway, if you look at Ryan's numbers as he aged he was able to decrease his walk rate. I ghostwrote Ryan's biography as a kid (okay, I didn't ghostwrite it. But I read it) and even then I just got the impression that he needed the right coaching in order to go from being a very good pitcher to an elite pitcher (yes, I characterize him as *only* very good, but very good + a pitching career of extraordinary length makes a great player, if not the epitome of a great player).

    Also, while I didn't try to be super-scientific/objective about it I once looked at his career year by year and compared his record for the season against other pitchers on his own team and it confirmed what *I've* always thought, and that's that either Ryan was a little unlucky (I won't bring up 1987 if you don't) or that there are "hidden" disadvantages to being wild or inconsistent. I thought you could easily say that Ryan shoulda been 350-266 without actually needing him to actually become 'lucky'.

    Also, apparently Ryan helped out Randy Johnson tremendously early in his career (with pretty simple advice) and that played a small part in Johnson becoming who he was.

    Lastly, he showed Robin Ventura that an old man that can still throw heat probably can still whup some ass.

    P.S. One day, in the Overrated League in Major League Baseball Heaven Nolan Ryan will face Juan Pierre and deal him the rare Platinum Sombrero.

  56. Neil L. Says:

    @55
    Fireworks, regarding your P.S,....... nice one. ~chuckles~

  57. @55: As to there being "hidden disadvantages to being wild or inconsistent". A starting pitcher that's unusually inconsistent game-to-game won't necessarily have W/L records all that closely tied to aggregate stats like ERA (I assume you looked at ERA and IP vs. his teammates each year to determine who got lucky with wins). He'll give up more meaningless runs than most pitchers and save more meaningless runs than most pitchers. His W/L record will have more to do with the number of good starts against the number of bad starts, and generally he'll probably have a record closer to .500 than than a pitcher with similar aggregate stats that's more consistent.

    The same is true of a guy like Blyleven that threw a ton of shutouts...

    ...so I just commented that Blyleven and Ryan are probably slightly overrated by their aggregate context-neutral stats (for all fellow saberdorks, I mean everything from K% to ERA to FIP to WAR but not WPA... but don't even think about tallying career WPA without at least considering all its other issues), so this should probably start a big blog argument or something. They still both had ridiculously impressive careers... Ryan's longevity is just mind-boggling. Being too young to remember seeing either, they both strike me as monumental pitchers just based on numbers.

  58. I think being wild may carry another small penalty - defenders seem to play better behind a guy like Maddux who works fast and throws strikes. They stay alert better. look at most no hitters. It may not be scientific, but how many times does it seem they have a really good defensive play to save it?

    To test that, though, you'd have to have the same defenders behind a Maddux who could throw a 100-110 pitch CG, and someone who throws at the pace of a 150-160, and compare range factors, etc... Hard to set that up

  59. @58: This hypothesis is easily testable with data that's easily available. Do wild pitchers tend to exhibit higher-than-expected BABIP given their batted-ball profiles? I have never seen a study suggest this. Given the current consensus about what pitchers can control, the burden of proof is on you if you're going to make claims like this.

    I warn that if you try to observe that "defenders seem to play better behind a guy like Maddux", this is a story you've been told before, and you may be biased toward observing it. Many people have misconceptions about successful pitchers that don't rack up enormous strikeout totals -- I sure did before I read the DIPS paper.

  60. @55 That's exactly the sort of thing I was thinking. Of course to really know if Ryan was unlucky you'd have to do some good statistical analysis, which isn't my forte.

    But looking at it, I didn't see too many instances where you thought he had a record that was better than he deserved, but he seemed to often be a win or two short of what you'd expect, especially during his California years, when he was, of course, most wild.

    Part of me believes that if he was in the right environment in this era and wasn't throwing 175 pitches so often it might've accelerated the honing of his pitching skill rather than relying purely on his given talent. But that's just speculation of course.

    Given the length of his career I think if he had fulfilled his potential for dominance he'd be #3 in wins all time and maybe made a run at Walter Johnson.

  61. Bastaducci Says:

    I personally have no problem with the "defenders seem to play better behind a guy like Maddux who works fast and throws strikes" idea.
    I know at SS I loved a faster moving pitcher who threw strikes. a guy who was wild and slow on the mound made the game seem..well unorganized. I mean I know this is in my head..as with the fast moving guys who threw strikes you knew you the ball might be hit at you.but it just seemed more comfortable to me . anyone else who felt the same way?

  62. John Autin Says:

    "Wild and unhittable is better than hittable."
    -- Cliff Lee begs to differ. From 2008-present, Lee has averaged a 139 ERA+ without ever cracking the H/9 leaders; in fact, he averages about a hit per inning. In Ryan's six 300-K seasons, he reached Lee's average ERA+ just once, a peak of 141; Ryan averaged a 122 ERA+ for those years. Ryan led the league in H/9 each of those 6 years -- but he never led in WHIP, ERA or ERA+. Led led the AL in ERA & ERA+ in 2008, and led MLB in WHIP last season.

    "he's the guy who is the least hittable in MLB history"
    -- But that's not the objective of pitching, is it? The goal is to prevent runs. There's nothing wrong with expressing awe of Ryan's "unhittability"; I freely share that feeling. But we can't let that affect how we assess his effectiveness.

    "you can't really blame Ryan for his wildness--he did what was asked of him early in his career and trying to have more command over his fastball by slowing it down just made it hittable."
    -- A similar argument could be made for Milton Bradley's temper. Both arguments are bunk.

    I think Ryan was a terrific pitcher for a lot of years and clearly deserves his spot in the HOF. Baseball is richer in many ways for his long-time presence. I just don't go in for the larger-than-life mythologizing.

  63. Ryan was overrated. However he's definitely a worthy Hall of Famer.

    The thing that irks me is when I see common folks off the street in baseball forums claim he is the greatest or one of the greatest pitchers ever. Not remotely. Not in the top 20. People just hear "7 no-hitters" and that's that, he must be the greatest. It's annoying.

  64. @59 - I only said may - and I think a proof needs more controls than you propose. Organizations who are geared towards pitching often prize defense highly as well. Ryan was mentioned, at the time he came up the Mets were known for developing pitchers - Ryan, Seaver, Koosman, Mc Graw all pitching until they were 40 or better. They faced the Orioles in 1969 - another fine staff, also with a young HOF pitcher. Seaver/Koosman/Gentry overCueller/Palmer/McNally. There was another similarity - the shortstops. Harrelson was a good defensive player, weak hitter, and the Orioles had an even better defender and worse hitter in Belanger. Good pitching teams may carry better gloves, lowering BABIP more than teams who club you into submission, who use wilder pitchers and heavier bats.

    @61 - yeah, the guys who kept it in play kept me more alert at 1B, and especially in the OF.

  65. @63 - I think that is fair on Ryan. make a 25 man team of the Hall, he isn't on that staff IMO. Top 10,12 pitchers all time. No. There are about 60 starters in the HOF. There are not 60 pitchers better than Ryan.

  66. John Autin Says:

    @55, Fireworks suggested that "you can't really blame Ryan for his wildness--he did what was asked of him early in his career and trying to have more command over his fastball by slowing it down just made it hittable."

    I'm not familiar with this story, but I'll assume it's part of the accepted Ryan history.

    But I can't help wondering -- was that the only time he ever tried to make that adjustment? And is there perhaps contrary evidence to be found somewhere in Nolan Ryan's career stats?

    So I compared his overall stats to his bases-loaded splits.
    -- Overall, Ryan walked 12.5% of all batters who did not execute a sacrifice bunt.
    -- With the bases loaded, he walked 9.2% of all batters.

    A 26% decrease in walks suggests that he did make an adjustment to improve his control with the bases loaded. So, how did that affect his hittability?
    -- Overall, Ryan allowed a .204 BA and .298 SLG, with a 25.5% K rate (of all non-sacrifice batters).
    -- With the bases loaded, he allowed a .191 BA and .294 SLG (when you count sac flies as AB), with a 28.7% K rate.

    The bases-loaded data is just over 500 PAs, so those batting numbers are not necessarily a perfectly accurate reflection of the impact of Ryan adjusting for control.

    But it strongly suggests that Ryan could have cut down his overall walk rate without a significant increase in hittability. He chose to pursue unhittability.

    Now, this is not a mortal sin. Many great players are selfish in some way, even to the occasional detriment of their team. Supposedly, Ted Williams rarely tried to take advantage of the infield shift by slapping the ball to the vacant left side. And certainly, the weak Angels teams Ryan played for in his first few years did not provide a strong incentive to let the fielders do more of the work.

    But I'm certainly not buying the notion that Ryan could not have reduced his wildness without becoming ordinary.