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Roy Halladay’s perfect game

Posted by Andy on May 30, 2010

Well as you must know by now, Roy Halladay pitched a perfect game yesterday. This game goes right to the top of his list of best game scores:

Rk Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GSc IR IS BF AB 2B 3B IBB HBP SH SF GDP SB CS PO BK WP ERA WPA RE24 aLI
1 2010-05-29 PHI FLA W 1-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 11 0 115 72 98 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.842 4.570 1.226
2 2005-05-29 TOR MIN W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 2 0 0 0 10 0 99 72 93 30 29 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.564 4.843 .930
3 2009-09-04 TOR NYY W 6-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 3 9 0 111 73 91 31 28 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.323 4.732 .577
4 2001-10-05 (1) TOR CLE W 5-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 2 0 0 0 8 0 83 60 91 29 29 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.285 5.034 .415
5 2008-07-11 TOR NYY W 5-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 2 0 0 1 8 0 113 76 90 31 28 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0.00 0.442 4.702 .760
6 2003-09-06 TOR DET W 1-0 SHO10 ,W 10.0 3 0 0 1 5 0 99 70 90 35 33 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.883 5.670 1.431
7 2005-04-29 TOR NYY W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 3 0 0 1 9 0 115 75 89 32 30 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.630 4.661 1.124
8 1998-09-27 TOR DET W 2-1 CG 9 ,W 9.0 1 1 1 0 8 1 94 72 89 29 29 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.00 0.626 4.093 .988
9 2002-06-07 TOR COL W 8-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 2 0 0 0 4 0 106 73 87 31 29 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.221 5.093 .310
10 2010-05-01 PHI NYM W 10-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 3 0 0 1 6 0 118 88 86 32 29 2 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.237 4.570 .594
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/30/2010.

For the years that we have box scores, there have been just 117 games with a game score as high as 98. Here are the instances in the last 20 seasons (i.e. since 1991):

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GSc IR IS BF AB 2B 3B IBB HBP SH SF GDP SB CS PO BK WP ERA WPA RE24 aLI
1 Kerry Wood 1998-05-06 CHC HOU W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 0 20 0 122 84 105 29 27 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.673 4.742 1.070
2 Nolan Ryan 1991-05-01 TEX TOR W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 2 16 0 122 83 101 29 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.408 4.399 .616
3 Randy Johnson 2004-05-18 ARI ATL W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 13 0 117 87 100 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.670 4.721 .964
4 Curt Schilling 2002-04-07 ARI MIL W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 2 17 0 127 85 100 29 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0.00 0.705 4.369 1.181
5 Hideo Nomo 2001-05-25 BOS TOR W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 0 14 0 117 77 99 28 27 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.629 5.034 .976
6 Roger Clemens 1998-08-25 TOR KCR W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 3 0 0 0 18 0 130 89 99 30 30 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.574 5.093 .898
7 Bobby Witt 1994-06-23 OAK KCR W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 0 14 0 120 83 99 28 28 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.457 4.802 .690
8 David Cone 1991-10-06 NYM PHI W 7-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 3 0 0 1 19 0 141 94 99 31 30 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.214 4.077 .430
9 Roy Halladay 2010-05-29 PHI FLA W 1-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 11 0 115 72 98 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.842 4.570 1.226
10 Jonathan Sanchez 2009-07-10 SFG SDP W 8-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 11 0 110 77 98 28 28 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.00 0.224 4.661 .305
11 Erik Bedard 2007-07-07 BAL TEX W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 2 0 0 0 15 0 109 79 98 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.617 5.004 .966
12 Mike Mussina 2001-09-02 NYY BOS W 1-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 0 13 0 116 85 98 28 28 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.798 5.034 1.218
13 Pedro Martinez 2000-08-29 BOS TBD W 8-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 0 13 0 110 71 98 29 28 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.387 5.331 .588
14 Mike Mussina 2000-08-01 BAL MIN W 10-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 2 15 0 125 85 98 32 30 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.293 5.113 .383
15 Pedro Martinez 2000-05-12 BOS BAL W 9-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 2 0 0 0 15 0 113 77 98 29 29 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.361 5.113 .639
16 Eric Milton 1999-09-11 MIN ANA W 7-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 2 13 0 122 78 98 28 26 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0.00 0.275 5.469 .425
17 Pedro Martinez 1999-09-10 BOS NYY W 3-1 CG 9 ,W 9.0 1 1 1 0 17 1 120 80 98 28 27 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1.00 0.625 4.202 1.006
18 David Wells 1998-05-17 NYY MIN W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 11 0 120 79 98 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.477 4.944 .676
19 Kevin Millwood 1998-04-14 ATL PIT W 6-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 0 13 0 131 93 98 29 28 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.339 4.601 .569
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/30/2010.

As one would expect, these games are all low-hit, high-strikeout games, just like Halladay's perfecto from last night.

Here are the 14 perfect games we can find within the box score years we have available:

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB BR SO HR Pit Str GSc IR IS BF AB 2B 3B IBB HBP SH SF ROE GDP SB CS PO BK WP ERA WPA RE24 aLI
1 Roy Halladay 2010-05-29 PHI FLA W 1-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 0 11 0 115 72 98 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.842 4.570 1.226
2 Dallas Braden 2010-05-09 OAK TBR W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 0 6 0 109 77 93 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.360 4.783 .514
3 Mark Buehrle 2009-07-23 CHW TBR W 5-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 0 6 0 116 76 93 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.288 5.083 .404
4 Randy Johnson 2004-05-18 ARI ATL W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 0 13 0 117 87 100 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.670 4.721 .964
5 David Cone 1999-07-18 NYY MON W 6-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 0 10 0 88 68 97 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.259 5.202 .363
6 David Wells 1998-05-17 NYY MIN W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 0 11 0 120 79 98 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.477 4.944 .676
7 Kenny Rogers 1994-07-28 TEX CAL W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 0 8 0 98 64 95 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.362 5.271 .503
8 Dennis Martinez 1991-07-28 MON LAD W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0 96 66 92 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.574 4.036 .866
9 Tom Browning 1988-09-16 CIN LAD W 1-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 0 7 0 100 72 94 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.694 4.016 1.050
10 Mike Witt 1984-09-30 CAL TEX W 1-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 0 10 0 97 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.812 4.581 1.181
11 Len Barker 1981-05-15 CLE TOR W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 0 11 0 98 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.477 4.087 .717
12 Catfish Hunter 1968-05-08 OAK MIN W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 0 11 0 98 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.489 3.209 .793
13 Sandy Koufax 1965-09-09 LAD CHC W 1-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 0 14 0 113 79 101 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.674 3.749 1.043
14 Jim Bunning 1964-06-21 (1) PHI NYM W 6-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 0 0 10 0 97 27 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.295 3.917 .449
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/30/2010.

You can see the full list of perfect games right here.

Johnny Twisto emailed me with an interesting thought, which was to calculate the statistical unlikelihood of having 3 perfect games in the last couple of seasons and 11 in the last 30 seasons after the first 9 took so many more years. He points out that one needs to correct for the total number of games played at various times.

Anybody have thoughts on that? My guess is that the event itself is still so rare that the results don't carry much statistical significance.

However, I will share some more generalized thoughts about this feat. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, we saw a bunch of no-hitters in baseball during what seemed to be a mini-low-offense era. I remember as fan at that time thinking about how much more common no-hitters were than players hitting for the cycle. Then when the Steroids Era came along, players starting hitting for the cycle a lot more often and no-hitters took a back seat. I think the fact that we've had 3 perfect games in less than a year might be yet another sign that we're well into another low-offense era.

This entry was posted on Sunday, May 30th, 2010 at 6:30 am and is filed under Game Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

23 Responses to “Roy Halladay’s perfect game”

  1. Here's an entry about Phillies' no-hitters at Fightin Phillies, a Phillies blog.

  2. Brian Van Dorn Says:

    For your second list, it looks like you only included nine inning starts. There also have been extra inning starts that should make it on to that list. I recall Jose DeLeon in 1989 and Nolan Ryan in 1990, but there are probably many others.

  3. I'd rather see a perfect game than a cycle any day!!!

  4. They aren't exactly lighting up the scoreboard here.
    6 runs in the last 7 games, twice as many strikeouts as walks, a batting average of less than .195

    If it wasn't for the third inning run, Halliday would be the modern-day Harvey Haddix for this game

  5. (that's 7 runs in 7 games)

  6. Neither Nolan Ryan nor Jose DeLeon ever threw an official perfect game.

  7. Johnny Twisto Says:

    He meant the list of Game Scores over 98, and he is right, but they were more than 20 seasons ago. DeLeon had a 1-hitter over 11 innings in '89, GS 103, and Ryan went 10 IP in 1990, GS 101, a couple weeks after Erik Hanson did the same, GS 99.

    There were no GS of at least 98 between Len Barker's perfect game in '81 and Mike Scott's no-hitter in '86.

  8. birtelcom Says:

    Why more perfectos in recent decades? Two likely reasons:

    More games being played. There are almost twice as many teams today as there were from 1901 to 1960, and the schedule is somewhat longer. Every season these days has about as many MLB games played as two seasons from 1901 to 1960. Also note that 8 of the 14 perfectos after 1960 have come against franchises that did not even exist in 1960.

    More strikeouts. The number of Ks per game has been increasing more or less steadily since the end of the deadball era. In the 1920s, there were on average less than 3 strikeouts per game. Over the decades sonce that number has increased more or less decade by decade until it is now over 7 Ks per game. More Ks means fewer balls in play that can drop in for a hit or result in an error.

  9. Birtelcom! This is the first comment I can recall you making in 2 years or so!

    I totally agree with your points. There have been basically the same number of overall games in the last 30 years as in the 60 years before that and a roughly equal number of perfect games.

  10. This one doesn't count. He walked the first batter: the ump's strikezone was entirely too wide. Also, Braden's doesn't count since everyone had to use those stupid pink bats. :-p

  11. With the perfect game, Halladay now has 5 complete games and 3 shutouts, putting him on a pace to finish the season with 15 and 9, respectively. The last player to have at least that many CG and that many SHO in the same season was Ron Guidry, who has 16 CG and 9 SHO in 1978. The last pitcher to throw 15+ complete games and 10+ shutouts in the same season was Jim Palmer in 1975 (25 CG, 10 SHO).

    No player has had as many as 15 CG in a season since Curt Schilling had 15 in 1998. The last player to throw 10+ was Randy Johnson, who had 12 in 1999. (The last pitcher to have 20 CG in a season was Fernando Valenzuela, who had 20 in 1986--that's probably a bit out of Halladay's reach, but who knows.)

    No player has had as many as 9 SHO in a season since John Tudor had 10 in 1985. In fact, no player has had more than 5 SHO in a season since Tim Belcher had 8 SHO in 1988.

  12. Bryan Mueller Says:

    I think it should also be noted that an increase in teams may increase (although slightly) the chances of both better individual pitching and hitting performances. I will take these examples to the extremes. If there were only two MLB teams, obviously the players would be the absolute cream of the crop, making it harder for pitchers to stay perfect and hitters to put up huge numbers. On the other hand, imagine there being 100 MLB teams. This would make it much easier for a pitcher like Halladay to mow through a lineup because the opposing lineup would be "watered-down". On this same note, the best hitters would likely have astronomical numbers because they aren't facing the most elite pitchers as frequently. This is just my opinion and I would love to hear feedback.

  13. Here's something you might want to know, to help figure the liklihood of a perfect games...

    1952-2010: 87 games (CG, 1 baserunner)
    1952-2010: 17 games (CG, 0 baserunners) [includes Don Larsen's post-season perfecto]

    Now, what's baking my noodle about this is... if the ball bounced the other way JUST ONCE in any of those 87 games with 1 baserunner, we'd be talkin' about them as perfect. That's a LOT of very close-to-perfect games really. not all that rare. What's the difference between 0 & 1 happening? Is it about the same as the diff between 4 & 5 baserunners? 2 & 3? 8 & 9?

  14. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Bryan, I think you are generally correct. There are often extreme performances in expansion years (one reason I always laugh at the notion that Maris's 61 HR are more "real" than the recent 60-HR seasons). But those effects are mostly washed out (over time) by the increased population from which talent is being selected.

    There are nearly twice as many teams as there were in 1940, but the U.S. population has more than doubled in that time, plus blacks are now allowed to play, plus there is a ton of talent from Latin America, plus more players coming from Canada, and now from East Asia, and slowly starting to increase in the rest of the world as well. (Of course, you also need to control for the fact that baseball may not be as high on the list of sports to play by young U.S. athletes as it was in 1940.)

    Anyway, 12 years post-expansion, I don't think that is a cause of the recent run of perfect games.

  15. Johnny Twisto Says:

    whoops, only the "think" was supposed to be emphasized there.

  16. Martin Monkman Says:

    The probability of two perfect games in a single season is running around 3%. (This is a classic Poisson distribution problem.) To calculate this, I used "the expansion era" from 1961 to the present, when there were 14 perfect games in 50 seasons (if include the pre-expansion era, the rate was nearly half that, but something changed around then [Don Larsen's 1956 World Series game was the first perfect game since 1922]). The rest of the probability curve is 76% for a season free of perfect games, and 21% for one perfect game in the season. The odds of a 3 perfect game season is 0.3%, and so on with ever dwindling probabilities the higher we go.

    Thus we could expect 2 perfect games between 1 and 2 seasons every 50 seasons, so this year's 2 perfect games isn't much of an anomaly at all.

    As other posters have noted the number of games per season has changed as a function of both games per team and the number of teams. Thus it would be possible to be more precise by using the "game" as the unit of frequency -- but the probabilities wouldn't shift dramatically.

  17. It's basically a function of the K:BB ratio. It was notably higher in the 60s, 80s, 90s, and 00s than in the rest of baseball history. And that's when most of the perfect games occur.

  18. [...] at Baseball-Reference.com has an interesting blog entry about Doc’s perfect game. Roy Halladay was 0-3 in the game with two strikeouts, threw 115 [...]

  19. DoubleDiamond Says:

    In fact, the Phillies had one of those games with just one baserunner - In Terry Mulholland's no-hitter in 1990, Rick Parker, who had been part of the trade in which the Phillies had acquired Mulholland, reached on an error by Charlie Hayes, who had also been part of that trade! Parker was then erased in a double play. So Mulholland only faced the minimum number of batters.

    I remember listening to the Phillies game on the car radio the night that Randy Johnson pitched his perfect game against Atlanta. The Phillies announcer mentioned that Randy Johnson had taken a no-hitter into the ninth. A few minutes later, he said that the game was over, and the no-hitter was preserved. He then started reading the stats, including no runs, no hits, no walks. As soon as I heard "no walks", my immediate reaction was, "OK, who made the error?" I figured that if it were a perfect game, they would have said so already. But then the announcer (possibly Chris Wheeler, definitely not Harry Kalas) got the additional information that it was a perfect game.

  20. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I think the first time I heard of Charlie Hayes was a blurb in the Sporting News about how he made 3 errors in one inning. Now my primary memory is his catching the foul ball to win the '96 Series. (And I didn't remember until looking at his page just now that he only came to the Yanks at the end of August. I knew Boggs was the primary 3B that season, but somehow I thought Hayes was always around somehow in the background.)

  21. [...] put together a links post without the great insight from the Baseball-Reference Blog. Their post focuses on some of the overall game scores from Halladay’s career and the other perfect [...]

  22. Charlie Hayes made a lot of errors at third base in the minors and his first seaon in the bigs with the Phillies after coming over from the Gianta in the Steve Bedrosian trade. Then by his second year with the Phillies he got a lot better at third. That year I had a chance to talk to him face to face and he said that in the Giants' minor-league system he was blocked at third by Matt Williams and didn't get a lot of reps there. He said he didn't play a lot of third until his trade to Philly. I haven't thought about this conversation in a long time--never thought to check the data on this.

  23. [...] Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) blog uses game score to rank Roy Halladay’s perfect [...]