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Lincecum vs. Halladay: Best playoff matchup in history?

Posted by Andy on October 14, 2010

On Saturday, Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay are going to hook up in Game 1 of the NLCS.

What has each guy done in the post-season so far? Each has made 1 career playoff start and both rank in the top 10 all time for the playoffs:

Rk Player Date Series Gm# Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H ER BB SO GSc
1 Roger Clemens 2000-10-14 ALCS 4 NYY SEA W 5-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 2 15 98
2 Dave McNally 1969-10-05 ALCS 2 BAL MIN W 1-0 SHO11 ,W 11.0 3 0 5 11 97
3 Babe Ruth 1916-10-09 WS 2 BOS BRO W 2-1 CG 14 ,W 14.0 6 1 3 4 97
4 Tim Lincecum 2010-10-07 NLDS 1 SFG ATL W 1-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 2 0 1 14 96
5 Roy Halladay 2010-10-06 NLDS 1 PHI CIN W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 1 8 94
6 Don Larsen 1956-10-08 WS 5 NYY BRO W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 7 94
7 Ed Walsh 1906-10-11 WS 3 CHW CHC W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 2 0 1 12 94
8 Josh Beckett 2003-10-12 NLCS 5 FLA CHC W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 2 0 1 11 93
9 Ken Holtzman 1973-10-09 ALCS 3 OAK BAL W 2-1 CG 11 ,W 11.0 3 1 1 7 93
10 Bob Gibson 1968-10-02 WS 1 STL DET W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 5 0 1 17 93
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/13/2010.

In terms of post-season matchups, it's difficult to imagine a playoff battle between two hotter pitchers, at least going by their most recent starts.

In last year's World Series, Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia hooked up in Game 1 and at the time they were the last two AL Cy Young winners. In the 1986 World Series, Dwight Gooden and Roger Clemens met up in Game 2. Gooden was the reigning NL Cy Young champ (from 1985) and Clemens was days away from winning the 1986 AL Cy Young and AL MVP award.

What other top pitching matchups can you come up with?

44 Responses to “Lincecum vs. Halladay: Best playoff matchup in history?”

  1. buckweaver Says:

    The hyperbole for Lincecum vs. Halladay is making me a bit nauseous. "Best playoff matchup in history"? Sure, if you have no sense of history. Or maybe if you work for a TV network. πŸ™‚

    I'm looking forward to Saturday's game as much as anyone, don't get me wrong. But this is only the latest in a long line of great matchups in postseason history. Most don't live up to the hype, sadly.

    Anyway, here's a small sampling:

    In 2001, soon-to-be CYA winner Randy Johnson and the last guy to win the CYA in his league, Tom Glavine, met in Game 5 of the NLCS. (D'backs won, 3-2). ... Johnson, a four-time winner, also beat fellow four-time winner Greg Maddux in Game 1 of that series.

    In 1999, soon-to-be CYA winner Pedro Martinez and reigning CYA winner Roger Clemens met in Game 3 of the ALCS. (Red Sox won, 13-1.)

    In 1991, soon-to-be CYA winner Tom Glavine and reigning CYA winner Doug Drabek met in Game 1 of the NLCS. (Pirates won, 5-1.)

    In 1986, soon-to-be CYA winner Mike Scott and reigning CYA winner Dwight Gooden met in Game 1 of the NLCS. That matchup actually lived up to the hype. (Astros won, 1-0.)

    In 1970, soon-to-be CYA winner Jim Perry and reigning CYA winner Mike Cuellar met in Game 1 of the ALCS. (Orioles won, 10-6).

    In 1968, the two soon-to-be CYA winners, Bob Gibson and Denny McLain, met twice in the World Series. (The Cardinals won both times.)

    In 1963, the soon-to-be CYA winner, Sandy Koufax, and the last guy to win from the AL, Whitey Ford, met twice in the World Series. (The Dodgers won both times.)

    I'm sure there are plenty more great matchups from before the CYA was instituted, as well.

  2. GE Says:

    How about Jack Morris' Game 7 performance?

  3. Andy Says:

    #1, I don't disagree with you, but the point of my post is really getting at what these guys did in their first post-season starts--the fact that they rank so high all-time and now these guys are facing each other is, I think, something pretty special indeed.

  4. Jimmy Says:

    Pedro vs Clemens is probably the only time where two of the top 10 or so pitchers in baseball history faced off in the playoffs (as far as I can tell). The game turned out to be a dud, but on paper, it's hard to imagine a better matchup.

    10 years from now, Lincecum vs Halladay might be considered in that echelon, if Lincecum manages to avoid the Doc Gooden career path.

  5. Crashburn Alley » Blog Archive » Phillies-Giants NLCS Preview: Starting Rotations Says:

    [...] from the Baseball Reference blog asked if Lincecum/Halladay is the best post-season match-up of starting pitchers ever. It very well may be. Lincecum is the two-time defending National League [...]

  6. Jeff Wise Says:

    I've watched a lot of baseball in the past. I remember watching the playoffs from 1984 to now. I can't remember a more intriguing matchup in recent history. I could be wrong. I liked the Lee/Price matchup this year. Neither one of them walked a batter.

  7. Brian T. Says:

    Amazing that Babe Ruth the pitcher is included in that list, and he went 14 innings too.

  8. Djibouti Says:

    I think I've gotten my hopes up too high for this game. At this point anything less than a 0-0 tie going into the 10th inning will be a disappointment.

  9. Anthony Says:

    That Bill James "Game Score" thing is nonsense. By his scoring system, if Halladay had pitched a Perfect Game (subtracting the 1 walk) Lincecum would still have out-scored him by a point. How is that possible? It's ridiculous, and another made-up junk stat by a guy who specializes in junk stats.

  10. Adam Says:

    I think one of the few postseason pitching matchups that actually lived up to it's hype were the two Curt Schilling/Matt Morris matchups in the 2001 NLDS. The Diamondbacks won both games by a score of 1-0 and 2-1. Schilling tossed 18 innings and gave up 1 run during the series, Morris went 16 and gave up 2.

  11. Joe L. Says:

    I, too, have to wonder about a system that ranks Don Larsen's perfect game in the World Series 6th out of the 10 best post-season starts. It seems fishy to me.

  12. Diamond Dallas Dong Says:

    Andy is just a delusional Phillies fan. Lincecum vs Halladay is a great matchup, but I still remember Smoltz vs Clemens in the 2005 NLDS. Was supposed to be an "epic" and one of the greatest of all time. Clemens got shelled. I guess Pettitte couldn't inject enough roids into him. This is just another case of BSPN making too much out of nothing.

  13. Mike Says:

    Bill James' Game Score, like any statistical system, has its flaws and I'm sure that Bill James would admit that. I don't think that it was his intent to downgrade Larsen's perfect game or elevate someone else. It merely attempts to seperate the truly great performances from good ones. So Larsen gets "only" a 94 for his perfect game while Roger Clemens get a 98 for 2000 ALCS performance against the Mariners, does that mean that Clemens significantly outpitched Larsen. Of course not!! To me, the game score in neither a "junk stat" nor "fishy". It's not perfect but I think it does what Bill James set out to accomplish. And remember, websites like this and many others would not have existed without Bill James' trailblazing efforts!!

  14. Morten Jonsson Says:

    1905 World Series, game 5, Christy Mathewson vs. Chief Bender. Mathewson had won two games in the Series already, both shutouts; Bender had won one, also a shutout. Mathewson won this one, 2-0.

  15. kds Says:

    Anthony and others,

    Pitchers have little control over results once the ball is put in play. The ML average (BABIP) is just about .300. Halladay's career BABIP is .299, Lincecum's is .308. The best I could find for anybody who pitched at least part of his career after 1990 and pitched at least 1000 innings was .259 for Sid Fernandez.
    So there isn't much variation. Which means that there isn't a great range of skill. Which strongly suggests that extremes are caused by luck instead of skill. (Luck for a pitcher would include skill for his fielders.) A pitcher should get full credit for his strikeouts, and full blame for his walks, but only partial blame for hits allowed. Do I think that 6 more strikeouts shows more pitching skill than 2 fewer hits? Yes I do. Given what we know about pitching skill it is probably more accurate to say that Lincecum pitched better than Halladay, but not overwhelmingly so. To assert that it is nonsense, well that is ridiculous.

  16. JayT Says:

    Well said Kds. I was about to write the same thing, only not as well πŸ˜‰

    In terms of all time greatest match-ups, I think I'd have to go with Martinez versus Clemens. That was two of the greatest pitchers ever facing off right at their peak (of course Clemen's peak managed to last almost 20 years).

    Johnson versus Maddux is an awefully great on too. That's arguably the best left handed pitcher ever versus one of the five best pitchers ever.

    For how out of control the hitting was in the late 90's to early 2000's, we sure were fortunate to see some of the greatest pitchers ever at the same time.

  17. Camchuck Says:

    1968 Game 7 Gibson vs Lolich

    For the series, coming into game 7:

    GIBSON 2-0, 18IP, 10H, 3BB, 27K, 1ER (GS 93, 81)
    LOLICH 2-0, 18IP, 15H, 3BB, 17K, 3ER (GS 78, 64)

    Lolich's numbers were very good, but maybe not dominating. Still, this has to rank very high in playoff matchups of "hot pitchers", especially considering it was game 7 of a world series.

  18. WilsonC Says:

    Game score isn't intended to be precise. For one thing, there's no adjustment for era, park, strength of opposition, etc.

    What it does do is give us a general idea of dominance. We certainly can't look at a game score of 94 and one of 98 and determine with any confidence who pitched the better game, but we can be pretty sure that anyone in the mid-90's or higher pitched the type of game that gets remembered.

  19. Andy Says:

    I think Game Score, while clearly being very limited, is actually a pretty good measure of dominance in a start. It rewards innings pitched, plus it awards strikeouts. Most of the best strikeout pitchers in terms of K/9 are closers but I doubt those guys could maintain their K/9 rates over the innings of a starter. Strikeouts are the most valuable kind of single out because by preventing the ball from being put into play, it also eliminates the possibility of baserunners advancing by groundout or sacrifice fly. Pitchers who allow the fewest balls to be put in play are going to allow the fewest hits on average (also this depends heavily on BABiP, which is generally regarded as being beyond the pitcher's control.)

    In terms of a perfect game vs a no-hitter with 1 walk vs a one-hitter with no walks, there is no doubt that all 3 guys were dominant, and indeed all 3 will earn very similar Game Scores with the difference being primarily the number of K's registered. This seems totally reasonable to me. A guy who throws a 12-K one-hitter was more dominant than a guy who threw a 5-K perfect game. In the case of the 5-K perfect game, 7 more balls were put into play that could have fallen for base hits, and indeed there are dozens of starts each year where a starter gets 5 K's and allows a few hits.

    Those of you who are complaining that Larsen's game deserves a higher Game Score are, I think, missing the point of what Game Score is meant to calculate. If you want to give Larsen extra credit for allowing no baserunners, please do so. He's the only guy ever to do that in the post-season so if you want to give him a special honor for that, I am on board with that. But in terms of how dominant he was, Halladay and Lincecum both beat him without question.

  20. Dupp Says:

    Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens did face each other in Game 7 of the World Series nine years ago.

    As was mentioned earlier, Maddux vs. Randy Johnson is a great paper matchup. And Johnson faced Glavine later in that series - the two best lefties of their generation.

    Johnson and Mussina faced each other twice in 1997.

    Johnson and Kevin Brown in 1998 was a good one.

    Smoltz and Clemens faced each other in the 1999 World Series.

    And if you really want to take previous postseason performance into account, then you have Game 1 of the 1995 World Series between Orel Hershiser (though he was not as good as he'd been in 1988) against Maddux.

    Turning back the clock a bit, Whitey v. Marichal is not too shabby.

    Halladay vs. Lincecum is a great matchup but there's no way it's the best matchup in history.

  21. John Autin Says:

    Andy, I know you don't want to get into a debate about Game Score. And I don't want to debate whether Larsen or Halladay was more "dominant" in their signature games. But I think there are limits to what Game Score can tell us in comparing two games.

    For example:
    -- 9 IP, 1 hit, 2 ER, 1 BB, 13 K, 1 HR ... Game Score 89.
    -- 9 IP, 7 hits, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K ... Game Score 80.

    These are actual games. The first was Bruce Hurst against the Braves on 4/10/89; he walked the pitcher, then Lonnie Smith hit a HR. The second was Lincecum against Oakland on 6/12/09.

    It makes no sense to me that a pitcher who allowed a 2-run HR ends up with a much higher Game Score than one who allowed no runs and 1 walk while whiffing a solid 7.

    The remainder of this post is only for anyone who *does* want to talk about Game Score:

    I find several obvious flaws in the Game Score method. The ones that most irk me are:

    -- By rewarding strikeouts AND penalizing hits allowed, it double-counts what is essentially one achievement. High K totals strongly correlate with low hit totals.

    -- There's no penalty for HRs allowed. The negative cost of allowing [single, single, HR] is the same as that of allowing 3 solo HRs. That's just nuts.

    -- Walks are given just half the weight of hits. That's silly, both from the standpoint of the actual win value of each event and that of what the pitcher can actually control.

  22. Thomas Says:

    I think Game Score is alright, I just think it overvalues strikeouts... I'm not sure how getting 27 outs via groundballs is worse then 27 strikeouts.

  23. Bukanier Says:

    1884 World Series, Keith Law's good friend Old Hoss Radbourn (NL ERA, IP and SO leader in 84) vs. Tim Keefe (AA WHIP, IP and SO leader in 83).

  24. Bip Says:

    The thing about strikeouts is that they are defense independent. You can say that 27 soft ground balls equals 27 outs because that's what we expect from the defense, but if a ball is put in play, there is always the chance of a fluke hit or an error. While we're accustomed to thinking that errors are not the fault of the pitcher, if a pitcher had struck out that same batter, then there would have been no error. Even though a perfect game with 5 strikeouts and and a perfect game with 14 strikeouts have the same result, and therefore it seems unfair to judge the latter as "better" than the former, in the formers case, there are 22 balls put in play (minus pop fouls) whereas the latter has only 13. That's 9 fewer opportunities to commit errors, which means 9 fewer opportunities where a pitcher has to rely just a little bit on what is essentially luck to get the out.

    One thing we do overvalue a little I think is the no-hitter. I'm not convinced it takes an altogether different caliber of pitcher to pitch a no-hitter than it does to pitch a one or two hitter. Unless those hits are given up before the last out, which may show a sign of nerves, then those few hits that made the difference between a shutout and a no-no could just be result of bad luck. For example, while Halladay's no hitter was extremely solid, there was one hard hit line drive that went straight to the outfielder. Perhaps the difference between a no hitter and a one hitter is that ball goes to the gap instead.

    If we wanted to be perfectionists, we could look at every ball put in play and try to determine how well batters were making contact off a pitcher so that we can ignore defense altogether, but I don't think that stat was ever intended to be that comprehensive. I do agree though that giving points for strikeouts and subtracting points for hits is a little redundant. The biggest flaw is that all hits are weighted equally, as some have pointed out e.g. two singles and a HR = 3 HR. What if the two hits and a walk that Lincecum gave up were in the same inning, (walk, single, bases clearing double)? He'd have the exact same line except for 2 ER. That would have made him the losing pitcher, but can we definitively say of two pitchers who give up 2 H and 1 BB over 9 IP that the one who gives up all three baserunners in one inning did worse than the one who spread them out over separate innings?

  25. Basmati Says:

    I think it's a great matchup. Both lived up to expectations in their much hyped postseason debuts, lets hope they do against each other. I know it's not everything but consider Halladay is 15th all time in CYA shares and Lincecum 26th. Both will no doubt move up once this seasons awards are announced, and Lincecum is still very young. So we're probably looking at two top-10 all time pitchers (by that measure) matching up in the postseason, I think that's pretty awesome.

  26. Bill Parks Says:

    How about Koufax vs Ford, game one of the 63 Series? Two HOFers. If there had been a CY Young in each league Ford would have won. Koufax 25-5 and winner of the CY that year. Ford 24-7 and going into that series 10-5 lifetime in WS including the 33 consecutive scoreless innings record, and of course the highest winning percentage ever.

  27. justin Says:

    how do you have a shutout above a no hitter.

  28. Andy Says:

    John @21 and others:

    I agree that Game Score is far from perfect, in particular John's example of a guy giving up a 2-run homer having a higher game score than other games. But I think about it another way....all the time you hear that a pitcher has great "stuff" in a game or a season but doesn't get good results. It's tough to figure out what that means, but I think that Game Score gets at it. By valuing strikeouts over other kinds of outs, it gives a sense of a pitcher's ceiling. In the Hurst game John cited, Hurst probably had better "stuff" but he didn't execute perfectly, giving up that long ball. The Game Score, though, says something about the guy's ceiling in that game and is maybe somewhat predictive of the ceiling for future starts, although obviously ballpark and strength of opponent vary and are major factors.

    I realize everything I'm saying is a 'soft' argument--not very numbers-driven, but it's a representation of how I look at game score. I also don't see a whole hell of a lot of difference between a score of, say, 87, and another of 92. Plus or minus 5 at a minimum is the 'error' for this particular stat, in my book.

  29. TheGoof Says:

    From my 200 game winner vs. 200 game winner database, all such postseason matchups:
    1905: Mathewson-Plank, McGinnity-Bender, Plank-McGinnity, Mathewson-Bender
    1907: Brown-Mullin
    1909: Willis-Mullin
    1911: Mathewson-Bender, Plank-Marquard
    1913: Bender-Marquard, Mathewson-Plank
    1920: Coveleski-Marquard, Grimes-Coveleski
    1926: Hoyt-Haines
    1929: Quinn-Root
    1930: Grove-Grimes, Grove-Haines
    1931: Grove-Derringer, Grove-Grimes
    1933: Whitehill-Fitzsimmons
    1936: Ruffing-Hubbell
    1939: Ruffing-Derringer
    1940: Derringer-Newsom
    1948: Spahn-Lemon, Spahn-Feller
    1957: Spahn-Ford, Ford-Burdette
    1958: Spahn-Ford
    1962: Marichal-Ford
    1968: Gibson-Lolich
    1969: P. Niekro-Seaver, Koosman-Pappas
    1970: Kaat-Palmer
    1972: Hunter-Lolich
    1973: Palmer-Blue, Koosman-Blue, Seaver-Hunter
    1974: Sutton-Reuss, Palmer-Blue, Sutton-Blue
    1977: Carlton-John
    1978: Sutton-Hunter
    1979: Ryan-Palmer, Martinez-Tanana, Blyleven-Palmer
    1981: J. Niekro-Welch, J. Niekro-Reuss, Ryan-Reuss, Reuschel-Welch
    1983: Carlton-Reuss
    1986: Clemens-Sutton
    1987: Blyleven-Morris
    1991: Morris-Smoltz
    1992: Morris-Welch, Glavine-Morris, Morris-Smoltz
    1995: Clemens-D. Martinez, Maddux-Wells, Johnson-D. Martinez, Maddux-Hershiser, Glavine-D. Martinez
    1996: Pettitte-Smoltz
    1997: Johnson-Mussina, Maddux-Brown, Mussina-Hershiser, Glavine-Brown
    1998: Glavine-Brown, Wells-Brown, Pettitte-Brown
    1999: Clemens-Martinez, Glavine-Pettitte, Clemens-Smoltz
    2001: Moyer-Finley, Maddux-Johnson, Glavine-Johnson, Mussina-Schilling, Johnson-Pettitte, Clemens-Schilling
    2002: Schilling-Finley
    2003: Clemens-Martinez
    2004: Mussina-Schilling, Mussina-Martinez
    2005: Clemens-Smoltz
    2006: Johnson-Rogers
    2009: Pettitte-Martinez

    Mathewson-Plank's got to be up there, with Spahn-Feller, Clemens-Pedro, Maddux-Johnson.

  30. NLCS Prediction Post « Weller and Bryan’s Sports Blog Says:

    [...] 1 of the NLCS has one of the best pitching match-ups in postseason history according to the Baseball-Reference blog.Β  That might be a bold statement, but this game certainly [...]

  31. kds Says:

    John @21,

    I agree that dealing with home runs separately from other hits may be considered an error. Tangotiger at had a thread on this comparison. It linked back to another thread in which he came up with 4 alternative "Game Scores", some of which included HR's.

    Your statement that weighing "walks at half the rate of hits is silly", is just wrong. If you look up the average run values of each hit type, (Single, double, etc.), and take an average based on the frequency of each type you will find that the average hit is quite close to twice the average walk in run expectancy added. Of course if we took HR's separately from other hits then that 2 to 1 ratio would no longer hold and we would have to come up with different coefficients.

  32. kds Says:

    The first sentence should read, "...NOT dealing with home runs separately..."

  33. Anthony Says:


    Using the phrase "Luck for a pitcher would include skill for his fielders" is as ridiculous as Bill James' game stat. Nice work by you, putting the words luck and skill in the same sentence.
    If Game Stat isn't perfect, as many of you have said, then what's the point? If I am still open to interpreting the numbers and assigning my own results, then what's the point of arbitrarily assigning numbers to a game? If a Perfect Game (like Larsen's) doesn't score 100, then what does the word perfect mean? James' numbers render it meaningless, as is his ridiculous (that word again) statistical analysis.

    If it didn't have Bill James' name associated with it, many of you would be calling it ridiculous too. Don't be lured by the name. Look at the system.

  34. birtelcom Says:

    Anthony: Over his career, Bill James has proposed hundreds of different little stats and categories and systems intended to help illuminate various baseball matters. Most of Bill's proposals quickly disappear, just like most experiments for even the best scientists don't succeed (it's the rare successful ones, not the many failures, that make a reputation) . Game Score has caught on over the years (every ESPN box score has included Game Score for years) not because Bill Jame invented it -- he has invented many things no one follows or cares about anymore -- but because Game Score captures something interesting about pitching in an accessible, user-friendly way that is not easily articulated otherwise.

    It's easy to forget that a no-hitter is a completely artifical stat-nerd category itself, no more so or less so than Game Score. After all, the aim of pitchig is to prevent runs and win the game, not to prevent hits. Preventing hits is a means to the end of preventing runs, but it's not a nercessary one. A nine hit complete game shutout is just as "successful" a pitching performance, under the rules of baseball, as a no-hitter. We love no-hitters and perfect games because we love freaky stats, not because "no hits" is some sort of achievement inherent in the rules or nature of baseball. Was Don Larsen's game "better" in terms of achieving the essential goals of the game than Johnny Podres 19955 World Series game in which he pitched a compelte game shutout but gave up 8 hits and two walks? No. Both pitchers prevented all runs and pitched their teams to victory. They did 100% of what they needed to do within the rules of baseball. We prize Larsen's accomplishment because the no hits, no walks thing gives us that extra stat thrill that is really completely separate from the point of the game. Game Score is like that too. It doesn't measure the essence of victory and loss any more than the number of hits does. Game Score measures, and is intended to measure, something else besides just the number of hits and runs, although those are important elements of Game Score. By bringing in walks and strikeouts as well, Game Score gives some extra credit to a pitcher's ability to control the game himself, separte from the role of his fielders. It measures a pitcher's success not just at preventing runs but at avoiding situations where runs might have scored. Distinguishing between a pitcher who pitched an eight-hit shutout from one who pitched a no-hit shutout does exactly the same thing, only with fewer stats included in the calculation.

  35. Jeff Says:

    "The only time I really try for a strikeout is when I'm in a jam. If the bases are loaded with none out, for example, then I'll go for a strikeout. But most of the time I try to throw to spots. I try to get them to pop up or ground out. On a strikeout I might have to throw five or six pitches, sometimes more if there are foul-offs. That tires me. So I just try to get outs. That's what counts - outs. You win with outs, not strikeouts."

    This quote by Sandy Koufax says it all. The perfect game has to be 100.

  36. birtelcom Says:

    Jeff: Sandy over his career struck out 24.6% of batters he faced with runners in scoring postion, but 26.6% of runners he faced with nobody on base. Don't worry about what he said, look at what he did: he was trying to strike out people all the time.

  37. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #33/Anthony - "If Game Stat isn't perfect, as many of you have said, then what's the point?"
    This is an absurd conclusion - N_O statistic is perfect, or will hold up to the impossibly high standards you have for "Game Score". "GS" is a fun little "quick n'dirty" way to compare individual pitching performances, it shouldn't be considered definitive. As several other posters have pointed out, a no-hitter involves quite a bit of random luck, so I wouldn't automatically consider a no-hitter superior to all other pitching performances. For example, I would consider Pedro Martinez's one hit/17K performance against the Yankees (1999?) superior to many no-hitters, ever though Pedro gave up a (home) run.

    Some of the greatest pitchers ever never pitched a no-hitter (Grove, Clemens), while Virgil Trucks pitched TWO no-hitters in one year (out of five wins!). This is indicative - of what? - as I said, the somwhat random nature of no-hitters.

    Let's take a commonly used stat such as RBIs - this year ARod drove in 125 runs, just one behind Miguel Cabrera. Does this in any way prove that ARod had as good a year as Cabrera - no, almost no one would claim that, but I doubt anyone is demanding that RBI not be shown on scoreboards anymore... It merely shows that RBI has flaws, and is not a perfect measurement of offensive performance. I would consider "Game Score" a lot more informative than RBI, since RBI are so situation-dependent (on batting-order position and # of runners on-base).

    In the same way, "GS" is not a perfect indicate of pitching performance; era/park/opponents/game importance should also be considered. One problem I have with "GS" is that K's are progressively more common, so great performances from 50/75/100+ years ago are somewhat underrated. In perticular, Chisty Mathewson's three great performances in the 1905 World Series (three shutouts/twelves hits TOTAL) are underrated.

  38. birtelcom Says:

    Lawrence: Matty's spectacular 1905 World Series (three shutouts in the five game Series) still comes up pretty darn well with Game Score. Despite the much longer post-seasons these days, he is still, 105 years later, the only pitcher to have three games with a Game Score over 80 in one post-season. The only pitcher with more than three post-season Game Scores over 80 in his career is Bob Gibson with four.

    It was after all,a pretty good time for pitchers generally (including for Game Scores) back in 1905. The finals scores of the two World Series games Matty didn't pitch were 1-0 and 3-0. C. Bender pitching for the A's also had a 80+ Game Score in the 05 World Series, and this is the only World Series in which four starts had Games Scores over 80 (there were three such starts in each of the 1917, 1967 and 1971 World Series)

  39. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #38/birtelcom Says: "Lawrence: Matty's spectacular 1905 World Series (three shutouts in the five game Series) still comes up pretty darn well with Game Score."

    Yes, Matty still looks great on Games Scores, but he'd look even greater if K's were adjusted by era: in 1905, NL pitchers had 3.7 K/9 innings, in 2010 they had 7.4 K/9 innings; exactly twice the rate of 1905. Double the K's and Matty's GS's would be somwhat comparable to the GS of Halladay and Lincecum. I know you can't do this for all pitchers, but it helps in specific game-to-game comparisons. I am also aware that the hit, walk, and run rates also vary (but not as much as the K's).

  40. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    Halladay against the Giants, career: 0-2, 7.23 ERA.

    Sure, I know it's only three starts. Still . . .

  41. leatherman Says:

    What about game 7 of the 1985 World Series? John Tudor vs Bret Saberhagen. Tudor finished 2nd in NL CY voting, going 21-8 with a 1.93 ERA and an amazing 10 shutouts. The reason he finished 2nd: this was Dwight Gooden's 24-4 season when he had a 1.53 ERA and 268 Ks. Saberhagen was the AL CY winner, going 20-6 with a 2.87 ERA and 10 CG.

    It is forgotten for two reasons:
    1. It was one day after Don Denkinger blew the call at first base, allowing the Royals to score 2 runs in the 9th to tie the series at 3-3.
    2. The game was a blowout. Saberhagen tossed a 5 hit shutout, walking none, as the Royals went on to win 11-0, with Saberhagen taking home the WS MVP honors. Tudor didn't make it through the 3rd inning, giving up 5 runs in 2 1/3 innings. Tudor had been superb in his other two World Series starts (both wins), giving up just 1 run in 6 2/3 innings in game 1, and then tossing a 5 hit shutout of his own in game 4.

  42. dodgerdave Says:

    Hershiser vs. Gooden in the 1988 NLCS was a good matchup to get all hyped up about.

  43. Phil Dellio Says:

    Seaver's WS match-ups (two of which are mentioned above) rank near the top for me: he faced Cuellar twice in '69 (I know Cuellar wasn't a Hall of Famer, but '69 was the beginning of a pretty stellar six-year run) and Catfish twice in '73, when probably the greatest pitcher of the '70s and one of the greatest were both at their peak.

  44. 10 numbers for the NLCS: Phillies vs. Giants Says:

    [...] who were playoff virgins until last week, when each twirled a shutout that ranked among the five most dominant postseason starts of all time. It stands to reason that, by Sunday morning, at least one of them will have a less [...]