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Francisco Liriano threw the first no-hitter of the 2011 season. With today’s new statistics, it is easy to see that it was far from the prettiest no-hitter ever.In fact, it was so ugly, we are now left to wonder if a no-hitter is still as special as we used to believe.
Against the White Sox, a team hitting just .236 (12th in the AL), Liriano gave up no hits. But he also walked six, struck out only two, and threw just 53.7 per cent of his 123 pitches for strikes.
Just how ugly was this no-hitter? If we use Bill James’ “Game Score” statistic (looks at the overall performance of a pitcher in a game) Liriano’s no-no scored an 83. If a pitcher throws a perfect game, striking out all 27 batters, their Game Score would be 114. Let’s see how this game stacks up historically…
- Of the 172 no-hitters since 1919, Liriano’s no-hitter is tied for the lowest Game Score ever in a no-no. Lefty Chambers, in 1951, walked eight and struck out four in his no-hitter. Nolan Ryan (16 Ks, 2 walks) and Sandy Koufax (14 Ks and no walks) are tied with the highest Game Score (101) among no-hitters.
- Since the beginning of the 2010 season, there have been 87 pitching performances with a better Game Score than Liriano’s no-hitter. The highest was 100 by Brandon Morrow who threw a 1-hit, 17-strikeout, shutout last August.
- So far this season, there have been 23 pitchers that tossed a complete game with fewer walks and more strikeouts.
And what about some other recent no-hitters? Just last year, five pitchers threw a no-hitter. Two of those were against the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that ranked third offensively in Major League Baseball. And those two no-hitters were thrown by pitchers (Edwin Jackson, Dallas Braden) that finished the season with a losing record.
Don’t get me wrong. Throwing a complete game and not allowing any hits is still a nice accomplishment. But when a no-hitter barely cracks the top 100 pitching performances of the past year or so, it is difficult to get excited about it.