Worst No Hitter Ever?
Francisco Liriano has done it. He has pitched a no hitter and entered the baseball history books. But was last night’s accomplishment historically great? Was it even the best pitching performance of the year? The answer to both questions is no.
Liriano managed to strike out only 2 batters in his no-no. He walked 6. The last pitcher to strike out only 2 in a no-hitter was Jerry Reuss in 1980 for the LA Dodgers. But he didn’t walk a single batter and that was during era with much lower strikeout rates. It was definitely one of the worst no hitters, but I won’t go so far as to say it was the worst no hitter of all time. That distinction belongs to Joe Cowley in 1986. He walked 7 batters and GAVE UP AN EARNED RUN in his no hitter. (Funny side note, Cowley never won another major league game.)
Now, where does Lirano’s performance rank THIS YEAR? According to the game scores for this season it is tied for the 13th best start of the year. (Game scores is a metric state that grades a pitchers performance in each game. It factors in outs, strikeouts, hits, walks, earned runs, and unearned runs)
Of the 12 performances with higher scores this year, 4 were not complete games and one was not a shutout, so I’ll put his ahead of those. That makes his No hitter the 7th best start of the year and it’s only May 4th.
What was the best performance of the year? Cliff Lee’s shutout on April 14th. He struck out 12 and only walked 1 while giving up 3 hits. He only required 99 pitches to finish the game, which is astounding when you factor in all the strikeouts.
Lirano still pitched a great game but the fact that it happened to be a no hitter is really no more than a statistical anomaly. Batters hit the ball at his teammates in the field and at the end of nine there was a zero in the hit column. No hitters are exciting when they’re happening but they’re not always worth going ape-shit over. I’d be more impressed if Liriano managed to stay off the DL the rest of the season.
His game was about as impressive as Javale McGee’s ridiculously stupid triple-double (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9Ur8rtAinI)
Here’s a link to the game scores ranking if you’re interested: http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/topperformers/_/type/pitching