Monday, August 11, 2014

Another Look At Clayton Kershaw's Amazing No-Hitter

The other day I got an envelope of clippings from a friend in Washington DC, which included a nice write-up by Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post, on Clayton Kershaw's no-hitter (June 22, 2014). Apparently, the Washington Post makes one pay for full access. It's a good article, so I'm going to test my typing skills and transcribe some of the article for our readers:

In an odd way, the fact that Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers threw a no-hitter Wednesday night against Colorado isn't terribly surprising. Kershaw has won two of the last three National League Cy Young awards, has led the league in ERA in each of the past three seasons and at 26 is just entering his prime. Making the 192nd start of his career, he's talented enough that people might legitimately think, "That's only his first?"

But Kershaw's no-hitter was stunning because of this fact: It was among the best games ever pitched.

No, it was not a perfect game. But he faced only 28 hitters, one more than the minimum, and had shortstop Hanley Ramirez been able to make a perfect throw on Corey Dickerson's grounder leading off the seventh, he would have been perfect. (Ramirez, to be fair, didn't boot an easy grounder. The play, on which he charged and made an errant throw for a two-base error, could have been scored either way.)

Add to that these two tidbits: no walks, 15 strikeouts. Oh, and 107 pitches. Total. So more than 40 percent of his pitches were one of three strikes in his strikeouts. He went to three balls on one hitter.

And one more thing: This came against a Colorado team that leads the majors in hits, batting average, slugging percentage and on-base-plus-slugging. Not exactly a team of September call-ups.

Kershaw now has the most strikeouts for a pitcher not named Nolan Ryan in a no-hitter. Ryan struck out 17 in one in 1973 - the first of his seven - then 16 in another in 1991. But in those games, he walked four and two, respectively, so Kershaw now has the most strikeouts without a walk in a no-hitter. (He's tied with Warren Spahn for most strikeouts in a no-hitter by a lefty.)

But by more sophisticated - or contrived, depending on your perspective - analysis, Kershaw's outing is even more historic. Groundbreaking statistician Bill James devised a way of grading individual starts by pitchers called a "game score." It gives credit for outs recorded, strikeouts and innings completed after the fourth; points are deducted for hits, walks and runs allowed.

The maximum game score is 114 - for a pitcher who throws a perfect game with 27 strikeouts. Kershaw's game score was 102 - the best for a no-hitter in history and the second-best of all time, trailing only Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout one-hitter in 1998, a game in which Wood walked none, a game score of 105. (Matt Cain's perfect game for San Francisco in 2012 had a game score of 101, as did Sandy Koufax's perfect game in 1965.)

The oddity of Kershaw's no-hitter? It came just 31/2 weeks after teammate Josh Beckett tossed one of his own (his first). Thus, they are the first teammates to throw no-hitters in the same season since Burt Hooton and Milt Pappas each had one for the Cubs in 1972.


Fred's Brim said...

Chick Correia goes tonight, Haren tomorrow, Ryu on Wednesday and Hernandez on Thursday. Grienke and Clayton saved for Milwaukee when we get back home. Somehow we have a 6-man rotation now. I thought Correia was going to be the innings eater out of the bullpen. I wonder if he or Haren melt down (is it a meltdown if you pitch exactly as everyone expects?), they use Hernandez to eat some innings and push up Grienke to Thursday