"Psh, it was no perfect game."
We are spoiled a bit by this season, which has already included a no-walk no-hitter and a perfect game. I don't mean to detract from the other excellent feats this season, but they will inevitably be overshadowed in the history books. So today, lets shine a light on two of these freak performances in the ultimate baseball sideshow. Step right up!
Ladies and gentlemen, on your right I present the Freak! He's short, skinny, has goofy hair, and he does not listen to that. But he does, however, strikeout 15 Pirates in a complete game performance. It was a career high for Lincecum, who is once again making his case for the National League Cy Young. You need an electron microscope to see his 2.49 tRA, as he slowly gains on Zack Greinke in the race for best pitcher this year.
The Freak's special talent lies in his mesmerizing change-of-speed. ESPN notes that Lincecum's changeup has struck out more batters than any other pitcher's--by nearly a factor of two:
Tim Lincecum 97 Johan Santana 57 Cole Hamels 41
But wait! There's more to see! Right this way!
On your left, behind this curtain is...The Hammer! His insatiable appetite for RBI drives him into a tizzy, so we have kept him in a special cage where he never bats with runners on base. Now, famished to drive in runs, we have unleashed the Hammer! Behold: two grand slams! In back-to-back innings!
Willingham entered the game with 14 homers -- 12 of them solo. He had 31 RBI. Now, in [consecutive] at bats -- indeed, [consecutive] innings -- he has eight.
Using the data from the Baseball Almanac site, that leaves 15 perfect games since 1920. That is two more than games when a player hit 2 grandslams. There were about 149,000 major league games played from 1920-2008. So prior to this year, a perfect game happened once every 10,642 games. Two grandslams in one game happened once every 12,416 games.
Now, my most rare specimen. It's so ephemeral, unbelievable, and improbable that I must ask the children to step outside the tent. Ladies and gentlemen, courtesy of Mark Whicker, I present realignment:
Let’s see how 3 divisions shake down:
East: Mets, Yankees, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Florida.
Central: Cubs, White Sox, St. Louis, Kansas City, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Toronto, Cincinnati, Cleveland.
West: Angels, Dodgers, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Houston.
Three pennant winners, one wild-card team, and less travel! Good for the environment! We shall even use this method to evaluate parity!
But, curiosity-enthusiasts, I have saved my best for last. I must ask you never to speak of this outside of this tent, as it might incite non-sabermetric traditionalists to explode from the cranium! Behind this curtain, I have the Mad Doctor Andrecheck's 2-1 full count!
The advantages of the reduction in the number of balls and strikes required for a walk or a strikeout respectively is obvious. Less downtime and more action. The rule change would force pitchers and batters to get down to business sooner. The pitch data indicates that the batter and pitcher are nibbling and being selective early in the count (with good reason), and the fact that the hitter outcomes are basically the same with a 1-1 count indicates that there is no fundamental reason for such a long count.
Oooh! Ahh! Thank you for touring this funhouse with me, and be sure to tell your friends!
On your way out, we have a few other treats for you. First, what's the problem with r-values? Results Disoriented says they are being misused over at Baseball Prospectus in discussing FIP and ERA. It's not easily excerpted, but is fascinating nonetheless. I'm not sure the attacks on BP are warranted, but the analysis itself is good.
To cleanse the palate, we'll discuss the Seattle Mariners. USS Mariner has thrown in the towel on this season:
We were always fans, but the organization made it very hard to find things to root for from 2003 to 2008. This year won’t end in a playoff series, but it re-established our ability to enjoy Mariner baseball, and that might be the biggest accomplishment of all.
WakaMole: the front office has decided to run the Seattle Mariners like a casual fan's fantasy team
WakaMole: we take Ichiro in the first round, Felix Hernandez in the second, and then fill out the rest of the lineup with players who were good several years ago when we paid more attention, like Ken Griffey Jr. and Adrian Beltre