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How impressive is a No Hitter?

by Francis Ottomanelli | Posted on Monday, June 23rd, 2014
(Chris Carlson/AP Images)

(Chris Carlson/AP Images)

Clayton Kershaw threw the second no-hitter this year, the first no-hitter this year was thrown by fellow Dodger, Josh Beckett. After hearing about Kershaw’s no-no I felt as if they are becoming much more common in today’s game; although that could be because I am a Mets fan and we finally got our first no-hitter in 2012. I then decided to do a little bit of research

Since 1876, the alleged first year of MLB, there have been around 206,000 games. In that time there have only been 284 no-hitters thrown which comes out to one in every 725 games being a no hitter – or 0.14 percent of games played. So since the beginning of baseball, throwing a no hitter is a great and rare accomplishment.

However, it was the recent explosion of no-hitters that desensitized me to the impressiveness of the no-hitter. After looking at some numbers, in the last five years (2010-2014) there have been 21 no hitters, which is about four a year and we still have half a season left this year. If we were to compare that to the average since the beginning of MLB it more than doubles it, 4.20 to 2.06. So we are indeed living in an era where the no-hitter is more common but the funny thing about no-hitters is that we can have six in one year and then zero the next.

In the last 15 years (2000-2014) there have been a total of 36 no-hitters with 58 percent of them being thrown in the last five years. Ironically, in the fifteen years before that (1985-1999) there were 35 no-hitters thrown and in that time period there was also a stretch of five years (1990-1994) where there were a total of 21 no-hitters thrown as well.

For me to say that we live in an era where no hitters are more commonplace is something that can be said about a few eras throughout baseball. It is not rare at all for the amount of no-hitters to fluctuate year-by-year. Upon looking at who is throwing these no-hitters there are some no name pitchers but the majority of them tend to be aces, which makes sense.

In the five year stretch from 2010-2014 the amount of pitchers that have an ERA under three is equivalent to the amount that had an ERA under three from 1990-1994 – that is with the assumption that 2014 will have as many pitchers with an ERA under three as 2013 did. Right now there are 27 pitchers in 2014 with an ERA under three, I highly doubt all of them will stay that consistently good and figured I’ll be a safe bet to go with 2013’s total instead.

What I am getting at is that the amount of no-hitters is determined by the amount of great pitchers in the game today. I always figured that no-hitters required more luck than skill but it appears I am wrong, it requires more skill than luck yet sometimes average pitchers get exceptionally lucky and throw a no-hitter. Just as I was becoming less and less impressed with no-hitters, these numbers really opened my eyes to how rare no-hitters actually are, even if we are living in an era where they are occurring more frequently.

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