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Is the Pitching Getting Better, or Is the Hitting Getting Worse?

Posted on June 2, 2010 at 3:07 PM

The first two months of the Major League Baseball season have been wild. There have been a few unbelievable pitching feats.

First, Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies has started off 10-1 with a 0.78 ERA (earned runs allowed per 9 innings), under 1 WHIP (walks and hits allowed per inning), and is striking out almost ¼ of the batters he faces. Most impressively, he pitched a no-hitter against the Atlanta Braves on April 17. Jimenez was almost unheard of coming into this season, going 31-28 in his four previous years.

Some other great performances on the mound have come from Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies and Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics. They have each pitched perfect games this season (19th and 20th ever), meaning not allowing a single runner to reach a base in nine innings, making this season only the second season ever in which two perfect games were thrown. Halladay, who pitched his gem just last Saturday, has had a great season otherwise, going 7-3 with a 1.99 ERA. Braden actually has a losing record this season. However, Braden’s perfect game had some very interesting sidestories. First, he pitched on Mother’s Day, but he was an orphan, so that was very emotional. Second, in Braden’s last game before the perfect one, he got into a fight with Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez. After the perfect game, Braden’s grandma over the age of 70 said in an interview, “Stick it A-Rod.” Lastly, just an interesting stat, Gabe Kapler, who came to bat in the 9th inning of Braden’s pitching masterpiece, also came to bat in the 9th inning of Mark Buehrle’s perfect game last year.

There have certainly been a lot of no-hitters and perfect games recently. Add on Mark Buehrle’s perfect game and Jonathan Sanchez’s no-hitter from last July, and that’s five no-hitters including three perfect games all in the last eleven months. Is this just some rare statistical clump, or is there a reason behind this? I think there’s certainly some randomness involved, but I have thought of a reason that may have slightly contributed to this phenomenon. I noticed that in the era where baseball hitters were using more steroids than ever, from 1995-2008, there were only two no hitters per year and only three perfect games in total. It’s certainly possible that now that  baseball is being much stricter about steroids, the hitting level has gone down, and therefore, pitching may have become slightly easier. While many people think that pitching in the MLB is getting better as of late, I think the hitting is getting worse.


Comment below to tell me your opinion on why it appears that the pitching is improving.


Categories: Other Sports

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Reply jonah
1:58 PM on June 7, 2010 
hi i like baseball
Reply Seth
1:58 PM on June 4, 2010 
Possibly, pitching has been improving since before 1995, but its improvement led to, and was masked by, hitter's use of steroids. Removing the steroids may have piled up years of gradual pitching improvement. Are ERAs and/or WHIPs down generally?
Reply Mike
8:53 PM on June 3, 2010 
Not only are there more exceptional performances this year than ever before (including last night's "imperfect game"), but the MLB league ERA in 2010 is lower than it has been since 1992! It's pretty incredible, looking at the year-by-year stats, that there was a dramatic shift up in runs per game beginning with the 1994 season. I think your assertion that hitting is getting worse due to reduced steroid use is right on.
7:50 PM on June 3, 2010 
Interesting stats and very colorful commentary! Good post Lev!
Reply Jake Cohen
6:19 PM on June 3, 2010 
No both are even