Friday, June 08, 2007
I don’t want to take anything away from Curt Schilling's near no-hitter yesterday but if Alex Cora had reached Shannon Stewart's grounder in the 9th and got him out at first, it would have been one of the luckiest and least deserved no-hitters in the last 20 years. It all come down to batting average on balls batted into play. The best way to get a no-hitter is to limit the number of balls put into play by striking guys out. There is a reason why Nolan Ryan has 7 career no-hitters, he was one of the best strikeout pitchers in the history of baseball (#4 all time in strikeouts per nine innings) and had a ridiculously long career. The logic is simple, the fewer balls put into play, the greater the chance that there will not be a hit. A batter that strikes out has a 0% chance of getting a hit but a batter that puts the ball into play has about a 30% chance of getting a hit. Yesterday Schilling struck out just 4 batters. If the averages had held Schilling should have given up at least 7 hits. There have been 24 no-hitters since a pitcher has had less than 4 strikeouts and still had a no-hitter (in 1993 Jim Abbot struck out just 3 Indians and walked 5 in the luckiest no-hitter I could find). In the 24 no-hitters since 1993 the strikeout average is 8.45. So if anyone should be congratulated on yesterday’s 1 hitter it should be the Sox defense which converted 24 of the 25 balls in into play into outs. I can't say enough how happy I am with the Sox improved defense over last year. So far they are converting .709 of balls in play into outs compared to the woeful .683 last season. It was a good performance by Schilling but not even his best of the season. That would have been on May 28th against a much better Cleveland lineup when he struck out 10, walked 0 and gave up no home runs.