Throughout the month of October, I’ll be reviewing some of the top stories that were in the newly completed regular season. I wrote last week about the 2010 rookie class, and today’s post looks at the amazing season from pitchers in 2010.
The season was one for the ages in terms of no-hitters and perfect games, as there were 5 (3 no-hitters, 2 perfect games) thrown during the regular season. It started on April 17th with Ubaldo Jimenez blanking the Braves, and continued with the perfect games by Dallas Braden on Mother’s Day and Roy Halladay 20 days later. The Rays were involved in their 3rd no-hitter in a calendar year on June 25th, as they were blanked by Edwin Jackson of the Diamondbacks. A month after that, the Rays were finally on the positive end of a no-hitter when Matt Garza threw one against the Tigers.
The Low Hitters
In addition to the no-hitters, there were what seemed to be an inordinate amount of low hitters:
- 1 hitters: 23 in 2010, 21 in 2009
- 2 hitters: 45 in 2010, 52 in 2009
- 3 hitters: 133 in 2010, 104 in 2009
And of course, there were the near misses, with the most notable clearly being the start of Armando Galarraga on June 2nd where he came within 1 out of a perfect game.
The Overall Numbers
Looking at the numbers of the top pitchers in the game, it’s amazing to see how they compared to last season. Each of these categories list the number of players who met the standard in 2010, followed by 2009:
- ERA of 3.00 or less: 15 in 2010, 11 in 2009
- 16 or more victories: 17, 12
- 4 or more complete games: 12, 7
- 2 or more shutouts: 9, 12
- 220 or more innings pitched: 15, 10
- 200 or more strikeouts: 15, 10
- ERA+ of 130 or higher: 21, 21
- WHIP of 1.20 or lower: 29, 17
Even the advanced statistics start showing us things as well:
- FIP of 3.oo or lower: 5, 5
- FIP of 3.50 or lower: 24, 17
- WAR of 4 or higher: 31, 20
The thing that really stands out to me is that while there were definitely some elite numbers posted by some of the pitchers, as a general rule the entirety of the pitchers improved from previous seasons. The overall ERA for all pitchers: 4.08 in 2010, 4.32 in 2009. Even when looking at the fielding percentages to see if there were more errors being committed, the numbers don’t even bear that out as a problem: 3030 errors in 2010, 2865 in 2009, which translates to a difference of approximately 1/10th of an error more per game. Essentially, a negligible number in comparison to the drop in ERA.
It is hard for me to say what it is that is specifically causing the pitchers to be that much better, and while it would be easy to immediately chalk it up to the lessened amount of PEDs and amphetamines in the game, I think we could also be seeing another shift in the quality of players away from the hitters and slightly toward the pitchers again. It’s almost a cop-out in my opinion to decide that drugs are clearly the main cause of this shift. When you look at the sheer quantity of players coming into the Majors who are rapidly evolving into elite pitchers regardless of their role on the team, I think it speaks volumes about the development of the game and its ability to adjust as the game progresses through history.
I will be posting my selections for the Walter Johnson awards in the next few days, which select the top pitchers in each league, and it is really going to be a difficult choice this season when you look at how many pitchers had great seasons.