Why the ‘perfect game’ is a bad omen for MLB teams

Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants warming ...

Matt Cain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.

On June 13, San Francisco’s Matt Cain pitched the 22nd perfect game in major league baseball history. Since that 10-0 win for the Giants, the team has won only four of their next 10 games. Before you respond, “So what?” consider this: In the 10 games after the White Sox Philip Humber pitched his perfect game on April 21 of this year, the White Sox won only four and lost six.

You might think that after a big, monumental game in a team’s history (like a perfect game) that the team would then venture off into a winning streak of five or six games or win eight of their next 10. That certainly has not been the case. To quantify this theory, we looked at the 22 perfect games and how well each team did after this historic game. (Note: Because Mike Witt‘s September 30, 1984 perfect game came on the last day of the season, and Don Larsen’s October 8, 1956 perfecto happened in the World Series, we did not include those two perfect games in this analysis.)

In looking at 20 of the 22 perfect games pitched in MLB history and how well those teams performed in the next 10 games after their perfect game, we discover that:

* The team’s whose pitcher threw the perfect game compiled a record of 88-106-1, a .454 winning percentage, in the ten games after the perfect game (for Addie Joss‘ October 2, 1908 perfect game, the Indians played five more games to end the season).

* Only seven of the 20 teams had a winning record (6-4 or better) after the perfect game.

* Of the last six perfect games (all since 2000), each of the teams whose pitcher threw the perfect game finished under .500 in their next 10 games.

Here’s a look at the teams that had the best post-perfect game 10-game records:

Record, Team (Perfect Game pitcher, Date)

8-2 New York Yankees (David Wells, May 17, 1998)

8-2 Cincinnati Reds (Tom Browning, September 16, 1988)

7-3 New York Yankees (David Cone, July 18, 1999)

7-3 Los Angeles Dodgers (Sandy Koufax, September 9, 1965)

7-3 Providence (Monte Ward, June 17, 1880)

6-4 Boston (Cy Young, May 5, 1904)

6-4 Philadelphia (Jim Bunning, June 21, 1964)

Here are the three teams with the worst records in the 10 games following a perfect game.

Record, Team (Perfect Game pitcher, Date)

1-9 Montreal (Dennis Martinez, July 28, 1991)

2-8 Oakland (Catfish Hunter, May 8, 1968)

2-8 Worcester (Lee Richmond, June 12, 1880)

Teams that were the victim of a perfect game have actually fared better in the 10 games following the perfect game. Teams that were the victims of a perfect game won 100 and lost 94 in the 10 games (a .515 winning percentage) after the perfect game (the Chicago White Sox played four games to finish the season after Joss’ perfect game). Nine of the 20 went on to have a winning record in the next 10 games following the perfecto tossed against them. Most recently, the Tampa Bay Rays went 8-2 after being on the losing end of Dallas Braden’s May 9, 2010 perfect game.

Of the two teams this year who were victim to a perfect game, Seattle and Houston, both went 4-6 after that historic game.

Follow Jerry on twitter @StatsonTapp

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