Tag Archives: Perfect game

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.

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Philip Humber: Is a ‘perfect game’ curse haunting him?

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

Philip Humber

Philip Humber (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chicago White Sox pitcher Philip Humber gets his eighth start of the season and sixth since his perfect game tonight at home against the Minnesota Twins. Since his perfect game on April 21 in Seattle, Humber has an 0-2 record with three no decisions and an ERA of 7.86 (more on that ERA in a second). He may be thinking that the perfect game was more of a curse than a blessing considering his performance since that game.

There may be something to this “Perfect Game Curse,” at least for some of those pitchers. Of the 17 pitchers who threw a perfect game in the last 100 years (since 1912) their record in the next start was 5-8 with four no decisions. Also, we can make a case that there might be a “White Sox Perfect Game Curse” when you look at Humber and Mark Buehrle‘s post-perfect game starts (see numbers below).

While Humber became the 19th pitcher in modern baseball history to throw a perfect game, his ERA in the next five starts among those other perfect game brethren is at the bottom of the list. Humber’s 7.86 ERA in his next five starts after the perfect game is the highest of any perfect game pitcher.

Following are the perfect game pitchers who had the best ERA in the five starts after their perfect game. (Note: Game stats were not available for Cy Young (May 5, 1904) and Addie Joss (October 2, 1908) to evaluate their first five starts after their perfect games so they are not included in this research.)

ERA in five starts after Perfect Game, Player (Date of Perfect Game)

1.54 Sandy Koufax (September 9, 1965)

2.63 Jim Bunning (June 21, 1964)

2.85 Len Barker (May 15, 1981)

3.00 Roy Halladay (May 29, 2010)

3.18 Mike Witt (September 30, 1984)

3.41 Tom Browning (September 16, 1988)

3.45 David Cone (July 18, 1999)

3.45 Randy Johnson (May 18, 2004)

4.00 David Wells (May 17, 1998)

4.09 Dennis Martinez (July 28, 1991)

4.15 Charlie Robertson (April 30, 1922)

4.45 Dallas Braden (May 9, 2010)

5.51 Catfish Hunter (May 8, 1968)

5.85 Mark Buehrle (July 23, 2009)

6.41 Kenny Rogers (July 28, 1994)

7.11 Don Larsen (October 8, 1956)

7.86 Philip Humber (April 21, 2012)

In taking a look at the last 17 pitchers to throw a perfect game (from Robertson to Humber) and their won-lost records in the first five starts after their “perfecto,” these pitchers won 30 games and lost 35 (with one tie) and 19 no decisions. Only two pitchers, Browning and Johnson, were undefeated in their next five starts after their perfect game. Here’s a look at the records of each perfect game pitcher after that historic performance.

Record, Pitchers

5-0: Johnson

4-0: Browning

4-1: Wells

3-1: Koufax

2-2-1: Hunter

2-2: Robertson, Bunning, Barker

2-3: Halladay

1-3: Witt, Martinez, Cone

1-4: Rogers

0-1: Larsen

0-2: Humber

0-3 Buehrle, Braden

Did you know? In the five starts following his perfect game, Koufax threw three shutouts. In the five starts after his perfect game, Barker had four complete games.

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