Why are they Perfect?
It’s been very interesting scanning the blogosphere today reading the reactions to Matt Cain’s Perfect Game last night.
The general consensus has been: great game by Cain (maybe one of the most dominate ever), let’s not take anything away from him, BUT….. something is amiss.
Cain’s perfecto was the 5th in the last 3 years (6th if you include Armando Galarraga’s game). Because the number is so high relative to historical president, it has people searching for answers to explain why it is happening. I’ve read a number of theory’s today.
–Increased K rates among hitters league wide over the past 5 years: There is no doubt that strikeouts have increased, and that can help explain why scoring is down as a whole across baseball, but I don’t think you can apply that statistical trend to a single game. In fact, in the previous 4 perfect games, the K totals were 6,6,7, and 7; well below Cain’s 14 last night.
–Best athletes moving to other sports(football, basketball): There is little doubt that baseball is losing some of the sports talent in this country to other sports, but it has been offset in part by the recruiting of talent from other countries. I think a better comment would be that there is an overall dilution of talent if for no other reason than there is more teams in the league (30 now compared to 16 in 1960).
–Smaller parks/Bigger Parks: I’ve read that both are the cause. Personally I discount any talk of park effect. Just like K rates, we aren’t looking for overall sweeping trends in HR’s or Runs Scored, these are single games.
–Scouting: This theory I actually like. It wasn’t just luck that Gregor Blanco was playing a left-handed hitter off the line and over toward the right-center field alley. Every pitched and hit ball is tracked today. We know everything about every hitter and every pitcher. And it’s only through scouting that Blanco was in a position to make that great catch.
Maybe some or all of these theories play a part in the increased Perfect Games, or maybe we are just in a period of statistical oddity, I don’t know.
What I do know is that I was watching the last 3 innings of the game, I jumped off the couch when Blanco made that great catch (yes, I literally jumped off the couch), and I was on the edge of my seat in the ninth inning hoping that Cain could get those last three outs.
Congrats Matt Cain!!