Thursday, June 19, 2014

Indeed, Kershaw's no-no may have been the best pitched game EVER

Let me throw some stats out at you.  After Clayton Kershaw's historic no-hitter last night against the Rockies, the talk then turned to just how dominating his start really was.

Turns out, very dominating.  Very, VERY dominating.

Here's a look at how Kershaw's start ranks among the best pitched games ever according to Game Score, with all credit going to ESPN:

Kerry Wood, Cubs, 1998: 105 (1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 20 SO)
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, 2014: 102 (0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 15 SO)
Matt Cain, Giants: 2012: 101 (0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 14 SO)
Nolan Ryan, Rangers, 1991: 101 (0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 16 SO)
Sandy Koufax, Dodgers, 1965: 101 (0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 14 SO)
Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays, 2010: 100 (1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 17 SO)
Randy Johnson, D-backs, 2004: 100 (0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 13 SO)
Curt Schilling, D-backs, 2002: 100 (1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 17 SO)
Nolan Ryan, Angels, 1973: 100 (0 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 17 SO)
Nolan Ryan, Angels, 1972: 100 (1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 16 SO)
Warren Spahn, Braves, 1960: 100 (0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 15 SO)


That was my first reaction after seeing those numbers.  I knew Kershaw was good, but I had no idea just how good this start really was until I saw that.

I remember I was in high school when Kerry Wood absolutely went off on the Astros in 1998 for his 20-K game.  And that Astros team was loaded, too, with Craig Biggio, Derek Bell, Jeff Bagwell, and Moises Alou.  Only an infield hit by little known Ricky Gutierrez prevented the perfect game.

So that leads us to Kershaw on Wednesday night.  While Wood's Game Score was higher at 105, which happens to be the highest of all-time, the thing Kershaw has going for him is that he didn't allow a hit.  In fact, take away a seventh inning error by Hanley Ramirez on a badly thrown ball to first, it would've been a perfect game.  For all intents and purposes, it was a perfect game.

Obviously, even I would have to admit that what Wood did was harder, simply because he had more strikeouts against a much tougher lineup.  About the only guy Kershaw had to really worry about was Troy Tulowitzki, who went 0-for-3 and is still hitting .356, best in baseball.  Plus, for as good as the Rockies hit at home (.330, far and away the best in baseball), they are a lowly .237 away from home.

The bottom line?  Again, Wood gave up a hit, and Kershaw did not.  And THAT is why Kershaw can lay claim to not just the best no-hitter ever, but tossing the BEST game anyone has ever seen.

Ultimately, even advanced stats such as Game Score will never give a definitive answer on who was better than whom.  Baseball fans can weigh all of the factors and judge for themselves.  That's what makes a good old fashion debate on "best ever" fun.

All that matters is that no hits, no walks, and 15 strikeouts has catapulted the two-time Cy Young Award winner into the history books... again. 

At 26 years old, the best might still be yet to come.

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