Mike Fiers Records Baseball’s 300th No-Hitter (Besides the 31 They Took Away)

Via:  bob-nelson  •  last year  •  24 comments

Mike Fiers Records Baseball’s 300th No-Hitter (Besides the 31 They Took Away)
Taking a look back at the history of a delightfully random feat that has rewarded some unlikely players — Fiers included — while leaving out some legends.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


After waiting out a 98-minute technical delay and firing an outrageous 131 pitches on Tuesday night, Mike Fiers of the Oakland Athletics was at a loss to explain his efforts in throwing the first no-hitter of the 2019 season.

“Amazing. That’s really all I can really say,” Fiers told reporters at Oakland Coliseum after beating the Cincinnati Reds, 2-0 . “Things like this just happen.”

They just happen, apparently, to Fiers. A journeyman right-hander with a 4.11 career earned run average, he threw the second no-hitter of his career and the 300th in major league history. Not bad for a guy who has allowed an average of 8.7 hits per nine innings pitched over nine seasons.


How unlikely was Fiers’s feat? When working on “The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers” with Rob Neyer, the statistician Bill James developed a formula for predicting the likelihood that a pitcher would throw a no-hitter in his career. By James’s method — which takes into account career innings, career hits allowed and career starts — Fiers could reasonably have expected to have thrown 0.11 no-hitters by now. While he beat the odds (again), several others found themselves on the other side of no-hitter fate. Pitchers like Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez and Don Sutton never accomplished the feat despite being among the hardest to hit in history.

With the no-hitter tally reaching 300, here is a look back at some facts and figures around one of the most celebrated (and quirky) feats in sports.


The First No-Hitter

The first official no-hitter came on July 15, 1876, when George Bradley of the St. Louis Brown Stockings beat the Hartford Dark Blues , 2-0. Bradley was an excellent candidate for a no-hitter that season, as he led the National League in E.R.A. and shutouts and had the fewest hits allowed per nine innings. He was 45-19, completing 63 of his 64 starts.

In his next start, Bradley was perfect through seven innings and held his opponents hitless into the ninth, but ended up allowing two hits and a run in the victory, ending a then-record streak of 39 scoreless innings.


The Ryan Express

No one is more synonymous with no-hitters than Nolan Ryan, who hurled seven of them in an outrageous 28-year career. He threw his first on May 15, 1973 , and his seventh on May 1, 1991 , coming up just two weeks short of 18 years between them. Ryan also holds the major league records for one-hitters (12), two-hitters (17) and three-hitters (28).

Considering his longevity and his major league records for strikeouts (5,714) and for fewest hits allowed per nine innings (6.6), it should come as no surprise that by the James method of predicting no-hitters Ryan comes out on top with an expected 2.715 for his career. That he never threw a perfect game is also not surprising, as he is the career leader in walks, with 2,795.

King Ryan’s Court

Beyond Ryan and Fiers, there are 24 pitchers with two or more no-hitters. Sandy Koufax had four, Bob Feller had three and the list of players with two includes both obvious candidates, like Justin Verlander, Warren Spahn and Randy Johnson, as well as less likely ones, such as Homer Bailey, Steve Busby and Bill Stoneman. Even Ryan can’t match the feat of Johnny Vander Meer, though, as the Cincinnati Reds star fired no-hitters in back-to-back starts in 1938.


The Best No-Hitter …

According to game score, a statistic that attempts to show a pitcher’s dominance by rewarding outs and strikeouts and punishing runs, hits and walks, the most dominant no-hitter belongs to Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals. He struck out 17 batters in a no-hitter against the Mets on Oct. 3, 2015 , taking advantage of a team in the second game of a doubleheader on the season’s second-to-last day. The only Met to reach base was Kevin Plawecki, who got there via throwing error in the sixth inning.

Scherzer’s game score of 104 topped the 102 put up by Clayton Kershaw in a 2014 no-hitter and the 101 that was recorded in four no-hitters, including Matt Cain’s perfect game in 2012 . In a quirk of the statistic, the most dominant pitching effort ever was not in a no-hitter: Kerry Wood received a score of 105 for his 20-strikeout one-hitter in 1998 .

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… and the Worst No-Hitter

Using the same method, the least dominant no-hitter came courtesy of Ed Lafitte of the Brooklyn Tip-Tops. In a 6-2 win over the Kansas City Packers in the old Federal League, Lafitte walked seven batters, struck out just one and allowed two unearned runs to score for a game score of 77. Francisco Liriano of the Minnesota Twins came close to matching Lafitte’s weak-but-hitless outing in 2011 when he walked six and struck out just two while no-hitting the Chicago White Sox , which received a game score of 83.

A.J. Burnett of the Florida Marlins walked nine batters, hit one and threw a wild pitch in a fantastically wild no-hitter against the San Diego Padres in 2001, but his game score was a relatively robust 85 thanks to his seven strikeouts.


The Curious Case of the Missing No-Hitters

In 1991, Major League Baseball changed the definition of a no-hitter, requiring that pitchers finish at least nine innings of work in a complete game, thus wiping out 31 games that had previously been deemed worthy, according to Baseball Reference.

It was a devastating blow to the Perez family, with both Pascual and Melido having rain-shortened no-hitters expunged from the record books, but it helped take away some ignominy from Andy Hawkins of the Yankees, who managed to allow no hits in a loss on July 1, 1990 , but did so as a visiting pitcher over eight innings. With his no-hitter erased, and two eight-inning no-hitters after 1991 not counting, the only official no-hitter that ended in a loss belongs to Ken Johnson of the Houston Colt .45s, who had a pair of errors behind him lead to a run in the top of the ninth inning of a 1-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds in 1964.

Initial image: On Tuesday, Mike Fiers of the Oakland Athletics threw the second no-hitter of his career and the 300th in major league history. Stan Szeto/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Benjamin Hoffman is a senior staff editor and regular contributor to the Keeping Score column in sports. He joined The Times in 2005.


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Bob Nelson
1  seeder  Bob Nelson    last year

I like history. I like baseball.

What could be better than baseball history??

Sparty On
2  Sparty On    last year

One of the worst ever:

I was watching this game.   This wasn't just a no-no, it was a perfect game.    It was awful but more importantly was how the ump and pitcher handled it.

No tantrum from the Galarraga, and a full admission of a screw up of monumental proportions by the ump.

The next game Joyce was behind the plate and Galaragga brought the lineup to him as a form a forgiveness.   It was classy as hell.

Joyce will take that mistake to his grave ..... no doubt about it.

2.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  Sparty On @2    last year

The announcers called it a travesty, and a travesty it was.  The runner was clearly out.  Galarraga was a class act.

Sparty On
2.1.1  Sparty On  replied to  sandy-2021492 @2.1    last year

Yeah, really Joyce was as well.   Umps rarely admit mistakes in the MLB. 

He admitted he messed up bad and you could tell he still feels like shit to this day.

This was the single biggest catalyst for including replay in the MLB.   This one incident.

A blown call on a perfect game.   Easily resolved via instant replay.  

Absolute no brainer!

Bob Nelson
2.2  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Sparty On @2    last year

That is really sad...

2.3  Tacos!  replied to  Sparty On @2    last year

They should go back and fix this. It would change nothing important like wins or losses, but it would give a great achievement the respect it deserves.

Sparty On
2.3.1  Sparty On  replied to  Tacos! @2.3    last year

There was talk they were going to but it had to happen after that prick Selig was gone.   Lost track if MLB ever did it though.

I hope they did.

Bob Nelson
2.3.2  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Sparty On @2.3.1    last year

Today, with instant replay, the incident would not occur. The film is limpid. It shouldn't be hard to rectify.

Sparty On
2.3.3  Sparty On  replied to  Bob Nelson @2.3.2    last year

Lol i agree but it's rarely that easy with MLB.   I swear the only sport crazier with their rules is golf.

When "tradition" gets involved, all reason and common sense goes straight out the door unfortunately.

3  Kavika     last year

Had season tickets to the Angels when Nolan Ryan was pitching for them.

Nothing was more fun they going to a game that Nolan was pitching, you just never knew what the heck was going to happen. 


3.1  Tacos!  replied to  Kavika @3    last year

I lived too far away (plus we was poor) to go to the games, but I listened to Angel games on the radio most nights in those days. You could tell everyone watching - announcers (Dick Enberg), fans, and batters - were just awe-struck by the smoke this guy was throwing. I think in spite of all the no-nos and Ks, he's still vastly underrated by the causal fan.

I think there are a few reasons. For one thing, he played in less glamorous markets - Anaheim, Houston, Arlington. Also, he has all of 7 postseason starts, which isn't exactly his fault.

But another reason, I suspect, is our sense of pitching velocity. Pitch speed is measured differently than it was when Ryan was playing. In his day, the radar was aimed at home plate. Today they get the speed as it leaves the pitcher's hand. The ball slows down over that distance and the difference in velocity is significant. If Ryan were pitching today, his pitch speed would be measured at up to 108 mph. Nobody throws anywhere near that hard.

3.1.1  Kavika   replied to  Tacos! @3.1    last year

Basically the speed that he threw and his occasional wildness scared the hell out of batters...LOL...100 MPH fastball they sails behind your head can do that to you.

I lived in Long Beach and the season tickets were our corporations. I got my fair share of them and every time that Ryan pitched I was there.  

Living in LB also allowed me to see a lot of Dodger games as well. I loved to watch Sandy, Don and Phil the vulture when they were in their prime.

Sparty On
3.1.2  Sparty On  replied to  Kavika @3.1.1    last year

Never saw 100 but I did bat against a few 80+ guys.   My eyes weren’t nearly good enough to deal with even that for good average

That was enough to scare the shit out of you.    Especially if they were wild.

I can’t even imagine 100+

Sean Treacy
4  Sean Treacy    last year

I was at the Andy Hawkins no-hitter.

It was a no hitter then, it was a no hitter now.

firing an outrageous 131 pitches on Tuesday night

It's really only outrageous because managers have lost their minds, hiding behind arbitrary numbers rather taking responsibility and using their discretion.  At 42, Nolan Ryan could still throw 160 in a game. 

Sparty On
4.1  Sparty On  replied to  Sean Treacy @4    last year

Nolan Ryan didn't make 30+ Mill a year.   Hell he probably never made 30 mil total in his entire career.

Pitch count protects their investment .... or so i'm told.

But i agree, todays pitch count is candy-assed BS

4.1.1  MonsterMash  replied to  Sparty On @4.1    last year

Ryan's career earnings were $ 25.7 million. He played for 27 years with just two 20 win seasons

Bob Nelson
4.1.2  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  MonsterMash @4.1.1    last year

In 1990 dollars, that's not bad...

Sparty On
4.1.3  Sparty On  replied to  Bob Nelson @4.1.2    last year

Not really.  

As a simple, conservative calculation, if we average his annual earnings that’s about 963,000 a year.   A quick inflation calculation makes that about 1.9 mil in 2019 dollars.

The top pitchers today make 39-29 mil a year.    You gotta drop deep to get 1.9.    Like a hundred pitchers down the salary list.

Bob Nelson
4.1.4  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Sparty On @4.1.3    last year

True. OTOH, I'd be happy to get 1.9 mil per year...

Sparty On
4.1.5  Sparty On  replied to  Bob Nelson @4.1.4    last year

Lol, true but i’d be more than satisfied with the 963k ......

4.1.6  MonsterMash  replied to  Sparty On @4.1.5    last year

The average salary for a professional baseball player this year is $4.47 million. If you were making 963k you would bitch about being under paid.

Sparty On
4.1.7  Sparty On  replied to  MonsterMash @4.1.6    last year

No I wouldn’t, since i’m not a pro baseball player .....

4.1.8  MonsterMash  replied to  Sparty On @4.1.7    last year

Well I guess you would suck playing major league ball so 963K would be a great salary for you. Then again there are major league ball players that earn over $ 1M a year and suck. I don't get how a pitcher with an lifetime era well over 4.25 and no better than a 40% winning average manages to make over $ 5M a year 

Sparty On
4.1.9  Sparty On  replied to  MonsterMash @4.1.8    last year

I would suck if i was a MLB player but as noted, since i'm not, the 963k still works just fine.

I don't get how a pitcher with an lifetime era well over 4.25 and no better than a 40% winning average manages to make over $ 5M a year 

Because people keep going to games, buying $10 beers and $6 dollar shriveled up hotdogs.   Not mention where the real money is at, watching them on TV and listening on radio.   I'm guilty this time.   I do all of that   I did my protest last time.   After the1994 strike and it meant squat.   Didn't watch or listen to a ballgame for nearly ten years.  

I was clearly one of the few who protested then and the way things turned out .... a lot of good it did.


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