Appreciating Francisco Liriano’s No-Hitter

You have probably heard that Francisco Liriano threw a no-hitter last night. You may have also heard that he posted the lowest Game Score of any no-hitter in history, or that his xFIP for the game was 5.96 (yes, seriously). Essentially, as soon as the game ended, the “Liriano Throws a No-Hitter” headlines were replaced by “Reasons Why Liriano’s No-Hitter Wasn’t Very Impressive.” The guy’s 15 minutes of fame didn’t even last 15 seconds before his accomplishment was overcome by a wave of explanations on why it was more of an historic fluke than a spectacular pitching performance.

While I understand the sentiments of my fellow writers, and agree that it’s worth pointing out that Liriano’s no-hitter was, err, unconventional, I also think we shouldn’t overlook the obvious — Francisco Liriano threw a no-hitter.

This has happened just 268 times in Major League history. Ninety-nine percent of pitchers who have appeared in the big leagues retired without ever throwing one. There’s a reason that everyone rushes the mound when it happens — it is still a pretty special moment for the pitcher, his teammates, and everyone in attendance.

Around here, we talk about the predictive usefulness of statistics a lot. We like numbers that let us know what is likely to happen in the future, and for many of us part of the fun of following the sport is trying to figure out the future. We eschew things like ERA because it doesn’t measure what people think it does, and we look for better metrics than batting average to help draw more reasonable conclusions about a hitter’s skills. As we’ve seen, this type of analysis can prove more accurate and lead to better conclusions.

That said, there’s still plenty of room at the table for things that are not predictive. Baseball is full of interesting, fun events that have no bearing on the future outcomes of a player or a team. Jason Marquis just outdueled Tim Lincecum the other night — that won’t happen often, but it doesn’t make it any less notable that it did. Do we scoff at inside-the-park home runs? Almost all of them involve an outfielder falling down or a ball taking a weird bounce, but they’re tremendously fun to watch, even if no one thinks there’s any real skill being exhibited there.

Liriano walked six guys and only struck out two. That’s not impressive, and if I were a Twins fan I’d still be pretty concerned about what’s wrong with my team’s best pitcher. If you were asking me to evaluate whether Liriano was going to throw another no-hitter in his next start, his BB and K numbers would certainly be relevant. But, for one night, Liriano got 27 outs and didn’t allow an official base hit.

It’s okay that it was a fluke; all no hitters are a fluke. No one has a true talent .000 BABIP. Sure, this one might have been marginally more flukey than others, but we shouldn’t fight for the right to be the first to discredit his performance. He did something that few other pitchers in the sport’s history have ever done, and he’ll remember this for the rest of his life. So will we, most likely.

That’s good enough for me. Congratulations, Francisco Liriano — you threw a no-hitter, and that’s a special accomplishment, even if it has no predictive ability whatsoever.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

132 Responses to “Appreciating Francisco Liriano’s No-Hitter”

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  1. jaywrong says:

    well said.

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  2. Boomer says:

    Admit it. You were going to take the opposing view of the no-hitter coverage, no matter what, right?

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    • descender says:

      Admit it. You were going to complain no matter what Dave wrote, right?

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    • Mac says:

      While arguing for the sake of arguing isn’t always a great stance, in this instance I feel it’s justified. News media likes to create a common narrative and the majority of sports writers pen different versions of the same story. Thanks to blogs such as Fangraphs, we get to read stories that break the mold.

      So if Dave chose this time to break the mold for the sake of breaking the mold, I say more power to him. It serves a purpose, whereas picking a fight just to pick a fight is pointless.

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      • Nat Haniel says:

        He didn’t break any mold. He simply conceded that baseball isn’t all about stats, and can’t be fully explained by stats. And frankly, I’m shocked that Cameron is the one who wrote this.

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  3. Otter says:

    Agree and thanks for writing this. Even if he wasn’t “very good” last night, Liriano still did it. Even if the White Sox stink right now, Liriano still had to get them out. I don’t watch baseball for who ‘should’ throw no-hitters or who ‘should’ win the World Series… I watch the game for moments like last night… totally random, where the hell did that come from?, moments. I feel like baseball fans, specifically on the Internet, have gotten away from this and some how being right about a game in which randomness plays a larger roll in outcomes and events than almost any other game and most walks of life.

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  4. mw says:

    Good article. Speaking of non-predictive, strictly-for-fun stats, does anoyone know what the max number of batters faced for a 9 inning no hitter is? I think Liriano faced 30. Just curious.

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    • Kyle says:

      Well it would just be 27 + walks, right? which he threw six of, which is 33 hitters. And some dude threw 9 walks in a no hitter once, so maybe 36?

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        Well walks plus errors minus double plays. Or something.

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      • dustygator says:

        Hit batsmen and errors count too.

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      • Matt says:

        as do pickoffs and runners caught stealing/thrown out trying to advance

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      • adam says:

        Can you be thrown out advancing in a no-hitter situation? I guess if an error results in the runner reaching first but then you get thrown out at third or home? That would be something. If you talk about that, you gotta talk about triple plays, too. So it’s:

        27 + walks + errors + HBP – GIDP – 2*TP – baserunning outs

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      • Gomez says:

        That dude would be AJ Burnett, who issued 9 walks in his no-no back on 5/12/2001. But he’s one-upped by Jim Maloney, who issued 10 walks in his ten inning 8/19/1965 no-no, the only regular season extra inning no-hitter on record. And yes, Maloney’s 40 batters faced are the most of any no-hitter.

        The most batters faced among regulation 9 inning no-hitters is a tie at 36 between Dock Ellis (his infamous LSD no hitter on 6/12/1970) and Burnett’s aforementioned no hitter.

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      • Luke in MN says:

        Thank you Gomez.

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    • Dustin says:

      Infinity. He could go along walking batters until his arm fell off and as long as he got through 9 innings he would have a no hitter.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        He asked is not could.

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      • Telo says:

        Yea, the interesting number is how many without a run scoring. Which I’m guessing is 27+27 (bases loaded every inning) without actually thinking about the loopholes or whatifs….

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      • joe says:

        It’s 27 +45 as you can allow a max of 5 baserunners an inning without scoring

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      • Al Dimond says:

        @joe: If you allow 5 baserunners in an inning but not giving up a run you have to erase two of them with a triple-play. You’re still only facing 6 batters per inning.

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  5. Crpls says:

    This may seriously be stat nerds most embarrassing non-fan moment. I hope all networks go back to only talking about AVG, RBI, W and L!

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  6. Kyle says:

    You Guys are like the Hipsters of sports writers. Like things that ‘other’ people don’t understand. Re-like things when people start to dislike them.

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  7. Jay says:

    Liriano sucked last night. The fact that the Sox didn’t get any hits is pure fluke. I’ll not let anyone stuff a narrative down my throat – not even on FG!

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  8. DavidCEisen says:

    I’m not impressed. This no hitter was more than just ‘marginally’ more fluke-y than most other no-hitters.

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    • Telo says:

      Just pat Dave on the back and say “Thanks for reminding us that No-hitters are rare, and jeez, you’re right – we should just lay off the poor guy for throwing a well below average 9 inning game and walking away with basically the most coveted personal accomplishment a pitcher can attain in baseball, and not dissect and analyze this 6th sigma event. I mean, this is baseball. What kind of losers sit around all day and enjoy doing that?”

      Thanks, Dave. You da man.

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  9. Scott says:

    I think my reaction to a lot of things stems from watching baseball tonight too much. Where every result is insanely overemphasized and dramatized. So I’m just more skeptical of baseball results because of this I guess…. 10 games into the year the mets are the worst team in baseball history, 10 games later they are the best team in baseball…etc. I love watching the highlights, I should just learn to mute it.

    I dont argue he was the pitcher of record last night, and what resulted can never be taken away from the guy. Its just the fact is, he really wasn’t that good.

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  10. Barkey Walker says:

    I don’t know, enjoying the game for what it is, sounds fishy.

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  11. mike wants wins says:

    I remember when Milton threw his and the national media ridiculed it for being against a bad hitting team. Some anti-MN bias? I don’t think I’ve ever played that card before, as I think it is silly, but this is two MN no hitters in a row that have been called out as not impressive. Would that ever happen to a Yankee, Red Sock (ha), or Dodger pitcher, let alone two in a row?

    No hitters involve luck. No hitters involve skill. No hitters should be enjoyed and celebrated. The pitcher should be congratulated.

    Can we not analyze them? Of course we can analyze them. But they all involve some luck. They all involve some skill. They all depend on the team as a whole, not just the pitcher. They are a lot like wins that way, except a lot more rare.

    That rarity should be relished, not ridiculed with mean spirited commentary.

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    • Ari Collins says:

      I think everyone notes the quality of competition for a no-hitter, though. The last two no-hitters for Boston (my hometeam), for instance, came against the Orioles and Royals, and it was certainly mentioned plenty. I remember people also using Buchholz’s no-hitter to bring up how 25% of no-hitters come in September against weaker competition from expanded rosters. Didn’t bother me none. The difference between a September no-no against the Os and a July no-no against the Yankees is a real difference, but it’s impressive no matter whom it’s against.

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    • Joe P. says:

      AJ Burnett’s wild no-hitter was rightly discussed, the fact that Armando Galarraga’s robbed perfect-game didn’t portend an ascent to greatness was discussed, and so on and so forth. I don’t think that’s mean-spirited and it underestimates baseball fans’/writers’ ability to walk and chew gum at the same time. “No hitters are neat, but here’s what this one means.”

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      • mike wants wins says:

        No hitters don’t mean anything, do they?

        And, as someone that doesn’t live where you live, perhaps I did not see th coverage of other no hitters after the immediate excitement.

        Like I said, I don’t generally buy the “bias” thing (other than the obvious big market bias that is totally rational).

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      • Joe P. says:

        Sorry, “Here’s how this pitcher performed and what it says about his season moving forward”, if you prefer. I was not reading Sabermetric blogs in 2001 – nor do I know to what extent they were proliferate – but my recollection is that the discussion of Burnett’s wildness was immediate. Burnett did K 9 batters, so perhaps the discussion of the, uh, lack of impressiveness for this one has been pronounced for that reason. A quick Google search brings up similar conversations about Edwin Jackson’s no-hitter.

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      • mike wants wins says:

        No, I’m agreeing with you. I don’t think No hitters mean anything in predicting the future for a pitcher, anymore than win does….except maybe 1 thing.

        Some of these guys throw waaaaay more pitches than they are used to. That might be an issue or not.

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  12. bob says:

    to say Liriano “sucked” last night is ridiculous. Yes as far as no-hitters go it was subpar, but he still pitched a CG shutout. If he had allowed 1 hit instead of 0 would people be complaining about how lucky he got and how much he sucked? Its not like the White Sox were crushing line drives all over the place

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    • Joe P. says:

      I don’t know that anyone is complaining, but I do think people would still rightly point out that Liriano is still struggling despite the result. He may not have “sucked”, but he also did not pitch particularly well. That’s worth mentioning given the context of Liriano’s season to this point.

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  13. Ameer says:

    As baseball fans, can we not appreciate this no-hitter for the pure fact that it WAS so unlikely? It was bad, but it was fun! Every time someone hit a line drive, including Adam Dunn on the last out, it was hilarious to see someone make a great play to keep it going. Every time Liriano walked someone, I had to laugh when the next Sox batter grounded into a double play. Can we not have fun with these things?

    Also, did anyone else find it ironic that he was facing Edwin Jackson? After Liriano had a no-hitter through 3, I actually thought to myself, “Holy crap, Liriano could actually out-Edwin Jackson Edwin Jackson! How ridiculous would that be?” And then he went on to do it.

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  14. Joe P. says:

    I think it’s possible to appreciate that a no-hitter happened and also to acknowledge that of those 268 no-hitters, this one was of the least impressive. I didn’t get the impression that people were out to denigrate Liriano; I think people rightly discussed that, hey, this particular no-hitter happened in spite of a not-so-great outing. I think it was also important – for some audiences – for writers to go beyond the surface to point out that this formerly-great, currently-struggling pitcher isn’t fixed because he achieved this rare feat.

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  15. W2BTD says:

    Not a single ball left the IF after the 5th inning. Hitters were off balance all night, as Liriano forced pop up after pop up, and double play ball after double play ball. Aside from the Dunn liner, I only recall one other well struck ball, which was the gaper that Spann ran down in the 5th.

    Be honest – how many of you being critical here didn’t watch the game, aside from maybe the final inning? Stats don’t always tell the story. That was a well pitched game.

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    • knucka11 says:

      Agree, I watched the whole game and do not remember any truly extraordinary plays. Span’s running catch to end the 5th was a play 95% of centerfielders should make. Valencia’s play behind the bag to get Quentin was a nice play but nothing spectacular. Morneau’s scoop in the 9th was only extraordinary because he’s struggled so mightily on defense this year, before July 6, 2010, he makes that pick 85% of the time and no one is any different, but I will agree it saved the no-hitter because the official scorer would have almost assuredly ruled it a hit to end the no-hit bid because the game was in Chicago.

      Other than that every play was basically a routine groundball and the occasional pop up, which I find incredibly impressive because most no-hitters have a DeWayne Wise-type saving play.

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      • Mr. Perspective says:

        But you must remember, this is the Twins defense. So, anytime they actually get someone out it’s a great play!

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      • CptSpandex says:

        Are you kidding? Valencia’s play behind the bag to fire across the field from the chalk line wasn’t impressive? That ball was a hit, until Danny snared it.

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    • kick me in the GO NATS says:

      I would call it a poorly hit game.

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    • Bryz says:

      Not fully true, there was a pop out to shallow left field that Matt Tolbert grabbed with Rene Tosoni basically riding piggyback in the 7th inning. (in other words, Tosoni called for it but Tolbert didn’t back off).

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    • Suffering Twins Fan says:

      Having also watched the entire game, I have to basically agree with the first two posts (excepting the “no balls to the outfield” comment, as was pointed out.)

      It also seems that Liriano finds a way to confound the saberheads, (though I really do love this site,) regardless of how he pitches. Last year, when he would put up dominating saber numbers, but the results weren’t so great, one got the impression that this site considered him just unfortunate. While, most who actually watched him pitch regularly (and cheered for the Twins) were very frustrated with his meltdowns under pressure, his tendency to throw very hittable pitches at the wrong times, and the number of pitches it took him to get outs.

      So, last night, he goes into the ninth inning only throwing 93 pitches, had extremely few balls that good contact was made on, pitched out of an ugly first half of the 4th inning (when he would have melted down many times last year), got ground balls when he needed them, and gutted out the ninth inning. And all we’re basically hearing is how lucky he was. Go figure.

      Was it dominating? no. Was it spectacular? no. Does it give me a ton of confidence in Frankie going forward? no. Was it better than many of his outings last year? yes. Were there numerous steps in the right direction? yes. Was it a darn good pitching performance? yes.

      Was Liriano significantly more fortunate in his no-hitter than 80% of the others thrown? Probably not. Were the Twins particularly fortunate to win that game 1-0? Not from where I was watching the game.

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  16. Romyrick says:

    I agree totally with what you are saying, as someone who just traded John Danks and Casey McGehee for Bud Norris, Liriano and Mike Adams a week ago, I appreciate positive Liriano posts. If only to aggravate my fellow fantasy friend.

    A little perspective from a typical fangraphs reader. Stats does more than promote accuracy for the sport. There’s a certain Qaulia of experiencing the game through the lens of sabermetrics. This Qualia allows me to not only experience the game as it is happening but also to experience the game of predicting future outcomes. I get to watch the game which lasts roughly 2.5/3 hours but most importantly I get to think about it in those precious moments when I’ve nothing else to do but day dream at work or those times where I can sneak into Fangraphs and read the newest Dave Cameron column.

    There is a problem of overanalysis, and moreso a problem of misappropriating statistics but really is there any harm done?

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  17. LionoftheSenate says:

    Stat geeks take the fun out of baseball. Face it, this performance can be supported by data….you stat geeks just dont collect the right measures yet….your measures and tools are VERY limited…..being able to measure something in baseball is the EXCEPTION…it is rare.

    Stat geeks were unable to explain how this happened, therefore they are dismissing it.

    Try enjoying talent once and awhile.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Agreed.

      Isn’t it the flukey, unsustainable, “lucky”, etc type of baseball events that make it exciting?

      How fun would it be if we just said “yeah, that’s supposed to happen.” after every game/series?

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    • yep says:

      yeah, its ridiculous people focus on stupid things like stats! I mean come on, instead of counting how many walks a person allows you should instead count how many hits he doesn’t…

      Anyway, by “enjoying talent” you do mean the talent of the fielding team behind him, right? That is of course the main reason he saw this “achievement”, and I think we are all appreciating them here.

      In reality, Liriano can only really claim 100% personal success on a measly 2 of the 27 outs – the rest of the team gets a lot (to even most) of the credit for the 25 others; we are just making sure they get the credit they deserving for doing all the heavy lifting for the guy on the mound…

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Yeah, the pitcher has no influence on batting results other than K’s.

        Ever see one of those batting charts that shows Batting average by pitch location?

        Seems like a pitcher can influence probability simply by where they throw the ball.

        Ever seen batting stats based on count?

        Seems like a pitcher can greatly influence probability by being ahead in the count.

        Either due to Liriano, the ChiSox batters, or a combination of both, there wasn’t a lot of solid contact in that game. That’s not just luck.

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      • Al Dimond says:

        Everyone’s seen a chart of batting average by pitch location and batting stats based on count. What we’d need to see is BABIP and HR/FB based on pitch location. That’s most of what’s not covered in xFIP.

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      • yep says:

        did you purposely ignore, or just fail to comprehend, the sentence?

        “Liriano can only really claim 100% personal success on a measly 2 of the 27 outs – the rest of the team gets a lot (to even most) of the credit for the 25 others”

        Anyway, put a team comprised of guys like Dunn / Castillo / Betancourt / E5 / Hawpe / McClouth / Abreu behind him, and we’ll see how many hits he surrenders with such a large percentage of balls in play…

        That said, it should also be noted that his wildness helped tremendously on his way to stumbling into this feat. Had he not allowed so many baserunners, the team wouldn’t have been able to get so many DPs – it could have been the difference of 3 more balls in play, lowering the likelihood he escaped it the way he did even more…

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      • Suffering Twins Fan says:

        And I will take those 25 outs every time he pitches, regardless of who gets the credit. (What a narrow view of the game – jeesh!)

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    • Ree says:

      Then don’t listen to the stat geeks. Simple as that.

      Though really, this performance can be supported by data…that data is called luck which oh so happens to be one of the major points of sabermetrics. Indirectly measured, but looked at nonetheless.

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  18. Pierre says:

    Someone posted on Dave’s chat that maybe the low strikeout total was fluky. Like maybe if he makes the same pitches next time he gets 10 Ks. I thought it was a good point.

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    • knucka11 says:

      That is a valid point that I didn’t think of and one of the beauties of baseball, what if some of those weak grounders were another quarter inch off the bat? Suddenly we’re not talking about how crappy this no-hitter was and his 5.64 xFIP, we’re looking at a 10K, 6BB (or less) no-hitter, which not great, but is significantly more impressive to most people

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    • Garrett says:

      What was his swinging strike rate?

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      • DD says:

        Garrett: Here you go, courtesy of Buster Olney -

        Liriano adjusted to the White Sox as the game went on. The White Sox swung at just 34.1 percent of Liriano’s pitches, the lowest percentage against the Twins left-hander over the last three seasons. In innings 1-3, Liriano threw just 38.7 percent of his pitches in the strike zone. That number increased to 43.6 in innings 4-6 and 48.6 in innings 7-9.

        • The White Sox did not hit the ball out of the infield in the last four innings, as Liriano threw 59.6 percent of his pitches down in that span, compared to 46.5 in the first five innings.

        • Twenty-one of Liriano’s 26 changeups were low. He got five outs with his changeup in the last four innings (including a double play), and none left the infield.

        • Liriano had six innings of 12 pitches or less. It’s even more impressive considering that he threw first-pitch balls to 19 of the 30 hitters he faced.

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  19. MV says:

    Winning the lottery is also rare. Your point?

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    • BIP says:

      Exactly. Just because an event is rare doesn’t mean it should be more impressive. There have been almost 2,200 shutouts by pitchers who did not allow a walk, hit batter, or wild pitch, but as a cause for celebrating an individual player’s skill, I’ll take those over most no-hitters any day.

      Similarly, there have only been 223 cycles, but over 3,300 10+ total base games by hitters. Restricting the list to one hit of each type doesn’t do anything for me but rob three thousand hitters of recognition for a great achievement. Even if you up the total base minimum to 13, there have still been fewer cycles hit, yet the value difference between those games is ridiculous.

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      • Jason B says:

        Why would (shutouts in which a pitcher allows a hitter, walk, or wild pitch) be preferable to “most no hitters”? Because they’re more common, they’re somehow preferable?

        Look, we all get that a no-hitter gets a lot of attention because its a rare occurence. And we get that the one-game sample is not a true indicator of anyone’s talent. But let’s not say silly things like “yeah, I’ll take that 7-hit, 4-walk shutout over that no hitter any day!” to further these points that we all readily agree upon anyway.

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  20. Ryan says:

    Tim Hudson’s line from Oct 3rd 2010 was pretty cool.

    7 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 H, 2 HR, 3 SO, 1 BB, 1 HBP, .014 WPA, .000 BABIP,

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  21. Garrett says:

    No hitters are only useful in that its really hard to allow runs without hits. His no hitter is as awesome historically as any other shutout.

    Congrats. Another “great” DC article.

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  22. CircleChange11 says:

    Edwin Jackson agrees.

    Do I even need to look up the comments about whether Jackson’s no-hitter should be appreciated or not?

    A no hitter is a no hitter …. it’s like the ugliest Ms. America. One of the had to be the ugliest … but even then, she’s pretty hot.

    Tom Browning threw a no hitter once. It’s still a no hitter.

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    • yep says:

      Let’s put it in contrast to something else that is pretty rare…

      Say you’re going full court for a freethrow line dunk only to stumble, struggle on the launch, throw the ball against the rim before slamming your hand down on it as well, watch the ball fly pop straight back up in the air for a second, come down and roll around on the rim for a moment, then fall in.

      Is it special, or is it a bit of a haphazard event which happened to work out okay in the end? Should it be held to the same level of praise as someone like Mike or Clyde? Should it even make a Dunk highlight real?

      Or should it just be generally overlooked as not much of an example of the feat?

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  23. Matt C says:

    Not to be one of “those people” but I wonder if this was a saberfriendly less pitcher that did this like say Matt Cain or god forbid Carlos Silva if this article would’ve been written.

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    • joe says:

      This…..

      If this was a 23 flyball no hitter by Cain it would be a different article and people here talking about how it shouldn’t have happened.

      It’s the same thing with trades or FA contracts. The quality of the move is colored by the GM.

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  24. Alanzo B. Pasquelli says:

    I guess we’ll all ignore the fact that Liriano got spared another 4 or 5 pitches because of a bogus, horrible tag-out call late in the game.

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  25. Jim says:

    “Admit it. You were going to complain no matter what Dave wrote, right?”

    No, if he agreed that the no-hitter was a joke, I would agree.

    But he chose to take a weak contrarian stance, as usual.

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  26. Jim says:

    Congratulations on throwing 53% strikes in your “no-hitter” Francisco. I wonder what would’ve happened if you were around the plate more.

    Great accomplishment though, very rare!

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  27. Jim says:

    By the way, I had/am having plenty of FUN trashing this “no-hitter”. Who says my enjoyment of baseball has to be something positive?

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  28. mike wants wins says:

    See, these comments aren’t about analyzing the predictive nature of his peformance at all. There are just a lot of mean spirited, snarky comments. Some are snarky toward Liriano, and some toward the author.

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  29. CircleChange11 says:

    What I was getting at is that a few hitters seemed to get jammed, producing weak contact.

    The exception would be Alexie who seems to jan himself a lot these days.

    It was not a thing of beauty, but he did keep the ball in the park and won a 1-0 game. I’m not saying he was not fortunate, or that White Sox don’t swing nerd bats these days, etc.

    But other pitchers that threw a shutout while issuing 6 walks with 2 K’s might get labels like “resilient” or “bulldog” or a “battler”. We shouldn’t really view the feat as a joke because I didn’t see him getting hit all over the ballpark.

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  30. Dan says:

    Probably already said: a little credit to the oft-forgotten defense.

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  31. Chris says:

    Someone up there said something about baseball hipsters… they nailed it.

    I mean cmon, no one is saying the guy sucked, but it was a decent pitching performance at best. What’s the point of using stats like XFIP if we’re just gonna turn it off when we feel like “enjoying” something.

    No, I don’t think that watching a guy who has no control luckbox his way to a no-hitter is enjoyable, if anything, I think grouping a performance like this in with no hitters where guys pitched their asses off devalues the whole thing… I guess that makes me a stuffy stat nerd.

    I can deal with that.

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    • CptSpandex says:

      It wasn’t luck, you moron! Just because he walked a few guys, he was any more or less lucky than other pitchers that throw no hitters? You’re a tool.

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      • phoenix2042 says:

        um it was absolutely luck. he walks 6 and struck out 2 and had enormous trouble throwing strikes. he started 19 of 30 PA with ball one. he got hugely lucky, both that his defense came through for him and that he was able to jam guys on pitches they should have hit.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        All no hitters are absolutely luck.

        Isn’t that the understood part of it?

        If it wasn’t primarily luck, then they’d happen much more frequently.

        If pitchers could make no hitters happen more often, they absolutely would. They don’t allow hits just to make things interesting or out of empathy.

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  32. mike wants wins says:

    So there should be different types of no hitters? different types of homeruns (does a HR that is knocked over the fence by the fielder count less in either enjoyment or statistics, what about shots to RF in Yankee stadium, do those only count as outs or doubles)? different types of walks (like if the ump just sucks that night?)? different types of hits? different types of throws (like, if Casilla makes a crappy throw and Morneau digs it out)? different types of strikeouts (like if the ump is being generous that night)? How about day/night/hot/cold/raining/clear skies, if one of those is easier on the pitcher, and he throws a no hitter that day, is that less valuable somehow to enjoy?

    You know, now that I’ve typed that….
    I actually stopped watching baseball during the height of the Glavine era. I could NOT watch him get strikes 6 inches off the plate (or whatever it was) called strikes, while the opposing pitcher did not get those calls. I hate it when hitters get calls they shouldn’t because they’ve “earned” them. Now, maybe for some of you, you view this accomplishment the same way. But I still don’t get the kind of meanness to some of the posts.

    And, some people have said Liriano kind of sucked last night.

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  33. Bob R. says:

    What was the game score for Edwin Jackson’s no-hitter? He gave up 8 walks, 7 in the first 3 innings and threw 149 pitches with 53% strikes. He also threw a wild pitch and hit a batter, and one man got on via an error. He faced 36 batters as he managed to get no double plays. The Rays were 2 for 3 in stolen bases which probably does not count against him but may have resulted from his inability to hold runners close.

    He did get 6 strikeouts which probably made his effort more impressive. The Rays hit into only 2 line drive outs, 8 non line drive fly outs and 11 ground outs.

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  34. jpg says:

    The White Sox and their approach at the plate are a joke right now. I watched just about every pitch and Liriano was falling behind in the count to almost every hitter 1-0 or 2-0 or at least it felt that way. The Chi Sox could have easily walked 10 times in the game. The ultimate example was the 9th inning. After Liriano issued a one-out walk to super slugger Juan Pierre, Alexei Ramirez came to the plate and naturally swings at a 58 foot change-up on the 1st pitch. Seriously Alexei, your team is down a run, the guy on the mound just finished walking his sixth batter of the night, a batter with about as much pop as Betty White no less, and you swing at a first-pitch change-up that Patrick Ewing wouldn’t have reached if he was crouching in front of the plate? They have too many guys with no baseball IQ whatsoever. Watching guys like Quentin, Ramirez and Beckham swinging at everything is beyond painful and I’m not even a White Sox fan. Even Adam Dunn, who has good on-base skills swung at ball four twice before lining out to end the game. I guess you could say I agree with KickMeInTheGoNats in that I was more appalled by the Sox offensive performance than I was impressed by Liriano’s pitching.

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  35. pinball1973 says:

    As several others have said: well played.

    The stat-obsessed have done baseball and its fans a huge service in their investigation of the game, but it is exactly at these moments that make it seem that too many of them have entirely lost track of the fact that it’s a GAME for most of us fans, not a job or a business, and that odd-no-hitters, hit streaks, inside-the-park HRs, etc. are a bigger part of the entertainment on any one day than Fip or WAR.

    Of course, if they get their ([snark] I sometimes suspect pachinko-ball-sized) rocks off by staring at their predictive stats, that’s their business. Some people jerk off to the telephone book, no doubt.

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  36. Chris says:

    We get it, you enjoy sub par pitching performances, that’s fine, in an ood sort of way.

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    • Suffering Twins Fan says:

      Sub par? What golf course are you playing on?

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      • Chris says:

        Yea, i get it, he happened not to give up any hits… good for him. he still walked 6 batters in 9 innings, while striking out only 2. He got bailed out by a Whitesox team that came into the game 4th worst in OBP in the AL…

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  37. Chris says:

    I mea, read JPG’s post, that’s a perfect description of how the game went yesterday. Seeing a team underperform at that level is tough to watch… But hey, I guess i’m “ruining it” by pointing out the obvious.

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    • Smallball says:

      Hey Chris, just stop talking already.

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      • Chris says:

        Look, I’m happy you “purists” or “traditionalists” or whatever the hell you dopes like to be called these days found a post on fangraphs you can rally behind… I would appreciate it if you would retire to somewhere private with a box of tissues, however, and leave the rest of us alone.

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    • Suffering Twins Fan says:

      Anybody want to chip in on what percentage of no-hitters come against teams that finish over .500? My guess is that it is rather low.

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  38. Nathaniel Dawson says:

    Not only do no pitchers have a true talent level .000 BABIP, none of them also have a true talent level of zero percent HR/FB or HR/LD ratio, either.

    I trust that there were many Twins fans watching last night that didn’t care that his pitching performance wasn’t all that impressive but simply enjoyed his achievement for the wonderful moment that a no-hitter is.

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  39. MikeS says:

    As I said somewhere else, It was only a matter of time with the current state of the White Sox “offense.” Liriano was just lucky to be there when they were a little worse than usual.

    It’s still an accomplishment, but it’s not like he dominated a great lineup.

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    • CptSpandex says:

      Yes, the White Sox suck. No denying that. But only a fool would say that Liriano held them to no hits last night because he was lucky. How many other no-hitters do you think were done against lineups in which much of the lineup came into the game hitting the ball well?

      Come on!

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  40. Texas_Dawg says:

    I have a friend who once hit a hole in one by hitting a screaming liner into a trap, where the ball hit a rake, shot out sideways, drilled the flagstick, and fell straight down into the hole.

    That’s what Liriano did last night.

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    • Smallball says:

      I’d rather hear that story than if he hit a regular hole in one.

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      • Texas_Dawg says:

        Yeah, and so does he.

        The rest of his friends want to puke when the fact he has a hole in one is mentioned.

        But he can say, “Hey, scorecard, losers…” to which we say, “Congrats… dumbass.”

        So, anyway… congrats, Francisco.

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  41. CircleChange11 says:

    No hitters against over .500 teams?

    The Rays screw up the data.

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  42. kyle says:

    9 players that are payed millions to hit a baseball were kept from hitting the ball hard 27 times. a no-hitter is a no-hitter, get over it

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  43. CircleChange11 says:

    I can’t be the only one that felt appreciation instead of outrage about Halladay’s perfect game despite Hanley being rung up on what was clearly ball 4.

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  44. Daniel Andrews says:

    Liriano may be struggling, but he pitched this game correctly. He’s still not inducing swinging strikes on his fastballs and his release points have 2 clusters, but he didn’t give the sox much to hit. The Sox were looking for fastball strikes and didn’t find many they could hit well. Liriano threw fastballs 52% of the time and he did induce popups, flyouts, and weak grounders for the most part from pitches relatively high or low in the strikezone. He also induced 15% swinging strikes from his offspeed pitches, mainly his changeup.

    xFIP with a game size sample size is a useless measure to begin with and it will be high if there are little or no strikeouts. If anything, Liriano has a new out pitch with his changeup. If he’s not hanging sliders or grooving fastballs he’s going to be unhittable.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Max Scherzer has a new out pitch with HIS changeup. Holy crap.

      When guys throwing mid/upper 90s start dropping in changeups with excellent movement and location, it really is “game over”. There really is just no realistic way for hitters to adjust … throw in the movement and you need an oar just for a chance to make contact.

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  45. Antonio Bananas says:

    See a lot of ESPN hate on here. We should do ESPN hate statistics for the anchors. Like that one late night anchor who will ALWAYS say “she’s a fine one that number nine” or some shit, or “engine engine number nine” EVERY time for the 9th. Or he’ll say “everybody funny, now you actin funny too”. Swear at least every other episode I hear that.

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  46. rrk says:

    In addition to the no-hit aspect, I heard that this was Liriano’s first complete game at any level of baseball.

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  47. Matty Brown says:

    It continues to fascinate me how many Internet citizens read these articles and peruse this site just to mindlessly criticize Sabermetrics.

    (or maybe they just copy and paste their mindless cynicism from a master list found at FOX Sports)

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  48. noseeum says:

    I’m a little late to this party, but doesn’t Liriano’s performance show a significant problem with using FIP when calculating WAR?

    As you allude to in the article, there are predictive stats and descriptive stats. I’ve brought this up a ton of times, but to me, WAR should be a descriptive stat. It’s meant to describe how much a player contributed to his team’s success, not how much we think he’ll contribute in the future.

    Liriano’s FIP for this game is almost 5. I assume that’s below replacement level, or at least very close. So a guy pitches a complete game, no hit shutout, and it contributes negatively to his WAR for the season? Doesn’t that sound pretty ridiculous?

    The same applies the other way. Fangraphs overrated Liriano’s season last year because his FIP was so much better than his ERA. Sure, he showed skills last year, but the opposing team still scored a run more per game than his FIP would have predicted, and those runs impacted the Twins’ ability to win those games.

    I think Fangraphs needs to revisit its WAR calculation, as right now, it leans to heavily on the predictive rather than the descriptive.

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