At 3:12 PM local time on May 09, 2010, Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics retired Gabe Kapler to finish off only the 19th perfect game in major league history, defeating the Tampa Bay Rays. Braden struck out six batters in the process and only required 109 pitches to record the 27 consecutive outs.
As for the other 21 outs, seven of them came on ground balls, ten on fly balls, and four on line drives. The A’s outfield defense was certainly kept busy, as left fielder Eric Patterson made four plays, center fielder Rajai Davis made four, and right fielder Ryan Sweeney made one more. The infield of C Landon Powell, 1B Daric Barton, 2B Adam Rosales, SS Cliff Pennington, and 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff combined, between ground outs and five air outs, to record the other 12 outs. Braden did a great job of keeping the ball in the ballpark, and his fielders were there to make the plays when needed.
How unlikely was this performance? Dallas Braden, over the course of his career, had allowed 6.9 hits per 27 batters, 2.0 walks per 27 batters, and 0.2 reached on errors per 27 batters. Overall, that’s 9.1 runners allowed per 27 batters – his numbers for this season alone are similar. According to a basic binomial distribution, the odds of Braden allowing no runners in 27 batters, as he did on Sunday, are .00001517, or 0.001517%. Braden’s perfect game wasn’t quite one-in-a-million. It was more like 15.2 in a million.
Perhaps this means that Braden has taken a step forward. That would be great news for the Athletics, as the former 24th-round pick has a career 4.62 ERA and a 4.10 career FIP – a useful pitcher, certainly, but not a centerpiece of a rotation. If Braden can continually step up in big ways behind Brett Anderson and Ben Sheets, the Athletics will have the best rotation in a tight AL West, with Sheets, Anderson, Braden, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Justin Duchscherer when healthy.
Finally, myself and the entire FanGraphs team (except for maybe R.J. Anderson) offer a hearty congratulations to Dallas Braden. His accomplishment today will go down in baseball history.