The Most Perfect Non-Perfect Game

Because Hanley Ramirez sucks at playing defense, baseball will not officially recognize Clayton Kershaw‘s effort tonight as a “perfect game”. But I would like to submit that if this doesn’t qualify as a perfect game, nothing should.

28 batters came to the plate; 15 of them struck out. Of the 13 who managed to put the ball in play, nine of them hit the ball on the ground. One of the four balls hit in the air didn’t leave the infield. His FIP for the game was -0.24, because the model isn’t designed to handle dominance at this level. His xFIP was 0.19.

Here is the full list of nine inning outings with a Game Score of 102 or better, since 1914.

Kerry Wood: 105 (9 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 20 K)
Clayton Kershaw: 102 (9 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 15 K)

That’s it. That’s the entire list.

Clayton Kershaw did not retire every single batter he faced tonight, so technically, he wasn’t perfect. Screw technicalities, though; what Clayton Kershaw just did was far more impressive than going 27-up, 27-down and relying on your defense in order to do it. Clayton Kershaw just threw one of the most dominant performances in the history of baseball.

It might not have been perfect. It was better.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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