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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Pearberr
Member
Pearberr

I’m fairly new to this… but FIP is supposed to “Mimic” ERA while providing a better evaluation that is context-neutral, correct?

So how exactly does one have a negative FIP?

Bryz
Guest

Tons of strikeouts with very few/no home runs and walks. Since the formula adds HR and BB while subtracting K, if you have the right mix you can override the constant added to the end, causing a negative FIP.

Like Dave said, FIP isn’t meant to handle pitchers that pitch this well.

Pearberr
Member
Pearberr

OH! I see, the presence of the constant makes this possible.

Makes me curious if anything like this has happened before, haha.

tz
Guest
tz

On a single game scale, it happens all the time with dominant relievers. Craig Kimbrel has already had 102 games with a negative FIP in his young career.

Maybe we should have a new stat for any game with a negative FIP: a “Kimbrel”.

Mr. Jones
Member

Look at Eric Gagne’s splits from his prime. I think I remember reading that he had a negative FIP vs. RHH for an entire season, or something crazy like that.

tz
Guest
tz

You’re right. Gagne in 2003 vs RH batters, over 151 PAs:

http://www.fangraphs.com/statsplits.aspx?playerid=650&position=P&season=2003

His 2003 season was the only time in MLB history that a reliever had 100 more strikeouts than hits allowed (137 vs. 37)

John C
Guest
John C

Forget all of these relievers doing it in pitchers’ parks. Koji Uehara last year, between Aug. 21 and Sept. 13: 11 games, 12 innings pitched. 36 up and 36 down, with 17 K’s. Five of those games in Fenway and one in Yankee.

MattR
Guest
MattR

It didn’t matter which park Gagne was pitching in since no one could hit him.

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