Aug 8, 2022 - Sports

MLB goes 10 years without a perfect game

Data: Baseball Almanac and MLB; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Félix Hernández threw MLB's 23rd perfect game 10 years ago this month. There hasn't been another one since.

Why it matters: The active 10-season drought is the longest in over four decades (1968–81), and strangely comes on the heels of a historic surge, with six perfectos in four years and a record three in 2012 alone.

  • 2009–2012: Mark Buehrle (2009), Dallas Braden (2010), Roy Halladay (2010), Philip Humber (2012), Matt Cain (2012), Hernández (2012).
  • 2013–present: Eight pitchers have lost a perfect game in the ninth inning, including three on their final out: Yu Darvish (2013, single), Yusmeiro Petit (2013, single) and Max Scherzer (2015, hit batter).

Between the lines: In addition to all that bad luck, an uptick in walks and hit batters (up a combined 10% over the past decade) has also likely contributed to the drought. Another factor? Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts.

  • Only twice in MLB history has a pitcher been removed in the seventh inning or later with a perfect game still intact.
  • Both have come since 2016, and both were pulled by Roberts: Rich Hill in 2016 and Clayton Kershaw in 2022.

The intrigue: While perfect games have disappeared, no-hitters are more prevalent than ever.

What they're saying: Braves lefty Max Fried summed up just how borderline impossible it is to achieve perfection on the mound, telling NYT:

"Even if you have a lot of strikeouts — like 10, 11, 12 in a game is a lot — that still means that you have about 15 outs in the field that need to get hit right to a guy. And you've got to do it without walking or hitting anyone or having an error happen. ... More than anything, it's almost a team accomplishment."

The big picture: As long as this perfect game drought has felt, it's only the fourth-longest of the modern era (since 1901).

  • 1922–56: 33 seasons
  • 1908–22: 13 seasons
  • 1968–81: 12 seasons

The bottom line: Perfect games have disappeared from baseball, even amid a golden age of no-hitters.

Go deeper: The 23 perfect games (MLB)

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