MLB goes 10 years without a perfect game
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.
- 38 of the 317 no-hitters in MLB history (12%) have come since 2013, the most in any non-overlapping 10-season span in MLB history.
- That includes a record nine last season, six of which came in a wild 40-day span between April and May.
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)