Twenty-seven up, 27 down. Again.
Seattle’s Felix Hernandez threw Major League Baseball’s third perfect game of the season Wednesday _ a record _ joining San Francisco’s Matt Cain and the White Sox’s Philip Humber, who also tossed his gem at Safeco Field.
That means six of the 23 perfectos in baseball history have come since 2009. Little wonder this is being called the Decade of the Pitcher.
Still not impressed? It gets better. Hernandez’s gem was the sixth no-hitter this season. One more and major league pitchers will have tied the seven set in 1990 and matched a season later.
There’s only been one year with eight no-hitters. Want to guess? Here’s a hint: Chester Arthur was president.
That season was 1884.
Let’s look at six reasons why pitchers have become so dominant:
TALENT ON THE MOUND:
Headlines these days are more likely going to be made by a Jered Weaver or Johan Santana than a slugger, and rightly so. Pitchers are getting the best of the matchups again. Starting with 1995, the heart of the Steroids Era, the best three years for earned-run average are 2010-2012 _ it’s 4.21 this year, third best, according to STATS LLC. Led by hard-throwing Justin Verlander and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, hurlers have a strikeouts/9 innings ratio over seven (7.09) for the first time since `95, STATS says.
Pitch limits. Cut fastballs. Better training techniques. The trend over the past decade has been to spend on building farm systems and developing pitchers from the draft _ and then protecting those assets. The Mariners have rejected all offers for the 26-year-old Hernandez, when their team has needs in all areas. The Washington Nationals are first in the NL East with a rotation topped by homegrown stars Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. The Giants shelled out big money to retain Cain in early April. Raise your own star rather than pay big bucks for a free agent and a team earns some cost certainty, too. It takes six years of major league service to reach free-agent status. That’s why Tampa Bay locked up Matt Moore at a bargain price for at least five years and as many as eight after just three regular-season outings and two playoff appearances.
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