Felix Hernandez and the Diminishing Return of Perfect Games

In case you haven’t heard about it, Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game yesterday; only the 23rd perfecto in MLB history. It’s a big deal for a guy who’s been one of the best pitchers in the game for a while and probably will be for another decade or so.

Felix Hernandez throws the (yawn) third perfect game of this season.

But here’s the curious thing: In more than a century of MLB pitching, the perfect game has only happened 23 times and three of them have been in the last four months (Phillip Humber in April and Matt Cain in June). On top of that, there have been nine total no-hitters since the 2010 season started and at least one every year since 2007. Can we really keep getting excited about these things? Have we gotten to a point where teams will start scheduling Throw a Perfect Game Night for the first 1,000 fans every time the Rays come to town?

It’s unfortunate that King Felix’s crowing achievement comes so close to some similar ones, because the forest is going to drown out the trees on this one. One perfect game is a dot, two is a line and three is a trend and it just happened that Hernandez threw the third one this year. Undoubtedly today you will start to see a ton of talking sports heads start throwing out suggestions about why so many pitchers are throwing perfect games.

You’ll hear things like, “Now that batters aren’t doping, pitchers are dominating.” Which is ironic, because I know a ton of Giants fans who can testify that batters are still doping. It’s going to get to a point where the conversation nears the point of dissecting the “perfect game problem” and coming up with ways to fix it. But the truth is that it doesn’t matter what hitters put into their bodies, it’s still almost impossible to get 27 of them out in a row.

As for the crazy number of perfect games this year? It’s still only three. If we’re going to spread out 23 of them across all of baseball, some of them are just bound to be near each other. For these three, I’m willing to chalk it up to normal distribution.

Felix Hernandez is an insanely good pitcher who is going to do a lot of impressive things in his career. It doesn’t matter what team it came against or how many pitchers did the same thing this season, this month, or even in that particular game; we should all be floored that he did it.