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Home / Sports / No, you're not crazy, there are more no-hitters and no-hit bids in MLB than usual and here's why

No, you're not crazy, there are more no-hitters and no-hit bids in MLB than usual and here's why



Tuesday night, Seattle Mariners left-hander James Paxton threw the sixth no-hitter in franchise history and the third no-hitter in baseball earlier this season . There was only one no-hitter last year. The 2018 season is six weeks old and there were already three no-hitter. Huh.

After Paxton failed to hit the Toronto Blue Jays, Washington right-wing prosecutor Jeremy Hellickson flirted with a perfect game against the San Diego Padres – the Padres were already at the wrong end of a hitter this year – before being imprisoned seventh inning was broken. A no-hitter and a perfect match on the same day would have been something else.

Saying that it feels like someone's going through six innings without a hit would be a bit of an overstatement this season. It happens pretty regularly.

I think it should come as no surprise that there were so many no-hit bids this season. Non-pitchers have only a .248 batting average this year, which is the lowest in baseball since the league hit .245 in 1968, the year before the hill was lowered. I suspect that the average of the league will rise in the summer months, but right now it's hard to score.

There are of course many reasons for this. Strikeouts continue to increase – hit parades hit 22.7 percent this season, setting a new all-time record for the 12th time in the last 13 seasons – and infield shifts are rampant. Damn, there are outfield shifts nowadays.

Makes sense, right? Place defenders where the bat hits the ball most likely. I'm surprised that it took baseball so long to understand it. The shift takes away hits. That's what it does.

The league hits .294 when a ball enters the field this season. That's been .300 for the past two years, though historically it's not uncommon. The league batting average on balls in the game has been sitting in the .290-.300 series for several decades. It is in the lower part of this range in 2018, but when the weather gets warmer again, we will see an uptrend.

So, if balls in the game fall on punches, which can be considered a normal rate, why is the league average so low? Because fewer balls come into play, that's why. Only 67.4 percent of all record appearances end this season with the use of a ball. This is an all time low.

Here, to really get the point home, is the percentage of record appearances that end with a ball in the game of the last 100 years:

  pa-with-balls-in play.jpg

Fewer record appearances end up with a ball in play than ever before.
CBS Sports

You can see the tip of the balls in the game after the hill was lowered in 1968 – that was the point where the hill came down! – But by and large it was a gradual downward trend in the last century. The last seasons were particularly drastic. We went from 72.2 percent in 2010 to 67.4 percent in 2018. Nearly five percentage points less than a decade.

Is the fall in balls at the beginning of the season a rise in no-hitters, or simply the fact that every other day seems to be a serious no-hit bid? Yes, to a degree. Probably a bit, yes, but it is absolutely a factor. Fewer balls in the game mean fewer chances for a base goal. It's pretty easy.

Nine innings without scoring a hit is an anomaly – a tremendous achievement for the pitcher, but it's an anomaly, and that's what makes it fun – and it's possible, if not very likely, that we will to go all season without another no-hitter. The MLB has gone without incident for more than two years and it could happen again.

No-hitter may be an anomaly, but I think all those no-hit bids that we've seen this season – the games where the bowler does not allow his first strike until the seventh or eighth inning – are a symptom of bigger problems.

  1. There are now a lot of strikeouts in baseball and fewer balls are brought into play. 19659019] Many teams build up again and carry weak lists every day.

The Padres are in the middle of a deep rebuilding and currently have the highest penetration rate (27.2 percent) and the third lowest hit rate (226). I think Hellickson's perfect game bid will not be the last time Tuesday night that San Diego will be without a hit this year, and hey, maybe last week's no-hitter will not be the last time they're hit. Fewer balls in the game and bad teams are a great combination for no-hit bids.

No-hitter are a lot of fun, and at this age, where pitchers are kept at strict pitch limits and bullpens are so involved, individual no hits like Paxton or Sean Manaea are really cool. Who does not want to see history? Non-Hitters do not happen all the time. In fact, there are fewer balls in the game and less action on the field than ever before, and in a time of short attention spans, this lack of baseball activity can be bad.

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