Clayton Kershaw and the Imperfect Game

While I know it has been a little while now, I still wanted to do a bit of analysis and digging into Clayton Kershaw’s no-hitter back on June 18th.

So, for those of you who were under a rock at that time, here was his plain and simple stat line: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 15 K. The only batter to reach base was on a Hanley Ramirez error.

Now, the first thing I want to look into is Bill James’s Game Score metric.

I’ll have to check Retrosheet for this, but only after calculating Kershaw’s manually.

50 + 27 (outs) + 2 * 5 (innings after 4th) + 15 (K) – 2 * 0 (hits) – 4 * 0 (ER) – 2 * 0 (UER) – 0 (W) = 102

Now to check Retrosheet for some historical scores.

     IP, O,
     R, ER,
     K, H, BB,
     (50 + O + (CASE WHEN FLOOR(IP) > 4 THEN (2 * (FLOOR(IP) - 4)) ELSE 0 END) + K - (2 * H) - (4 * ER) - (2 * (R - ER)) - BB) AS GameScore
          SUM(EVENT_OUTS_CT)/3 AS IP,
          SUM(EVENT_OUTS_CT) AS O,
          SUM(IF(BAT_FATE_ID>3,1,0)) AS R,
          SUM(IF(BAT_FATE_ID IN (4,6),1,0)) AS ER,
          SUM(IF(EVENT_CD = 3,1,0)) AS K,
          SUM(IF(EVENT_CD IN (20,21,22,23),1,0)) AS H,
          SUM(IF(EVENT_CD IN (14,15),1,0)) AS BB
) a
INNER JOIN retrosheet.rosters r ON r.PLAYER_ID = a.PIT_ID
ORDER BY GameScore desc


This is definitely starting to look less like a regular no-hitter, and more like one of the all time pitching performances.

Kershaw’s no-hitter has the highest Game Score for any 9 inning no-hitter, and is 2nd overall for any 9 inning outing only to Kerry Wood’s 20 K, 1 hitter.

In addition, it would be tied for 29th overall Game Score since 1950.

PIT195507190Vern Law18.000054211292118
LAA196406060Dean Chance14.000042001232116
BAL196209120Tom Cheney16.0000481121104115
NYN196510022Chris Short15.000045001893114
SFN196307020Juan Marichal16.000048001084112
NY1195505010Johnny Antonelli16.000048111165112
CIN196709010Gaylord Perry16.0000480012102112
NYN196510022Rob Gardner15.00004500752112
BAL195909112Jerry Walker16.00004800463111
SFN196605260Juan Marichal14.000042001061109
CHA195408130Jack Harshman16.000048001297109
MLN195905260Harvey Haddix12.66673810811107
WS1195904220Whitey Ford14.000042001577106
SLA195309050Bob Turley12.000036001434106
LAN197405010Tom Seaver12.000036111632106
CIN196506140Jim Maloney11.000033111821106
CHN199805060Kerry Wood9.000027002010105
CAL197509220Frank Tanana13.000039001363105
NYN196908190Juan Marichal13.333340111361104
CLE196708100Stan Williams13.000039111453104
CAL197608270Frank Tanana13.000039001372104
SLN195004300Harry Brecheen13.00003900851104
MLN196505050Wade Blasingame14.000042111256104
CHA195109072Virgil Trucks14.00004210754103
SLN198908300Jose DeLeon11.00003300810103
CHA195107130Mickey McDermott17.00005122989103
PIT196506291Sammy Ellis14.000042111047103
OAK197107090Rudy May12.000036001336103
CIN196409300Jim Maloney11.000033001332102
TEX197207140Mike Paul11.000033001030101
TEX199105010Nolan Ryan9.000027001602101
BSN195206140Warren Spahn15.0000453318102101
HOU196707240Mike Cuellar11.000033101222101
TEX199008171Nolan Ryan10.000030001530101
CHA195408130Al Aber15.33334611893101
SFN201206130Matt Cain9.000027001400101
LAN196509090Sandy Koufax9.000027001400101

Now, additionally, while it isn’t as good of a metric for individual games, Kershaw’s FIP was literally off the charts, and better than any perfect game in history.

((13 * 0(HR)) + (3 * (0(BB) + 0(HBP))) – (2*15(K)))/9(IP) + 3.104(constant) = -0.24

Other than that, we can also check out his FB/GB/LD/PU numbers to see how they fare/how lucky he got.

FB/(H+(O-K)+ERR) AS FBPct,
GB/(H+(O-K)+ERR) AS GBPct,
LD/(H+(O-K)+ERR) AS LDPct,
PU/(H+(O-K)+ERR) AS PUPct,
(CASE WHEN (H + BB + HBP + ERR = 0) AND (IP >= 9) THEN 1 ELSE 0 END) AS Perf


As it turns out, his GB% of 69.23% is only worse than 2 perfect games (Dennis Martinez with 77.27% in 1991 and Mike Witt with 76.47% in 1984).

SFN201206130Matt Cain9270014001010.46150.46150.00000.07691
LAN196509090Sandy Koufax9270014001010.61540.23080.07690.07691
ATL200405180Randy Johnson9270013001000.42860.50000.07140.00001
SEA201208150Felix Hernandez927001200990.33330.53330.13330.00001
FLO201005290Roy Halladay927001100980.25000.50000.12500.12501
NYA199805170David Wells927001100980.31250.37500.00000.31251
CLE198105150Len Barker927001100980.43750.56250.00000.00001
OAK196805080Jim Hunter927001100980.56250.43750.00000.00001
NYN196406211Jim Bunning927001000970.35290.35290.05880.23531
TEX198409300Mike Witt927001000970.23530.76470.00000.00001
NYA199907180David Cone927001000970.52940.23530.00000.23531
SEA201204210Philip Humber92700900960.27780.27780.16670.27781
TEX199407280Kenny Rogers92700800950.42110.36840.05260.15791
CIN198809160Tom Browning92700700940.40000.50000.00000.10001
NYA195610080Don Larsen92700700940.35000.30000.20000.15001
OAK201005090Dallas Braden92700600930.28570.33330.23810.14291
CHA200907230Mark Buehrle92700600930.28570.52380.09520.09521
LAN199107280Dennis Martinez92700500920.18180.77270.00000.04551

So, while Kershaw will not get a perfect game in the record books, he can be content knowing he had one of the most dominant pitching performances of all time

doyler on Githubdoyler on Twitter
Ray Doyle is an avid pentester/security enthusiast/beer connoisseur who has worked in IT for almost 16 years now. From building machines and the software on them, to breaking into them and tearing it all down; he's done it all. To show for it, he has obtained an OSCP, eCPPT, eWPT, eWPTX, eMAPT, Security+, ICAgile CP, ITIL v3 Foundation, and even a sabermetrics certification!

He currently serves as a Senior Penetration Testing Consultant for Secureworks. His previous position was a Senior Penetration Tester for a major financial institution.

When he's not figuring out what cert to get next (currently GXPN) or side project to work on, he enjoys playing video games, traveling, and watching sports.

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