Over the last few seasons, a question surrounding the MLB was whether or not juiced baseballs were good for the game of baseball. In 2021, it’s widely assumed that the baseballs have been deadened and the stats back that up around the league. For example, the mean batting average in the MLB has dropped .09 points, and average runs per game have dropped .35 runs.
As a result of this, the MLB is seeing an increase in no-hitters. With six already this year, many players and analysts are saying that it is ruining the allure of the no-hitter. Although it is becoming more common this season, the no-hitter is still good for the game of baseball. Thanks to the sheer improbability and today’s advanced analytics, no-hitters, even at this current pace, are great for the game of baseball.
The MLB No-Hitter Needs Some Luck
To really understand how hard it is to complete, let’s dive into it a little more.
Imagine you’re on the pitcher’s mound and you have to get 27 outs before giving up a hit. Even against random people off the couch, that would be nearly impossible. A single lucky bounce or a lucky half swing could be just enough to get down for a base hit. Now, imagine you’re playing against the best the world has to offer. Pretty hard, right?
Sure, the pitchers are the best at their craft as well, but they are at the same level as all the batters they have to face, just like you in that hypothetical situation. In today’s age of sports, advanced analytics dissect absolutely everything that pitchers do. While this does go against batters too, every minute detail is being looked at to get the smallest edge. Pitching tendencies and placement are being looked at like never before. Even with dead baseballs, isn’t that damn impressive?
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Improbability & Rarity of the No-Hitter
Most teams, up to this point in the season, have played around 44 games. There are 2,430 games played overall in the MLB season among all teams (excluding tiebreakers) in a standard 162-game season. Using the same ratio of team games played to total games played, around 660 games have been played so far (at the time of writing). Is six no-hitters over that many games really too common? Sure, it’s more on average than in years past, but that’s still under a one percent chance of it happening.
Baseball is a constant mind game, and unlike any other sport, oftentimes the pitcher is on their own. If they misplace a single pitch or throw a pitch that the batter guesses, the entire no-hit bid is shot. Sure, it’s “easier” to do now, but does that make it any less impressive? If you could do something that had only been done on 311 occasions since 1875, wouldn’t you be ecstatic?
Defense is King
Some of the most revered teams in sports history had the toughest and meanest defenses in the league. All of them were loved and praised for their defense. Why can’t the same apply to baseball? Sure, it’s a different type of defense, but baseball fans can certainly recall Dewayne Wise’s home run-robbing catch, Odubel Herrera’s stumbling catch at the warning track and Gregory Blanco’s diving catch, among many other plays that helped keep no-hit bids intact.
In a day and age where long home runs and 11-10 games are king, why can’t we appreciate the pitching and defense once in a while? If the MLB becomes all about offense and we drop the glamour of the no-hitter, it’ll be just like Big-12 football. If everyone’s all about the same thing, and only thinking of scoring a ton, after a little bit, it will inevitably become extremely boring.
At the end of the day, the no-hitter, more common or not, is still a beautiful thing for the game of baseball. It takes baseball purists back to the game they love, and it makes fans take a step back and appreciate an all-time performance they just witnessed. In a game often changed and touched too much, no-hitters take us back to baseball’s purest form, one the legends that came before us would be proud of.