If it seems like someone’s going for a no-hitter every other night this year, you’re not imagining things. Through the season’s first 533 games (through Tuesday night’s games), there were 26 no-hit bids of at least five innings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Marlins ace Josh Johnson has three on his own, taking one into the eighth inning, one into the seventh and one into the sixth. Although Johnson has come close, two other pitchers — Detroit’s Justin Verlander and Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano — have pitched this season’s only no-hitters.
Elias says that the the 26 no-hit bids are the most through 533 games since there were 35 in 1968, the infamous year of the pitcher. You know, when Denny McLain went 31-6, Don Drysdale pitched 58 straight scoreless innings and Bob Gibson recorded a deadball-era-like 1.12 ERA in 305 innings. A fun stat: Gibson went 22-9 with 13 shutouts that year, which means that when he didn’t pitch a shutout he was a .500 pitcher (9-9). The Cardinals’ run totals in his nine losses: 1, 2, 0, 0, 1, 4, 2, 0 and 2. As late as Sept. 2, his ERA was at 0.99, after he pitched a 10-inning, four-hit shutout in a 1-0 win over the Reds. There were five no-hitters in 1968, including a perfect game by Catfish Hunter.
But back to this season. The increase in no-hit bids is one sign of the offensive decline this season. Entering Thursday night’s games, teams were averaging 4.21 runs per game and a .250 batting average. If this continues, the runs per game average would be the lowest since 1992 and the league batting average would be the lowest since 1972, when it was .244. After the jump, check out a chart of the major league runs per game and batting averages back to 1992.
Oh, and in case you were wondering: In 1968 the league averages were 3.42 runs per game and a .237 batting average. Ouch!
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