Comparing Perfection

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this weekend, chances are that you’ve heard that Phillies ace Roy Halladay threw a perfect game against the Marlins on Saturday. It was the 20th such performance in Major League Baseball history. Remarkably, it was the second this season, the first year in which two perfect games have occurred since 1880. The first of 2010, of course, was Dallas Braden’s perfect game against the Rays on May 9th.

Let’s compare how the two pitchers recorded their 27 consecutive outs:

Braden: 109 pitches, 77 strikes, 6 K, 7 GB, 10 FB (3 IFFB), 4 LD, +.355 WPA
Halladay: 115 pitches, 72 strikes, 11 K, 8 GB, 8 FB (2 IFFB), 0 LD, +.888 WPA

It seems to me that Halladay was unquestionably the more dominant pitcher in his perfect game, which makes sense, given the difference in skill between the two pitchers. Halladay didn’t allow a single line drive and struck out five more batters.

Most remarkably, Halladay performed his perfect game in a situation that nearly required perfection, as the Phillies only managed to plate one run against Marlins ace Josh Johnson. Because of the tight score, Halladay accrued a fantastic +.888 WPA. That mark is the highest for any pitcher since June 26th, 2005, when A.J Burnett and the Florida Marlins defeated the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 1-0.

The point of this post certainly isn’t to belittle Dallas Braden’s perfect game in any way. It was a spectacular achievement and will go down in baseball history as such. Roy Halladay simply increased his own position in the history books with one of the most dominant pitching performances of all time.

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Even more remarkable – three perfect games in 12 months. It’s getting to be downright commonplace.