A record nine no-hitters have been thrown in Major League Baseball games throughout the 2021 season, as of this writing. Yes, you read that correctly. Nine. A perfect baseball number for such a rare feat.
The nine this season include:
- April 9 – Joe Musgrove (San Diego Padres) vs. Texas Rangers
- April 14 – Carlos Rodon (Chicago White Sox) vs. Cleveland Indians
- May 5 – John Means (Baltimore Orioles) vs. Seattle Mariners
- May 7 – Wade Miley (Cincinnati Reds) vs. Baltimore Orioles
- May 18 – Spencer Turnbull (Detroit Tigers) vs. Seattle Mariners
- May 19 – Corey Kluber (New York Yankees) vs. Texas Rangers
- June 24 – Zach Davies, Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin, Craig Kimbrel (Chicago Cubs) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
- August 14 – Tyler Gilbert (Arizona Diamondbacks) vs. San Diego Padres
- September 11 – Corbin Burnes, Josh Hader (Milwaukee Brewers) vs Cleveland Indians
Cleveland was no-hit three times this season (a record), and Texas was on the wrong side of history twice. The Padres have both thrown a no-hitter and been no-hit.
There have even been two seven-inning no-hitters (that don’t count as official no-hitters) by Diamondbacks pitcher Madison Bumgarner and a collective effort by Tampa Bay Rays hurlers.
Ben Verlander, brother of two-time no-hitter thrower Justin Verlander, wrote an article about why there were so many no hitters this season…all the way back on May 23.
Three more nine-inning no hitters have happened since then.
Experts like Ben Verlander would attribute the historical anomaly to a combination of factors.
For example, there is a notion of hitting in professional baseball that the three true outcomes of a plate appearance are the new normal. Home run, walk, or strikeout.
Therefore, if you take into account the rarity of a home run, the commonality of a strikeout, and the walk not being counted as a hit, you have a lot of room for outs. If a great player only gets a hit three times out of 10, then the seven other times leave a 70% chance of an out. It’s a lot of mumbo jumbo.
Point is, the ball is getting put in play a lot less, and when it finally is, 70% of the time (in theory), it’s going to be an out.
Another reason is that pitchers are throwing harder on average. Jacob deGrom’s average changeup speed is 91.4 mph. Imagine a car blazing passed you at 91 mph, and that’s supposed to be the slower car.
Ted Williams often said the hardest thing to do in sports is hit a baseball. That would be like me saying the hardest thing to do in life is eat salt and pepper chips in front of the TV after 9 p.m. Still, he may be right, based on the fact that pitchers like deGrom and the Tigers’ Gregory Soto are coming at you with 98 mph sinkers.
There is also the school of thought that hitters, based on the three true outcomes, are only looking to drive the ball out of the ballpark. Launch angle has become a hot topic in the game. It leads to more strikeouts as mentioned, but also more fly and pop outs.
I feel that regardless of why they are happening more frequently, it’s still super exciting to see a no-hitter. No real baseball fan is ever going to truly be upset by a no-hitter. It’s super exciting! In fact, I’d say it’s damn near perfect.
I’ve never been fortunate enough to see one in-person. But, with the way things are going, I should soon!