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Sunday, March 14, 2010
It's Pi Day: Here's to Mike Marshall

By Jeremy Lundblad, ESPN Stats & Info

Today is a day to embrace your inner nerd. It was exactly 131 years ago that Albert Einstein was born. Fellow Nobel laureate Bobby Jenks came along 102 years later.

But that’s not why you should be wearing your pocket protector today. March 14 is Pi Day.

Get it? 3.14!

So on this one day, you can have your VORP, your WAR or your BABIP.

I’ll stick with pi.

What better way to celebrate pi than to talk about some players who spend most of their lives standing at the center of a circle. That’s right, pitchers.

Now, pi is not just an irrational constant that serves as the basis for so much that we know about geometry and physics. It’s also a pretty solid ERA.

In fact, there are 24 pitchers with an ERA higher than pi in the Hall of Fame

That leads to an obvious question: Who has the closest ERA to pi in MLB history? It took some decimals, but we have an answer.

Mike Marshall, with an ERA of about 3.141346154, comes closer to pi than anyone. The 1974 Cy Young winner falls around 0.0002465 below pi, just barely closer than Mel Queen, a former Reds and Angels pitcher 1964 to 1972. Queen actually spent the first three seasons of his nine-year career in the outfield.

PITCHERS WITH ERA CLOSEST TO PI
Pi = 3.14159265358979323846264338327950

Years ERA Difference
Mike Marshall 1967-81 3.141346154 ~0.0002465
Mel Queen 1966-72 3.141146279 ~0.0004464
Wally Ritchie 1987-92 3.140712946 -0.0008797
Wayne Granger 1968-76 3.142484342 ~0.0008917
Justin Duchscherer 2001-Pres. 3.142968750 ~0.0013761

There is an active player who just might be zeroing in on pi. A’s pitcher Justin Duchscherer currently stands as the fifth closest to pi in MLB history.

And yes, this post went up on 3.14 at 1:59. That’s no coincidence. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find my protractor.