Stats & Info: Jim Joyce

Rapid Reactions: Napoli is a Yankee Killer

July, 20, 2010
It should come as no surprise that Angels catcher Mike Napoli homered in their game at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that his career OPS against the Yankees coming into tonight's game was 1.142. That's the highest OPS vs the Yankees in the live-ball era (since 1920) among those with at least 85 PA.

The Baltimore Orioles put on an impressive offense explosion against Tampa Bay tonight. Especially Luke Scott, Ty Wigginton and Adam Jones who hit back-to-back-to-back HR in the bottom of the second inning. It ties a record for the most consecutive HR for the Orioles in a game (done 6 times previously).The most recent occurrence before Tuesday: September 5, 1995 vs the California Angels (Jeff Manto, Mark Smith and Brady Anderson did the trick). Even more notable from September 5, 1995 for the Orioles? Cal Ripken tied Lou Gehrig's streak for consecutive games played at 2,130.

But the most notable and impressive trend that has continued on Tuesday night so far? Armando Galarraga struggled once again, which is nothing new since his memorable shutout and near-perfect game of the Cleveland Indians on June 2. Since that "Jim Joyce Game", Galarraga is 1-2 with a 5.61 ERA in his six starts.

While it didn't go down in the books as a perfecto, Galarraga may be suffering from the same curse that is affecting those pitchers who DID pitch perfect games the last two seasons. Mark Buehrle was 10-3 last season when he twirled his gem on July 23, 2009, and since then he is just 4-9. Roy Halladay is 3-5 since his perfect game on May 29 and has dropped his last three starts. And then there's Dallas Braden who is 0-5 since his history-making effort on May 9.

Braden is pitching against the Boston Red Sox later tonight as he hopes to end this strange curse.

FanGraphs: Galarraga's historic efficiency

June, 3, 2010
Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers came within one poor umpire's call of the 21st perfect game in major league history Wednesday night. It's hard to imagine that anyone -- including the offending umpire, Jim Joyce -- feels good about it. Moreover, it's hard to believe that nothing -- be it an overruling from the commissioner's office or expansion of the league's use of replay -- will come from this unfortunate incident.

But Galarraga's performance represents another, slightly less obvious accomplishment.

In an alternate baseball world, where pure evil does not momentarily possess Jim Joyce and force him to thwart all our hopes and dreams, Galarraga pitches a perfect game in a mere 83 pitches.

Though we don't have pitch counts for the earliest three perfectionists -- Lee Richmond (1880), John Montgomery Ward (also 1880), and Cy Young (1904) -- the 17 most recent performances are accounted for via Baseball Reference (via Retrosheet). Of those, only Addie Joss' effort of 100-plus years ago was completed in fewer pitches (74) than Galarraga's would-be perfecto Wednesday night.

Here's the list of perfect games, from fewest to most pitches thrown:

In the majors this season, the average plate appearance lasts 3.85 pitches. Of 148 qualified pitchers, Anaheim Angels pitcher Jered Weaver throws the most per plate appearance (4.27); Minnesota Twins pitcher Nick Blackburn, the least (3.30).

The average plate appearance in Galarraga's pseudo-perfecto? A mere 3.07.

Of course, much of Galarraga's efficiency is attributable to his lack of strikeouts. Besides Joss' performance -- which, it needs to be said, occurred when the leaguewide strikeout rate was 3.7 K/9 (as opposed to 7.1 K/9 this year) -- Galarraga's three strikeouts is the lowest mark in perfect-game history.

It goes without saying that a perfect game requires a great deal of luck. The "average" perfect game still sees the pitcher allow about 18 balls in play. Considering that a ball in play generally has about a 30 percent chance of falling for a hit, the chances of 18 consecutive balls in play being fielded cleanly comes to 0.7^18, or 0.16 percent.

And that's just for a pitcher striking out a full third of the batters he faces. For Galarraga and his three strikeouts, the odds were even lower: 0.7^24, or 0.02 percent. That's 1 in 5000. And that figure still doesn't account for the absence of walks, hit by pitches, errors, etc.

As for the odds that such an improbably efficient and lucky perfect-game bid would be ruined on the very last play of the game by a bad call?

Unfortunately for Armando Galarraga, they were 100 percent Wednesday night.

Carson Cistulli is a writer for FanGraphs.