Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton became the second Canadian-born pitcher to throw a no-hitter last week, when he dominated the Blue Jays in Toronto during the M’s 5-0 win. Just a few days prior to that, four Dodgers pitchers combined to keep the San Diego Padres out of the hit column in a 4-0 victory. Those two no-hitters, combined with the one from Oakland A’s lefty Sean Manaea back in April, mean we’ve seen three no-hitters in the first six weeks of the season. There were a combined two no-hitters over the course of the last two full seasons. The last time we saw three no-hitters by the second week of May was 1969 — Bill Stoneman (Montreal Expos), Jim Mahoney (Cincinnati Reds) and Don Wilson (Houston Astros).
Furthermore, Dave Sheinin of The Washington Post, took a deeper dive into the statistics and if you had the feeling that more pitchers are going deeper into games with no-hit bids than ever before, well, you’re not exactly wrong. According to Sheinin, there have been 20 games this season in which a pitcher has taken a no-hitter into the seventh inning, which rates out as one of the highest percentages we’ve ever seen, as Sheinin explains.
“….one every 27.6 games, a rate not seen since 1968 — the fabled “Year of the Pitcher,” in which Bob Gibson won the National League ERA title with a 1.12, Carl Yastrzemski won the American League batting title at .301, and MLB responded by lowering the mound in a bid to boost offense.”
That’s right, the last time we saw this kind of dominance on the pitching mound league-wide, the league responded by dropping the height of the mound in an attempt to generate more offense. As Sheinin further explains, the trend of the game’s high-strikeout, high-power hitters tends to have a lot to do with the uptick in no-hit bids.
“It isn’t difficult to see what is behind the trend: Hitters are striking out this year at a rate of 22.7 percent of all plate appearances, the highest in history and the 18th straight year with an increase. Meantime, the leaguewide batting average of .245 (down 10 points from 2017 and 26 points from 1999) is at a 46-year low. April 2018 was the first month in baseball history in which strikeouts exceeded hits, and May is on its way to being second.”
On the topic of power hitters, the New York Yankees have quite the collection of high-strikeout, high-home-run-total guys. In the first six weeks, the Bombers also tied a little bit of history, due to their prodigious power-hitting trio of Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton with one surprise guest. For more on the Bombers and other stories from the past week in baseball, check out the video above.