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Guest column: The No-Walker

Another guest column, this one from regular reader Nate Little, who was looking for an outlet for some of his Mets research. He noted that my "Met nerdery is unparalleled" and when someone says something so nice, I figure, why not offer him the space for his work.


I came across this excerpt from the always-excellent Hardball Times:

"#1 Boston Red Sox (Dartboard Factor = 98, 100): Congratulati[ons] to Clay Buchholz on the no-hitter. It is kind of weird that [we] celebrate so many luck-driven events in baseball. Johan Santana strikes out 17 Rangers and walks none [in] 8 innings, but because he gave up two harmless hits along the way, not many people will remember his performance. Buchholz strikes out only 9, walked 3 and hit a batter. But since he yielded no hits, his day will be much talked about."

This inspired me to propose a new stat: the no-walker. 9 IP, 0R, 0BB, and however many hits may have landed. I wondered how the Mets compare to other franchises in no-walkers. Plus, there'd be some gems of lines, like 9IP, 0R, 0BB, 10H (okay, that exact line didn't actually come up). I'll note the Game Score of each outing and look at occasions of former/ex-Mets. All stats from Baseball-Reference.com's Play Index, and thus only applicable from 1957 until the present day (complete on the Mets front, not so much on the historic level).

On to the results:

Best Mets no-walkers (or, the near-perfect games):
2 (and a half) Met no-walkers with only 1 hit allowed:
7/9/69 Tom Seaver v. Cubs, 11Ks, GS 96
8/18/03 Steve Trachsel v. Rockies, 3Ks, GS 88
*7/29/07 John Maine v. Nationals (5IP), 5Ks, GS 70

A gem and two stinkers on the list. Maine's was a rain-shortened 5-inning affair, which doesn't count except that it's still a one-hit, no-walk shutout. As for Trachsel's, well, it's tied with 8 others for the 3rd worst Game Score for a 1H no-walker, behind only Scott Sanderson and Doug Drabek. (note: no pitcher since 1957 has thrown a 1H no-walker without striking out at least one batter).

Seaver's is 8th on the Game Score list of 1H no-walkers, with Kerry Wood's famous 20K one-hitter lapping the field (even more impressive when you remember the lone Houston hit in that game was as clear a 5-hole through-the-wickets no-excuse error on the 3B as you will ever see, as well as the fact that those Astros were a great offensive team [team OPS+ 117]).

Remember also that the Cubs were the Mets' main rivals that championship year. Big game for Mr. Seaver there.
Best when compared by game score:1. Seaver '69 (96)2. Seaver '71 (94)t3. Dwight Gooden '84 (93)t3. Rick Reed '99 (93)

Speaking of big games, let's look at Rick Reed '99. 9IP, 0R, 0BB, 3H, 12K. Did I mention it was the 161st game of the year? A year in which the Mets would need 163 to make the playoffs?

As to the best non-Met no-walkers: obviously, all perfect games in MLB history qualify as no-hit no-walkers. The next tier is the "near" no-hitters available on this link. 0H, 0BB through 9IP, but somebody reached in extra innings.

Relevant to Mets fans: the 6/3/05 game between the Expos and Padres (Moises Alou and Tony Tarasco started at the outfield corners for the 'Spos). Pedro Martinez threw 9 perfect innings in a 0-0 game. The Expos scored a run in the top of the tenth, but Pedro gave up a leadoff double to Bip Roberts (!!??) in the bottom of the inning, and Mel freakin' Rojas relieved him. In a phenomenon unknown to Mets fans, Rojas retired 3 in a row to preserve Pedro's victory.

Side note: there have been 14 complete game starts with 0BB, 1H allowed, but also one run allowed (thus not a no-walker, by my definition). Pedro had the most impressive of these, allowing only a Chili Davis solo shot in the 2nd inning and hitting Chuck Knoblauch to lead off the game against the '99 Yankees (team OPS+ 117), while striking out 17.

Best Mets by Game Score:
Mets compared to other franchises:

Since 1962 there have been 68 one-hit no-walkers in ML history, including all the rain-shortened ones. The Mets have 3, which is one out of about 23, above the expected rate, adjusting for their non-existence from 1957-1961.

However, if you remove the 7 five-or-six inning outings, the Mets have 2 out of 62, well below the expected rate. Still, it's better than the 0% rate they're putting up on no-hitters! The Mets have had 53 no-walkers total (click here for the list of Mets CG Shutouts with no walks), and there have been 1,435 no-walkers since 1962, one out of more than 27, again, less than random variance would predict (roughly 1/27 based on the number of teams in baseball during different eras).
However, when it comes to one-hitters (regardless of walks), the Mets have posted 24 out of 464 during their existence, better than 1/20. It doesn't just feel like we're being teased, we really are. Also, the Mets have had 18 combined no-walkers, with a Jae Seo-Stormy Weathers-Armando Benitez mixed grill being another 1H, 0BB outing (plus, the only hit was immediately caught stealing!). Counting combined no-walkers actually brings the total rate down again to 1/26, or just about expected.

There have been 20 postseason no-walkers (dating back to 1903 now), none involving the Mets. No-walkers by pitcher:To nobody's surprise, Tom Seaver is the Mets all-time leader in no-walkers, with nine. For comparison with other power pitchers, Jim Palmer and Roger Clemens have 11, Steve Carlton, Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax each had 9 (Greg Maddux, Seaver's most similar player on BR.com, has 19). The game scores: 96, 95, 90, 90, 86, 86, 85, 84, 82.
Other Mets with more than one, followed by game scores:
Jon Matlack 5 (89, 84, 83, 83, 82)
Dwight Gooden 4 (93, 86, 82, 75 [6IP])
Carl Willey 3 (89, 86, 76)
Jim McAndrew 3 (90, 83, 80)
Don Cardwell 2 (87, 80)
Jerry Koosman 2 (88,87)
Craig Swan 2 (82, 76)
Ron Darling 2 (83, 76)

Matlack and Gooden were dominating pitchers. Willey? Not so much, although he had a very good rookie year for the '58 Braves and a fine 1963 for the Mets, the year he threw all 3 no-walkers.

Most H allowed by a Met no-walker:
(Tie) Mike Scott ('80) and Bob Friend ('66) with 8H apiece. Craig Swan ('79) and Ron Darling ('88) follow with 7H no-walkers. Add in Willey's 8/24/63 performance, and those are also the five worst game scores by a Met no-walker in a nine-inning game.

Most K in a Mets no-walker:
1) 9/12/84, Dwight Gooden, 16K, 5H, 0BB, 9IP, 0R, GS 93
2) 4/16/71, Tom Seaver, 14K, 3H, 0BB, 9IP, 0R, GS 95
3) 5/17/74, Tom Seaver, 13K, 5H, 0BB, 9IP, 0R, GS 90
4) 10/02/99, Rick Reed, 12K, 3H, 0BB. 9IP, 0R, GS 93
t5) 8/15/76 Jerry Koosman, 11K, 5H, 0BB, 9IP, 0R, GS 88
t5) 8/01/73, Tom Seaver, 11K, 4H, 0BB, 9IP, 0R, GS 90
t5) 7/09/69, Tom Seaver, 11K, 1H, 0BB, 9IP, 0R, GS 96

True Met-walkers know:The highest game score for a Met is by Rob Gardner, who posted a 112 (tied for 4th since 1957) in a 15-inning scoreless tie in 1965. Gardner gave up 5 hits, walked 2, and struck out 7. If you're wondering why they called the game, consider it was the nightcap of a doubleheader. This was Gardner's only career start with a game score over 80.No Met has ever posted a game score of 90 or higher in the playoffs.The highest game score since 1957 is 116 by Dean Chance, who pitched 14 innings of 3-hit, 2BB ball in a game his team would lose, 2-0 (damn Yankees!). I imagine there are deadball era pitchers with game scores pushing 120.

Finally, a companion list to the most hits allowed in a no-walker.No-hitters with the most walks allowed:
1) Jim Maloney (Cin@Chn '65), 10BB in 10IP
2) A.J. Burnett (Fla@SDP '01), 9BB in 9IP
T3) Nolan Ryan (Cal v Min '74), 8BB in 9IP
T3) Dock Ellis (Pit@SDP '70), 8BB in 9IP

The first two are fairly tough to believe. 10 walks in 10 innings and 0R allowed. Maloney also hit a batter. He walked them in bunches and survived: 3 in the 3rd, 2 in the 4th, 2 in the 8th, 2 in the 9th (as well as the HBP) and 1 in the 10th. For good measure, he had two hits himself.I remember the A.J. Burnett no-no simply because it was a pitcher the Mets drafted throwing a no-hitter, and all we had to cling to for solace was the walk total.

The two tied for 3rd are also interesting. Nolan Ryan (a pitcher the Mets drafted!!) was known for his reluctance to give in to hitters (thus his historically high walk rates to go with his K rates), and it makes sense that in one of his 7 no-nos he would walk a ridiculously high total. Speaking of ridiculously high, Dock Ellis' no-hitter came while reportedly tripping face on LSD, which also adds up when you consider the walk total. Ellis, of course, was a Met in 1979, making 17 appearances (14GS), presumably none while on anything stronger than greenies.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Great column.
Strikes a nerve cos I was married on July 9 and my son Noah's birthday is April 16. And yes, I used to live across the street from a family named Walker, who moved a few years back. Guess that makes us a No-Walker street now!
-- BF

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