Saturday, Chicago White Sox’s Philip Humber threw the 21st perfect game in MLB history against the Seattle Mariners.
Yes, striking out 20 batters in a game is more rare, but that’s an individual performance. As baseball is more of a team sport, a perfect game exemplifies what a team is.
Humber struck out nine, leaving 18 outs to be recorded by his fielders. An error turns a perfect game into a no-hitter. One bad read in the outfield or bad hop in the infield and the Mariners are able to record a hit.
Let alone, one walk by Humber, one hit by pitch, one hanging breaking ball and that game is no longer perfect.
Not to take anything away from a 20-strikeout performance, but in a team sport, I think this is more impressive.
Everything has to go perfect, which it did. For Humber, he had to make every pitch, and for his fielders, they had to make every play. There have been 230 no-hitters in baseball since 1900 and only 21 perfect games. How remarkable is that?
Sure, throwing 20 strikeouts in a game is extraordinary, but nothing can compete with being perfect.
A perfect game is considered one of the greatest feats a pitcher can accomplish in baseball – 27 runners up, 27 runners down. No exceptions. It is an achievement that has only been accomplished twenty-one times in Major League history.
Still, I believe Kerry Wood’s twenty-strikeout game on May 6, 1998 against the Houston Astros was more remarkable.
It is true that Wood allowed one hit and sent a batter to first by hitting him. However, Wood truly dominated the Astros that day in a way Humber never dominated the Seattle Mariners.
This is not to take anything away from Humber. He pitched one of the greatest games ever pitched in major league history; just not quite as great as Kerry Wood’s twenty-strikeout game.
Wood was able to dictate the way the Astros approached the plate and attempted to bat against them better than Humber was.
Woods 20 strikeouts tied a major league record for the most in a nine-inning ballgame that still stands today.
Humber’s feat was an outstanding accomplishment, but Wood goes down as the pitcher who put on the most dominating performance.