The 20 Most Likely MLB No-Hit Pitchers in 2013
History is fickle. Davidson almost beat Marquette. The Heat almost bested the Lakers' 33 game winning streak. The Texas Rangers almost captured the 2010 World Series. And Yu Darvish, on the second day of the 2013 regular season, almost pitched a perfect game.
Here's the thing about history: it couldn't care less.
In allowing a base hit to Marwin Gonzalez - the 49th hit of Gonzalez's career - Yu Darvish allowed his name to be erased from the record books. As the MLB season enters its fourth day, the quest to be the first no-hitter of the season rages on.
But who, exactly, will that no-hit pitcher be? It's impossible to know for sure without some Mike Tyson-sponsored ESP, but we're in the business of making educated guesses here at numberFire.
By manipulating the numbers found in our preseason fantasy draft kit, we have determined the projected no-hitters for each MLB starting pitcher. But while it may be interesting to know that Blake Beavan is projected to throw 0.006 no-hitters this year, we're only interested in the best of the best.
Our findings is modified from a Bill James formula that measured expected no-nos for all-time historical pitchers. Per a suggestion from the Inside the Book blog, we tweaked James' number to reflect 26.5 required outs instead of 26 (since not all no-hitters have outs from stolen bases and double-plays). Then, we plugged in numberFire's projected innings pitched, games started, and hits allowed for each pitcher this season to determine our final number.
The results? Well, prepare to be excited if you're a Dodgers or Nationals fan. No hitters are more likely to be coming your way when Kershaw, Gonzalez, or Strasburg are on the mound.
The Full List
|Rank||Player||Proj. Starts||Proj. '13 No-Hitters|
The Top Chances
1. Clayton Kershaw: .044 projected no-hitters
I think you may have noticed Kershaw's pitching strength on Opening Day: four-hit shutout ball against the defending champs is a nice way to get noticed. The key for Kershaw, though, may just be his large number of opportunities combined with his strong pitching. As a byproduct of his healthy arm so far, Kershaw is one of only seven MLB pitchers with at least 33 projected starts in our system.
Last season, Kershaw never allowed fewer than three hits in a game where he pitched at least five innings. However, last season also saw two no-hitter busting numbers that we expect to regress to the mean. His percentage of fly balls for home runs (6.3%) and fly balls that stayed on the infield (16%) were the worst marks of his career. Assuming that those percentages return closer to Kershaw's career averages, the Dodgers pitcher should have more easy outs to work with.
2. Gio Gonzalez: .039 projected no-hitters
What's the quickest way to make sure somebody doesn't reach base? That would be to strike them out, and Gonzalez accomplishes this feat with the best of them. His 9.35 strikeouts per nine innings ranked third in the majors among qualified pitchers last season, behind only Detroit's Max Scherzer and the already-close-to-perfect man Yu Darvish.
And then there's Gio's penchant for not allowing hard-hit balls. Only 3.9 percent of his fly balls allowed last year went out of the ballpark for a home run, down 2.2 percent from even his best year while in spacious Oakland. It may seem obvious, but the more overall fly balls that stay in the ballpark, the stronger a chance for a no-hitter. Just ask Mark Buerhle after DeWayne Wise saved his perfect game in 2009.
3. Stephen Strasburg: .038 projected no-hitters
There's a reason I chose to calculate no-hitters as compared to perfect games: it's a ton easier to accomplish the feat when it doesn't matter how many guys you walk. For a pitcher like Strasburg, who allowed walks on 7.4 percent of opponents' plate appearances last season, that's a crucial piece for moving up the list.
Much like Gonzalez and Kershaw, Strasburg's main ability is strikeouts that don't even allow the opportunity for a ball in play. 30.2 percent of opponent's plate appearances last season were K's, such an absurdly high number (almost one in three!) that it's almost hard to believe that he hasn't gotten close to no-hit ball yet. The only thing that might keep Strasburg back is pitch count: the Nationals did not let him pitch longer than seven innings in a single game last season.
1. Yovani Gallardo: .031 projected no-hitters
So, it's a lot of opportunities and a high strikeout per nine rate that gets you excited for the no-hitter possibilities? Well, what about an Opening Day starter with 32 projected starts and the 10th-best Ks per nine average in the entire major leagues last season?
The still-young Gallardo holds our ninth-highest projected no-hitters this season based on those two fortuitous statistics. The number of fly balls that he allows for home runs is slightly concerning (9.9% in 2012 and 10.0% in 2011), but his career rate of 21 percent of opponents' plate appearances leading to 0-2 counts means that he'll be ahead of many of the batters he'll face.
2. Matt Harvey: .028 projected no-hitters
Here's what we know about Mets starter Matt Harvey. He's young; 2013 will be his first full season. He's likely to get starts; all 10 of his appearances were starts after being called up from AAA in the middle of last season. And he's a strikeout artist: 28.6 percent of batters faced in shortened time last season were K'd.
That ability to miss bats and keep the percentage of balls in play down is the perfect recipe for 2013's Phillip Humber special: the surprise no-hit performance that comes from nowhere. With only 2.0 percent of opposing plate appearances going for home runs and 27 percent of opposing plate appearances seeing an 0-2 count, Harvey has the numbers in shortened time to put that type of special performance together.
3. Aroldis Chapman: .000 projected no-hitters
Here's a secret: I had to adjust the projections from our Draft Kit just a bit, and I manually changed the order of our rankings. Because, you see, our initial draft kit had Chapman starting a projected 22 games before he was made Cincinnati's closer. And assuming those 22 starts, Chapman would have been projected for .101 no-hitters, far and away the top mark on our board.
With .004 projected no-hitters in any given start, Chapman could be absolutely dominant... if given the chance. Yes, his numbers may decrease slightly the longer he goes into a game, but his 2012 44.2 percent strikeout rate is no joke. If the Reds need starting pitching help late in the season and Chapman is forced to change roles, just remember who had the best per-game no-hitter odds in the entire MLB. The Cuban Missile.