2013 MLB Preview: More perfection in store?

Otto Greule Jr

In the first 124 years of Major League Baseball -- from 1880-2003 -- just 16 perfect games were thrown. In the last nine years, however, seven perfect games -- plus one "almost" perfecto -- have been added to the list. Will 2013 bear witness to more perfection?

MLB 2K13 proudly announces the return of the Perfect Game Challenge. Pitch a perfect game for your favorite team and you could win some serious money, including a top prize of $250,000. Go to facebook.com/mlb2k for details.

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Last year, for the first time in baseball history, three perfect games were thrown in a single season. Two perfectos have been thrown in a season twice -- 1880 & 2010 -- but never before had perfection been achieved on three separate occasions in one year.

The difference between a one-hitter (or one-walker) and immortality usually comes down to a dying quail, a missed spot, or a single wayward call, so a lot of the credit for the trio of perfection should be attributed to chance.

However, those three perfect games -- thrown by Felix Hernandez, Philip Humber (?), and Matt Cain -- bring the grand total to six in the last four years and seven in the last nine, which gives a strong indication that something a bit more tangible than chance is at play.

And the numbers seem to agree. The rate of no-hitters and perfect games over the last three years is at it's highest since '67-'69, when pitching was so dominant that the mound had to be lowered and the first talk of instituting a designated hitter formulated.

Some want to chalk this new rise in perfect game and no-hitter numbers to the league-wide increase in strikeout rates, others to improved defense. Whatever the cause, the fact is that they are becoming more and more frequent, and the trend doesn't appear to be reversing any time soon.

So, then. Who will be next?

We've already learned that my prediction capabilities are suspect at best, so conjecturing on something as erratic as a perfect game isn't going to help on that front. Perfect games have been thrown by legitimate aces at their peaks -- like Roy Halladay, Sandy Koufax, and Felix Hernandez -- but they've also been achieved by guys like Dallas Braden and Len Barker, who had otherwise unspectacular careers.

Thus, like most attempts at baseball prophecy, predicting a perfect game is a total crapshoot. That being said and fully understood, I'm putting all my Geoffrey dollars down on a member of the Angels' pitching staff throwing a perfect game in Anaheim in 2013.

Here's my shoddy reasoning...

  1. Angel Stadium is a pitcher's park, with a 0.837 park factor from '10-'12

  2. The Halos' outfield defense is arguably the best in the league.

  3. The infield defense is pretty good too.

  4. While fly-ball heavy, most of rotation doesn't walk many batters.
Now, do those four points mean a perfect game is in the works? Not necessarily. But it sure as hell makes it more probable than the Marlins throwing one. Plus, I've got all my obsolete Toys 'R Us money on it, so I must be serious.

Will there be another perfect game this year?

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