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John Dewan's Stat of the Week

Stat of the Week: The 10th Anniversary of Roy Halladay's Perfect Game

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Friday marks the 10th anniversary of Roy Halladay’s perfect game for the Phillies against the Marlins. It was the first of two no-hitters that he would pitch that Cy Young-winning season, the other coming in the NLDS against the Reds. These were the signature starts of Halladay’s Hall of Fame career.

Some of the recent news on Halladay and his tragic death in a plane crash has been unpleasant. We’re not here to focus on that. We wanted to relive the perfect game, which you can watch at this link. We’ll provide some additional perspective with some of the data we collected that night.

The cutter

Halladay threw 19 pitches, 11 for strikes in the first inning, the inning in which he looked least comfortable on an 85-degree Miami night. He didn’t know it at the time, but he’d only get one run to work with, so he had to be on his game.

Halladay’s changeup didn’t look great. He threw four in the first inning and got one strike. His fastball was a little off too–three strikes on seven pitches.

One pitch was perfect: His cutter. Five pitches, five strikes.

He threw 27-of-34 cutters for strikes for the game (79%). He netted only one missed swing, but 11 of the 18 takes against it were called strikes. The pitch got him 11 outs (the most of any of his pitch types that night), including five strikeouts.

The Man in Blue

After the game, Halladay credited catcher Carlos Ruiz for being integral to the result. But what about home plate umpire Mike DiMuro?

For his career, Halladay had a 2.17 ERA and four complete games in seven starts with DiMuro behind the plate.

Halladay got 26 called strikes in this game and consistently worked the edges of the zone.

He did this with Ruiz catching. Pitch framing was not Ruiz’s strength. In fact, from 2010 to 2011, Ruiz ranked tied for third-worst in our framing metric, Strike Zone Runs Saved.

Two pitches late in the game were key. Chris Coghlan’s take on a 2-2 pitch for strike three and the 3-2 pitch that Hanley Ramirez took for strike three in the seventh inning. They were thrown to nearly the same spot and had the same strike probability, 22%.

Most umpires are reluctant to call strike three. DiMuro did it six times in this game, including these two. Makes sense given that by our tracking, he called more strikes than expected at the seventh-highest rate of any umpire in the major leagues in 2010 (2.4 per 150 pitches).

Challenging Himself

Halladay went to three balls on seven batters. Those seven saw a combined 11 pitches in which they needed one ball to draw a walk.

MLB pitchers retired 43% of hitters in plate appearances ending with a three-ball count.

Halladay retired 100% -- three with the fastball, three with the cutter, and one with the curve.

Help in the Field

The Phillies were without both shortstop Jimmy Rollins and third baseman Placido Polanco. They started Wilson Valdez at shortstop and Juan Castro at third base.

Valdez made one nice play, on a ground ball hit on a 3-1 pitch by speedy Cameron Maybin in the sixth inning. The out probability on the ball hit in the 5-6 hole was 73%. It was a tough play but one made well more often than not.

Castro’s presence was more prominent because he turned in the game’s best defensive play. In the eighth inning, Jorge Cantú hit a rocket in the shortstop-third base hole that had a 41% out probability. Castro made the play on one hop. If he didn’t field it, the ball would have been a base hit. But Castro made the play and threw Cantú out.

Of the 16 balls hit by the Marlins, these were the only two with less than a 90% out probability.

Defense at third base was not Castro’s forte. He only played eleven games at third base that season and finished with -11 Defensive Runs Saved there for his career. Valdez was a better fit for his position. He saved 10 runs in his time as a part-time shortstop.

But what matters is that in this game they, like Halladay, were perfect.

For an extended version of this article, please visit the Sports Info Solutions Blog.

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