Stats Speak: Morrow's monster score

Stats Speak: Morrow's monster score

Since 1920, there have been 725 instances in which a starting pitcher threw a complete game of at least nine innings and allowed exactly one hit. Kerry Wood threw a one-hitter when he struck out 20 Astros on May 6, 1998. Harvey Haddix, after throwing 12 perfect innings, finished with a one-hitter (and the loss) on May 26, 1959. Dave Stieb -- one of the best pitchers of his generation -- threw five one-hitters over a two-year span in 1988-89 and became infamous for having no-hitters (and in one case, a perfect game) swiped from his clutches at the last moment (although Stieb would finally get his no-hitter in '90). Roy Halladay threw a one-hitter for the Blue Jays in his second career start, on Sept. 27, 1998. Hall of Famer Juan Marichal did Halladay one better, throwing a one-hitter in his Major League debut, on July 19, 1960. Nolan Ryan twirled 12 one-hitters, while Bob Feller tossed 11. Tom Seaver had five one-hitters: all of them coming for the New York Mets -- a team that still has not had a no-hitter. Of the 725 complete-game one-hitters thrown since 1920, only five have produced a game score of at least 100; the most recent pitcher to be in this club is the Blue Jays' Brandon Morrow. On Aug. 8, 2010, Morrow struck out 17, walked two, and allowed only a single hit (a two-out ninth-inning single at that) in throwing his first career shutout.

Morrow's 2010 season (10 wins, 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings, a 5-1 record with a 3.69 ERA in the second half of the season) was just one part of a Blue Jays' storyline in 2010 that has fostered optimism for the 2011 season. In 2010, Morrow and his fellow Blue Jays starters compiled 59 games in which they went at least six innings and allowed no more than two runs. Those 59 starts (third most in the AL) included 18 against the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays (who finished 1-2-3 in the American League in runs scored in 2010).

Game Score Greats
Since 1920: One-hit complete games (at least 9 IP), with a game score of 100
Pitcher Date Game Score
Harvey Haddix May 26, 1959 107
Kerry Wood May 6, 1998 105
Nolan Ryan July 9, 1972 100
Curt Schilling April 7, 2002 100
Brandon Morrow August 8, 2010 100

Additionally, the Blue Jays had three starters each have at least 14 starts of at least six innings and no more than two runs allowed. No other AL team could make that claim.

In 2010, Ricky Romero won 14 games, put up a 111 ERA+, struck out 174 batters in 210 innings, and allowed only 15 home runs. Romero, who just completed his age-25 season, is the only southpaw in Blue Jays history to have an ERA+ of at least 100 in enough innings to qualify for the ERA title in each of his first two Major League seasons. Going beyond just the Blue Jays franchise, Romero is one of just three active pitchers to make this claim. The only other two active pitchers to do this are Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia. And in expanding the cutoff even further, Romero is one of only 13 pitchers since 1920 to do this.

Of the 12 before Romero to do this, eight (Emil Yde, Vic Lombardi, Joe Hatten, Vinegar Bend Mizell, Teddy Higuera, Joe Magrane, Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia) also had an ERA+ of 100 or better in his third season.

In 2010, in his age-23 season, Brett Cecil won 15 games for the Blue Jays. He is the only pitcher in franchise history to win that many games at so young an age.

Repeat performances
Because of Jose Bautista's out-of-nowhere ascendancy into the 50-home run club, it's difficult to imagine what his final 2011 numbers may resemble. The list below offers the names of the 25 players to hit at least 54 in a season, and provides that player's age that season and the home run total in the following year.
Player/Year Homers/Age Homers in next year
Babe Ruth, 1920 54 HR at age 25 59 HR in 1921
Babe Ruth, 1921 59 HR at age 26 35 HR in 1922
Babe Ruth, 1927 60 HR at age 32 54 HR in 1928
Babe Ruth, 1928 54 HR at age 33 46 HR in 1929
Hack Wilson, 1930 56 HR at age 30 13 HR in 1931
Jimmie Foxx, 1932 58 HR at age 24 48 HR in 1933
Hank Greenberg, 1938 58 HR at age 27 33 HR in 1939
Ralph Kiner, 1949 54 HR at age 26 47 HR in 1950
Mickey Mantle, 1961 54 HR at age 29 30 HR in 1962
Roger Maris, 1961 61 HR at age 26 33 HR in 1962
Mark McGwire, 1997 58 HR at age 33 70 HR in 1998
Mark McGwire, 1998 70 HR at age 34 65 HR in 1999
Mark McGwire, 1999 65 HR at age 35 32 HR in 2000
Sammy Sosa, 1998 66 HR at age 29 63 HR in 1999
Sammy Sosa, 1999 63 HR at age 30 50 HR in 2000
Sammy Sosa, 2001 64 HR at age 32 49 HR in 2002
Ken Griffey, Jr., 1997 56 HR at age 27 56 HR in 1998
Ken Griffey, Jr., 1998 56 HR at age 28 48 HR in 1999
Barry Bonds, 2001 73 HR at age 36 46 HR in 2002
Luis Gonzalez, 2001 57 HR at age 33 28 HR in 2002
Alex Rodriguez, 2002 57 HR at age 26 47 HR in 2003
Alex Rodriguez, 2007 54 HR at age 31 35 HR in 2008
David Ortiz, 2006 54 HR at age 30 35 HR in 2007
Ryan Howard, 2006 58 HR at age 26 47 HR in 2007
Jose Bautista, 2010 54 HR at age 29 ??

Over the last 10 years, Cecil is one of eight southpaws to win at least 15 games in his age-23 season or younger.

Finally, since this look inside some of the Blue Jays' starters began by diving off of Morrow's one-hitter, a few more notes about that performance:

• The 17 strikeouts were the second most in Blue Jays history, topped only by an 18-K effort by Roger Clemens on Aug. 25, 1998.

• The 17 strikeouts were the most by a pitcher in an AL game since Johan Santana struck out 17 in 2007; no AL pitcher has struck out more since Clemens in 1998.

• The 17 strikeouts in a shutout were the most in the AL since Clemens had the 18 on Aug. 25, 1998.

• It marked the only the second time since 1920 that an AL pitcher struck out at least 17 and allowed only one hit in a complete game. On Sept. 10, 1999, Pedro Martinez struck out 17 Yankees and allowed a single hit (a Chili Davis home run) and beat New York 3-1.

• It was the 14th time in Blue Jays history a starter had thrown a complete-game one-hitter (Shawn Marcum also threw a one-hitter for Toronto just eight days later, giving the franchise 15). Since 1977 -- the year that the Blue Jays began play -- their 15 one-hitters are the most in the AL.

* * *

Entering the 2010 season, Jose Bautista's career year in home runs for a season was 16, accomplished for the Pirates in 2006. From 1871 through 2009, Bautista was one of 4,891 players to hit at least 16 in a year. And then in 2010, Bautista became just the 42nd player in history to hit 50 in a season. Bautista finished 2010 with 54, tied with Babe Ruth (1920 and '28), Ralph Kiner ('49), Mickey Mantle ('61) David Ortiz ('06) and Alex Rodriguez ('07) for the 19th most in history. Some other noteworthy elements to Bautista's magical season include:

• He became just the 22nd player in history to hit 50 home runs and draw 100 walks.

• His 92 extra-base hits (54 home runs, 35 doubles, three triples) are tied for the 23rd most by a right-handed batter since 1871.

• He became the first AL player with as many as 92 extra-base hits since Grady Sizemore had 92 in 2006.

• He had nine multi-home run games -- tied with George Bell (1987) and Ortiz (2005) for the fourth most in AL history. Only Hank Greenberg (11 in 1938), Jimmie Foxx (10 in '38) and Rodriguez (10 in '02) had more.

• He became the sixth player in Blue Jays franchise history to have 100 runs scored, 100 RBI and 100 walks in a season. John Olerud did it in 1993, and Carlos Delgado did it four times (2000-03).

Because of Bautista's out-of-nowhere ascendancy into the 50-home run club, it's difficult to imagine what his final 2011 numbers may resemble. The list to the left offers the names of the 25 players to hit at least 54 in a season, and provides that player's age that season and the home run total in the following year.

If curious, the average HR total for a player in the year following a season with at least 54 homers is 45, and only two players (Ruth in 1921 and McGwire in '98) actually bettered their total after hitting at least 54 in a season.

Roger Schlueter is a senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.