Sometimes, the simplest explanation is the valid one: The number of hits per game in the major leagues has plummeted, so no-hitters are on the rise.
Even so, this season has been a bit extreme.
Spencer Turnbull’s gem Tuesday night was the major leagues’ fifth no-hitter this year, and 2021 is on pace to obliterate the modern record of seven no-hitters in a season. Cleveland and Seattle have already been no-hit twice each, and of the 20 complete games that have been pitched this season, a quarter of them have been no-hitters.
Of the five pitchers who have thrown one, only two have been All-Stars — John Means in 2019 and Wade Miley back in 2012. It’s enough to make these no-hitters feel almost … routine?
“I think it’s still really hard,” said Texas manager Chris Woodward, who was on the losing end when Joe Musgrove threw the first no-hitter in San Diego Padres history last month. “It’s one of the hardest things to do in sports. Any time it’s happening, any game I’m watching … if a guy has a no-hitter through four, I’m always kind of like intrigued.”
It’s hard to separate all these no-hitters from the context of what baseball looks like in 2021. Entering Wednesday, there was an average of 7.83 hits per team in a game. Only one season has ended with a lower figure, in 1908, during the dead ball era. The other seasons when hits were the scarcest were 1968, remembered as the Year of the Pitcherm, and dead ball seasons of 1909 and 1907.
Remarkably, there wasn’t a single no-hitter in 1909 and only two in 1907. But there were six in 1908 and five in 1968.
The highest hits per game average since 1900 was in 1930 at 10.37 per team. Next up were 1925, 1921, 1936 and 1929. Not surprisingly, there were only two no-hitters combined in those five seasons.
“My instincts tell me…
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