Is Homer Bailey's Second No-Hitter Proof He's an Elite Pitcher in MLB?

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Is Homer Bailey's Second No-Hitter Proof He's an Elite Pitcher in MLB?

Homer Bailey is basically Nolan Ryan.

OK, maybe that's a bit of a stretch. But the Cincinnati Reds right-hander and the Ryan Express now have something pretty cool in common, and it also serves as clarification for a certain something else: the fact that Bailey is a lot better than you might think he is.

If you missed it, Bailey held the San Francisco Giants hitless on Tuesday night at Great American Ballpark. They call that a "no-hitter" in the industry, and they're pretty rare.

Well, unless you're Bailey. He now has two no-hitters to his name, and the first one he pitched last September 28 against the Pittsburgh Pirates also happens to be the last no-hitter Major League Baseball had seen before Bailey broke out another on Tuesday night.

That's where the Ryan connection comes from. ESPN Stats & Info will tell you all about it: 

So there's that, and here's the final out of the proceedings in case you missed it:

Courtesy of MLB Advanced Media via MLB.com.

There are some similarities between Bailey's no-hitter against the Pirates and his no-hitter against the Giants. Both were high-strikeout games, as he fanned 10 in his no-no against the Pirates and nine in his no-no against the Giants. Both times, Bailey did it by relying heavily on his fastball. 

Per Brooks Baseball, 73 of Bailey's 115 pitches (63.5 percent) against the Pirates were four-seam fastballs. They averaged 91.64 miles per hour.

Against the Giants, Bailey threw four-seamers for 68 of his 109 pitches (62.4 percent). What was different this time around is that his hard stuff had a little more giddy-up, as Brooks Baseball has the average velocity for it down at 95.32 miles per hour.

Bailey was definitely busting out the big velocity in the later innings against the Giants. He was sitting at 95 easily, and I recall seeing a couple 97s as well. You could tell that he was thinking something along the lines of, "I'm going to get this done because I am freaking awesome."

And you know what? Bailey is just that.

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

I wonder if there might still be a sentiment in some circles that Bailey is just another former top prospect who hasn't turned into anything special. That's indeed the way things were looking for a while, as he racked up a mere 4.47 ERA between 2009 and 2011 and had a 4.24 ERA at the end of August last year in his first full MLB season.

But ever since then...

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
And there was much rejoicing.

In Bailey's last seven regular season starts of 2012, he went 3-1 and compiled a 1.85 ERA over 48.2 innings. Mixed in was the no-hitter against the Pirates, but he also had three other starts in which he logged at least seven innings and allowed no more than one earned run.

Bailey kept it up against the Giants in the postseason, allowing only one earned run on one hit in seven innings in his lone start in the NLDS.

Bailey has now made 17 starts in 2013, in which he has a 3.57 ERA. But if we take the 17 starts he's made this season and add them to the eight starts he made after the calendar turned to September last year...

GS IP ERA K/9 BB/9 K/BB H/9 HR/9
 25  166.2  2.98  9.15  1.95  4.69  6.50  0.60

If we were to entertain the notion that these were Bailey's full-season numbers for 2013, then his National League ranks would be:

  • Tied for 14th in ERA
  • 5th in K/9
  • 13th in BB/9
  • 8th in K/BB
  • 7th in H/9
  • 12th in HR/9

In other words, he'd be up there among the best the Senior Circuit has to offer. 

The truth is that it was already possible to make that argument even before Bailey no-hit the Giants. He may have started the day with a relatively unspectacular 3.88 ERA, but the ERA estimators all disagreed with that number.

Per FanGraphs, Bailey's FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) stood at 2.77. That ranked fifth among Senior Circuit hurlers. His xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching) stood at 2.99, which ranked third in the National League. He had a 3.13 SIERA (Skill-Interactive ERA) that ranked fourth.

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As far as these handy-dandy statistics were concerned, Bailey deserved a lot better than his 3.88 ERA. Typically, what that means is that the pitcher in question has been pitching like an ace and just getting unlucky. The general indication is that it may just be a matter of time before said ace-like pitcher starts seeing results.

Sound like anybody you know who did something kinda amazing on Tuesday night?

There's still a lot of season left in 2013. A good rough guess is that Bailey has 17 starts left in him before now and the end, and he's probably going to be making some more in October given the strength of the ballclub around him.

You're not going to want to miss many of these starts. Bailey might not have any more no-hitters in him, but there's no denying what he's become since something clicked for him last September.

The guy's an ace.

 

Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

 

If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter.

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