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2010: MLB's Year of the Pitcher

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2010: MLB's Year of the Pitcher
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The Chinese Zodiac is a 12-year cycle conceived as the Chinese version of Western astrology. Personally I was born in the Year of the Rooster, so I suppose in 2017 I will have a lucky and/or prosperous year.

That's not to suggest that Major League Baseball operates on any consistent annual calendar in which to predict which players will have good years and good singular performances.

It does, however, seem safe to say that this definitely a year of the pitcher. It's a bit early in the season to judge season-long performance, but it's probably safe to say that Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies and Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies are having amazing years.

I mostly attribute this year, however, as a year of the pitcher because of the large number of spectacular individual pitching performances. Jimenez got the ball rolling with a no-hitter on April 17, 2010. Dallas Braden of the Oakland A's followed it up with a Perfect Game on May 9. Twenty days later, on May 29, Halladay pitched his own masterpiece. Fresh in all of our minds is Armando Galarraga's robbed perfect game by a missed call with two out in the ninth inning by umpire Jim Joyce.

First of all, two perfect games in one season has happened only once before: in 1880. The fact that it happened again this season is astonishing.

Secondly, that's three (should be four) no-hitters in the 2010 season. I couldn't remember a season where there were so many in one season, so I went hunting for information.

It turns out that three no-hitters in one season has actually happened many times before, the most recent being in 2001 when the feat was accomplished by Hideo Nomo, A.J. Burnett, and Bud Smith.

Five no-hitters in a year has happened three times: 1962, 1968, and 1973. Six no-hitters in a year has happened four times: 1908, 1915, 1917, and 1969.  In both 1990 and 1991 there occurred seven no-hitters each. The record, however, belongs to 1884 which tallied eight no-hitters. These were all some very big years of the pitcher.

Etch 2010 onto that list: three no-hitters including two perfect games, one blown perfect game, and what seems like at least half a dozen contests already this season in which a pitcher lost a no-hitter in the seventh inning or later.

Many baseball fans and analysts will probably attribute the dominance of pitchers this season to more effective steroid testing on hitters. In all likelihood that's true. The 2010 draft is projected to be heavy on the arms and not as many tantalizing hitters, so this pitching trend is likely to continue.

Pitching may continue to dominate, but like the Chinese Zodiac, and even our troubled economy, we're bound to cycle through it, and hitters will bounce back eventually.

Stephen Strasburg, the hottest draft pick from the 2009 draft will be pitching in Washington very soon; yet another reason it's the year of the pitcher because all eyes will be on Strasburg especially in his first few starts.

I will continue to enjoy this year of the pitcher. Let's see how many no-hitters this season has by the end of the summer.

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