Philip Humber: Where Does White Sox's Perfect Game Rank All-Time?

Sam WestmorelandFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2012

Philip Humber: Where Does White Sox's Perfect Game Rank All-Time?

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    White Sox pitcher Philip Humber threw the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history on Saturday afternoon, dominating the Seattle Mariners for nine innings without allowing a single baserunner. 

    Few clubs in baseball are as exclusive as the perfect game club; with just 21 (22, if you include Armando Galarraga's botched no hitter in 2010) members, it remains one of the premier pitching achievements of all time. 

    But just how perfect was Humber's gem? Where does it rank in the club? Let's take a look at every perfecto thrown in the modern era and figure out just where the 29-year-old righty's falls on the list. 

    So grab your rosin bag and practice shaking off the catcher, and let's get started, shall we? 

19. Cy Young, May 5, 1904

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    The namesake of baseball's premier pitching award also threw the first no-hitter in the modern era, on May 5, 1904. He struck out eight in yet another dominant performance in one of the most spectacular careers in baseball history.

    So why is he so low? Simple: He loses points for pitching in an era known for its punchless offenses. 

18. Addie Joss, October 2, 1908

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    Joss tossed his perfecto on October 2, 1908, shutting down the Chicago White Sox. He struck out just three in the game, but the Indians ace managed to keep Chicago under locks in this one.

    Like Cy Young, Joss' perfect game is hurt by the era in which it took place, which makes it difficult to rank above almost every perfecto in history. 

17. Charlie Robertson, April 30, 1922

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    The first White Sox player to throw a perfect game, Robertson struck out six Tigers en route to a 2-0 win.

    But that particular Detroit team was hardly a murderer's row. Other than an ancient Ty Cobb (who was hitting .083 that season), only one Detroit hitter was hitting better than .300, meaning it wasn't exactly a feat to hold them without a hit. 

16. Mark Buehrle, July 30, 2009

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    Buehrle worked one of the more efficient perfect games in the 21st century, finishing off the Tampa Bay Rays in two hours, five minutes.

    He struck out six in the game, but like most of Buehrle's starts, it wasn't really dominant, just an effective, efficient outing. 

15. Dennis Martinez, July 28, 1991

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    One of the few moments of glory for the Montreal Expos came in July 1991, when right-handed fireballer Dennis Martinez threw a perfecto against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Dodger Stadium.

    While it was an impressive performance, Martinez's lack of strikeouts keeps him closer to the bottom of the list. 

14. Kenny Rogers, July 28, 1994

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    The Gambler always had an up-and-down career, but in July of 1994, he reached the pinnacle of pitching perfection, shutting down the Angels 4-0.

    Rogers struck out just eight but controlled the game through ground balls as he did for much of his career.

    It wasn't a magical moment and was soon overshadowed by the strike that shut the game down that same year. 

13. David Wells, May 17, 1998

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    The hefty lefty fireballed his way to perfection in 1998, dominating the Minnesota Twins en route to a 4-0 win.

    He struck out 10, but if it takes a pitcher 120 pitches to shut down a lineup so bad that Marty Cordova was their cleanup hitter, you barely make the top 15.

    Wells' perfecto was impressive but far from a truly dominant performance. 

12. Philip Humber, April 21, 2012

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    It wasn't just that Humber got a no-no that got him so high on the list; it was how he got it. With just one hit into the outfield in the game and nine strikeouts on 96 pitches, the Chicago White Sox right hander dominated the Seattle Mariners from start to finish.

    To wit: He only had counts with three balls twice in the game, and both of those happened in the ninth inning.

    Few have dominated a roster so completely as Humber shut down the Mariners. There was a note of controversy on the final pitch, as many thought the hitter checked his swing, but he still dominated the Mariners like few have before. 

11. Mike Witt, September 30, 1984

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    Witt's perfect game often gets overlooked in history; he was a mediocre starter for most of his career, and his name didn't have the cachet that many others do.

    But the California Angels righty still shut down the Texas Rangers en route to a 1-0 win, striking out 10 on 94 pitches in one of the more underrated outings on this list of perfection. 

10. Jim Bunning, June 21, 1964

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    Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game for the Phillies in 1964, locking down the New York Mets in a 6-0 win. He struck out 10 Mets and needed just 90 pitches to score the perfecto.

    But he was facing the 1964 Mets, an expansion team that set a record for ineptitude; should we really be surprised that someone didn't allow them a baserunner that season?

9. Dallas Braden, May 9, 2010

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    Braden's perfecto barely merits a top-10 spot; the Oakland A's lefty only struck out six Rays in the 4-0 win.

    The Rays were hardly a punchless offense that season, and for shutting them down so completely, Braden certainly deserves praise, particularly when you consider the fact that he doesn't have overpowering stuff. 

8. Len Barker, May 15, 1981

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    Speaking of no-name perfectos, we have Len Barker. With a 74-76 career record, Barker was hardly an ace. But for one night in 1981, the Indians right-hander was as good as they come, fanning 11 Blue Jays en route to a 3-0 win.

    Unfortunately, he was unable to follow up that win with any kind of consistent success and was little more than an innings eater for most of his career. 

7. David Cone, July 18, 1999

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    The veteran right hander got his perfect game near the tail end of his career, shutting down the Montreal Expos in a 6-0 beatdown.

    Cone fanned 10 Expos en route to perfection and needed just 88 pitches to do it. But the Expos were hardly an explosive offense and had never faced Cone before; is anyone really surprised that the crafty righty turned them into lunch meat in such a perfect fashion? 

6. Tom Browning, September 16, 1988

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    Browning smacked the snot out of the Los Angeles Dodgers en route to perfection in 1988, striking out seven in the 1-0 win.

    It wasn't an all-time great performance, but anytime you can shut down Kirk Gibson and the Dodgers, it's an impressive performance, so Browning gets a spot in the top 10. 

5. Catfish Hunter, May 8, 1968

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    The man with the fantastic moustache scored himself a perfect game against the Minnesota Twins back in 1968. The fireballing righty struck out 11 in 107 pitches.

    The feat was made even more impressive by the fact that he was only 22 at the time and remains the youngest pitcher ever to reach the pinnacle of perfection. For achieving the feat at such a young age, he more than merits a top-10 berth. 

4. Randy Johnson, May 18, 2004

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    There are perfect games, and then there are outright dominations; Johnson's lockdown of the Atlanta Braves falls into the latter category. The flamethrowing lefty knocked the Braves around to the tune of 13 strikeouts and needed 117 pitches to do it.

    While that may not be that impressive at first, bear this in mind: Johnson was 40 at the time and was still hitting 98 on the radar gun. A performance like that from a pitcher of Johnson's age definitely merits a spot in the top five. 

3. Roy Halladay, May 29, 2010

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    Doc has been one of baseball's most dominant pitchers for most of his career, but in 2010, the Phillies ace reached the pinnacle of perfection against the Florida Marlins.

    The righty struck out 11 Marlins en route to the win, a feat made all the more impressive when you consider the fact that he did it on the road in Florida. After all, it's extremely tough to keep your focus when you can literally hear a pin drop in the stadium. 

2. Sandy Koufax, September 9, 1965

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    Koufax's perfecto was surprising only in that it didn't happen sooner; anytime the lefthander took the mound, it seemed as though teams couldn't get a runner on base.

    Against the Chicago Cubs, Koufax finally reached that plateau, striking out 14 Cubbies en route to the 1-0 win. It took him 113 pitches, but no one has ever struck out so many hitters on the road to perfection.

    A truly historic performance. 

1. Don Larsen, October 8, 1956

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    It's one thing to be perfect in the regular season; postseason perfection is a different animal entirely. In the history of baseball, only one pitcher has thrown a perfect game in the playoffs, and for that reason, Don Larsen's perfection tops this list.

    The righty ace locked down the Brooklyn Dodgers in truly historic fashion, striking out seven and needing just 97 pitches to get the 2-0 win in the World Series. 

    Until someone throws a perfect game on a similarly massive stage, no one will come close to eclipsing the level of perfection reached by Larsen on that day in October, 56 years ago.