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The Perfect Storm: Exploring the Rarity and History of Perfect Games in MLB

The Rarity and History of Perfect Games in Major League Baseball

Perfect games in Major League Baseball (MLB) are a rare feat that only a select few have accomplished. A perfect game occurs when a pitcher is able to retire every batter they face without allowing any hits, walks, or errors.

In the history of MLB, only 23 verified perfect games have been achieved, making them one of the most challenging accomplishments in the sport. In this article, we will explore the rarity and history of perfect games in MLB.

The Rarity of Perfect Games

The statistical rarity of perfect games is evidenced by the low number of perfect games achieved over the course of MLB’s history. Since the inception of MLB in the 1800s, only 23 perfect games have been recorded.

This statistic is particularly astonishing when considering the thousands of baseball games that have been played in the league throughout history. The difficulty of pitching a perfect game is a testament to the skills required of a pitcher.

Achieving a perfect game means that a pitcher must get at least 27 batters out without allowing any hits, walks, or errors. This is easier said than done, as pitchers are also required to get strikeouts and groundouts to eliminate batters from the lineup.

Additionally, if a pitcher does manage to achieve a perfect game, it is often viewed as a career-defining moment due to the rarity of the achievement.

History of Perfect Games

Early Perfect Games

The first recorded perfect game in MLB history occurred on May 5, 1904, by Cy Young of the Boston Americans. This was followed by Addie Joss of the Cleveland Naps, who achieved two perfect games during his career in 1908 and 1910.

Charlie Robertson of the Chicago White Sox achieved the fourth perfect game in 1922.

Droughts and Resurgences

After these early perfect games, a significant drought occurred between 1922 and 1956, during which time no perfect games were recorded. The drought was finally ended by Don Larsen of the New York Yankees in 1956 during Game 5 of the World Series.

This game was particularly significant as it was the first and only perfect game achieved in a World Series game. Another lengthy period without perfect games followed until the 1980s when four perfect games were achieved within the decade.

The most recent resurgence of perfect games occurred in 2012 when a record three perfect games were achieved in a single season by Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants, Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners, and Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox.


The rarity and history of perfect games in MLB are a testament to the significance of the achievement. Only a select few have managed to achieve this accomplishment, and those who do are often remembered for their feat for years to come.

Whether it is the difficulty of achieving such a perfect performance or the historical significance of the achievement, perfect games remain one of the most extraordinary accomplishments in baseball and sports history.

Factors Contributing to the Rarity of Perfect Games in Major League Baseball

Perfect games are one of the rarest feats achievable in Major League Baseball. While there are several contributing factors that differentiate ordinary games from perfect games, the end result comes down to a combination of high levels of endurance, excellence, and a bit of luck.

In this article, we will discuss the factors contributing to the rarity of perfect games in MLB.


One crucial factor contributing to the rarity of perfect games is the level of endurance required of starting pitchers. The rules of modern baseball have placed pitcher health and endurance management at the forefront of team priorities, causing starting pitchers to throw fewer pitches and coaches pulling them out earlier for relievers.

Pitch count often hovers around the hundredth mark for starters today. Perfect games frequently require a pitcher to pitch more than 100 pitches, which isn’t as common as it used to be.

This simply means that if the pitcher is pulled out of the game after completing 90 or more pitches, the likelihood of a perfect game is lowered, especially if the game is close. Furthermore, the number of relievers used by teams increases with playoff pressure.

Vigilant managers can disrupt the flow of an ongoing perfect game when replacing starters. This makes match-ups crucial, with pitchers often specialising against certain batters to increase the likelihood of a perfect game.


A perfect game is all about absolute excellence. It is not uncommon for a pitcher facing 27 plate appearances to fail because hitters are skilled enough to adjust and adapt to every pitch, often opening up slight opportunities for a hit or a walk.

Pitchers must execute every pitch perfectly to achieve a perfect game. There is no room for mistakes.

The qualities of ideal high-level baseball pitching are finely tuned control and strategy. Pitchers must alternate throwing pitches that are barely inside the strike zone with pitches that are barely outside of it, forcing hitters to make split-second decisions, resulting in weak contact.

At the same time, pitchers must have an outstanding ability to spot the ball accurately and deceive a batter as to a pitch’s location or movement, inducing swings that create outs frequently.


Even if a starting pitcher manages to execute the perfect game strategy successfully, chances for a perfect game can still slip away due to the intervention of luck. Baseball is a game that is frequently impacted by fortune.

Infield hits, bizarre bounces, and routine ground ball errors can turn an otherwise perfect game into a single, double, or even a home run. As a result, pitchers need luck on their side when going for a perfect game.

A feat that has been compared to a hole in one in golf. And even after achieving a perfect game, a pitcher will testify luck played a role in the achievement.

Future of Perfect Games

The rarity of perfect games in the past can be attributed to the endurance, talent, and luck factors discussed above. More recently, additional factors have come into play, including the decline of complete games and the sheer improbability of a perfect game.

Decline of Complete Games

Starting pitchers continue to dominate in Major League Baseball, but there has been a steady decline in complete games. Teams and managers have placed more emphasis on pitchers going deep into games, with pitching changes happening more frequently, even mid-inning.

This is due to pitch counts and the perceived risks of injury. A successful starter will go six or seven innings, but a complete game is becoming increasingly rare.

This trend affects the probability of a perfect game because, even if a starter is pitching perfectly, the team may replace him for a reliever.


Even if a starting pitcher manages to go the distance in a game, the sheer improbability of a perfect game remains a factor. Many pitchers come close to completing a perfect game without actually getting there.

This is exemplified by the fact that the last several seasons have experienced peaks in the number of no-hitters. Of course, no hitter does not equate to a perfect game but show a likelihood of pitchers successfully handling all batters.

The number of talented hitters in MLB today who can make adjustments throughout a game limits the potential for a perfect game. These are hitters who might strike out four times in one game and hit four homers in the next five games.

Theyre simply unpredictable. The likelihood of a pitcher executing a perfect game against an entire line-up of such hitters is rare.


In summary, the rarity of perfect games in Major League Baseball is the result of a perfect storm of talent, endurance, skill, dedication, and elements of luck. The factors contributing to the rarity of perfect games will continue to exist, with some exacerbated by current trends, such as the decline of complete games.

While perfect games will continue to happen, they will remain historical achievements that capture the attention of baseball followers worldwide. In conclusion, perfect games are rare feats in Major League Baseball that require a combination of endurance, skill, luck, and absolute excellence.

The challenge for pitchers is to retire all 27 batters they face without allowing any hits, walks, or errors. The rarity of perfect games makes them significant achievements that baseball followers worldwide appreciate.

The decline of complete games and the sheer improbability of achieving a perfect game amidst skilled hitters suggest that such achievements will become rarer in the future. Nonetheless, baseball lovers worldwide celebrate each occurrence.


Q: How many perfect games have been achieved in Major League Baseball? A: There have been only 23 verified perfect games achieved in Major League Baseball.

Q: How many pitches does a starting pitcher typically pitch for in Major League Baseball? A: Starting pitchers usually pitch around one hundred pitches in a game.

Q: Why are perfect games so rare and difficult to achieve? A: Perfect games are extremely rare because they require pitchers to execute every pitch perfectly without any room for mistakes, and baseball is a game frequently impacted by luck.

Q: What has caused the decline in complete games in Major League Baseball? A: The decline in complete games in MLB is due to pitch counts, concerns for pitcher health, and the high number of relievers used during a game.

Q: Will perfect games become rarer in the future? A: Yes, with trends like the decline of complete games and a more unpredictable line-up of hitters, perfect games will become harder to accomplish.

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