Elite baseball pitchers are elite for a reason. They seem to have it all: a variety of pitches that no one can lay a bat to; cool heads and confidence in their “stuff” when they get in a jam; and the kind of dexterity that makes difficult plays seem easy. Is elite status revealed through statistics? Though the author of this book considers statistics of both the traditional and sabermetric sort, he argues that the greats are proved not by broad statistical comparison with all other pitchers, but by their record against one another. In a thoughtful discussion of the evidence of head-to-head matchups, he finds the nine pitchers who make up the true elite: Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Grover Alexander, Lefty Grove, Warren Spahn, Tom Seaver, Roger Clemens, and Greg Maddux. For each pitcher the book provides biographical information, career highlights, and a list of the feats that put him in the record books.
The shutout—a game in which a team prevents its opponent from scoring—remains relatively rare. Of the roughly 200,000 regular season games that have been played since the origins of the major leagues, only about 10 percent have been shutouts. Gold Glove defense, astonishing pitching talent, and the combined efforts of a team working toward baseball artistry must all come together. This work covers every shutout from the beginning of professional baseball through the 2010 World Series, including no-hitters and perfect games. With in-depth statistics and play-by-play descriptions to bring to life the action on the field, it is the definitive history of one of baseball’s premier achievements.