The Meaning of Francisco Liriano’s No-Hitter

From SABR member Rob Neyer at on May 4:

Okay. It’s a few hours later. The shock and the awe have worn off,  just a little. The adrenaline’s finished its raucous journey and is safely tucked away until next time. It’s a few hours later, and we can begin to ask ourselves … What does Francisco Liriano‘s no-hitter mean? …

There was a time, some years ago, when Francisco Liriano looked like maybe the best pitcher in this metaphysical plane. This would have been five years ago, thereabouts — metaphysically, of course, time has no real meaning — and Liriano went 11-3 with a 1.65 ERA over 14 starts. He also struck out 105 batters in 93 innings.

Then he got hurt. …

In 2010, though, we saw a new Francisco Liriano. He wasn’t quite the best pitcher in this plane, but he wasn’t far off, either. And again, it was the strikeouts that set him apart: 9.4 per nine innings, the second-best figure in the league.

Well, not just the strikeouts. Liriano allowed only nine home runs in 192 innings, and that ratio was the best among American League starting pitchers. In 2010, Liriano did two things exceptionally well, which made him great.

In 2011, Liriano had done nothing exceptionally well except allow runs. Lots and lots of runs.

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Originally published: May 4, 2011. Last Updated: May 4, 2011.