Grand Cards: A Special No-Hitter for "BB" Jackson

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Special No-Hitter for "BB" Jackson

I love this new nickname that I just invented for him. BB Jackson. This is all self-congratulatory italics, but let's dissect for a moment. One: "BB" is a great nickname. There can no be argument here. Two: The cool nickname juxtaposes with the rather insulting insinuation that Jackson earned the nickname by walking so many people. Three: Yet in a great double entendre, a pitcher who is pitching excellently to the point that he is essentially impossible to hit is said to be "throwing BB's", like the little things you shoot out of a BB Gun. In all, we are left with a perfectly apt nickname that is also really cool sounding. Spread the word.

2009 Topps #AST-39 Edwin Jackson Platinum (1/1)

I'm not sure if it qualifies as "One-of-a-Kind" the way this card would, but Edwin Jackson's no-hitter last night was really...something. His no-hitter took him all of 149 pitches, something no pitcher has done since Livan Hernandez threw 150 in 2005. It also included 8 walks and a batter reaching on an error.

What's incredible to me, is that he walked all but one of the batters in the first three innings--he was at 68 pitches after three--and then went on to only allow two more baserunners for the rest of the game. That's some stamina. In the words of Joe Maddon (via Hardball Talk):
"He throws 68 pitches after just three innings and settles in and pitches like he did? You've got to give him a lot of credit. He's a horse and a great athlete. He's a great kid and he deserved to do that tonight. Hats off to him; he's a wonderful man."

I just thought that would be a nice quote to include from a former Manager. He's right though, Jackson is a horse. Even if he doesn't always pitch as well as you would like, he has that ability to come through when needed. Kind of like he did last night.

Amidst all the hulaballoo about this, the OMG 149 PITCHEZ! has been getting the most play. Ruin his arm, you will. Or, you just left him in to try and get the no hitter, even if it wasn't in the best interest of the player or the team, to which, responses abound, the best of which is from the Dbacks manager himself:
You do want to make smart decisions, but you do have a chance at history and you don't want to take it away from him. And that's for everybody involved, from the team, to the fans, to anybody that was included in this game.

And I think that's exactly the right way to look at it in most cases, including this one. But what about the pitch count that everyone's huffing and puffing about? Leave it to Sports Economist JC Bradbury to assuage our fears:
On average, every pitch thrown raises a pitcher’s ERA by 0.007 in the following game. Jackson’s ERA was 5.05 going into Friday’s game averaging 104 pitches per game; thus, based on the historical response of pitchers to pitch counts Jackson’s expected performance in his next start is about 5.37. So, Jackson can be expected to pitch worse, but not that much worse

This claim is backed up by, you know, math and stuff, but is really just a short sweet post worth checking out. However, you do wonder whether this regression (a "fractional polynomial regression"), like so many, fails at the extremes, of which 149 pitches is definitely one, so that even if it holds true in 99% of cases, it's not necessarily true in cases where there are so few modern data points available. I don't know, I'm not a doctor.

Regardless, congratulations to Edwin Jackson, who was an excellent first-half pitcher for the Tigers last year and by all accounts was an excellent teammate and first-rate Tiger. I hope his future holds continued success, perhaps in the form of a lower ERA, fewer walks and his arm not falling off. I'm not sure that any of those are likely after last night's no-hitter, but no one ever said that he's not capable of such excellence.

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