How Many Complete Games Pitched in 2024: A Closer Look at Baseball’s Evolving Landscape
In recent years, the game of baseball has seen a significant shift in the way pitchers are utilized. With the rise of advanced analytics and a greater emphasis on pitch counts, complete games have become a rarity in the modern era. However, as the game continues to evolve, it is interesting to ponder how many complete games will be pitched in 2024. Let’s delve into this topic and explore five interesting facts about complete games in baseball.
1. The Decline of Complete Games: Over the past few decades, the number of complete games has steadily decreased. In the 1970s, it was not uncommon for pitchers to throw over 20 complete games in a season. However, in recent years, the average number of complete games per season has dropped to single digits. This decline can be attributed to various factors, including the increased focus on pitch counts, the specialization of bullpens, and the growing concern for pitcher health and longevity.
2. Statistical Milestones: With the declining trend, complete games have become a statistical milestone for pitchers. In the 2020 season, for instance, only three pitchers managed to throw a complete game. This rarity makes complete games more significant and memorable, both for the pitchers who accomplish them and the fans who witness them.
3. The Rise of Openers: In recent years, some teams have experimented with using “openers” – relief pitchers who start the game and pitch only one or two innings – followed a traditional starting pitcher. This strategy aims to maximize favorable matchups and reduce the strain on starting pitchers. While this approach has gained popularity, it further diminishes the likelihood of complete games.
4. Evolution of Pitching Strategies: The evolution of pitching strategies has contributed to the decline in complete games. With an increased emphasis on strikeouts and a greater focus on pitch efficiency, pitchers are often pulled from games earlier, even if they have been performing well. Managers and pitching coaches are more inclined to prioritize bullpen matchups and the preservation of their pitchers’ arms over the pursuit of complete games.
5. The Exceptional Few: Despite the decline, a few pitchers continue to defy the odds and pitch complete games. In recent years, pitchers like Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Jacob deGrom have displayed exceptional durability and skill, consistently going deep into games. These standout performances remind us of the beauty and excitement that complete games bring to the sport.
Now, let us address some common questions surrounding complete games in baseball:
1. What is a complete game?
A complete game is when a pitcher starts and finishes an entire game without being relieved another pitcher.
2. Why have complete games become less common?
Complete games have become less common due to factors such as pitch count management, specialization of bullpens, and concerns for pitcher health.
3. What is the record for most complete games in a single season?
The record for most complete games in a single season is 75, set Will White in 1879. However, this record was set during a different era of baseball.
4. Who holds the record for the most career complete games?
Cy Young holds the record for the most career complete games, with 749. This record is considered one of the most unbreakable records in baseball history.
5. Are complete games still valued teams and players?
While the emphasis on complete games has diminished, they are still valued as a display of a pitcher’s skill, endurance, and ability to dominate a game.
6. How does pitch count affect complete games?
Pitch count management aims to preserve a pitcher’s health and minimize the risk of injury. As such, pitchers are often removed from games earlier, reducing the likelihood of complete games.
7. Have any pitchers thrown a perfect game as a complete game?
Yes, there have been 23 perfect games in Major League Baseball history, all of which were completed the same pitcher who started the game.
8. Are complete games more common in the postseason?
Complete games are relatively rare in the postseason, as teams often employ a quicker hook and rely heavily on their bullpens.
9. Can the decline in complete games be reversed?
It is unlikely that complete games will regain their prominence. The game of baseball has shifted towards a more specialized and analytical approach, which prioritizes bullpen matchups and pitcher health.
10. Has the rise of technology impacted the decline of complete games?
The rise of technology, including pitch tracking and advanced analytics, has contributed to the decline of complete games providing more data to guide pitching decisions.
11. Are there any rule changes that could impact the number of complete games?
While there have been discussions about potential rule changes to incentivize complete games, such as shortening the season or implementing a pitch count limit, no significant changes have been made thus far.
12. Are complete games still celebrated fans and the baseball community?
Complete games are still celebrated as a remarkable achievement fans, players, and the baseball community. They hold a certain nostalgic appeal and evoke memories of a gone era.
13. Are complete games more common in certain ballparks?
Certain ballparks, known for their spacious dimensions or pitcher-friendly conditions, may see a slightly higher number of complete games. However, overall, the trend of declining complete games is consistent across all ballparks.
14. What would it take for complete games to make a significant comeback?
For complete games to make a significant comeback, there would need to be a shift in the strategic approach of teams, a reevaluation of pitch count management, and a change in the overall mindset of the baseball community regarding pitcher usage.
In conclusion, the number of complete games pitched in 2024 is likely to remain low, continuing the declining trend witnessed in recent years. While complete games may be a rarity, they continue to captivate fans and remind us of the exceptional abilities of certain pitchers. As the game of baseball evolves, complete games remain a symbol of endurance, skill, and the timeless beauty of America’s pastime.