My colleague, Adam Sanford, shared a truly incredible 2017 nugget this morning (a stat that was originally uncovered by Reddit user albanydigital):
In 2017, Craig Kimbrel pitched 9.0 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays and allowed zero hits while striking out 23.
That’s right, in the combined equivalent of one complete game against Tampa Bay, Kimbrel has allowed just one batter to reach base (a Kevin Kiermaier walk), and has struck of 23 of the 28 batters he has faced.
A no-hitter with 23 strikeouts.
Now, there’s obviously a big difference doing this in one game versus spread out over a season one inning at a time, but still, just imagine the Game Score a no-hitter with 23 strikeouts would get. It would break Bill James’s mind. (It’s also a fun reminder that Kerry Wood was almost that good that one game in 1998.)
According to the Baseball-Reference Play Index, Kimbrel’s 23 strikeouts in 28 Rays plate appearances is the highest strikeout/nine of one team in a single season, ever.
And it’s not even particularly close.
The second-highest came in 2014 when Aroldis Chapman racked up 19 strikeouts in his 25 Pittsburgh batters faced.
In honor of the Rays futility against Dirty Craig (a solid 8 out of 10 on the B-Ref nickname scale), here’s a list of activities the Rays would be better off attempting to do than hit successfully off of Kimbrel:
- Passing a bill through Congress
- Getting Space Jam 2 into production
- Winning an argument with your that one uncle of yours
- Collectively climbing Mount Everest
- Explaining to me why football is more popular than baseball
- Wrestling a full-sized Grizzly bear to the ground
- Finding a better on-screen performer than Elizabeth Moss
- Getting the last bowl of Honeycomb to be anything more substantial than dust particles
- Creating a diet plan that is actually satisfying
- Translating the entire Harry Potter series into pig Latin
- Memorizing pi
- Picking out which Lumineers song is which without being able to see the title of the track
- Explaining the series finale of Lost
- Convincing Kyrie Irving that the world isn’t actually flat
- Calling up Brent Honeywell
- Solving world peace
Got any other ideas for tasks the Rays would be more successful at than hitting off Kimbrel? Leave them below.