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Will Matt Cain Throw A No-Hitter?

Recently, I mentioned that a cool stat would be a pitcher's percentage likelihood of throwing a no-hitter.  Little did I know, Bill James devised this exact formula.

I plugged in Matt Cain's career numbers.  His chances of throwing a no-hitter in any given start are 0.27%.  Not too bad! Nolan Ryan's chances in any given start were 0.35%.

So after figuring that out it's just a volume game.  If Cain makes 100 career starts, we should expect 0.27 no-hitters.  It follows that if he makes 364 career starts and maintains his hit rate, he should be expected to throw exactly one no-hitter. (Let's not get into his hit rate worsening after his peak right now). 

Can Cain make that many career starts?  I honestly have no idea, but it seems reasonable on the surface (about 13 seasons).  John Smoltz is his top comparable, and Smoltz is at 429 starts so far.  However, a lot of promising young guys never sniff 300 career starts.  Browsing Cain's top ten comparables, only two have reached 300 (Smoltz and Andy Benes, although Josh Beckett has a shot).

Still, I think it's fair to say that over the life of his new contract, it's nearly a coin flip that Cain tosses a no-no. 


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This just goes to show the exact limitations of statistics. Before we knew the exact number we would have labeled it a "coin-flip" after the statistics we can't get any better a sense than a "coin-flip"

yea, how little math has ever contributed to the world.

Well it's easy to say in hindsight that it is a coin-flip. But would you really have known with that kind of precision? Would you have said a coin-flip this year? Or a coin-flip that he does it once in his career?

Yup. Hindsight is 20/20 my friends

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