By In Stuff

Happy Pi Day

Great stuff from High Heat stats — hat tip to brilliant reader Joe — on National Pi Day.

High Heat Stats figured out which pitchers had seasons ERAs closest to Pi — an inspired idea on NPD Day.* So of course I had to get in on this, largely because I’m in Vegas, and if I’m not comparing pitchers’ ERAs to Pi I’m out there losing money.

*Through a convoluted series of events — I took out $100 from the Las Vegas ATM, it gave me a $100 bill, I found that odd, I tweeted “How many places in America will you get $100 from an ATM Machine and they give you a $100 bill,” several people tweeted that ATM Machine is repetitive — I have with help from brilliant readers come up with a pretty good repetitive abbreviation/acronym list, including some sports ones.

— ATM Machine

— SEC Conference

— PIN Number

— POW Prisoner

— SSN Number

— NASCAR Racing

— NIT Tournament

— GPS System

— The TPC (for The The Players Championship not the course)

— PDF Format

— The Los Angeles Angels (translated as The The Angels Angels).

— CSI Investigator

— NDP Party (for Canadian readers!)

— SUV Vehicle

— SAT Test

— MLB Baseball

Anyway, 38 pitchers since 1901 have qualified for the ERA title with a 3.14 ERA.

The best ERA+ among them was Frank Viola in 1993 — his 3.14 ERA was worth a 148 ERA+.

The worst ERA+ among them was Clarence Mitchell in 1916 — the balls as so dead that a 3.14 ERA was an 83 ERA+ which is flat horrible. Pedro Astacio had an 83 ERA+ in 1998; that was a 6.23 ERA.

Four pitchers carry Pi out to three decimal points (3.141), and this included Fernando Valenzuela in 1986. Fernando won 21 games that year and had 20 complete games, in case you were wondering. Twenty complete games. Sheesh.

Three of the four pitchers carry Pi out to four decimal points (3.1415). They are Mel Parcell in 1948, Paul Foytack in

1957 and Jerry Koosman in 1970. All three pitched exactly 212 innings and gave up exactly 74 earned runs. Even more striking, Parcell and Koosman both allowed 13 unearned runs. They did it very differently — Parcell only struck out 74 batters all year, but he also only allowed seven home runs. Koosman struck out 118 (exact same as Foytack) but gave up 22 home runs.

And — here’s the big finish: Can you name the pitcher with at least 300 innings pitched whose ERA is closest to Pi? Obviously I wouldn’t ask unless it was absolutely the perfect — THE PERFECT — pitcher for such a thrilling designation. You ready?

The pitcher with a career ERA closest to Pi is … Mike Marshall.*

*CORRECTION. I had figured ERAs wrong … Baseball Reference, which is the greatest site on planet Earth, has one quirk where in their statistics they mark 1/3 of an inning as .1 and two-thirds of an inning as .2. I have no idea why they do this but whenever i use their stats this messes me up. Mike Marshall threw 1,387 2/3 innings in his career, and is you figure those 2/3 of an inning at .2 he is the pitcher closes to Pi. However, when you note it correctly, Marshall is actually not the closest to Pi. The closes it Mel Queen. Ah well. It’s still cool that Dr. Mike Marshall, who was always as much a mathematician as pitcher, finished with a 3.14 ERA.

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33 Responses to Happy Pi Day

  1. Unknown says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Shim Peener says:

    Actually, “the Los Angeles Angels” is really translated into “The The Angels Angels.”

  3. Bill says:

    I’ll bite. Why is Mike Marshall the perfect pitcher for such a thrilling designation?

  4. The Stork says:

    I feel better knowing I am not the only one who wants to know why Mike Marshall

  5. adam says:

    I believe he was much more intellectual than most of his baseball-playing peers.

  6. David in NYC says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. David in NYC says:

    Not to be nit-picky — OK, just to be nit-picky — but pi to three decimals is 3.142, and to four decimals 3.1416 (assuming the usual conventions for rounding). And Marshall’s career ERA (3.141346153846) is .000246499743 higher than pi (3.141592653589).

    Joe, you need to check your sources. 😉

    And, yes, baseball is my favorite sport because of all the stats. Why do you ask?

  8. Paul White says:

    For some local KC flavor, my favorite repetitive acronym is when United Missouri Bank became UMB Bank.

    • Eric says:

      This comment has been removed by the author.

    • Eric says:

      +1. BofA is apparently comfortable with their acronym by itself, so why does United Missouri feel the need to be redundant with their moniker? Could using my PIN number to access the ATM Machine at UMB Bank cause neutrinos to exceed the speed of light in a vacuum?

  9. Dinky says:

    Another fairly famous redundancy: The La Brea Tar Pits is The The Tar Tar Pits after translation.

    Agree with David’s statement about pi. 3.1416 is less than 0.000074 away from pi, but 3.1415 is .00092653589 away. It’s semantics; instead of saying closest to pi, say matches pi, and your numbers are then acceptable.

  10. JJSKCK says:

    Mike Marshall has a PhD in kinesiology, and is known for encouraging a radical change to pitching physics – a radical overhand delivery with a fastball-screwball base, rather than the 3/4 sinker-slider so common today.

  11. I have to say, I’ve never in my life heard anyone say POW Prisoner. I don’t think I’ve heard SUV Vehicle either.

  12. Ian says:

    I once made a list of repetitive acronyms (which I termed “repetitive redundancies”) on my blog. Some others I remember from it:

    PAC code
    ICBM missile

  13. Mets Fan says:

    SEC Conference is not repetitive. The “C” in SEC stands for “Commission.”

  14. Nick says:

    On the ESPN network I once heard an anchor refer to “The IRL racing league”.

  15. allan says:

    I also have never heard a lot of these, including NDP Party. I’ve been in Canada only 6 years but it’s always the NDP.

  16. Unknown says:

    My personal favorite (most loathed) repetitive acronym was for the Georgia Carpet Outlet, who around the same time Kentucky Fried Chicken officially became KFC, shortened their name to the GCO, yet insisted on referring to themselves as the “GCO Carpet Outlet” in their commercials.

  17. Joe says:

    Haha “the the Angels Angels.” That is fantastic.

  18. I’ve also never heard POW prisoner.

  19. bigsteveno says:

    I love posts about ERA averages.

  20. mo_positive says:

    I graduated from college with a 3.14 GPA in my major: Mathematics

  21. nightflyblog says:

    William Safire’s On Language columns used to refer to a mythical group of grammarians dedicated to stamping out redundnacies – The Squad Squad.

  22. JGA says:

    Must have been from the Department of Redundancy Department…

  23. JRW says:

    You must mean Mel Parnell not “Parcell”.

  24. Jon says:

    Speaking of Parnell, RIP. He hailed from the days when people thought lefties couldn’t win at Fenway.

  25. Freealonzo says:

    Wthi JoePos blogging every 3rd week, he should call this Blog “Old News.”

  26. Dennise says:

    Thanks for the post. I really appreciate it.

    Atm Machine

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