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.