When a great pitcher does something, it becomes synonymous with them. For example, when a pitcher throws a complete game shutout with fewer than 100 pitches, it is known as a Maddux. Certainly, it is a fitting tribute to the Hall of Famer because Greg Maddux accomplished that feat 13 times, which is almost more than double than anyone since he made his Major League debut.
The issue becomes what do you call something that a pitcher accomplishes something even fewer times than what Maddux accomplished in his career. What exactly do you call what Noah Syndergaard did on Thursday (or Thorsday if you are being cute).
Prior to Syndergaard, there have been only seven other pitchers who have accomplished this feat. Looking at the pitchers, there are some Hall of Famers and some forgotten names as well:
- Gene Packard (1915)
- Red Ruffing (1932)
- Spud Chandler (1938)
- Early Wynn (1959)
- Jim Bunning (1965)
- Juan Pizarro (1971)
- Bob Welch (1988)
Looking at this list, there are three Hall of Famers, four retired players, and of course Syndergaard. With respect to the three Hall of Famers (Ruffing, Wynn, Bunning), each one of them had fairly impressive home run totals for a pitcher. Ruffing hit 36 homers, Wynn hit 17, and Bunning hit seven. Each one of them had 40 or more shutouts in their careers.
For his part, Bunning is known as the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter in both leagues. He’s also the first National League pitcher to throw a perfect game in the modern era. Wynn is the pitcher ironically known for the pitcher who took the longest between wins 299 and 300. While it may not be as well known, Wynn is also the “most linkable” player in Major League history.
When breaking it down, you could make the argument the feat of shutting out an opponent and hitting a homer to give yourself the 1-0 win should be called “The Ruffing.” After all, he had 45 career shutouts and 31 career homers. If we are being honest, both marks are likely well out of Syndergaard’s reach.
And yet, despite that, like Syndergaard, Ruffing has only accomplished the feat once. Unlike Syndergaard, Ruffing will never have an opportunity to accomplish the feat again. Another consideration is Ruffing retired not just 15 year prior to the Expansion Era but also eight years prior to Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. In sum, while Ruffing is a Hall of Famer on one of the most historic teams of all-time, he’s too remote a figure to have this feat dubbed for him.
When you factor in setting StatCast records hitting 100 MPH homers in the same game he’s throwing 100 MPH, and his big personality, making this feat eponymous with Syndergaard makes sense. As a result, the feat of hitting a homer to win your own shutout should be forever referred to as “The Syndergaard.”