Bartolo Colon threw 38 consecutive strikes Wednesday night. He also threw 70 other pitches, which were consecutive, but people don't care so much about those 70 pitches. Maybe you feel like you've heard enough about Colon's strike streak, but you're wrong. You can't hear enough about it. It's so unbelievable I still haven't grasped how unbelievable it is.
In an earlier feature, I linked to a FanGraphs post on the odds of Colon throwing 38 strikes in a row, but I figured I should give it its own entry. So here again is Dave Cameron, on Bartolo Colon:
Last night, we got 38 consecutive strikes without a ball. Binomial distribution tells us that the odds of that occurring, given what we know about Colon’s career strike percentage, is about 0.000000246. In other words, you’d expect to find one string of 38 consecutive strikes if you had a population of approximately 4.1 million strings of pitches thrown by Bartolo Colon. One in 4.1 million.
Dave issues an update that acknowledges that the math isn't that easy. And it isn't - the pitches aren't all independent of one another. But this works as an approximation, and if you just focus on the "million" part, you kind of get how crazy this was. Colon's achievement wasn't as visibly impressive or jaw-dropping as some other achievements, but it was statistically improbable.
By the way, here's Colon's first ball after the streak:
I would be steamed!