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Perfecto not an indicator of club fortunes

Perfecto not an indicator of club fortunes

While Chicago White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle's perfect game on Thursday will be one for the ages, it probably won't signal a change in fortunes for his White Sox second half of 2009, if history is any indication.

It does, however, bode well for his own personal statline, but that didn't need a whole lot of help even before he hurled the 18th perfect game in Major League history.

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Taking a look back at the 16 regular-season perfect games thrown prior to Buehrle's outing on Thursday (not counting Don Larsen's perfecto in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series), a glance at the pitchers' respective team records before and after their perfect games shows an remarkable level of consistency.

Only one of the 16 teams -- Len Barker's 1981 Cleveland Indians -- saw its fortunes either rise or fall dramatically from its prior numbers after the historic game, as his club had started off at 15-8 prior to his May 15 gem, before going 37-43 after. It's worth noting this was a strike year, ergo the low number of games played.

Dating back to the first perfect game thrown in what is considered the modern era by, fittingly, Cy Young in 1904, and throwing out clubs that had either played fewer than 10 games before the "big event" or had 10 or fewer left to go, six of the seven teams that were over .500 at the time continued to win after the fact, while three of the four that were below .500 stayed there as well. (The victory notched in the perfect game is included in these totals).

Of the remaining two teams, one was 70-71 before the game and 7-6 afterward, and one was 70-68 before the perfect game and finished playing .500 ball at 12-12, both very close to the norm.

Even those with a minimal sample size stayed close to the norm: 3-2 before, 87-62 after; 1-0 before and 80-81 after.

And a look at the final numbers of the pitchers themselves show that "perfection" was not a fluke. Only one of the 17 pitchers prior to Buehrle (including Larsen's regular 1956 campaign) finished that season with an ERA above 4.00: Kenny Rogers of the Texas Rangers, who posted just a 4.46 ERA for the strike-abbreviated 1994 season.

Six of the remaining 16 wound up with ERAs below 3.00, and Buehrle is certainly in line to join them, with an 11-3 record and a 3.28 ERA now, which ranks him seventh in the American League ERA race and gives him a share of the league lead in victories. Even before the outing, he had a more-than-respectable 3.52 ERA, and the mark has not been above 3.66 at any point during the season.

Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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