Monday Justin Verlander struck out seven Minnesota Twins in five strong innings of work. To many observers he is simply the best pitcher on the planet. We all know what he can do against major league competition, but how would he fare against some kids? Not minor leaguers in spring camp. I mean actual kids.
How many middle school students would Justin Verlander strike out consecutively?
Well, how many? Have a number in your head? Let's take a look a the question more deeply because ... um ... reasons!
First, a couple of assumptions:
Justin wants badly to strike out each of the students. Pretend he gets a new fancy car or a swimsuit model for each victim he punches out.
This is a random sample of Michigan middle school students (sixth through eighth grade for our purposes). The group of kids is co-ed; half boys, half girls.
This exercise takes place in Comerica Park with a standard ball and wood bat (the bat can be a small size and light weight though)
Second, some things to consider:
The kids only have to put the ball in play to break the streak. Now, many of the students are going to be super afraid and not even going to try to swing at the ball. I would think most sixth grade girls are going to be terrified. But there are some pretty capable girls and there is always those early puberty boys that are sporting an Avila style beard in 8th grade. I would say, maybe half of the 7th and 8th grade boys are going to have enough bravado to really try to hit the big leaguer. So this means at least 1/6 of the students have a fighting chance to put it in play.
If Justin walks somebody it breaks the streak. Pretending there is an orange traffic barrel in the batter's box, a major-league pitcher can avoid a walk almost every time, right? Almost every time. There is a small chance Justin could walk even a tiny, cowering Justice shopper in the first few batters. Plus, most of the batters are going to have a tiny strike zone.
Justin could plunk a hitter. This would awesome. Remember that scene from Happy Gilmore when the kid steps into the cage? Just like that.
Third, there IS an upper limit. Justin is going to get tired at some point, right? Even if the strikeouts come fast and easy on 80 mph fastballs, how many pitches can the guy throw? 200? 250? 300? Let's say he only throws strikes 300 times, he's not going to strike out more that 100 consecutive middle schoolers, so if your number is over 100 you are nuts.
Finally, a prediction:
Justin mows down most batters with ease, but as things progress and he faces more batters the chances increase that some little brat taps a dribbler back to the mound. We know that Doug Fister set the American League record for consecutive strike outs last year with nine in a game against the Royals. I think it's pretty safe to say Justin can do better against these tiny batters. I would put the over/under at 14. It's just to hard to keep a streak alive without something fluky happening.
Now the only question left is 'how many middle schoolers in a row could strike out Verlander?'.
What do you say? How many middle school students would Justin Verlander strike out consecutively?