The Role of Strikeouts in MLB's Future
und, sabermetricks too? Vot next?


Every person, up to and including Edgar Martinez, has his plusses and minuses.  At BJOL there is a chap named Dave Fleming who unapologetically manifests several of each.  On the one hand, he's on the James team and he writes well.  On the other hand, he's a drag to talk politics with and he has your grampa's aversion to watching baseball strikeouts of any kind.  There could be other things to put on the ledger, we're guessing, but those are the ones that affect MY life the most.

Combining all four of those ingredients into one tasty Jell-O fruit dessert, we've got his latest BJOL article.  It starts, like many of the world's most beloved tweets also do these days, with a compelling observation or two.  Delivered in a less-than-sightly manner, perhaps.  But it's the substance, not the style, that sticks with you:

(1) The three best strikeout offenses in the AL are:  Houston ... Cleveland ... and Yankee$.  Yep, those teams are 13-14-15 in offensive strikeouts.  (Twelfth is the Royals.)

(2) The three best strikeout pitching staffs in the AL are:  Houston ... Cleveland ... and Yankee$.  Yep again, those teams are 1-2-3 in pitching strikeouts.

Fleming sees in this a great philosophical conception on the part of Fleming, namely the idea that as strikeouts go up --- > then the opportunity to make a difference in that category goes up.  (We kid, Dave.)  

He illustrates it well with a little thought experiment:  suppose in your baseball league the worst team fanned 3 times per game.  Then even if you fanned 0 times, there's not much difference.  But!  Supposing the worst team fanned 10, 12 times per game.  Then by fanning 0 times you could put 12, 15 more balls in play in a single game.

Fair enough, and we'll /cosign that to an extent.  Dr. D is all for James Paxton's 10 strikeout/game ability, as opposed to Christian Bergman's 4 or whatever it is.  Occasionally our own postgames will mention that we won a box score by 6:4 eye ratio to 9:2 eye ratio.  Baseball is about the strike zone, ya youbetcha.


But let's not get carried away, because deep counts carry with them Three Outcomes, not one:


Hey Bill.  An interesting quote attributed to Pee Wee Reese at the end of his Baseball Reference Bullpen article: "If I had my career to play over, one thing I'd do differently is swing more. Those 1,200 walks I got ... nobody remembers them."    
Wow.  Although it sounds made somewhat tongue in cheek, it sorta' sends shivers down my spine.
Asked by: wilbur

Answered: 6/29/2017
 Thanks.   Would you mind if I stole your quote for an article I am working on?   It fits for me. . .


More than that, it never DID bother me to watch players swinging and missing.  The industry rate is 10%, 11% right now for swings and misses.  The ball never was "live" for a big percentage of baseball time, anyway :- )

Personally I enjoy watching Mariners pitchers throw the ball by people, more than it bothers me to watch a Mariner take a close strike three.  I think the industry trend is toward controlling the zone, more than it is away from strikeouts as such.


Some wag pointed out the Astros were worst in the league for K's just a little while ago.  There's something to be said for player development, too...

It's a funny thing, though.  The last 30 days, though the M's have played well, their EYE ratios have left room for complaint.  Here, check this graph:

Gamel at 0.23, Zuumball at 0.20, Haniger in the 40's, even Heredia only 0.30, Valencia and Dyson right there with Heredia, nobody really doing well except Cano, Cruz and Segura.  Sometimes I wonder if the M's coaching staff doesn't go a little far in its zeal to get their hitters to take close pitches.  Eric Wedge would wonder that too.






I'm surprised that could be such a blindspot for a team dedicated to C-the-Z. Seems they'd be constantly evaluating what gets results there, rather than continuing to bark up the wrong tree after a month of sub-par results.

Oh well. I have little room to complain, looking at the overall impact the current leadership has wrought. Let's see how they tweak things in the second half, both through in-house adaptation and fresh blood brought in.

Jpax's picture

I suspect that they are doing the best they can and living with players they inherited. As you see development and graduation from the minor leagues over time, we will see much better C-the-Z. But, I also was very surprised by the numbers??

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