Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Strikeouts are killing baseball

May 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Hitting

No worries. Apparently nobody cares anymore.

When I was in the Twins organization, I had a teammate who was a power hitter who struck out a lot.  Another teammate was kidding him about his strikeout totals and the power hitter said the following:

“An out is an out.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a ground ball, a pop-up, or a strike out.  They are all the same thing.”

His response was so foreign to me that I thought he was kidding.  He wasn’t.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, that mentality has now swept through the game and is now embraced by the people at the MLB level who run the game.  It’s a shame because I think it is one factor that is making baseball very unappealing to young viewers.

I took striking out very personally.  I choked up with two strikes, moved a little closer to the plate, widened my stance a little, had a take-it-the-other-way mentality, and did everything I could to put the ball in play.  One of my favorite accomplishments was leading the Minnesota Twins minor league system in least amount of strikeouts per at-bat ratio in my rookie season.  That doesn’t seem to be a coveted award these days.  

Consider these numbers …

In the year I was born (1967), MLB hitters combined for 19,413 strikeouts.  In 2016, it was 38,982. (Baseball-Reference.com).  There were only 20 MLB teams back then but the current strikeout ratio is still much higher.  And a total disgrace.

Take a recent Yankees-Cubs game this past Sunday night.  It’s worth noting that the Yankees have the American League’s best hitting team as I write this.  The Cubs are 5th best in the National League.  The game went 18 innings and lasted over 6 hours.  There were a total of 48 strikeouts for the game which I heard was a record.  I did some research and some calculations and here are some things to ponder.  Or get sick over.  Take your pick.

  • There were 63 official Cub at-bats and 65 official Yankee at-bats.  Add 15 walks and 2 sac bunts and that brings the total at-bats for both teams to 135.  48 of those were strikeouts.  On average, that’s a strikeout every three at-bats.
  • 18 full innings were played.  6 outs per inning make a total of 108 outs during the game.  48 strikeouts provided for 44% of the outs.
  • There were 14 half-innings where two or more batters struck out.
  • There were 8 innings where 3 or more of the 6 outs were strikeouts.

And here are the kickers …

  • 48 K’s and 15 walks means that there were 63 at-bats during a single MLB game where every fielder behind the pitcher stood still and watched absolutely nothing happen.  So did the fans.
  • A normal 9-inning MLB game typically includes anywhere from 60-70 official at-bats on average.  63 at-bats means that the length of an entire game went by without a ball being hit into fair territory.
  • From the end of the 9th inning until 1 out in the bottom of the 11th, every hitter that went to the plate struck out.  10 strikeouts in a row.  10 straight MLB at-bats (33 minutes worth) where NOT A SINGLE MLB BATTER PUT THE BALL IN PLAY.

Is anyone really surprised that droves of kids are leaving baseball for soccer and lacrosse?

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