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Increase in Batter Strikeout Rates

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  • Blackout
    replied
    what we need to do is get rid of strikeout pitchers then

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  • Iron Jaw
    replied
    Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
    whole other thing to bat .210 and strikeout 164 times.
    He'd better be one heck of a fielder.

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  • AstrosFan
    replied
    Originally posted by AstrosFan View Post
    Let's say you set the minimum OPS for a player to stay on the field at .700. You could then calculate the BABIP needed to stay at that level, given the player's AB, HR, K, BA, OBP, and SLG, with a little algebraic manipulation.

    ((.7-(OBP-BA)-(SLG-BA))/2-HR/AB)/(1-HR/AB-K/AB)

    Of the five players who are on pace for 200+ K per 600 AB, none of them need a BABIP higher than .254 to keep their OPS at .700 or above.
    Looking further at it, it would seem that some seasons are just too good in the isolated power/isolated on-base departments for that formula to really work. A great Babe Ruth season, for example, shows that a negative BABIP is necessary, which is meaningless. But you can show what BABIP is necessary to maintain a particular BA, and that works across all levels of performance, given a full season. Let's say we were curious what it took to get a .300 BA. Then the formula is:

    (.3-HR/AB)/(1-HR/AB-K/AB)

    Edit: The formula might be simpler as (.3*AB-HR)/(AB-HR-K)
    Last edited by AstrosFan; 06-01-2008, 06:09 PM.

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  • AstrosFan
    replied
    Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
    Many of your on pace 150+ strikeout hitters and "slap hitters" will not make it to 150 this season because they are playing so badly. It it is one thing to hit 50 homers and strikeout 180 times and a whole other thing to bat .210 and strikeout 164 times.

    There is 6 guys on that list with an OPS of less then .700.

    Khalil Green has a .577 OPS to go along with his 57 strikeouts. Performing like that doesn't start any kind of trend for baseball.
    Let's say you set the minimum OPS for a player to stay on the field at .700. You could then calculate the BABIP needed to stay at that level, given the player's AB, HR, K, BA, OBP, and SLG, with a little algebraic manipulation.

    ((.7-(OBP-BA)-(SLG-BA))/2-HR/AB)/(1-HR/AB-K/AB)

    Of the five players who are on pace for 200+ K per 600 AB, none of them need a BABIP higher than .254 to keep their OPS at .700 or above.

    Leave a comment:


  • SHOELESSJOE3
    replied
    No doubt the change in pitching over the years plays a part, to what degree can't say with certainty. Also true more hitters going for the long ball and for sure that plays a part. Go for the long ball sacrifice some contact.

    Depending on how far back you go there was a time when "most" middle infielders would try to get on, make contact let the big guys drive them in. Not so today, many a middle infielder swinging from the heels. True todays middle infielders on average are bigger, they can hit one out but thats not the point, point is they are going for downtown, more strikeouts on average.

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  • stevebogus
    replied
    One thing I didn't mention, but probably plays a role, is the trend toward standardization. Does anyone teach a "slap-hitting" style? I doubt it. While batting coaches do have different philosophies of hitting and teach different technique they pretty much all have the goal of hitting the ball hard, which requires a powerful swing. Teams rarely draft smaller athletes, the kind of players without HR power who would need to focus on making contact.

    Here is a list of strikeout-prone players, those who struck out at least 150 times a season:

    Dave Nicholson 1963, 175 Ks in 520 PA, 33.65%. A big strong guy who swung hard in case he hit it. Regarded as having enormous potential, very similar to Dave Kingman. Didn't make contact enough to hold a job, this was the most he played. for his career he struck out 34.50% of the time.

    Don Lock 1963, 151 Ks in 611 PA, 24.71%. A 26 year old centerfielder playing his first full season. He had a good glove, some power, and good strike zone judgement. Never really developed beyond what he was this season and his playing time shrank as soon as he started to slip.

    Side note: 1963 was the first season of the expanded strike zone (1963-1968)and this was the first season we get 150-K batters.

    Dick Allen 1965, 150 Ks in 707 PA, 21.22%. A great hitter with a big swing. This was Allen's 2nd year, and he played the second half of the season with an injured shoulder.

    George Scott 1966, 152 Ks in 681 PA, 22.32%. Boomer's rookie season, and 22 more Ks than he would have in any other season. When he slumped horribly in 1968 his K rate was actually slightly higher, but he lost his regular job for a while.

    Frank Howard 1967, 155 Ks in 585 PA, 26.50%. Hondo was 30 and still developing as a hitter, this was a transition year for him, his 36 HRs a harbinger of his terrific 1968-1970 run. This was the worst strikeout rate of his career, it would drop substantially in 1968. Perhaps he was trying something different at the plate and hadn't got used to it yet.

    Reggie Jackson 1968, 171 Ks in 614 PA, 27.85%. Reggie's first full season and The Year of the Pitcher.

    Donn Clendenon 1968, 163 Ks in 645 PA, 25.27%. Always struck out a lot, Donn's K rate jumped in '68. He was 32 and this was his last season as a full-time player.

    Dick Allen 1968, 161 Ks in 605 PA, 26.61%. Allen's biggest K year came after he severed the nerves in his right hand. Presumably he was still adapting at the plate, and pitchers dominated in 1968.

    Bobby Bonds 1969, 187 Ks in 720 PA, 25.97%. His first full season. Bonds usually led off, meaning he got lots of trips to the plate. A great talent, he could do everything well except make contact.

    Larry Hisle 1969, 152 Ks in 537 pA, 28.31%. Just 22, this was his rookie season and he looked like an upcoming star. But he slumped badly in 1970 and his K rate increased to 29.70%, sending him back to the minors. He would make it back as a regular with the Twins after he cut his K rate down.

    Bobby Bonds 1970, 189 Ks in 745 PA, 25.37%. 1970 was a hitter's year and Bonds got more trips to the plate. He reduced his K rate slightly but increased his K record by 2. 189 Ks would remain the record for 34 years. After 1970 bonds reduced his K rate further, never exceeding 148 Ks.

    Tommie Agee 1970, 156 Ks in 696 PA, 22.41%. A terrific centerfielder who could be inconsistent at the plate. His K rate in 1970 wasn't much different from the rest of his career, but he got enough trips to the plate to make this list.

    Nate Colbert 1970, 150 Ks in 636 PA, 23.58%. His second full year, hit 38 HRs and became one of the most dangerous hitters in the NL for a few seasons.

    So, as of 1970 we have a new K record that would last about as long as Babe's HR record. Sluggers could get away with a 22-27% K rate or so, but 33% was too high to hold a job.

    Reggie Jackson 1971, 161 Ks in 642 PA, 25.08%. Cut down his Ks from 26.26% in his poor 1970 season. In his 47-HR 1969 season Reggie was at 20.97%.

    Willie Stargell 1971, 154 Ks in 606 PA, 25.41%. Stargell's K rate spiked upward along with a big increase in HRs hit. This was the Pirates' first full season in Three Rivers Stadium and may coincide with a change in Stargell's approach to hitting.

    Mike Schmidt 1975, 180 Ks in 674 PA, 26.71%. Schmidt's third season. In his rookie year he struck out over 30% of the time and batted just .196, made significant improvement in his sophomore season, but backslid slightly in 1975.

    Dave Kingman 1975, 153 Ks in 543 PA, 28.18%. This represents a significant improvement over Kingman's 1973 and 1974 seasons. Kingman entered the majors late in 1971 and was mostly a regular in 1972 although the Giants moved him from 3B to LF to 1B to see if he could actually play any of them. His K rate was around 26.5% for those seasons. But in 1973 he was striking out so much (34.76%) the Giants cut his playing time back. In 1974 Kingmans K rate remained very high (31.81%) and he was traded to the Mets after the season.

    Greg Luzinski 1975, 151 Ks in 701 PA, 21.54%. His K rate was not much different from the rest of his career, Luzinski just came to the plate more often in 1975.

    Jeff Burroughs 1975, 155 Ks in 672 PA, 23.07%. Burroughs won the MVP in 1974 but 1975 was a disaster for him. His K rate was abnormal compared to his career and indicative of the season-long slump.

    Butch Hobson 1977, 162 Ks in 637 PA, 25.43%. Hobson's first full season.

    Gary Alexander 1978, 166 Ks in 563 PA, 29.48%. Traded in midseason, this was the only season in which Alexander held a regular job. Wasn't much of a catcher and didn't hit enough to be a valuable DH.

    Gorman Thomas 1979, 175 Ks in 668 PA, 26.20%. Tied Nicholson's AL record for Ks but took 148 additional PAs to do it.
    Gorman Thomas 1980, 170 Ks in 697 PA, 24.39%.

    For the 1980s and beyond I'm just going to highlight a some careers.

    Jack Cust- 32.08%
    Bo Jackson- 32.03%
    Rob Deer- 31.23%
    Mark Reynolds- 30.92%
    Mark Bellhorn- 29.02%
    Ryan Howard- 28.76%
    Justin Upton- 27.54%
    Jose Hernandez- 27.33%
    Adam Dunn- 26.45%
    Carlos Pena- 25.77%
    Cory Snyder- 25.22%
    Preston Wilson- 24.46%
    Jim Thome- 24.30%

    Only four players since 1970 have had any kind of career while striking out over 30% of the time. Two of those players are active today (Cust, Reynolds) and might improve with experience. The most strikeout-prone player in history remains Dave Nicholson who played 1960-1967. In order for 200-K batters to become "common" managers and general managers are going to have to tolerate batters with .220 averages or less. Maybe they will if such a player comes along who walks 100+ times a season and clubs 40+ HRs, like Adam Dunn.

    More likely, what we will see is a continued increase in batters who K perhaps 24%-28% of the time, who will strikeout in the 140-180 range. There are a fair number of those players around right now. But several of them are young, and young players have historically struck out the most when they begin their career, then reduce Ks as they get accustomed to major league pitching.
    Last edited by stevebogus; 06-01-2008, 04:21 PM. Reason: completed post

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  • SamtheBravesFan
    replied
    I see your point. However, I will say that I think there should never have been a stigma on people striking out "too much" in the first place.

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  • Ubiquitous
    replied
    Many of your on pace 150+ strikeout hitters and "slap hitters" will not make it to 150 this season because they are playing so badly. It it is one thing to hit 50 homers and strikeout 180 times and a whole other thing to bat .210 and strikeout 164 times.

    There is 6 guys on that list with an OPS of less then .700.

    Khalil Green has a .577 OPS to go along with his 57 strikeouts. Performing like that doesn't start any kind of trend for baseball.

    Leave a comment:


  • Honus Wagner Rules
    replied
    Originally posted by SamtheBravesFan View Post
    I doubt that. The only ones who can realistically approach that right now are Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn. Who would bud into a 200-strikeout player, just off the top of your head?
    Not true. Players like Justin Upton, Dan Uggla, Mark Reynolds, Jack Cust and many more have shown they can strike out at rates that would put them well into the 170-190 strikeout range. This trend will continue in the future and more and more players will strike out even more. Like I said within 10-15 years the 200 K hitter will be common.

    Here is a list of all players today projected to strikeout at least 150 times. That's 20 players alone on pace for 150 strikeouts. As the stigma of piling up lots of strikeouts fade players will swing for the fences even more. Look at the list. It's just not big power hitters. You have several middle infielders and "slap hitters" as well. Surprisingly, Adam Dunn is only on 147 strikeout pace.

    222 Ryan Howard
    205 Carlos Pena
    196 Justin Upton
    194 Mark Reynolds
    182 San Uggla
    179 Jack Cust
    181- Richie Sexton
    173 Carlos Gomez
    168 Jim Thome
    167 Chris Young
    164 Khalil Green
    161 Hanley Ramirez
    161 Bill Hall
    159 Adam LaRoche
    158 Fred Lewis
    158 Nick Markakis
    156 Matt Kemp
    151 Alex Rios
    151 Gary Matthews Jr
    150 Tadahito Iguchi
    Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 06-01-2008, 06:13 PM.

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  • Iron Jaw
    replied
    Originally posted by stevebogus View Post
    Still, if a hitter chose to choke up and cut down on his swing he could still make himself tough to strikeout. Nobody today is likely to avoid strikeouts like Nellie Fox did (and forget about what Joe Sewell did in the 1920s), but you don't see batters today with that type of approach either.
    You know, I try to teach the kids on my Babe Ruth team bat discipline, and to choke up a bit for bat control and contact. And when they're in the cage, they do, and find themselves making more contact. But in the games, everyone is down on the knob, swinging like Dave Kingman (a legend amongst contact hitters:hyper. Even the little guys who can barely get the ball over second base with their mightiest wallop.

    When I was playing ball in the youth leagues, and even in high school and legion ball, I always choked up a bit. Not a lot, but I was never on the knob. Times have sure changed.

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  • stevebogus
    replied
    I'm convinced the single biggest reason for increased strikeouts is the modern approach to hitting. The idea today is to develop a powerful swing in order to drive the ball hard somewhere, preferably in the air, and to not back down from this. In essense, the Babe Ruth approach to the game has taken over almost completely. A secondary reason is the quality and variety of pitches available today. That doesn't necessarily mean the pitchers today are better, but it does mean that batters are seeing more variety in breaking balls.

    Before Babe Ruth nobody really swung for the fences. Well, maybe except for Gavy Cravath trying to loft opposite-field flyballs against or over the RF wall in the Baker Bowl. I'm sure Cobb, Honus Wagner, Joe Jackson, and other great hitters took a full cut at the ball quite often, but they were trying for line drives and sharp grounders that would be hard to field (given the rough infields and small fielding gloves of the day). I'd bet even they cut down on their swings with 2 strikes. Even Ted Williams choked up on the bat with 2 strikes. For most of baseball history the worst failure of a batter was the strikeout.

    That approach to hitting was born in the deadball era, when homeruns were rare events and scoring runs required more than one swing of the bat. The idea was to get somebody on base and advance them any way you could. All the things we today call "smallball" were deadball era tactics. The stolen base, the hit & run, aggressive baserunning, the sacrifice bunt and the strikeout taboo all arose from the dictum that baserunners had to be advanced. Fail to do this and your team didn't score. Making things even more difficult was the fact that pitchers could do anything they wanted to the baseball. Batters were on the defensive, swinging at dirty and scuffed baseballs which moved oddly.

    In 1920 the offensive climate of the game changed, but the old strategies did not go away overnight. Both batting averages and extra-base hits increased, which changed the dynamics of the game. It changed the risk/reward balance of deadball strategies. The successful managers recognized this. Almost immediately stolen base attempts declined, and with that came an increase in the success rate. Sac bunts also declined, but this might be because there were fewer close games. The strikeout rate plummeted in the 1920s. Batters were seeing clean white baseballs for the first time, and the pitchers were deprived of pitches they had relied on for years. When the ball was scuffed and dirty who needed to actually learn a curveball? The spitball/scuffball ban left many pitchers without a quality breaking ball. The sluggers (Ruth, Wilson, Foxx) led the league in strikeouts then, as sluggers do now, but with strikeout rates about half that of today.

    After 1920 teams were looking for power hitters. However, there weren't enough to go around. Teams always had weak singles hitters. Strikeouts were tolerated from power hitters because everyone recognized the all-or-nothing nature of slugging. But for singles hitters it was different. Strike out too much and your batting average dropped too low to hold a major league job. Also, the singles hitters kept the deadball tactics alive. As the number of power hitters increased the league strikeout rate climbed and smallball faded.

    For about 50 years, from 1920-1976 or so, the science of pitching advanced. In 1920 the main pitches available were the fastball (2-seam, 4-seam, sinking or rising), curveball, and changeup. There were some knuckleball pitchers around too, and spitball pitchers who were grandfathered in after the ban. Let's look at some other pitches:

    The slider- called various names over the years, including the "nickel curve" and the "sailor". Cousin to the "cutter". Credited to Chief Bender, although George Blaeholder was likely the first to use it as a primary pitch. The slider is the most important new pitch developed after the deadball era (although it was invented IN that era). It proved to be relatively easy to learn and because it was thrown faster than a curveball the batters had less time to recognize and react to it.

    The screwball/fadeaway- credited to Christy Mathewson and made famous by Carl Hubbell in the 1930s. Always a rare pitch, as many believe that it damages the arm. This pitch enjoyed a resurgence with several pitchers using it in the 1960s and 1970s before fading away again.

    The forkball- credited to Bullet Joe Bush late in the deadball era, Elroy Face made it famous in the 1950s.

    The splitter- very similar to the forkball although gripped differently. Made famous by Bruce Sutter, and is the last important pitch developed if you count the "cutter" as a variant of the slider.

    With these additional pitches modern pitchers have more ways of defeating the batter. Still, if a hitter chose to choke up and cut down on his swing he could still make himself tough to strikeout. Nobody today is likely to avoid strikeouts like Nellie Fox did (and forget about what Joe Sewell did in the 1920s), but you don't see batters today with that type of approach either.

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  • SamtheBravesFan
    replied
    Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
    I will make a prediction. The 200-strikeout per season hitter will become common in the major leagues in the next 10-15 years.
    I doubt that. The only ones who can realistically approach that right now are Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn. Who would bud into a 200-strikeout player, just off the top of your head?

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  • Honus Wagner Rules
    replied
    I will make a prediction. The 200-strikeout per season hitter will become common in the major leagues in the next 10-15 years.

    Leave a comment:


  • AstrosFan
    started a topic Increase in Batter Strikeout Rates

    Increase in Batter Strikeout Rates

    I would provide a chart, but batter strikeouts weren't kept for part of baseball history. Nevertheless, I believe most of us are aware of the general trend of batter strikeouts going up over time. I believe this is caused by three factors.

    1) Specialization. We cannot say for certain whether starters of today are better than starters of the past. But on a per plate appearance basis, it would seem logical to say that batters should have a tougher time making contact today. Facing a fresh arm is indubitably tougher than facing a tired one. As relief pitching becomes more developed, hitters will find their average matchup has gotten tougher, not necessarily because pitching has improved, but because they are facing fresher arms. This leads to more strikeouts.

    2. Familiarity. With starters taken out of games earlier, and less complete games being pitched, batters are less likely to face a pitcher that extra time in a game. They are then left to face someone whose pitching style is not fresh in their minds for that day. This makes it tougher on the batter. Who would you rather face, a starter for the fourth time, or a reliever for the first time? Again, I am not making a case that today's pitchers are better. Just that the average plate appearance for batters may be tougher.

    3. Equipment and approach. This could be separated into two, but I'm counting it as one, since they relate to one another. Someone once said (I think it was in The Glory of Their Times), that today's batters use whips to hit with. They just go up there and whip that bat around, trying to knock the ball out of the park. No one tries to just meet the ball anymore. With the whip-like bats and the grip-it and rip-it approach, it's no wonder four of the top five single-season strikeout totals came in the past decade.

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