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Monday, July 02, 2012

Thoma: Taking a swing at a subtle change

Or to parmaphrase Michael the Kay…“Andy Pettitte now has *8* strikeouts in the game!! He must have discovered a strikeout pitch while he was retired!!” Uhh, no.

Strikeouts up. Walks steady. What in the name of Jim Thome is going on here?

I think it’s sabermetrics. Specifically, it’s rooted in the knowledge that strikeouts are not a zero-sum game.

The work of Bill James and others have determined that

  - Strikeouts are no worse than other outs for hitters. What is lost to the offense is often more than gained in increased power.
  - Strikeouts are a major positive for pitchers. Pitchers with better than league strikeout rates tend to be more successful and have longer careers.

These two facts have naturally led the statistically informed general managers to emphasize strikeouts for pitchers and ignore them for hitters.

And when enough teams do that, the strikeout rate is bound to rise.

...At that time, five strikeouts per nine innings was respectable. A pitcher could have, and maintain, success that way.

But the standards have changed. The new normal requires more strikeouts from pitchers.

Repoz Posted: July 02, 2012 at 06:10 AM | 3 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics, twins

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. John DiFool2 Posted: July 02, 2012 at 07:43 AM (#4171090)
Strikeouts are no worse than other outs for hitters.

But they are worse than balls in play. My fear is that we are currently headed towards an era with depressed batting averages with few balls in play; home runs are exciting of course, but most of the action in the game occurs when the ball is put in play.
   2. Srul Itza Posted: July 02, 2012 at 03:49 PM (#4171518)
But they are worse than balls in play

After watching Robbie bounce weakly into a 1-2-3 double play in the first inning, effectively destroying a bases-loaded, nobody out situation, I have to say, not always.

Of course, Robbie redeemed himself later in the game, but still I was thinking at the time, God Dammit, why couldn't you just strike out there?

   3. The TVerik of Lordly Might Posted: July 02, 2012 at 04:47 PM (#4171556)
That was kind of the worst AB in the world, Srul. I told the wife during it that he was going to hit into a triple play, which I guess would have been worse than that. But Robby couldn't even hit it hard enough for that to happen.

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