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Strikeouts Newsbeat

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Plunking Down a Plan to Curb Strikeouts

With all that in mind, my plan for cutting down on league strikeouts is to add the following to the MLB Rulebook:

A team may not hit an opposing batsman with a pitch more than once per game. Any subsequent instances of the same team hitting an opposing batsman with a pitch shall result in the immediate ejection of the offending pitcher, even if the prior hit-by-pitch was committed by a different pitcher.

It’s simple. It leverages an outcome that is already discouraged and penalized. There is ample precedent both for beanballs to result in ejections and for sports leagues to implement escalating in-game penalties. So far as I know, no one has ever proposed this before. And most importantly. it targets the specific behavior that has led to increased strikeouts in at least three distinct ways.

The most obvious impact of this rule would be to tilt the balance back from velocity towards command. A starting pitcher taking the mound in the first inning (probably) isn’t trying to drill the leadoff batter, but if they do, it’s effectively the same thing as a walk or a single. Under my proposal, if the first pitch runs too far inside, they’ve squandered their team’s margin of error right out of the chute. Each side starts the game a single mistake away from being a single mistake away from being in trouble. Would the pitcher be a little more inclined to attack hitters with finesse than to try to overpower them, at least for the first couple innings? You’d have to think so.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 14, 2023 at 10:36 AM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: strikeouts

Sunday, May 07, 2023

When It Comes to Balls in Play, MLB Is Striking Out

When Epstein laid out the changes fans said they wanted, however, the wish list led with “a lot more balls in play.” That type of time travel hasn’t happened. Players may be fielding more like Ozzie and running more like Rickey, as one of the league’s promos this spring promised, but they sure as heck aren’t making contact like those ’80s and ’90s icons did. Despite this season’s revamped rule book, strikeouts are as common as they were last year. The best we can say about MLB’s attempts to corral the K rate and the combined rate of “three true outcomes”—strikeouts, walks, and home runs—is that those figures are no more inflated than they were five years ago. K rates did decline a little in 2021 and 2022, when stricter enforcement of the league’s long-toothless foreign-substance ban, a deadened baseball, and the universal DH tag teamed to end a 15-season streak of increasing strikeouts. But this year’s new rules have thus far failed to hold the line.

It’s not so surprising that the no-contact tide’s rise has resumed, even as shifts and four-hour games have been all but banished. A climbing K rate is one of the sport’s most persistent trends—and, therefore, one of its most stubborn, intractable problems. “The strikeout rate in baseball is on a hundred-plus-year trend upward, and it’s a really difficult thing to deal with,” Sword says. “And it just stems from the fact that pitching is so dominant these days, and the pitchers have become not only so talented, but clever about how to miss bats.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 07, 2023 at 04:08 PM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: strikeouts

Friday, April 07, 2023

How we should be tracking strikeout rates, the most historic numbers of MLB’s current era

That prowess is most often measured in the form of strikeouts per nine innings, or K/9. The calculation isn’t hard — multiply a pitcher’s strikeouts by nine, then divide by his innings total — and it provides a pleasingly intuitive result. Seasonal or career averages can mimic the scale of a single-game box score: Your eyes light up at an 11 or 12 in the K column but might simply skip over a humble 7. But the problem with K/9 — besides its waning relevance to the real world, where very few pitchers throw nine innings at a time — is its denominator.

As a statistical measure, K/9 often does give us an accurate look at the best strikeout pitchers, but it isn’t aimed at the target quite as well as it could be. Because it is tied to innings pitched, K/9 really shows what portion of a pitcher’s outs come from strikeouts, not how likely he is to strike out any given batter. As such, a wild or homer-prone pitcher who gives up plenty of baserunners and hard contact but logs all his outs with whiffs could have a higher K/9 than a better pitcher who simply has more ways of winning.

The better alternative, then, looks at a simple percentage of strikeouts against batters faced. That number, strikeout percentage (or K%), correlates more directly to pitcher excellence and is really what teams are interested in maximizing.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 07, 2023 at 11:36 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: strikeouts



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