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Jim Furtado
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Strikeouts Newsbeat

Friday, March 13, 2020

Breaking News: Strikeouts Are Bad

When I first learned about a mysterious cabal of smart nerds who were analyzing baseball, I took the words I got from them as though passed down from heaven. I read Moneyball, of course. But I also read about DIPS theory, wOBA, and whatever else I could get my hands on. I read The Book so many times I wore it out and had to buy a new copy. It felt like there were cheat codes just under the surface of the sport that someone was highlighting for me.

Many of those lessons from 15 years ago are still kicking around in my head. I’m skeptical of BABIP-driven hitters, perhaps more skeptical than I should be. I dismiss batters with anomalous platoon splits, even if there’s something about them that really does make them unique. And recently I realized that I might be misunderstanding the signaling value of strikeout rate.

Back in the early 2000s, batters who struck out more hit better. That sounds counterintuitive, because strikeouts are bad. It’s actually not that weird though. Barry Bonds struck out more than Ozzie Smith in his career, just to pick two illustrative examples. Bonds isn’t even a great example, because his batting eye was otherworldly. Alex Rodriguez struck out twice as often as Omar Vizquel.

The popular opinion was that strikeouts weren’t really a negative indicator. A strikeout was bad, sure, but it was often a hidden indicator of some positive process under the hood. No one would say that being sore is good for your health, and yet people in great shape are probably sore more often than sedentary types, what with all the exercising. Amount of time spent being sore very likely has a positive correlation with health.

A consideration of the strikeout, and the multiple meanings that it may have.


QLE Posted: March 13, 2020 at 12:45 AM | 40 comment(s)
  Beats: strikeouts




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