Padres bloggin' since 2007

War on Strikeouts: The 4SD Front

May 18th, 2008 by Melvin

In honor of Padres broadcaster Mark Grant’s criticism of the Padres’ high strikeout totals during the pre-game show and during play today, I submit for your review the following table courtesy of ESPN.
For informational and entertainment purposes, teams who made the playoffs have been highlighted.  Anyone see a trend here?  Because I sure don’t, and I’d love to hear Grant’s explanation:

2007 Strikeouts by team
Rank Team Strikeouts
1 Florida 340
2 San Diego 335
3 Arizona 318
4 Texas 312
5 Tampa Bay 304
6 Cleveland 298
7 Philadelphia 297
8 San Francisco 296
9 Chicago Cubs 294
10 Pittsburgh 293
11 Oakland 292
12 Washington 291
13 Milwaukee 289
14 Colorado 283
15 NY Mets 275
16 Boston 272
17 Houston 272
18 LA Angels 269
19 St. Louis 265
20 Baltimore 263
21 Chicago Sox 261
22 Minnesota 260
23 Detroit 255
24 Toronto 254
25 Cincinnati 254
26 Kansas City 251
27 NY Yankees 241
28 LA Dodgers 241
29 Atlanta 235
30 Seattle 227

Granted, high strikeout numbers aren’t a particularly good thing.  But in the grand scheme of performance indicators they don’t mean a team isn’t playing well.

Further in his analysis, Grant goes on to advise hitters to shorten up their swings to put more balls into play.  This plan will likely lower strikeout totals.  The downside though, and this is a biggie, is it effectively eliminates power.  I’d love to hear that conversation between he and Ryan Howard or Dan Uggla on the horrendous problem of strikeouts and why they need a new approach.

edit 5/18: Ray suggested I take a look at changes in hitting on two strike counts. The idea is that hitters often take the Grant’s suggested approach with two strikes on them. Batters shorten their swing to “protect the plate”, or avoid the strikeout. We can use this situation to imitate how slugging shapes up under Grant’s recommendation .  Here’s the “pass through” count data from 2006 courtesy of Tom Tango:

Count Slugging PCT
2006 MLB* .427
3 – 2 .380
2 – 2 .333
1 – 2 .294

This simple analysis shows that when hitters (presumably) shorten their swing with two strikes, even with full counts, their power deteriorates significantly.  It should also be mentioned that hitters’ OBP and wOBA drop way down with two strikes on the batter.

*This is 2006 median, not mean, slugging

Posted in gripes, media, statistics | 1 Comment »

One Response to “War on Strikeouts: The 4SD Front”

  1. […] covered the strikeout controversy already.  Mark Grant’s criticism prompted a post that ranks 2007 teams by total strikeouts.  We found that more playoff teams were […]

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