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Sabermetrics and league wide K trends-- Pitchers vs. Hitters

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Offline  Sabermetrics and league wide K trends-- Pitchers vs. Hitters

Posted: April 03, 2013, 5:14 PM Post
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Let's talk strikeouts.

Moneyballers LOVE strikeouts. Pitchers who K guys are seen has having good stuff, and it is basically the only pitching statistic that negates park factors and defense-- therefore it is seen as reliable (although the affect that a catcher may have on K rate is still up in the air).

Meanwhile, strikeouts for hitters are seen as near meaningless-- "An out is an out! Who cares how they make their out?" is decried by statisticians all around the internet.

The result of these two contradicting philosophies is, of course, a steadily rising league-wide strikeout rate and falling batting averages (as BB rate becomes more important and contact becomes less important).

My question is this-- has the league over-corrected? Obviously, there is SOME benefit to being able to consistently put the bat on the ball. Will the trends over the last couple years continue? Will K rate plateau or will it fall back to historical averages?

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Offline  Re: Sabermetrics and league wide K trends-- Pitchers vs. Hitters

Posted: April 07, 2013, 11:06 PM Post
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The trend of rising strikeouts is certainly an interesting one. As you mention the information revolution has overtaken front offices and the fact that they are seen as a positive for pitchers and a net zero for hitters will only encourage them to seek out pitchers who can strike people out while not being dissuaded from pursuing hitters who strike out often. I also think on an anecdotal level that the idea of a "two strike approach" is no longer relevant, or at the very least on a severe decline, as a number of hitters seem to have one approach and one approach only.

At the same time, with a good number of front offices looking to be ahead of the curve I think that contact rate is likely undervalued currently. In a short series (read, the playoffs) a team that makes contact often has more chance for "luck" to fall in their favor than does a team of grip it and rip it all or nothing sluggers. While relying on 3 run homers and big innings may work in the regular season when a large number of games are against league average or worse pitchers, in the postseason when you're facing top end starters and managers have a quicker hook to get to the flame throwing relievers it would seem beneficial (in theory at least) to have guys who can at least put the bat on the ball and maybe luck into an infield hit or make the pitcher work for by fouling off pitches and seeing 10 or 11 pitches before making an out.

Definitely interesting to see "small ball" skills like defense and speed on the rise league wide which would make you think intuitively that k rate should decline correspondingly but that's definitely not the case.

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