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The importance of strikeouts

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Offline  The importance of strikeouts
#1

Posted: September 25, 2017, 12:29 PM Post
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There's been some thinking (depending on who you ask) in analytics in recent years that strikeouts are rather unimportant for hitters, only fractionally worse than a regular out.

Yet it's also accepted that strikeout pitchers are very valuable, particularly in high leverage late inning situations.

It seems contradictory to me. Any logic behind it?


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Offline  Re: The importance of strikeouts
#2

Posted: September 25, 2017, 6:06 PM Post
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https://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2013/4/1/4165664/how-can-strikeouts-be-great-for-pitchers-but-not-that-bad-for-hitters

For this reason, we tend to compare pitchers' strikeouts against balls in play, rather than ball in play outs. Because many years ago, Voros McCracken discovered that pitchers have far less control over what happens to the ball after it leaves the bat than we had previously thought

Today, we see that year-to-year BABIP for hitters correlates much stronger for batters (r = .35) than it does for pitchers (r = .20).


The basics of it are, increased strikeouts for a hitter almost always correlates to more power and more walks. If it didn't, the guy would never make it to the major leagues.

Where as more strikeouts for a pitcher means less balls in play, and less reliance on defense and luck.

Relationship between K% and success

The correlation between K% and wOBA for that same sample of batters is small at r = .12, suggesting that if anything wOBA increases by the slightest margin as K% increases. Not so bad for those hitters.

Pitcher's K% has a much stronger correlation to ERA at -.52, however, using a sample of 1071 pitchers from 2002-2012 with at least 150 IP for the season. Clearly, very good for pitchers.



Edit: Another article:

https://diamond-mind.com/blogs/baseball-articles/77333188-can-pitchers-prevent-hits-on-balls-in-play
2. Their influence over in-play hit rates is weaker than their influence over walk and strikeout rates. The most successful pitchers in history have saved only a few hits per season on balls in play, when compared with the league or team average. That seems less impressive than it really is, because the league average is such a high standard. Compared to a replacement-level pitcher, the savings are much greater.

3. The low correlation coefficients for in-play batting average suggest that there's a lot more room for random variation in these outcomes than in the defense-independent outcomes. I believe this follows quite naturally from the physics of the game. When a round bat meets a round ball at upwards of 90 miles per hour, and when that ball has laces and some sort of spin, miniscule differences in the nature of that impact can make the difference between a hit and an out. In other words, there's quite a bit of luck involved.

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Offline  Re: The importance of strikeouts
#3

Posted: November 21, 2017, 7:33 PM Post
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What I see here is the correlation between K rates and walks/power (no statistics quoted, just theoretical), K rates and ERA (I thought we established that ERA has its flaws as a measuring stick), K rates and wOBA (ok), and an explanation of physics relating to statistics (ok), but baseball is a team sport where wins are based on runs scored versus runs given up. Offensive K rates have no effect on runs given up, so the measurement is K rates to runs scored.

What I have not seen is the correlation between team K rates and runs scored. Runs determine wins - that's what matters.

Over the last five seasons, there is almost no correlation between team K rate and runs/game (-0.07). Among basic stats, the strongest correlation is with OPS (.938), followed by SLG (.899), then OBP (.836), then BA (.679). Low correlation between team LOB and team runs scored (.173) as well.

That being said, balls in play - over the course of a season - will always have a higher OPS than a strikeout. Therefore, a strong argument can be made for not striking out. But the data that we don't have is OPS of free swinging for power versus the OPS of a more controlled swing trying to make contact. That is what will determine the value of a strikeout, and we will likely not have that data anytime soon.


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