NY Sports Dog: The Golden Age....of the Strikeout?

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Golden Age....of the Strikeout?

Today is September 12, 2008--there are about 17 games left in the regular season.

It's been a very good season for a variety of reasons. Statistically, nothing really stands out--let me re-phrase that--there is one thing, and we'll get to it in a second.

There's been good slugging, but no one chasing 50+ home runs and 150 RBIs. Ryan Howard leads MLB with 43 HRs, and about a half dozen guys are in the mid-30s.

Good hitting? Sure, but no one is making a run at .400 or even .380. The top hitters for average are Chipper Jones and Albert Pujols, both at about .360, and the next highest guy is Matt Holliday at .329.

Pitching-wise it's been business as usual...there is one 20-game winner, Cliff Lee, and 2 or 3 other guys that might win 20.

So what is different about this year?

It's the strikeout.

Two players have a very good chance at striking out 200+ times on the year: Ryan Howard and Mark Reynolds. A third, Jack Cust, will get up to 190.

To put that in perspective, no one, in the entire history of major league baseball, has ever struck out 200 or more times in a season.

Ryan Howard is at 189 and will easily eclipse his record of 199 Ks, which was set just last year.

Mark Reynolds is at 183 and has already Kd 13 times this month.

Jack Cust is "only" at 174, but he's a sure bet to add at least 10-12 more Ks to his total.

In 2005 only 60 players had 100 or more Ks. In 2006, 74 players reached that figure. In 2007, that number rose to 89. If 2008 continues to form, we could see that number topped to over 90 players with 100 or more Ks.

Mets fans should actually take heart--the team has the fewest Ks in the National league and is 3rd in walks. When looking at the K leaders, you have to go all the way down to 41st to find a Met.

So to what do we attribute this continuing rise in Ks over the last few years? Better pitching? A wider strike zone? Technology? I will say: no, no and no. There seems to be another reason, though only a freakenomist would make the connection.

You have to ask--are steroids, or more specifically, a lack of steroids, part of this trend?

I think so. Bats and reflexes are slower, and those "big swings" are still there. The trend in increased Ks began in earnest when the testing and punishment for steroids came into play.

Homerun totals are down, strikeout numbers are up--the variables are the same, the game is the same, the strike zone is the same--in fact, nothing else has really changed at all these past few year--except steroid use.

Welcome to the new era of the "non chemical aided" free swinger....it's not a pretty sight.

Sortable Batting
1Ryan HowardPHI56091136252431291172189.243.330.525.855
2Mark ReynoldsARI48784118253279210156183.242.321.472.794
3Jack CustOAK434669916028660096176.228.368.459.826
4Dan UgglaFLA4788812537130845565152.262.357.531.889
5Chris YoungARI56976140416197412553151.246.309.439.749
6Carlos PenaTAM4427010921228881183148.247.374.493.867
7Adam DunnCIN/ARI45972110200368921109146.240.389.519.907
8Matt KempLAD54483155364166933942141.285.336.454.790
9Jeremy HermidaFLA4807011922316586046131.248.322.406.728
10Jim ThomeCHW4488211126031841080130.248.364.513.878

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