Friday, November 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Strikeouts? Who Cares About Strikeouts?

Don't worry about how many strikeouts are in the Phillies' lineup. It doesn't matter.

Strikeouts? Who Cares About Strikeouts?

Ryan Howard struck out 199 times last year, which set a major-league record.

But so what?

It's really not that big a deal. I mean, would it better if he struck out 175 times? Sure. But strikeouts are not the scourge of the earth like many would have you believe. They're not baseball's worst sin. First, there is absolutely no correlation between a team's strikeout rate and runs scored. None. Zero. Zilch. So the next time somebody says the Phillies have too many strikeouts in their lineup, well ... Second, strikeouts typically are a byproduct of power and walks, so you take the good with the bad. And I think most Phillies fans would rather have a guy who strikes out a lot, but hits home runs and knocks in a lot of runs than somebody who "puts the ball in play," but couldn't produce a run to save his life.

"When we're exposed to baseball growing up, when we play the game, putting the ball in play is important because the defenses are so bad that if you can just make contact and put the ball in play there's a good chance you're going to get on base," Baseball Prospectus analyst Joe Sheehan said. "At the professional level, defenses are so good that the difference between putting the ball in play and not doing it for routine plays is just not that great.

"You have to be focused on runs. How you get there doesn't actually matter. The shape of an offense doesn't actually matter. It's just a matter of how many runs. You see this throughout baseball. Take two different guys who go 10 for 50 over the course of two weeks. The guy who strikes out 25 times is going to look worse than the guy who grounds to second 25 times."

Here's a couple articles from Baseball Prospectus about how strikeouts are overrated: here and here (you need a BP membership to read them, but if you do you're set).

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Matt Gelb Inquirer Staff Writer
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