has an interesting article today, oddly placed on the front page (?!?) of the Boston Globe
. The piece is somewhat of a validation of the Red Sox who set a franchise record with 1,308 strikeouts during the regular season and have added 106 more strikeouts in 10 postseason games.
The premise of his piece is that teams are willing to accept high strikeout totals if their hitters are disciplined and provide home run hitting power.
Abraham's focal point is Mike Napoli
, who set a Sox franchise record with 187 strikeouts this season, but also hit 38 doubles and 23 home runs.
“You’d prefer somebody hit for power and not strike out often,” Sox assistant general manager Mike Hazen
told Abraham. “But those guys are the superstars and they’re fairly rare. Sometimes you have to have an appreciation for what a good strikeout can do. You have to look at those long at-bats as contributing to the overall good of the lineup. Power is hard to find and you learn to live with the strikeouts.”
Let's take a deeper dive looking at teams
Is pitches per plate appearance a reflection of a team's success?
I felt this was a good place to start and I was immediately disavowed of the assumption. The Red Sox (97-65) did lead the majors in P/PA, but they were tied with the less-than-terrific Minnesota Twins (66-96). Granted the three teams with the lowest P/PA had horrible records, but I also noticed that both the Cardinals and Tigers were in the bottom five in the majors in P/PA.
Is there an ideal home run to strikeout ratio?
The majors leading home run hitting team, the Baltimore Orioles, hit one homer for every 5.30 strikeout. The Red Sox homered once every 7.34 strikeout. The Braves homered once every 7.64 strikeout. The Tigers homered once every 6.09 strikeout. The Rays homered once every 7.09 strikeout. The Cardinals homered once every 8.88 strikeout.
Let's look at some individual numbers
Here are the 23 players with at least 140 strikeouts in 2013 with their homer and strikeout totals. I've also included their homer and strikeout percentages as well as their P/PA. I threw batting average in there as measure of consistency.
As I look at this, I do see Napoli building up the pitch count, but I also see a batter who strikes out way too much and doesn't produce enough homers to compensate for it. In this group, Paul Goldschmidt
really excels and Chris Davis
is steller. Marlon Byrd
looks like a better Napoli, but he takes one less pitch per at bat, which comes out to three additional pitches against starters, which to me is worth the sacrifice.
There are numerous others who I like on this list who whiff less than 30% of the time.
Four Top 10 Lists
In closing, I wanted to look at four variables, strikeouts, homers, hits, and walks and what the P/PA was for the leaders in each category.
This report shows you that amongst batters in the top ten in strikeouts, nobody worked the count more than Justin Upton.
This report shows you that amongst batters in the top ten in homers, nobody worked the count better than Paul Goldschmidt. Napoli when he homered saw 3.83 pitches.
This report shows you that amongst batters in the top ten in hits, nobody worked the count more than Mike Trout. Matt Carpenter and Dustin Pedroia both had very productive at bats that led to a hit. Napoli had productive at bats that ended up in a hit seeing 4.11 pitches.
This report shows you that amongst batters in the top eleven in walks, nobody worked the count more than Dan Uggla and Andrew McCutcheon. Napoli averaged 5.84 pitches in his 73 walks.