x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

MLB: Swing-away mentality in baseball more a miss than a hit

Strikeouts have risen dramatically over several decades, as more and more players swing hard, no matter what, and feel no shame walking back to the dugout without having put the ball in play.

Lately there has been far more missing in Adam Dunn's game ... as in a lack of hitting. But he's not the only one striking out a lot.
Lately there has been far more missing in Adam Dunn's game ... as in a lack of hitting. But he's not the only one striking out a lot.

If you love the strikeout this may be your year.

Last week, the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners combined for 82 punch-outs over a three-game series, a record.

The "highlight" was a 14-inning game in which the teams combined for 40 strikeouts, 21 by Tigers batters.

The only game to produce more Ks was a 20-inning affair between the California Angels and Oakland Athletics in 1971. That total was 43.

But the real swing-and-miss champions are in Houston. The undermanned Astros are averaging 9.75 strikeouts per game. That pace will produce 1,579 whiffs - comfortably topping the Major League Baseball record of 1,529 set by the 2010 Arizona Diamondbacks, a last-place team.

Here's the rub. The American League record is 1,387 in a season, set by Oakland just last year, when the A's finished first in their division.

Strikeouts have risen dramatically over several decades, as more and more players swing hard, no matter what, and feel no shame walking back to the dugout without putting the ball in play. Indeed, baseball's army of stat geeks note that strikeouts are not a negative if it means an increase in extra-base hits.

A corollary: baseball increasingly asks pitchers to throw as hard as they can for as long as they can.

So more strikeouts were likely, even if batters were not swinging from the heels.

Old-school fans may shake their heads at all the, well, fanning. But the swing-away, swing-hard game is here to stay.

 

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE