MLB Continues to Struggle with High Strikeout Rates Despite Rule Changes

by Madison Thomas
strikeout rates

Major League Baseball has implemented measures to speed up the games, enlarge the bases, and make defense more challenging. However, the issue of persistent strikeouts remains a challenge.

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Jake McCarthy jokingly suggested moving the pitching mound all the way to second base or limiting pitchers to throwing fastballs. He acknowledged the exceptional skills of today’s pitchers, stating, “I just think these pitchers are really good.”

While strikeouts are not favored, they continue to be a prevalent aspect of the game. Despite MLB’s efforts to improve the overall experience, strikeouts remain near historic highs. Each team averages approximately 8.7 strikeouts per game, approaching the record of 8.81 set in 2019. Even with the adoption of the designated hitter rule in the National League in 2022, strikeouts have not significantly decreased.

Though batting average has seen a slight increase to .248 compared to .243 in the previous season, and OPS has risen to .730 from .706, strikeouts remain a concern. Stolen bases have notably increased, partly due to the introduction of limits on pitcher disengagements from the rubber.

Players like Miami Marlins’ second baseman Luis Arraez are showcasing the trend of hitting for average, approaching the elusive .400 mark. Arraez has demonstrated an ability to make consistent contact with the ball, striking out only 19 times in his first 357 plate appearances, reminiscent of earlier eras in baseball.

The rise in strikeout numbers has been an ongoing process, intensifying in the last 15 years. In 2018, strikeouts surpassed hits in frequency, a trend that has continued for the past six seasons.

If a decline in the strikeout rate is to occur, it will likely happen naturally. MLB has made efforts to modernize the sport, including the implementation of a pitch clock, but further major changes on the field may not be imminent.

While the minor leagues have experimented with innovations like the Automatic Ball-Strike system, such changes have not yet significantly impacted offensive production. The main issue seems to be the increasing velocity of pitches, with pitchers throwing harder than ever before. The prevalence of 100 mph fastballs has skyrocketed, making it difficult for batters to make contact.

Marlins manager Skip Schumaker, who witnesses the challenge of facing blazing fastballs regularly, expressed uncertainty about finding a solution. The rules have improved the game, but combatting strikeouts remains a complex issue.

AP Baseball Writers Mike Fitzpatrick and Ronald Blum, and AP sports writer Alanis Thames contributed to this report.

AP MLB: https://bigbignews.net/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about strikeout rates

What measures has Major League Baseball taken to address high strikeout rates?

Major League Baseball has implemented changes such as speeding up the games, enlarging the bases, and making defense more challenging. However, these efforts have not significantly reduced strikeout rates.

How does the offensive output in 2023 compare to the previous season?

In 2023, the batting average has seen a modest increase to .248 compared to .243 in the previous season. The OPS has also risen to .730 from .706. However, strikeout rates remain near all-time highs.

Are there any players excelling at making contact and hitting for average?

Miami Marlins’ second baseman Luis Arraez has been standing out by consistently making contact with the ball. He has struck out only 19 times in his first 357 plate appearances, showcasing a batting style reminiscent of earlier eras in baseball.

Why are strikeout numbers still high despite the designated hitter rule in the National League?

Even with pitchers no longer batting in the National League, strikeout rates have not significantly decreased. The primary reason seems to be the increasing velocity of pitches, with pitchers throwing harder than ever before.

What solutions have been explored to combat high strikeout rates?

Various experiments have been conducted in the minor leagues, including the Automatic Ball-Strike system. However, these changes have not yet had a significant impact on reducing strikeouts. MLB is cautious about implementing further major changes on the field in the near future.

How do players and league officials view the issue of high strikeout rates?

Players acknowledge the exceptional skills of modern-day pitchers and the difficulty of the game. League officials recognize the need for more offense but are hesitant to make drastic changes, allowing time for the recent rule modifications to settle.

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StatsGeek24 July 9, 2023 - 8:43 pm

interesting how the batting average is up a bit, but strikeouts r still sky high. it’s like the pitchers r gettin even better. something’s gotta change tho, we can’t just keep seein strikeouts all the time. let’s see some hits and action!

StealYourBase July 10, 2023 - 9:46 am

at least stolen bases r goin up! thx 2 the new rule. but seriously, these pitchers r throwin heat! 100 mph fastballs r like unicorns now. how r hitters supposed 2 make contact with that? we need more offense in the game, pronto!

BaseballFan91 July 10, 2023 - 10:53 am

mlb has tried evrythng 2 make the games faster n more excitng bt strikeouts still a big problem! they need 2 figure out how 2 make more offense happn cuz its frustratng watchng all these strikeouts!

HomerunKing July 10, 2023 - 2:29 pm

lol movng the mound to 2nd base? that wud b crazy! i get it tho, pitchers r sooo gud these days. but c’mon, we wanna see more hits, not strikeouts! make it happen mlb!


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