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May 24, 2013

Fantasy Freestyle

The Myths of Minor-League Strikeouts

by Bret Sayre


It gets talked about a lot; we are living through a golden age of strikeouts in baseball. And there are plenty of potential reasons for this, which are thrown out during the discussion. Some say that it’s just a talent surge on the pitching side of the equation that will correct itself during the next cycle. Some say it’s an overall lack of a two-strike mentality among hitters in the game today. Some say the sabermetric movement has reduced the fear and shame associated with striking out. Some say it’s sunscreen.

Regardless of what the true reasoning is (though it’s likely a combination of all of the above and more), we are where we are at the major-league level. But what does that mean for minor-league strikeout rates? Are contact rates in the minors decreasing at the same level that we see across the highest level of the game? The answer is that it depends how advanced the league is.

The height of the strikeout boom started five years ago, as it’s been a straight uphill climb since the 2008 season. But as shown in the table below, as you get lower down in the minors (for the most part), the rate at which they have increased shrinks:

 

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Total Increase

MLB

6.83

6.99

7.13

7.13

7.56

7.63

11.8%

Triple-A

6.72

6.36

6.60

6.99

7.08

7.45

10.7%

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