The pitcher with the lowest strikeout rate in baseball faced the best hitter in the big leagues three times. One of those times, the pitcher won.
You might remember Mike Trout from such accomplishments as "being barely over 21" and "being the best player in baseball." You might rememberAaron Cook from such accomplishments as "having the lowest strikeout rate of any pitcher in decades" and "being below replacement level." The two faced off for the first time Tuesday night in Fenway. Trout, unsurprisingly, went 2-for-3 with two singles. If Trout faced Cook in every at-bat for a whole season, he might actually hit .667. But sometimes he would make outs, and once in a while, one of those outs would be a strikeout. I know this because Trout struck out against Cook in his first at-bat against him, and I have the GIFs to prove it.
You love reading about baseball players pushing the boundaries of baseball play, which is what Aaron Cook is doing right now.
If you go to the stats page on MLB.com and look up individual pitcher stats, you will find 101 different pitchers. If you sort by K/9 the last pitcher on the list is Derek Lowe. Lowe struck out just over three hitters per nine innings pitched. Possibly not coincidentally, Cleveland cut Lowe two days ago.
There are few absolutes in baseball, but one we know for certain is this: strikeouts are very good for pitchers. Fooling hitters, missing bats, whatever you want to call it, that’s one of the foundations of a successful pitcher. Conversely, a pitcher who doesn’t generate strikeouts is at the mercy of the baseball gods and, less nebulously, his fielders. The upshot of this is things can get ugly without strikeouts.
Can Gameday's newest feature teach us anything about the game?
Those of you who follow baseball via the computer—and unless your secretary printed this piece out for you I assume that description fits everyone reading—have probably encountered MLB.com’s Gameday feature. It’s the ingenious little program that tracks each pitch in real time and allows you to follow the action without actually seeing the action.
I’m not sure exactly when Gameday was launched, but I remember using it back in 2000. Gameday has made a lot of improvements since then. When it started, Gameday was a very simple application that wasn’t much more than a moving box score. It looked like this:
Umpires shouldn't settle for "close enough" when it comes to perfection.
The Weekend Takeaway
Did he go? That was the question percolating through every baseball fan’s mind after the White Sox’ Philip Humber threw the 21st perfect game in major-league history against the Mariners on Saturday afternoon.
Brendan Ryan, who pinch-hit for Munenori Kawasaki, worked the count full, fouled off Humber’s first payoff pitch, and then either swung or did not swing at a slider that broke well off the plate outside. But did he go?
Aaron Cook's inability to strike out batters hasn't kept him from a long big-league career, nor kept one writer from having fun with Wikipedia.
Of the 71 active big-league pitchers who have worked at least 1,000 career innings, only Colorado right-hander Aaron Cook (3.8) has a K/9 below 4. The next two lowest, Zach Duke (4.7) and Jon Garland (4.9), also call the NL West home, although unlike Cook, they have not spent their entire careers with one team.
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