Getty Images

Major League Baseball sets a new strikeout record for the tenth year in a row

8 Comments

For the 10th year and a row, Major League Baseball has set a new record for most strikeouts in a season. At the close of last night’s games, the total sat at 39,168. Last year the old record of 38,982 was set.

Individually speaking, Aaron Judge leads all hitters with 204 strikeouts and he’s likely to finish in the top two in the MVP voting, so it’s not like strikeouts are an absolute bar to individual success in the big leagues anymore.

It’s not fatal on a team level either, as the Milwaukee Brewers top the majors with 1,537 strikeouts and still have a chance to make the playoffs as we enter the season’s final weekend. At the same time, however, the team with the least number of strikeouts is the AL West champion Houston Astros, who have 1,050. The next four teams behind the Brewers are all out of the playoffs. The team with the second fewest Ks are the Indians, who have the best record in the American League.

At the same time, the top eight teams in pitching strikeouts are all heading to the playoffs. The team with the second-fewest pitching strikeouts are the Minnesota Twins, who clinched the Wild Card last night. No other team in the bottom 12 of team strikeouts is playoff bound.

The lesson here, of course, is that baseball takes a lot of skills to play well. You can do a bad thing like strike out quite often as long as you do a bunch of other things well.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

Associated Press
1 Comment

If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.