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

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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.

Mookie Betts, Javier Baez leading off the All-Star lineups

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I can’t imagine what it’s like to fill out the lineup card for an All-Star team. Most of the guys are 1-4 hitters on their own teams, but you gotta slot most of them someplace lower. Egos are probably a consideration. Strategic stuff. “Which top of the order or middle of the lineup hitter is batting eighth?” is both a difficult and thankless question.

Dave Roberts and A.J. Hinch have to do it anyway, and today they released the All-Star lineups. Seeing Bryce Harper batting sixth and Manny Machado batting seventh is just not part of the usual baseball experience:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Jose Altuve, 2B
3. Mike Trout, CF
4. J.D. Martinez, DH
5. Jose Ramirez, 3B
6. Aaron Judge, LF
7. Manny Machado, SS
8. Jose Abreu, 1B
9. Salvador Perez, C

NATIONAL LEAGUE

1. Javier Baez, 2B
2. Nolan Arenado, 3B
3. Paul Goldschmidt, DH
4. Freddie Freeman, 1B
5. Matt Kemp, LF
6. Bryce Harper, CF
7. Nick Markakis, RF
8. Brandon Crawford, SS
9. Willson Contreras, C

Not that this is gonna hold for long what with all of the substitutions.