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.
On Friday evening, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced the first set of results for COVID-19 testing as part of the mandatory intake screening process under MLB’s COVID-19 Health Monitoring & Testing Plan. Per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Athletics are not part of this data because their testing has not yet been completed.
There were 38 positive tests, accounting for 1.2% of the 3,185 samples collected and tested. 31 of the 38 individuals who tested positive are players. 19 different teams had one or more individuals test positive.
Sports Illustrated’s Emma Baccellieri notes that the positive test rate in the U.S. nationally is 8.3 percent. The NBA’s positive test rate was 7.1 percent. MLB’s positive test rate is well below average. This doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong with MLB’s testing or that it’s an atypical round of testing. Rather, MLB’s testing population may more closely represent the U.S. population as a whole. Currently, because testing is still somewhat limited, those who have taken tests have tended to be those exhibiting symptoms or those who have been around others who have tested positive. If every single person in the U.S. took a test, the positive test rate would likely come in at a much lower number.
Several players who tested positive have given their consent for their identities to be made known. Those are: Delino DeShields (link), Brett Martin (link), Edward Colina, Nick Gordon, and Willians Astudillo (link). Additionally, Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodríguez has not shown up to Red Sox camp yet because he has been around someone who tested positive, per The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey.