Posted by Andy on January 24, 2011
(Thanks to reader Kahuna Tuna who pointed out the central stat used in this post.)
Strikeouts are more prevalent now than at any time in MLB history. Last year we looked at this, showing how strikeouts per inning pitched are now at 7 per 9 innings while walks remain between 3 and 4 per 9 innings, where they've been for 40 years. The data is available in raw form on the MLB Pitching Encyclopedia page, where you can see that the final K/9 number for 2010 was a staggering 7.1.
As league-wide strikeout rates have gone up, the rates for individual pitchers have gone up as well. It used to be that a pitcher with 1 K/inning was a rare feat. Check out who did it 25 years ago (minimum 30 IP):
But now check out the teams with the most such pitchers (>1 K/IP, minimum 30 IP) in 2010:
|1||2010||NL||San Diego Padres||7||Mike Adams / Heath Bell / Ernesto Frieri / Luke Gregerson / Mat Latos / Edward Mujica / Joe Thatcher|
|2||2010||NL||San Francisco Giants||7||Denny Bautista / Santiago Casilla / Tim Lincecum / Sergio Romo / Dan Runzler / Jonathan Sanchez / Brian Wilson|
|3||2010||AL||Chicago White Sox||5||Edwin Jackson / Bobby Jenks / J.J. Putz / Sergio Santos / Matt Thornton|
|4||2010||NL||Los Angeles Dodgers||5||Jonathan Broxton / Charlie Haeger / Clayton Kershaw / Hong-Chih Kuo / Ted Lilly|
|5||2010||NL||Milwaukee Brewers||5||John Axford / Zach Braddock / Yovani Gallardo / Manny Parra / Carlos Villanueva|
|6||2010||NL||Atlanta Braves||4||Mike Minor / Takashi Saito / Jonny Venters / Billy Wagner|
|7||2010||NL||Florida Marlins||4||Clay Hensley / Josh Johnson / Leo Nunez / Jose Veras|
|8||2010||NL||Philadelphia Phillies||4||Jose Contreras / Cole Hamels / Brad Lidge / Ryan Madson|
Yeah, two teams had 7 pitchers on their own staffs, as compared to 12 total players from all teams doing it in 1985. In total, in 2010, 78 pitchers achieved the feat (out of 411 with at least 30 IP, or 19.0%).
By comparison, in 1986, it was 12 pitchers out of 302 with at least 30 IP (4.0%).
None of this is all that surprising. It just means that the arbitrary number of 1K/IP for a pitcher, while still above average, is not as impressive at it used to be.