Originally Posted by MISoxfan
I didn't see the interview, so it's entirely possible that I am not accurately replying to Rice.
There seems to be a general opinion in this thread that strike outs are bad and that the hitters of yesteryear were better and less selfish. Sure you can make a case that increased run production is entirely due to the watering down of the league's pitching, elbow pads, and lowering of the mound, but you are ignoring other factors like the increased use of a bullpen when a starter is struggling, and that expansion teams bring in worse hitting as well as pitching. There are also a lot of years between 1968 and 2000 if you want to ignore the changing of the mound.
I think there are cases when a hitter should change his approach with 2 strikes. I just don't think there is a problem with the league's strikeout total as a whole. Teams strike out more and score more runs this century than the seventies and eighties. Teams also hit for a better average in this century than in the seventies and eighties. I don't think a hitter should have a fear of striking out 150-160 times per season. I think each hitter has a sweet spot where his production will improve by not fearing the strike out and then a point beyond that where he is striking out too much. For some players it might be 110 and others 175.
There seems to be a consensus in this thread that players as a whole strike out too much today and I just don't agree with it, and I don't think there is any evidence that t is true.
I wasn't ignoring anything. Actually, today you get less strong innings from your best pitchers overall than you ever have because of the way managers use their bullpens and manage by pitch counts. Most of the newer ballparks, although not on the west coast, are built favoring hitters. Hard evidence that record levels of strikeouts are good or bad for hitting can't be produced because the factors are so radically changing that the evidence would have to be contrived in such a way to affect the prejudice of the person making the point. Striking out consistently is giving up at bats worse than sacrificing because there is no positive result for the offense, barring a defensive mistake. It's true that I once saw a runner score from second to tie a game on a strikeout (a Giants game last year) with two outs in the ninth, but I've also seen a triple play that began with a strikeout (a Phillies game maybe eight years ago).
If you watch the game, the idea that it's OK for a hitter to strike out 150 times or more in a season is simply ridiculous. For it to be forgiven, a player would have to be hitting .300, even better with runners in scoring position and not striking out much at all if there are runners on base. You had better be doing great things offensively when you aren't striking out. Tyler Flowers can't be excused for striking out at his pace. He is the definition of an easy out. For Adam Dunn to be excused, I would think he would have to be hitting .280 with power, both overall and with runners in scoring position. Dunn's on-base percentage is irrelevant as an RBI man who hasn't sniffed a .240 batting average since coming to the White Sox. If you are striking out about once a game, you are either giving up at bats or you have serious holes in your swing with scouting reports are directing even average pitchers how to turn you into an easy out.
If you are looking for some sort of abstract analysis to tell you that strike outs aren't a big deal, you aren't so different from the researcher who concludes his trained frog is deaf because it doesn't jump when he calls it after cutting its legs off. Watch the game. The teams that have been winning are the teams that aren't striking out as much, although offense is only one component a winning team needs. For the last two seasons, the team winning the World Series (I know some don't think that's a big deal) had fewer than 1,000 strikeouts in the regular season, near fewest in the majors, despite having pitchers in their lineup. Two seasons ago, both teams that got to the World Series were the ones who struck out the least in their league. Even the 2011 Texas Rangers, who lost to the NL team that struck out the least while posting the highest team batting average and on-base percentage and, obviously, OPS, struck out the fewest in the American League while having the highest batting average while finishing second in the AL in home runs. That should tell you more than comparing statistical evidence from one year to the next.
Everything I see tells me that if you still believe strike outs are OK, you are on the descending side of the curve.
Watch the game and you will see that teams that don't strike out as much are more likely to score leadoff doubles. Their managers can send runners on 3-2 to stay out of the double play. Their managers can work successful hit and run. I've watched National League games this year where managers have run successful hit and run plays with pitchers at bat.
Ted Williams, in his autobiography, talked about shortening his swing with two strikes and found he still could hit with power with a lighter bat, which he stuck in Frank Howard hands in his later hitting coach days. The year he hit .406, he led the league in home runs with 37 and struck out only 27 times. His mantra was to wait for your pitch. The thing is, he was Ted Williams and he could hit with two strikes.
All I ask is for White Sox hitters to try.