It is with a heavy heart that I write to you all today. This blog comes in the wake of some very saddening news about Major League Baseball. For the first time in MLB history, there were more strikeouts than hits over the course of an entire calendar month. That’s right, in April, 2018, Major League hitters struck out 7,335 times and recorded just 6,992 hits.
April was the first month in major league history with more strikeouts than hits.
— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) May 1, 2018
Make no mistake about it: this is a crisis. This is a direct result of hitters sacrificing contact in order to increase their power numbers. Unfortunately, it’s hard to blame them for doing so. Today’s front offices are dominated by advanced analytics which, for the most part, value power over contact. It’s okay for a player to limp across the Mendoza Line with 200+ strikeouts as long as he puts 40 or more balls over the fence. If power gets paid, why waste time hitting singles?
This train of thought is invading the minds of hitters in every situation. Situational hitting is taking a backseat to daddy hacks because home runs are acceptable in every situation. What isn’t acceptable, however, is striking out with men in scoring position with fewer than 2 outs. What isn’t acceptable is failing to drive a run in because you were so focused about putting the ball into the seats that you forgot to put it in play.
Unfortunately, this is the path baseball is on. Balls in play are inching towards extinction and defensive 2-strike hitting is no longer in baseball’s vocabulary. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have already struck out over 40 times a piece. Chris Davis struck out 40 times while you were reading this blog. For reference, Joe DiMaggio never struck out more than 39 times in an entire season.
The Statcast/launch angle era of baseball is upon us, and we have to band together and stay strong during these difficult times. Whenever you see a line drive, seeing-eye single or 10-pitch at-bat, say a prayer to the God of Contact Tony Gwynn and know that baseball isn’t lost. It’s just on the wrong track.