Over the last couple weeks, something that has really stood out to me as I watch the Michigan baseball team has been the rate at which we strike out. Strike outs are obviously the worst form of put out out side of the double play (or triple play, although much less common). Strike outs do not test the defense. They, statistically speaking, are subject to much less chance of error for the defense. Unless the batter swing at a pitch in the dirt with no runner on first, the batter is out. Even if the ball is in the dirt, there is still slim chance that the runner beats out a throw to first.
For the season, we have played 13 games, and we have struck out 116 times. That works to an average of 8.9 Ks/game. For the sake of continuing with tempo free statistics to balance out games in which we are home and don’t bat in the 8th inning and games in which we have gone into extra innings, we have hit a total of 114 innings, placing our strike out rate at 9.16 Ks/9-innings, or just 1.018 Ks/inning. That rate is obscenely high, and has killed several run scoring opportunities.
You can click on that graph to see it a little bit larger. You can pretty much ignore Safara, Bircher, and Arbor as they have one plate appearance or less this season. Really, outside of the normal starters, you should still probably reserve judgment, as Oaks, Aspinwall, Kittle, and Stephens all have far fewer plate appearances than the regulars. Crank is teetering on meaningful.
Looking at just the starters, 3 players stand out from the bulk, that is Lorenz, Fellows, and Cislo. Lorenz is currently striking out at least once in every three plate appearances, ~1 K in 2.67 PA. On the other side of the graph is Fellows and Cislo. Fellows is doing fairly well, striking out at a rate of .13 per plate appearance, or one in every 7.57 plate appearances. Cislo is by far the best on the team, striking out at a rate of .04, or once in every 16 at bats.
The rest of the team falls between .20 (McLouth) and .25 (Toth), meaning they strike out at about once per 4 (Toth) or 5 (McLouth) plate appearances. This generally means at least one strikeout per game per batter. Not good.
It gets worse when you look at it in terms of how that effects run scoring opportunities. By having the strike outs spread throughout the whole team, there is no way to really adjust the lineup to get the hitters together. Coach Maloney has already changed the order to adjust for the Fellows and Toth strike out rates, as well as Dufek and McLouth. There isn’t really anything he can do from a game management standpoint. It is up to the hitters to go out and do their thing.