It’s no secret that strikeouts are at an all-time high. Nor is it a secret that not every strikeout is “just another out.” Balls in play can advance baserunners, and that’s especially important when the 90 feet being traversed is from third to home. What fan, or manager, doesn’t bemoan one of the team’s hitters going down by way of the K with a man on third and less than two out? It’s an opportunity wasted, one that often leads to a squander.
Save for the rare occasions when a batter reaches on a wild pitch or a passed ball, a strikeout is also a guaranteed out. Making contact — even weak contact — at least gives you a chance. While last year’s .292 BABIP was baseball’s lowest in nearly three decades, that’s still markedly better than than the infinitesimal odds of taking first base on a punch-out. Moreover, fielders make errors. In short, contact matters.
Given MLB’s ever-increasing strikeout rate, I asked six managers a simple, straightforward question: Is the ability to hit with two strikes an undervalued asset in today’s game?
Bud Black, Colorado Rockies
“It’s been undervalued in the history of the game. It’s probably…