Thursday, April 19, 2012

16 or More Strikeout Games

On Thursday, April 19th, the White Sox played the Orioles and lost 5-3. The four Oriole pitchers struck out the Sox 16 times (Jason Hammel 10, Matt Lindstrom 2, Pedro Strop 2 and Jim Johnson 2), which a caller to the Sox flagship radio station WSCR pointed out, wondering how often that had been done before. He guessed fifteen times, and using the Play Index feature in, it's easily checked. Guess what--since 1918, the Sox had done this in...15 games. I then wondered how often all teams had games in which they struck out 16 times or more, and between 1918-2011 (regular season only), there were 526 games, with a three additional so far in 2012. The chart below is a fairly interesting view of what year these games occurred:

I doubt this comes as any surprise to anyone reading this, but it's still rather stark to see just how dramatic the increase was starting around 1996. The next chart shows how many runs teams scored in these games:

As one would suspect, it's hard to score runs when players are striking out this many times, but there's a bit of a shocker at the far end of the chart. I find it interesting that 6 teams managed to score 10 or more runs while striking out this many times, and they deserve to be mentioned:
July 18, 1995               San Francisco (the team that struck out 16 times) lost to Florida 10-12
August 23, 1997         NY Yankees (16) defeated the Mariners 10-8
July 19, 1979               San Francisco (16) defeated Montreal 11-7
September 27, 2001  Milwaukee (17) lost to Arizona 11-13
May 25, 2008              San Diego (19) defeated the Reds 12-9
May 28, 2006              Atlanta (18) defeated the Cubs 13-12
Overall, in these 526 games, the team with the 16+ strikeout total was 168-353 (there were 5 ties), making it pretty clear that striking out this many times is not a good marker for success.

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