clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Giants are striking out less than any other National League team

New, 242 comments

And it's not really close.

Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports

Choose any metric you want, and the Giants are having a fine offensive season. The average National League team has 22 home runs; the Giants have 24. The average team is hitting .255, with a .327 on-base percentage and a .413 slugging percentage; the Giants are at .270/.344/.435. The average team has scored 97 runs; the Giants have scored 118.

That's all before you get to AT&T Park, which is covered by a thick soup of fog, seagull droppings, and our collective arrogance. We should have to use adjusted stats to prove this point. So far, we do not.

But there's one category in which the Giants are lapping the field. They've played the most games in the National League (23, about two or three more than most NL teams), but they have the fewest strikeouts, by far. When you look at strikeouts per plate appearance, they're in first by a bunch. From Baseball-Reference:

Team Plate appearances Strikeouts Strikeout rate
SFG 888 141 15.9%
PIT 919 170 18.5%
STL 857 170 19.8%
CHC 801 159 19.9%
ARI 919 185 20.1%
LAD 854 172 20.1%
COL 812 167 20.6%
MIA 766 158 20.6%
LgAvg 815 173 21.2%
CIN 773 165 21.3%
WSN 763 166 21.8%
NYM 767 177 23.1%
ATL 796 184 23.1%
PHI 762 182 23.9%
SDP 831 206 24.8%
MIL 717 187 26.1%

They're close to the top of the league in double plays, which is one of the dangers of a high-contact team. They're also close to the top of the league in sacrifice flies, which is one of the joys of a high-contact team. It all checks out.

The Giants have been trending in this direction for a little while:

  • 2015 - 2nd-lowest strikeout rate in National League
  • 2014 - 6th-lowest
  • 2013 - lowest
  • 2012 - lowest
  • 2011 - 6th-lowest
  • 2010 - 5th-lowest

The difference, though, is that strikeouts have been continually going up, up, up for the rest of the league. The average strikeout rate in 2010 was 19.3 percent. It's up to 21.2, now.

If you want to point to reasons why the Giants are avoiding strikeouts even more than they had in the past, we can go back to the Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence well again. Pence leads the team with 19 strikeouts, but that's not even enough to crack the top 20 in the NL. The Cubs are the only other NL team that doesn't have a 19-strikeout player, but they've played three fewer games than the Giants.

Does this mean anything? The 2015 Braves struck out less than any team in the NL last year, so ... not really. It's not going to correlate to runs, necessarily.

But there's something to be said for a contact-heavy approach in a ballpark that murders home runs. Hit line drives and let the baseball gods sort them out. Right now the Giants are way, way better than other teams at making contact. It's aesthetically pleasing, at the very least.