Giants striking out at increased rate, but does it matter electricity production in chad


Nationals starter Max Scherzer leads all of baseball with 13.94 strikeouts per nine innings and he racked up 17 swings and misses and 10 strikeouts in a 15-2 win over the Giants. D’Backs left-hander Patrick Corbin, who ranks second in the National League in strikeouts per nine innings, has faced the Giants twice and picked up 17 strikeouts over 14 and 1/3 innings.

Angels left-hander Garrett Richards hasn’t thrown enough innings to qualify for the leaderboard, but his 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings would rank fourth among all Major League pitchers. His outing against the Giants padded his total, as he punched out 11 San Francisco hitters in the club’s first 17-strikeout game of the year.

Is a high strikeout rate destined to doom the Giants over the course of a 162-game season? The data available suggests it’s difficult to draw any significant conclusions, but whiffing so frequently probably won’t crush the Giants’ bid to contend.

The New York Yankees have won 17 of their last 18 games and strike out at a nearly equivalent rate to the Giants. Of course, the Yankees have hit a Major League-best 51 home runs, but they’re not the only team that’s succeeding despite their swings and misses.

The Phillies are on the brink of surpassing the Braves for the National League East lead and their 9.83 strikeouts per nine innings is the third-worst rate in baseball. The first-place team in the National League West, the Arizona Diamondbacks, are also striking out more often than the Giants, and they don’t rank among the top half of baseball in total homers.

Center fielder Austin Jackson’s strikeout rate is up 13 percentage points this season compared to his career rate of 23 percent. Jackson has struck out in 17 of his 29 at-bats against right-handed pitchers, and the Giants know Jackson is best served by playing in favorable matchups against lefties.

If left fielder Mac Williamson returns from the disabled list and picks up where he left off, the Giants won’t need to use Jackson against right-handed pitchers. But with just four healthy outfielders on the roster and a limited amount of options for manager Bruce Bochy to turn to, Jackson has had to take more at-bats against righties.

Shortstop Brandon Crawford and third baseman Evan Longoria are the two regular starters whose strikeout rates have spiked at least five percentage points above their career averages this season, but both players struggled through tough stretches at the beginning of the year.

Thanks to a late April surge, Longoria cut down his strikeout totals and raised his batting average. During the first week of May, Crawford did the same. Though a higher strikeout rate for either player shouldn’t dramatically alter the Giants’ ability to drive in runs, the club might actually benefit if both players attempt to lift the ball in the air more often.

Ultimately, the Giants have posted a better record when they don’t strike out so frequently, but on some days, they’re bound to run into All-Star candidates like Scherzer, Corbin and Nola. Those are games they’re more likely to lose anyway, so perhaps it’s too soon to evaluate how an increased strikeout rate may be hurting the Giants’ chances.