Six weeks into the baseball season, Major League Baseball has already seen three no-hitters and a slew of late-inning no-hit bids. Three no-hitters by the second week of May hasn’t happened since 1969. So far, a no-hitter has been taken into the 7th inning more than 20 times, or one every 27.6 games. That hasn’t happened since 1968, which was the “Year of the Pitcher,” the year Bob Gibson posted a 1.12 ERA. The following year, Major League Baseball lowered the mound to bring some offense back into the game.
Hitters are striking out at a record pace. 22.7% of all plate appearances end with a strikeout. The leaguewide batting average is the lowest in 46 years, and April was the first month IN BASEBALL HISTORY in which strikeouts exceeded hits. This month looks like it may be the second.
The 1998 Nike commercial featuring Greg Maddox and Tom Glavine told America that, “Chicks dig the long ball.” It isn’t just chicks. The infatuation with the home run has been an American romance since Babe Ruth blasted 29 home runs in 1919 and became an icon.
Chicks and Dudes alike may dig the long ball, but the more swings for the fences means more swings and misses. It is a far cry from the days of Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, when striking out was considered failure. But the great risk/great reward approach seems to fit with the approach of our current culture, so it may not go out of style any time soon.
In case you are wondering, the all-time record for strikeouts is by Reggie Jackson, who fanned 2,597 times in 21 seasons. Mark Reynolds holds the single-season mark, whiffing 223 times in 578 at-bats in 2009. That’s 39% of his at-bats ending in a strikeout.
You can find more fun facts like these in my new book, The Average Joe’s Super Sports Almanac: https://steveriach.com/products/the-average-joes-super-sports-almanac