1, 2, 3000 Strikes You’re Out
Earlier this season I dissected the necessary elements to record wins and saves to determine which 300 feat was more impressive. Now I want to look at the number of strikeouts a pitcher must record to be celebrated.
A pitcher’s first major league appearance is a big deal. His first strikeout is a milestone. After that, what is celebration worthy?
For the purpose of this article, I will use starting pitcher stats as they are more likely to reach “astronomical” strikeout numbers than a relief pitcher.
In one game, anything over 10 is water-cooler-discussion-worthy (although 20+ would be parade worthy). In one season, 300+ Ks is impressive.
If a pitcher makes 32 starts in a season he’d need to average 9.38 Ks per game in all 32 appearances just to make 300 on the season. Seeing as how the last 300K season came in 2002 (both Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling with 334 and 316, respectively) it’s hard to believe we’ll see another one soon (although I’m not ruling out Yu Darvish in 2013 just yet).
What number of Ks over a career is impressive? There are elite clubs for 3000, 4000, and 5000, but with increased injuries and shorter careers, is 3000 too high of a number? There are only 16 pitchers who have recorded 3000+ (3 with 4000+ and 1 with 5000+). Then again, is 2000 too few?
To have a 3000 K career, let’s still assume that the pitcher will make 32 starts a season, averaging 9.38 Ks per game. It would require 10 seasons at that pace to reach 3000, and since we haven’t seen that milestone reached in a minimum of 10 years, it’s hard to believe that will ever happen.
Let’s say a pitcher averages 32 starts per year over a 15 year career. If he made all of his starts (or rather completed 480 starts over that time frame), he would only need to average 6.25 Ks per game to reach 3000. Is that any more realistic? In this day and age can we still assume a pitcher will make all of his starts, or that his career will last 15 years?
What is a realistic, yet still wildly impressive number? I love watching a pitcher’s first K, especially the excitement from his family and friends in the stands. But I want to see that same excitement heightened exponentially when he hits 3000, and I worry I may never get to witness that again.
What are your thoughts?
Side note: Why don’t we divide strikeout numbers by looking and swinging? Wouldn’t you be impressed to see a pitcher had 310 Ks in a season, 240 looking?