clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Rays are striking out at an historic rate

But that’s O. “K”!

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images

The 2017 Tampa Bay Rays are your classic feast or famine lineup.

Rays hitters struck out 10 times in Wednesday’s game, making it the 6th straight game in which they’ve reached double digits in strikeouts. TB batters have struck out at least 10 times in 29 of their 43 games (67%). That is easily the most in major league history for a team through 43 games.

he 2016 Rays had struck out just under 400 times over their first 43 games. Meanwhile, the 2017 have now struck out 451 times over their first 43 games.

Here’s the thing though. The Rays offense is very, very good.

As of now, the Rays have the 5th best wRC+ in the majors. They are tied for the American League in home runs (albeit with more games played than most teams). They’re in the top 10 when it comes to wOBA, ISO, OBP, and SLG while they’re in the middle of the pack for AVG.

Rays fans have been starved for this kind of offensive production for years.

The Rays currently have a strikeout percentage of 27%, the most in the majors by a wide margin. The rest of the league hovers around 19-24%. The Rays also are near the top of the list when it comes to walks as 10.1%. That walk rate is the highest the Rays have seen since their 2009-2010 seasons. The 109 wRC+ would be just about on par with the 2009 club for the best they’ve ever had.

So, the point is, the Tampa Bay Rays are going to strikeout...a lot.

But they’re the type of offense that’ll score a lot of runs. From the lead off batter to the nine spot, every hitter has to be treated carefully as he could easily go yard and change the game with one swing of the bat.

Strikeouts can be frustrating to fans, denigrated as “unproductive outs”. If there is a runner on third with fewer than two outs, a strikeout is just about the worst outcome.

But otherwise, frequent strikeouts are not themselves a sign of offensive woes. Every team will make 24 or 27 outs in a regulation game no matter how effective their offense. Ultimately a strikeout is just another out. Moreover, in an era of carefully regulated pitch counts, an opposing pitcher who is getting all his outs on strikeouts is going to be throwing a lot of pitches.

As long as the team is making hard contact alongside the whiffs, a high strikeout offense can still be a highly productive offense.