Strikeouts Are Never Gonna Give Baseball Up

Though they might let fans down.

Strikeouts are an integral part of baseball today. You can hardly watch an inning without seeing at least one. The pitchers that get a lot of strikeouts tend to give up fewer runs, so MLB teams are always on the lookout for guys that get a lot of strikeouts.

I’ll quickly list the top 5 teams in terms of strikeouts per 9 innings this season:

  1. Milwaukee Brewers
  2. New York Mets
  3. Atlanta Braves
  4. New York Yankees
  5. Houston Astros

Each of these teams has managed to maximize their strikeouts this season and it has largely led to success for the team. The Brewers, Mets, Astros and Yankees are all at the top of their divisions. The Braves are just a few games behind the Mets.

The Power of Strikeouts

Strikeouts are incredibly powerful for a pitcher because it is impossible to get a hit on a strikeout. Any ball put in play has the chance of turning into a hit, even if it is hit very weakly. If you’re striking everybody out, you do not have to worry about this. With the strikeout, you can say goodbye to a lot swinging bunts and jammed bloopers over the second baseman’s head.

Teams that strikeout more batters often allow less good contact as well. Outside of the Reds and Cubs (who have struggled with giving up the long ball), every team that is above average in strikeouts per 9 is also above average in ERA+. Teams that get a lot of strikeouts usually do not have to worry about teams scoring through a combination of hits. Their stuff is too good to get multiple hits in an inning consistently.

This is the issue we see with guys like Hunter Greene and Nathan Eovaldi. They struggle with high home run rates but do not give up a lot of hits. This can be a sign of command struggles, but also may be associated with poor luck. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to a good piece of hitting. This is the one that often comes to mind for me:

Raimel Tapia’s solo homer | 04/17/2021 |

Assuming most of the hits you give up are singles, which is typical for most pitchers in any given season, having the ability to limit these singles by limiting contact will give you a good baseline for being a great pitcher in the MLB. This is what we have seen with Edwin Diaz this year.

The Reign of Edwin Diaz

Edwin is having a phenomenal year this year. He currently owns a 1.51 ERA over 41 2/3 innings pitched. Diaz has had some phenomenal seasons in the past, but this year has been his best so far. The biggest reason for his success? That might be his absurd 18.1 strikeouts per 9 innings. He is averaging over 2 strikeouts an inning with 40+ innings pitched. The next closest guy with a similar amount of innings is Josh Hader with 35 innings and 15.4 strikeouts per 9 innings.

Diaz displayed the power of key strikeouts in an outing against the Yankees on July 26th. He entered the game in the top of the 8th with a runner on first and 2 outs. A home run would have tied the game, but Diaz got Gallo to swing at a slider outside of the zone for strike 3. Diaz came back out in the ninth inning to complete the save. The Mets were up 3 at this point, but let’s pretend the lead was only 1 run.

Jose Trevino started the inning off with a weak infield single. The weak contact is a good result for Diaz, but Trevino gets on base anyway. This is one example of why it is beneficial to limit contact. Diaz then strikes out DJ Lemahieu. Trevino is unable to advance on the strikeout. The Yankees’ chance of scoring a run dramatically decreases from this one strikeout. The next batter is Aaron Judge.

As you likely know, Judge is having a monstrous season. Diaz wants to eliminate the possibility of any hard contact. He gets ahead 0-2 and instead of a strikeout, it is a soft chopper back to Diaz. Diaz fields it cleanly and would likely have had a double play if he had thrown it cleanly. It slipped out of his hand though and both Trevino and Judge were safe. With 1 out and runners on first and second, there are a few ways to score a run. A soft hit single out of the infield would likely do it. A single and a sacrifice fly would do it. A deep flyout and a single might even score two runs. Instead, Diaz quickly slams the door by striking out Anthony Rizzo and following that up with a strikeout of Gleyber Torres.

In this inning, Diaz put the power of the strikeout on full display. Strikeouts get outs and they usually hold runners at their current base. Diaz is the prototypical elite pitcher in today’s game. He does not attempt to induce weak contact, he attempts to eliminate contact altogether.

Going After Hitter Weaknesses

The other argument that can be made for strikeout pitchers is the argument that batters are increasingly susceptible to strikeouts. As batters look to increase their slugging, they make less soft contact and whiff much more. A pitcher with average movement or velocity will see an average amount of whiffs, but pitchers with good velocity and movement can use it to their advantage much more than they can against pure contact hitters.

Luis Arraez

It seems to be advantageous for pitchers to seek out strikeouts, but what about batters? Should they make the shift toward a more contact-oriented approach? Why do they seem to strike out so much?

Some people will make the argument that players just want to hit home runs and look cool. They will say players have lost all appreciation for things like small ball and pressuring the defense. Maybe these are part of the conversation, but I do not think they are the main drivers of current hitting approaches.

Players are always going to look to maximize their value, which means maximizing the skills that we measure them on. When we were measuring players based on batting average, there seemed to be more players with a high batting average. Then, home runs became the main measuring stick and players hit more and more home runs. Now, OPS and wOBA are often seen as some of the top indicators of offensive performance. For simplicity, we’ll focus on OPS.

The question becomes: Does OPS give an advantage to power hitters or contact hitters? A little digging seems to show a pretty obvious answer.

To start, I want to look at Luis Arraez. Arraez is a very interesting player. In an era of baseball where strikeouts and home runs often control the sport, Arraez succeeds without doing much of either. He averages 10.4 at-bats per strikeout. That is second in the MLB, just 0.1 at-bats behind Steven Kwan. He actually has 5 home runs on the year as well. This number is nowhere near most of the high OPS guys but it is ahead of a lot of the pure contact-oriented hitters. He is most known for his batting average though, which currently sits at a pristine .334. Even so, Arraez ranks 28th in OPS. Why? His slugging ranks 65th in baseball.

A .334 might not sound like an elite batting average, but it is really high for a guy that doesn’t hit for much power. Batting average on balls in play (BABIP) measures exactly what its name says, the batting average on all balls in play (excluding home runs). The league average BABIP is .300, Arraez has averaged .344 since he entered the league in 2019. This means Arraez would hit .344 if he never struck out and did not hit any home runs. To hit higher than .344, he would need to hit about one home run for every 2 strike outs. A feat that he is not close to, even with his incredibly low strikeout rate. Since 2000, only two players have accomplished this while hitting less than 20 home runs. Tommy La Stella, whose home run rate for 2019 doesn’t match the rest of his career, and Randall Simon, who did so in 2002. The important thing to note is that contact hitters that do not hit with much power often have a ceiling that makes it difficult to hit above .350 for an extended period of time.

Joey Gallo vs. Isiah Kiner-Falefa

One of the biggest displays of the importance of power is a quick look at Joey Gallo and Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s OPS numbers. The league average OPS is currently .708. If we look at the past month, Kiner-Falefa is getting hit but has no power. Over the last 28 days, he is 24 for 80 for a .300 batting average. Of those hits, 19 are singles and 5 are doubles. One walk brings his on-base percentage to .321, while his slugging percentage sits at .363. He has a .684 OPS over those four weeks.

Gallo’s last 28 days have been completely different. He is 5 for 39 with a single, a triple, and 3 home runs. The power is there, but the average sits at .128. Being a guy that can do a lot of damage quickly, Gallo has been walked 10 times over this span. As a result, his on-base percentage is .306 and his slugging percentage is .410. This gives him a .716 OPS, above league average and above Isiah Kiner-Falefa.

Gallo displays two key principles that often allow struggling power hitters to keep pace with solid contact hitters.

The first is walks. Guys that are better at hitting home runs often force pitchers to be more careful with their pitches. Pitchers do not want the game to change on one bad pitch, so they focus more on the edge of the zone and are less likely to challenge the batter when they are behind in the count. Regardless of a hitter’s batting average, these walks add up. While Kiner-Falefa receives a .021 boost to his on-base percentage from walks, Gallo gets a huge .178 boost. That is over 8 times more.

Second, whatever gap is left after the walks are factored in, can be made up with slugging. Slugging percentage is simply the number of bases a hitter averages per at-bat. For example, a player that hits 8 singles in 20 at-bats would have a .400 slugging percentage. He averages .4 bases per at-bat. Now, this batter would also have a .400 batting average. Some quick math shows that you can also get 8 bases in 20 at-bats by hitting 2 home runs. Your batting average would be .100 in this scenario, but your slugging percentage would still be .400. Against today’s pitchers, hitting 2 home runs over 20 at-bats is a manageable task. Hitting .400 over those 20 at-bats requires more bat control and some luck to hit the ball away from fielders.

The Future of Strikeouts

In the previous example, I picked Joey Gallo for a reason. Yankees fans have been incredibly frustrated with his strikeout rate this season. They have been such a problem that his OPS for the season is actually a fair amount below average. Yet, that single OPS number is quite a bit more forgiving for Gallo than many other players. While writing this article, Gallo was traded to the Dodgers. The Dodgers were likely willing to make this move because of Gallo’s past OPS numbers. Just last year, Gallo struck out in nearly every other at-bat and still had an OPS+ of 121 (21% better than the average hitter). The Dodgers would gladly take that.

The big point here is strikeouts are here to stay. As fans, we often get frustrated with the players that repeatedly strikeout without providing any real offense. However, the players that strike out the most, often up being quite productive hitters. Among the top 10 in strikeouts this year, there are 4 All-Stars including MVP favorite Aaron Judge and runner up in the home run race, Kyle Schwarber. We know these guys strike out a lot, but their productivity and home runs often overshadows the extent of their strikeouts.

If you are not tired of strikeouts, here is Ryan Helsley using his electric stuff to strikeout a few batters:

The No Pop Club

In a game dominated by power hitters, can extreme contact hitters still thrive?

Is it possible to succeed without power? Can a player be a good hitter in today’s game without hitting home runs?

There are many ways to answer these questions. I decided to look at seasons since 2000 where players have had more than 150 hits yet tallied no more than 5 home runs. These are the guys that rarely leave the yard but played consistently throughout the year.

The No Pop Club has been is nowhere near where it once was.

Juan Pierre was the king of such seasons in recent decades. Between 2001 and 2011, he achieved the feat 9 times. Elvis Andrus and Luis Castillo both have 5 seasons with 150+ hits and 5 or fewer home runs, and, somewhat surprisingly, Jason Kendall has 4. I think it is important to mention here that it is rare to hit less than 6 home runs while collecting 150 hits. It has happened 77 times since 2000, meaning less than 4 times per year. Even a guy like Ichiro Suzuki hits too many home runs to be included in this group.

If we look at the other commonalities between these seasons, a few things are readily noticeable. There is a lot of bold in the singles column. Home runs are obviously low, but extra-base hits are also fairly low for a lot of these players. Second, many of these players are known for running pretty quickly. This combined with the trend of hitting a lot of singles leads to very good stolen base numbers for the group. There are only 9 seasons below 10 stolen bases and there are 8 seasons above 60 stolen bases. Additionally, many of these guys played for quite a few seasons in Major League Baseball.

So, can you be a good hitter with no power?

If we look at the group we have created, the answer does not look very promising. For example, if we look at OPS+, 20 seasons have been above average (above 100) and 57 seasons have been below average (below 100). The seasons that are above average all have batting averages above .287 with most above .300. Being the power numbers are not there, these players really need to get on-base a lot. This is why we see so many of these seasons fall below the league average OPS.

Hitting above .287 is a very difficult task. The lack of home runs this group displays suggests their approach places greater emphasis on contact. This is usually beneficial in terms of limiting strikeouts. Thus, these players only need to have a similar batting average on balls in play to maintain a high batting average. Unfortunately, as strikeouts decline, we often see BABIP and exit velocity numbers decline as well.

Dee Strange-Gordon has the highest OPS+ of any of these seasons at 116. He did so by hitting .333 in a down offensive year. He finished just outside the top 50 in OPS that year. It is incredibly difficult to be one of the best 50 hitters in baseball while hitting 5 or fewer home runs. This is why we see so many teams today trying to squeeze the power potential out of each player.

Having no power offensively makes it necessary for a player to excel in other parts of the game, usually baserunning and defense. It also often requires players to master some of the finer details in the game. Juan Pierre led the league in sacrifice bunts 4 times, he beat out double-play balls, and he hit .295 for his career.

Recent Additions to Club

A few guys had seasons meeting our standards in 2021.

The first and most successful player was Adam Frazier. Frazier had an amazing start to the year with the Pirates. In 428 plate appearances, he hit .324 which allowed him to have an .836 OPS for a 127 OPS+. He also hit 4 of his 5 home runs in this stretch with the Pirates. Frazier was very successful with the Pirates, and it made him a big trade target for other teams. He was eventually traded to the Padres where his hitting cooled down. In his last 57 games, his batting average was only .267 and his OPS+ was 86. Frazier’s season did not end how he would have wanted it to, but the season as a whole was a success. His batting average ended above .300 at .305 and his OPS+ was a solid 114. Frazier made a living off of hitting singles and doubles and it worked.

The next player to have at least 150 hits and 5 or fewer home runs is Myles Straw. Straw did not have the profile or offensive performance of Adam Frazier. Straw got his first full year of playing time in 2021. He played 98 games for the Astros with an 85 OPS+. His offensive production was below average, but his speed in the outfield and on the bases made him a consistent starter for the Astros. Straw was also traded after 98 games in a deal that did not receive as much attention as the Adam Frazier deal. Straw’s hitting rebounded a bit and his OPS+ was slightly above average with the Guardians

The final player to meet the conditions of this club in 2021 was David Fletcher. Fletcher has become known around the league for his excellent defense. His defense provides some of the value that his offense has not been able to. Last year was Fletcher’s worst offensive season. He hit .262, barely walked, and had only 2 home runs.

Even with their varying levels of offensive production, all 3 of these players are valued by their teams.

Frazier and Straw have both played in most of their team’s games in 2022 and Fletcher played 14 games but has been sidelined by a hip injury for much of the season. This question of how effective a player can be without hitting for power is key to the longevity of their MLB careers. Frazier and Straw both currently have an OPS+ in the 80s.

The Decline of Extreme Contact Hitters

Earlier I mentioned there were 77 seasons meeting our criteria between 2000 and 2022. If we look at the 20-year period prior (1979-1999), there are 180 such seasons. Not only are there more of these seasons, there are also players that managed some amazing seasons in terms of OPS. Wade Boggs did it 3 times with an OPS+ above 140, including a league-leading 0.965 OPS in 1988. Tony Gwynn also did it 5 times as part of a hall of fame career. Rod Carew and Pete Rose each did it 3 times as well. These players are considered some of the best hitters of their generation even though they did not hit home runs.

Juan Pierre has been successful in the past 2 decades, but his offensive production is nowhere near the likes of Boggs, Gwynn, Carew, and Rose. Even within our group of seasons, the best seasons between 1979 and 1999 are far better across the board than the seasons between 2000 and 2021. Players like Gwynn and Boggs put up batting averages that have only been matched a few times in recent years. Boggs also managed to walk once in every seven plate appearances.

Some players in the 80s and 90s were able to be an essential part of their team’s offense without hitting more than 5 home runs in a season, and they could do so for many years. That feat is much less common in today’s game. Dee Gordon’s 116 OPS+ would rank 25th in OPS+ if he were placed in with the 80s and 90s seasons. Even Ichiro Suzuki, who often hit just a few too many home runs to be included in this group, does not have OPS+ numbers comparable to Tony Gwynn. Gwynn has 9 seasons better than Ichiro’s best season.

If anything, this reflects a shift throughout the league that has made it difficult for these extreme contact hitters. Gwynn did not need great slugging numbers to have a great season, because the rest of the league did not have great slugging numbers. Today, hitters do not get as many hits but they average more bases on their hits. It is getting more difficult to hit enough singles to keep up with the sluggers.

Could We See a Game Where Players Never Hit 5 or Fewer Home Runs?

This certainly feels like the direction baseball is headed in. The value of home runs is too great to be overlooked according to many of today’s performance measurements (slugging, OPS, wOBA, etc.). Well-rounded players are also learning to hit home runs in batches. Defensive specialists are becoming more rare because there are guys that can hit really well and play good defense. Just look at the star shortstops in Major League Baseball today. They might allow 5 more runs on defense, but they will score 20 more runs of offense.

As grim as the situation may appear, there is still a chance for the “No Pop Club”. For one, some defensive-minded players have been able to stick around for many years. This list includes guys like David Fletcher, Andrelton Simmons, plenty of members of the Rays outfield, etc. Teams obviously still value these types of players to some degree.

The Philadelphia Phillies Experiment

Baseball seems to be moving more and more toward assigning greater value to players that provide a lot of offense without much defense. It feels like guys that can hit home runs but play very little defense are getting more opportunities. This seems like a very bad trend for guys like David Fletcher. The silver lining is the fact that teams that have gone all-in on offense have not been as successful as we might expect.

One example is the New York Yankees. That Yankees have always been able to hit over the past decade, but their pitching and defense have often let them down. During the offseason, they traded for Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Donaldson and Kiner-Falefa now find themselves as anchors of a defense that has posted 25 defensive runs saved so far this year. This is coming off a season where the Yankees had an awful -41 defensive runs saved. Additionally, the Yankee’s pitching numbers look a lot better this year. The Yankees were willing to give up some offense by trading Sanchez and placing Kiner-Falefa at shortstop and it seems to be working.

Meanwhile, the Giants have done the opposite. They played good defense last year and had a very successful season. This year, they have not been able to meet expectations and their defense has been quite bad as well. Obviously, the Giants play in a very good division where repeating last year’s success would have been extremely difficult, but that also means that every run they give up through below-average defense has a greater impact on their standing. They literally have little room for errors.

The Giants, however, did not go all-in on mashers like the Philadelphia Phillies did. The Phillies had the worst defense in baseball last year. Unlike the Yankees, the Phillies got addicted to the long ball. They needed more of it. So they went and got Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber. Part of their struggles are related to these signings not having much success so far this year. If Castellanos and Schwarber were hitting better, they would definitely have a few more wins. The defense is not helping these struggles though. According to defensive runs saved, the Phillies have given up 30 runs more than the average team. Castellanos has not made any errors, yet he is at -11 defensive runs saved. The Phillies are over halfway to their league-worst total from last year and we are not even a third of the way through the season.

The first inning of this game against the Mets shows a lot of the defensive challenges the Phillies have had this year. The error on the first play hurts, but Castellanos’ inability to keep the Mets runners at third on the shallow fly balls is just as detrimental. Teams know the Phillies have poor defense and they are challenging it every chance they get. Most of the time, it is resulting in more runs.

Perhaps the Phillies’ extreme defensive struggles and the success of teams that have better defenses will be a warning for other teams to not go all-in on offense. This might be one of the few lifelines left for players that do not hit home runs. This might be one of the few lifelines left for defensive specialists. Ozzie Smith, perhaps the greatest fielder in MLB history, only hit more than 3 home runs in one season of his career. Like Andrelton Simmons and David Fletcher, Ozzie was never particularly amazing with the bat, but it is difficult to imagine baseball without his presence. Also, we would have missed out on one of the most memorable home runs in baseball history:

Ozzie Smith NLCS Game 5 Walk-Off Home Run

He may not have hit many in his career, but he certainly picked a good time to hit that one.

The No Pop Club is becoming smaller with each passing decade. The possibility of succeeding without hitting home runs is more narrow each year. Can you be a good hitter in today’s game without hitting home runs? You can, but you need to have a batting average above .300, sometimes it needs to be well above .300. You need to find a way to get on base at a high clip. The window of opportunity is quite small, but it still exists. It has not left. Not yet.

Read More: Home runs have become the currency of choice over the past century in baseball. However, it was triples that once held that spot in the early days of baseball. Sam Crawford mastered the art of hitting triples and set a record that will not be touched anytime soon.

The Texas Rangers After 3-0 Counts are Case Study in Luck and Variance

The Texas Rangers are struggling this year in plate appearances that reach 3-0.

Hitters dream of 3-0 counts. Being 1 ball away from a walk and having 3 strikes to work with gives the hitter a lot of options. By the end of last season, every Major League team had walked in over half of the plate appearances that reached 3-0. The average slugging percentage in at-bats that reached a 3-0 count was 0.088 points higher than the average for all at-bats.

So far this year, the Texas Rangers are struggling in these advantageous plate appearances. With a BB% of 48.7%, they are one of 4 teams not getting walked in half of these plate appearances. The bigger issue, however, is plate appearances when they do not get walked.

In 39 plate appearances that reached 3-0, the Rangers have been forced to put the ball in play. They have failed to do so in 11 of these plate appearances. This gives them the top strikeout percentage for such plate appearances. Of the 28 balls put in play, only 5 have been hits. They have 4 singles and a home run.

The statistics look really bad for the Rangers, but they are not nearly as bad as they seem.

With only 76 plate appearances that have reached a 3-0 count so far this year, much of the Ranger’s issue has to do with the oddities of small sample sizes. They have had some bad luck in these at-bats. In fact, they have had at least a couple balls that fielders made rare plays on. That right there would raise their batting average to .179. The difference between them and a team that is doing well in this category could be 2 or 3 hits. You will not find this number in the batting average though. The batting average provides one number to summarize the team’s success but it leaves out the context of the at-bats. It will not tell you if a spectacular catch was made or if the batter got on via a swinging bunt.

The fact that luck plays such an essential role in a team’s season can be very difficult for players and fans to acknowledge. Over the course of 162 games, most things work themselves out. Teams get lucky sometimes and unlucky other times until the net gain of their luck is neutralized.

The playoffs, however, are a prime opportunity for luck to determine a team’s season. A well-hit ball that would go for a hit 90% of the time might be hit right at an infielder. An outfielder might make a diving play on a ball in the gap. These plays often determine who wins and who loses.

Embracing the Role of Luck In Baseball

Luck will always be an essential part of baseball. It will lead teams to stunning comeback wins and difficult losses. Luck will make teams champions and send others home unhappy. Every person that has watched or played baseball has wished luck could be removed from the game at one time or another. This often happens when your team is on the wrong side of a bad hop or a broken-bat single. By definition, luck is unpredictable. There is no way of knowing exactly when or how it will impact a baseball game, yet there are important ways we can prepare for it and embrace it as fans and players.

The Role of Expected Stats

Expected stats have become an important measuring stick for many teams to figure out how good players are. Instead of looking at results for hitters (i.e. singles, home runs, batting average, etc.), expected statistics use data from Statcast about the quality of contact they are making. They allow us to account for some of the luck that affects a hitter’s season.

Expected stats are not all-encompassing, but they do give us a better idea of how productive a batter’s at-bat is. For example, we can look at this 3-0 hard-hit ball by Marcus Semien:

Marcus Semien lines out sharply to center fielder Chas McCormick. | 05/22/2022 |

The expected batting average for this ball is .770. This means balls hit with that exit velocity and launch angle fall for hits 77% of the time. Semien did his job and hit the ball hard, it just happened to be right at the centerfielder.

Expected stats can be really helpful when a player is struggling. Well-hit balls not falling for hits is often an important part of a player’s hitting struggles. Jesse Winker is a great example this year. He is currently hitting .213, but the expected statistics say he is closer to a .282 hitter. Additionally, he only has 2 home runs so far this season. A big drop-off from last year. Statcast’s expected home run measure which looks at wall heights, distances, and environmental effects, along with batted ball data, shows that Winker would have about 4 home runs if he played his home games in Cincinnati (he would have 8 if he played all his games at Great American Ball Park). Below is a spray chart of his batted balls in home games:

The grey circles represent outs while the pink circles are home runs. If he still played at Great American, as shown here, he would have 4 home runs instead of 2.

While Winker’s hitting this year is not on par with last year, he is still making a lot of solid contact. They simply are not falling for hits at the moment. We would expect Winker to move toward his expected stats as the season progresses.

Patience With Top Prospects

To fully acknowledge the role of luck and variance in performance, we must be patient with players. Patience is especially important when looking at top prospects. The first week will not show whether the player will have a good career or not. Even the first few months may not be enough time to accurately gauge where the player is compared to other MLB players. There is often an adjustment period when players first face MLB pitching, but there can also be a lot of variance in results. Julio Rodriguez is a prime example of someone who took a few weeks to start hitting well. It is still far too early to know what his true potential might be, but it certainly looks better than it did a few weeks ago.

Looking at “Lucky” Players

Just as there are players that are performing below their expected numbers for the season, there are also players performing above their expected numbers. We might deem them “lucky” players because they are performing better than their contact quality suggests they should be, but it is important to remember that luck balances itself out in larger sample sizes. This is part of the reason players can hit .380 in 15 games and not get another at-bat for the rest of the year. This can also lead some players to have one or two months that are way better than the rest of their season.

Combining Luck and Expected Stats

With expected stats, we could totally disregard traditional statistics. We could say that a player’s slugging does not matter and simply look at his expected slugging, but I think the right approach requires both.

Expected stats can be used to show a player is making better contact than his traditional numbers would suggest, but we should also celebrate players succeeding in spite of their expected stats. If a player is hitting .350, he deserves praise regardless of what his expected stats say. His at-bats are helping his team win games. Plus, while expected stats are very good measures, a few players have been able to consistently outperform them. An example is Tim Anderson, who seems to outperform his expected batting average each year. It could be pure luck or maybe he has found a way to create his own luck.

On the other side of the discussion, we can use expected stats as a reminder that good players have horrible weeks and/or months sometimes.

Being a Major League Baseball player is incredibly difficult. Why should we use stats to tear these players down when we have the ability to show what their peak performance looks like?

Texas Rangers data via and their custom leaderboards.

Jesse Winker batted ball data via

Read More: Triples often require a bit of luck. Players have to hit the ball as far away from the outfielders as possible. Everyone in Major League Baseball can hit the occasional triple, but to be good at hitting triples, you need a lot of solid contact and speed. Read to learn about the career triples record and why it will not be broken any time soon.