Game change

Major League Baseball has entered a new era of pitching dominance, in large part because of an unprecedented jump in strikeouts over the last 35 years. One result is an increasing likelihood of no-hitters in a season, with pitchers already having thrown five of them so far in the 2012 season.

Strikeout rates, measured in K/9, have set record highs every year since 2005. The long-term trend dates all the way back to baseball’s beginnings, according to data from 1871 to 2012 compiled fromĀ FanGraphs.com.

 

Strikeout rates surged in the pitchers’ era of the 1960s, peaking at 5.99 K/9 in 1967. That rate stood as the all-time high for 20 years.

But strikeouts today far exceed those rates of nearly 50 years ago.

Pitchers are on pace to reach a new K/9 record this season. So far in 2012, they’ve been fanning 7.51 batters per game.

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