Stronger arms and quicker bats led to Major League Baseball players striking out more than ever before last season — the ninth straight season in which a new high has been set.
Both strikeout rates and the total number of strikeouts reached previously unseen peaks, with pitchers fanning an average of 7.57 batters per nine innings and 36,710 batters overall during the course of the 2013 season, according to Fangraphs.
A combination of factors have contributed to the rise in strikeouts, according to an CBSsports.com article published last May.
Pitchers throw harder, with average fastball velocities reaching all-time highs in 2013 at 92 mph, according to Fangraphs data. Batters now know that strikeouts aren’t much worse than other kinds of outs, reducing the stigma of whiffing, with contact percentages at their lowest rate since 2003. When starters get tired, fireballing relievers come in at a moment’s notice with fresh arms.
As a result, batters go deeper into the count, fewer balls are put in play and games take longer.