46 Lines About 7.7 Strikeouts

As of this writing the MLB K/9 stands at 7.7, the highest in recorded history.

>> Here is a list of HOF pitchers with a career K/9 over 7.7:

Nolan Ryan        9.55

Sandy Koufax   9.28

Yep, that’s it.

>> There are 27 active pitchers with at least 1,000 IP and a career K/9 over 7.7.

>> There have been 643 seasons in MLB history in which an ERA-qualifying pitcher put up 7.7 K/9.  Just under half of those (315) have occurred since 2003.

>> The five best 7.7+ seasons by FIP (FIP,ERA,ERA+, K/9):

Pedro Martinez             1999         1.39/2.07/243       13.20

Dwight Gooden             1984         1.69/2.60/137        11.39   19 years old

Clayton Kershaw          2014         1.89/1.70/2.11        10.74   MVP. Yes, I said it.

Sandy Koufax                     1965          1.93/2.04/160       10.24   26 HR allowed

Tom Seaver                      1971          1.93/1.76/194          9.08

>> The five worst 7.7+ seasons:

Brandon Duckworth    2002          4.39/5.41/72          9.22    26 HR allowed

A.J. Burnett                      2007          4.33/3.75/119         9.56    had winning record

El Duque                            2006           4.24/4.66/96         9.09

Tim Lincecum                 2012            4.18/5.18/68          9.19     lead league in losses

Jonathan Sanchez         2009          4.17/4.24/100        9.75

>> The major league strikeout rate has continuously been:

above 7 since 2009

above 6 since 1994

above 5 since 1982

above 4 since 1952

above 3 since 1930

>> The strikeout rate hasn’t decreased since 2005.

>> If the season ended today:

5 playoff teams would have a team K/9 over 7.7

Dodgers        8.4

Angels           8.2

Mariners       8.0

Nationals      7.9

6 playoff teams would have a team K/9 below 7.7

Cardinals      7.6

Athletics        7.5

Giants            7.5

Pirates           7.3

Royals            7.2

Showalters    7.1

>> From 2000-2008, only one World Series champion had a K/9 over 7.7: the 2001 Snakes at 8.0. Since 2008, only one world champ has had a K/9 under 7.7: the 2011 Cardinals (6.8).

I’m not sold on the idea that all these strikeouts threaten Our Way of Life (indeed, this is far more dangerous). But it will be fascinating to learn if some GM will be able to find an underpriced competitive advantage in scouting and developing guys whose bats can locate the ball more often.

I'm a recovering lawyer and unrecovered Cubs fan who writes about baseball from time to time.

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Jon L.
8 years ago

Cool stuff!

5 playoff teams should be 4. I don’t think you can edit this, but likely a contact at Fangraphs can do it for you.

The Nails
8 years ago

Thanks for the reference.

8 years ago

Poor Brandon Duckworth, he used to destroy AA competition when he was with the Reading Phillies. I was about 9 or 10 at the time and I lived about a mile from the stadium so my dad and I always went to watch him pitch. He routinely would rack up about 10k’s in his starts until the virtual ducks on the scoreboard couldn’t be shot into K’s anymore. I wish he would have panned out ;_;

Well-Beered Englishman
8 years ago

Hire this man!

8 years ago

Nice stuff.
I just laugh at these ERA/ERA+ differences everytime I see them.
Especially the comparison between Pedro’s ’99 and 1965 Koufax. Almost the same ERA, but, sorry Sandy, you were just 60% better than the league whilst Pedro just lapped everyone by almost 150%.
Also great with Seaver and ’00 Pedro. Both ~1.75, but Pedro’s ERA+ is 100 points higher than Tom’s.
And now we’re tilting back towards the olden times. See Kershaw, C.
The Times they are A-Changing!