Punchouts are a huge piece of the puzzle with arms. The ability to miss bats has never been more significant than it is at this point in time. Seems like everywhere you look there are strikeouts. Who performed the best in the K/9 category? Who didn’t show up? Let’s review the 2020 season.
*Further work on things like swinging K-rates and the like, will be touched on next season.
THE LEAGUE AVERAGE
Every year since 2013… the league’s K/9 rate has gone up. Each year since then MLB has set an all-time record for K/9 rate. The mark hit 8.10 in 2016, the first time over eight. This season… just four years later… the mark hit nine for the first time at 9.07. Yes, the average Major League pitcher struck out a batter per inning in 2020.
*We will be using 50-innings pitched of this study. Why not 60, the number needed to qualify for the K/9 title? Only 40 arms threw 60-innings. When we use 50 that ups the group of hurlers to 81 arms.
STRONG PUNCHOUT MARKS
Here are the hurlers with marks of 9.50 or better in ’20.
|Lucas Giolito||White Sox||4||3||12||12||72.1||12.07||3.48||3.19||3.35|
|Robbie Ray||– – –||2||5||12||11||51.2||11.85||6.62||6.50||5.84|
|Mike Minor||– – –||1||6||12||11||56.2||9.85||5.56||4.64||4.50|
|Hyun-Jin Ryu||Blue Jays||5||2||12||12||67||9.67||2.69||3.01||3.32|
Tyler Glasnow had an insane mark of 14.28, slightly head of the 14.20 mark of Shane Bieber. No pitcher has ever thrown 162 innings with a mark of 14 before.
Corbin Burnes was a reliever who moved into the rotation (nine starts in 12 outings). His K/9 mark this season was a half point better than the 12.86 mark he posted last year.
Trevor Bauer posted a double-digit mark for the 4th straight year. That said, the mark was just 10.68 from 2017-19, so it certainly went up substantially this season.
Max Scherzer’s mark went down three tenths from 2019 though the mark was a remarkable 4th year in a row over 12.00.
Aaron Nola added nearly two full points to his previous best of 10.19.
Kevin Gausman his best mark previously was last year at 10.03.
Robbie Ray posted a mark under 12 for the first time in three years (12.11, 12.01 and 12.13 from 2017-19).
Carlos Carrasco posted a 4th straight season with a mark of 10.00. In fact, the mark has been between 10.80 and 10.85 each of the past three years. He’s still missing a lot of bats at 33 years of age.
Kenta Maeda posted a mark of 10.80, well clear of his 9.90 mark in 2019 which also happens to be his career mark after this season.
Zach Eflin went bonkers in the shortened season, taking his K/9 from 7.11 last year to 10.68 this season. Massive was the jump.
Frankie Montas was terrible this season. Still had an impressive strikeout rate.
Mike Minor didn’t pitch great, but he added 1.2 points to his 2019 rate.
Luke Weaver is a pitcher we keep waiting on in the fantasy game, and by “we” I mean others, not me. He delivered the punchouts this season, but that was about it as he pitcher terribly overall.
WEAK PUNCHOUT MARKS
Remember, anyone under 9.1 in the K/9 column was pitching at below league average standards. Here are the men who were under 8.00 in 2020.
|Dallas Keuchel||White Sox||6||2||11||11||63.1||5.97||1.99||3.08||3.98|
|Martin Perez||Red Sox||3||5||12||12||62||6.68||4.50||4.88||5.20|
|Dylan Cease||White Sox||5||4||12||12||58.1||6.79||4.01||6.36||5.87|
Erick Fedde at 5.01 was just two thousandths worse than Antonio Senzatela. Fedde has a mark of 4.84 his last 128.1 innings. Senzatela posted an impressive 3.44 ERA but with a horrific strike out rate. It’s a reason to be fearful in 2021.
Jordan Lyles – was his K/9 rate worse than his 7.02 ERA or 1.56 WHIP?
Mike Fiers struck out a batter per innings in 2014-15. The last four years: 8.57, 7.27, 6.14 and 5.64.
Brad Keller and Dallas Keuchel get it done, not by missing bats but by keeping the ball on the ground – a lot.
Jon Lester posted an 8.76 K/9 rate from 2009-19. The mark fell off a cliff this season at 6.20.
Martin Perez throws hard and people seem to really like that. He still doesn’t miss bats as his 6.68 mark was the second best of his career.
Zack Wheeler went from 8.90 per nine from 2014-19 down to 6.72 this season. Yikes.
Dylan Cease needs to learn how to use his stuff. It is absurd to throw 97 mph and not miss bats.
Adrian Houser struggled in his insertion into the rotation full-time.
Dustin May – see the Cease notation. Oh, May threw 98 mph too.
Ryan Yarbrough had a three year low, though his career mark is just 7.55.
Julio Urias predictably pitched well this season. However, his K per inning stuff somehow led to a 7.36 K/9 rate.
Justus Sheffield had some nice outings, and he kept the walks in check, but the strike rate was lower than expected.
Here’s the spreadsheet with the full list.