Strikeouts: The Most Important Pitching Stat
When I’m choosing a starting pitcher for my team, the first thing I look for is strikeouts. The flip side of this that doesn’t get talked about as often is also looking at strikeouts to find which pitchers to play against.
The reason I look at strikeouts for my pitcher is that, besides being worth points, they are the most predictable and consistent stat. There are always going to be occasional single-game outliers, but over time, high-strikeout pitchers and low strikeout pitchers maintain their strikeout rates.
Because it so unpredictable what happens to a ball once it’s hit into the field of play, you want to get as many balls in play as possible, giving yourself more chance for success. Targeting high-contact hitters against low strikeout pitchers is one of my highest priority cash game strategies.
There are two common ways to quantify strikeout: either strikeout percentage or K/9, which is a measure of the strikeouts a pitcher averages per nine innings. I prefer to use strikeout percentage, as it is slightly more accurate than K/9. The reason is that if a pitcher suffers bad luck on BABIP and sees a few extra hitters per inning, they could have an inflated K/9 because they are facing more batters per inning. Strikeout percentage is simply calculated as strikeouts divided by total batters faced.
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