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Kent Bonham and Jeff Sackmann founded College Splits in 2006. We've been collecting, analyzing, and distributing cutting-edge college baseball data ever since.

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Strikeout Rates to Watch

March 02, 2011

Last year, we published some research on college strikeout rates. With the exception of a few guys with monster power, a player isn't going to make it as a major league regular if they are striking out over a certain rate.

Of course, the major leagues are a bit tougher than the NCAA. So we combined the differences in difficulty and the improvement that can be expected with age and came up with a threshold.

Long story short: If you're striking out more than 18% of the time at the college level, your future as a major leaguer is mighty dim.

You can change your approach--it worked for Zack Cox. In his freshman year, he struck out a whopping 30% of the time. As a sophomore, he made much more consistent contact, striking out less than 14% of the time. Ryan Braun is another example: As a freshman, he struck out in 25% of plate appearances; two years later, that rate was down to 14%.

So it's not hopeless. But that doesn't mean it's easy. Most players with too-high strikeout rates in college aren't going to be able to change their approach like Braun did, and like Cox appears to have.

Here are sixteen guys showing up on draft prospect lists this year, including some very big names. Their 2010 strikeouts per plate appearance are causes for concern, and their contact rate should be watched throughout the season.

  Player           School                K/PA  
  Jordan Etier     Texas                32.6%  
  Derek Dennis     Michigan             25.8%  
  Logan Robbins    Western Kentucky     25.5%  
  George Springer  Connecticut          23.1%  
  Harold Riggins   NC State             23.0%  
  Cody Asche       Nebraska             21.7%  
  Zeke DeVoss      Miami Florida        21.0%  
  Harold Martinez  Miami Florida        19.9%  
  Cameron Seitzer  Oklahoma             19.9%  
  Mikie Mahtook    LSU                  19.5%  
  Ricky Oropesa    Southern California  19.0%  
  Steve Selsky     Arizona              19.0%  
  Zach Wilson      Arizona State        18.2%  
  Bobby Crocker    Cal Poly             18.0%  
  Cohl Walla       Texas                17.4%  
  Tim Smalling     Virginia Tech        17.4%