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%