Things I was wrong about, I: Batter strikeouts. There are a number of comments by me, in posts and in the comments section, to the effect that batter strikeouts don’t matter, that “an out is an out” and “at least he isn’t grounding into double plays.” This is probably incorrect — well, not the part about double plays, but the rest. What I didn’t recognize when I was saying things like that is that the connection between putting the ball in play and batting average is as strong as it is. A lot of players can strike out and maintain a good batting average, but it makes it harder. In the long term, batting average on balls in play tends to even out (not entirely, but somewhat) so one of the biggest controlling factors in batting average is strikeout rate.
Another thing I’ve mentioned before is that I was upset when the Braves traded Mel Nieves in the McGriff trade. I thought that they should have traded Klesko instead, because Nieves had more defensive value, while nobody knew if Klesko could play anywhere but first base. What I didn’t realize at the time, but I’m quite sure that the Braves at least suspected, was that Nieves’ strikeout problems in the minor leagues would translate into even more strikeouts on the major league level, and that those strikeouts would overwhelm his game. Nieves, when he actually hit the ball, hit it in the majors pretty much like he did in the minors; he averaged 22 homers per 162 games played on the major league level, which is quite good for a young player. But because he averaged 171 strikeouts per 162 games, he hit only .231, which meant that he was a substandard hitter overall despite his power and a decent walk rate (his isolated power and on-base were pretty much the same in the majors as in the minors).
What I’m saying, I guess, is that I don’t know that Jordan Schafer can survive if he’s going to strike out a third of the time.