By Tom Verducci
August 23, 2013
Brett Gardner has hit 23 home runs in 600 career games but that's a Ruthian total among recently drafted Yankees.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

So why are teams worse at turning batted balls into outs despite advances in information, coaching and field conditions? Strikeouts. Cubs president Theo Epstein said the unabated rise in strikeouts has led to fewer weakly-hit balls being put into play. When the strikeout was taboo, and hitters would adopt a defensive two-strike approach, they might roll over weakly on a pitch just to "put it in play." Today's hitter would rather take three healthy cuts and accept the strikeout as the cost of doing business. With that approach, Epstein said, you get fewer weakly hit balls. And with fewer weakly hit balls -- the ones virtually guaranteed to be turned into outs -- you get a lower rate of defensive efficiency.

You May Like