Tuesday, May 27, 2014


We need to study whether April is indeed the "cruelest month"--at least for batters. In 2014, it certainly seemed that way...particularly because batter strikeouts were occurring at a recklessly record pace.

But we need to know if that's been the case in the past. Because K/9 averages have dropped significantly in May--about half a K/9, in fact--and it's possible that this was just some kind of April aberration.

Are K/9 spikes in April a common thing?

The short answer: No.

Three tables for you here, variants of monthly K/9 rates for the years 2003-2014 (at least as far as we are in the current year, that is...) plus some brief "lookback" into the past (1993, 1983, 1973, 1963, 1953).

The first is overall K/9; second is K/9 by starters; third is K/9 by relievers.

Our color-coordination here: hot orange for the month where the highest K/9 rate occurs; a more sedate orange for instances where the high K/9 rate is shared in multiple months; pale yellow for the month where the second highest K/9 rate occurs.

As you can see, in all three instances, it's September that is by far the "cruelest month" in terms of K/9. It's been that way, apparently, for a long, long time--and it's remained that way even as strikeout rates have accelerated over the past decade.

So draw your own conclusions about where the K/9 rate will go over the course of the 2014 season. What's emerging from the data, for what it's worth, ain't exactly clear.

Are we reverting back to the merely near-record 2013 numbers, or does the pervasiveness of that September pattern mean that the early autumn will set a new record for breezy conditions?

All we know at this point is that the K/9 rate went down in May. (Oh, yeah--and "truth is beauty, and beauty is truth"--but John Keats was born too soon for Tommy John surgery.)