Braves Batting Strikeout Tracker: Through 50 Games

Justin Upton blew 14 bubbles after strikeouts in the past 10 games. - Mike Stobe

Thanks to a series against the low-strikeout Twins pitching staff, the Braves' K totals weren't quite so outrageous in the past 10 games.

The Braves have now completed 50 games, which means that it's time for the 5th edition of the Braves Batting Strikeout Tracker. (If you missed the last update, read it here.)

The Braves' fifth 10-game stretch went quite a bit better than the previous 10 games. Though the team has lost its last 2, it won the previous 8 for a stellar 8-2 record over this period. The team struck out 85 times (8.5 times per game), which is a bit lower than their season average of 9.1 Ks per game. All of that difference can be chalked up to the series vs. the Twins. In two of those games the Braves racked up just 4 strikeouts each game; they had only 18 Ks in the entire series (or the same amount they had in one game vs. Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers).

The Braves' season total is now up to 457 strikeouts in 50 games, and their strikeout rate of 9.1 K/gm still leads the NL by a comfortable margin (the Mets are 2nd with 8.7 K/gm). The Astros continue to handily lead MLB in strikeouts however, with 494 in 51 games (9.7 per game).

Here's how the 2013 Braves stack up with the MLB-record-holding 2010 Diamondbacks and the franchise-record-holding 2012 Braves through 50 games (click to enlarge):

Braves-2013-ks-through-50_medium

With the slight dip in strikeouts this period, the Braves are now on pace to strike out 1481 times, a decline of 26 from the last update. The MLB record is still within reach, but the standards are so high that a few more 10-game stretches like this one, with "only" 8.5 Ks per game, and the Braves will be destined for 2nd-most (or 3rd-most, in the likely event that the Astros stay in the lead).

The Braves continue to almost creepily mirror the strikeout results of the MLB-record-holding 2010 Diamondbacks. In games 41-50, this year's Braves struck out 85 times... the exact same amount as the D'backs (that total is below-average for both teams). The Braves have struck out 457 times, just 1 shy of the D'backs' total at this point in the season.

For the first time this season, the 2013 Braves struck out fewer times over a 10-game span than the 2012 team. Last year's Braves K'ed 91 times in games 41-50 in what would prove to be their whiffiest 10 games of the season. This year's team didn't match that 10-game total, but it remains on pace to shatter the franchise record. For some perspective, this year's team is averaging 9.1 K/gm, which is equal to the highest 10-game average from last year.

Let's check back in on the Braves' runs scored vs. strikeouts chart through 50 games:

Ks-vs-runs-through-50_medium

It's the same old story: a slight negative correlation that might explain around 5 or 6 percent of the Braves' run totals on a game-by-game basis. While not meaningless, that isn't enough of a trend to really worry about. As you can see, the run totals for any given number of strikeouts are all over the place. What matters most is the kind of contact the hitters are making; the amount of contact takes a back seat.

Here's the breakdown of strikeouts by player, with Dan Uggla maintaining his team lead despite both Upton brothers breathing down his neck:

Player Ks K%
Dan Uggla 63 33.5%
B.J. Upton 60 34.1%
Justin Upton 57 26.9%
Juan Francisco 42 38.5%
Evan Gattis 33 23.4%
Freddie Freeman 32 20.1%
Chris Johnson 31 22.8%
Andrelton Simmons 20 10.1%
Jason Heyward 19 17.1%
BENCH 58 16.8%
PITCHERS 42 36.5%
TOTAL 457 24.2%

B.J. Upton's strikeout rate continues to be a cause for worry, as it's now back up to 34%. He's always been a fairly high-strikeout player, but that rate is well above his career average of 25.5%. For a while, I thought he was showing signs of getting his swing back, but any progress seems to have stalled. I still have confidence that he'll find his swing again, but it would be nice if that would come sooner rather than later.

B.J.'s brother Justin also had a rough 10 days, striking out 14 times in 41 plate appearances. No one's too concerned, though, as Justin's overall numbers are still stellar.

Dan Uggla and Juan Francisco continue to have huge K rates, but honestly, that's pretty much what we should expect from each of them at this point in their careers. They've both been adequate (offensively) despite the whiffs thanks to hefty doses of power, which makes them excellent examples of the power/strikeout tradeoff. They're striking out a ton, yes, but it's not too worrisome because they're getting something in return.

The Strikeout Tracker will be back in another 10 games. The Braves will be facing some tough pitchers in that time, so we may see a higher total than we did for this update.

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