The Twins played their 50th game of the season last night when they beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-1 at Target Field and their record now stands at 22-28. Last night they struck out 7 times, the night before they struck out 14 times in 14 innings and the day before that they struck out 7 times. I don’t know how many of you have noticed but Twins batters are striking out at a record-breaking pace.
The 1997 Twins struck out a team record 1,121 times in 5,634 at-bats. That equates to batters striking out once every 5.03 at-bats which also is a team high. If you spread that out over the 162 games they played that season it comes out to 6.92 strikeouts per game. That 1997 Twins team finished with a 68-94 record under manager Tom Kelly. That team had two hitters strike out more than 100 times, Rich Becker had 130 and Terry Steinbach contributed 106.
This years Twins have struck out 418 times in 1,718 at-bats through 50 games. That means that batters are striking out once every 4.11 at-bats, almost a full at-bat worse than they have ever done. If you prorate that over 162 games at their current pace, they will strike out 1,354 times in 5,566 at-bats which blows away their 1997 high water strikeout mark. If you look at it at a strikeouts per game, their current running rate is 8.36 KO’s per game. Again blowing away their historic worst 1997 mark of 6.92 KO’s per game.
Excluding any strike shortened season, the 1978 Twins struck out the fewest times. That group of hitters struck out just 684 times in 5,522 at-bats or once every 8.07 at-bats. That comes out to only 4.22 strikeouts per game. Danny Ford led that team in strikeouts with 88 and no one else had more than 70.
The most strikeouts that a Twins batter has had in a single season is 145 and both Harmon Killebrew (1969) and Bobby Darwin (1972) share that honor. Killebrew led the Twins in strikeouts seven times and Gary Gaetti is next on the list having led the team in strikeouts six times. This years team is on pace to have five hitters with 100 or more KO’s, Josh Willingham, Aaron Hicks, Joe Mauer, Chris Parmelee and Brian Dozier all have a solid shot. Both Willingham and Hicks are on pace to set a new Twins season high strikeout mark with 159 and 147 respectively.
Things can certainly change as some of these young hitters hopefully improve as the year moves along but if their play to date is any indication, you had better hang on to your hat if you are sitting near home plate when the Twins are batting because some of those whiffs may send your hat flying.