6,726 strikeouts in May sets all-time monthly record
An unprecedented number of hitters found themselves walking back to the dugout with their proverbial tails between their legs last month.
According to Elias Sports, the 6,726 strikeouts throughout baseball in May represent the highest total in any calendar month in MLB history, eviscerating the previous monthly high - 6,591 - established last September.
Last month, nearly 10 percent of baseball's 186 qualified hitters struck out in at least 30 percent of their plate appearances, while four of those guys fanned more than 35 percent of the time. (Among the league's five most-prolific whiffers in May, only one - Steven Souza Jr. - produced offense at an above-average rate after adjusting for park effects).
Highest K% among qualified hitters in May
|Steven Souza Jr.||108||39||36.1%||114|
It follows, then, that more than a few pitchers found themselves blowing guys away with crazy frequency in May, as five starters - among them, Clayton Kershaw, Jose Fernandez, and Noah Syndergaard - posted strikeout rates of at least 30 percent last month. For reference sake, only three qualified starters managed a strikeout rate above 30 percent in 2015.
Highest K% among qualified starters in May
Contact scarcity is hardly a new development, though. Strikeouts have increased pretty steadily throughout baseball over the last decade - only once in last 10 years has the league-wide strikeout rate not increased year-over-year - and the 21.1 percent strikeout rate through the first two months of the 2016 campaign represents an all-time high.