6,726 strikeouts in May sets all-time monthly record

Jim McIsaac / Getty Images Sport / Getty

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

Name PA K K% wRC+
Chris Davis 115 42 36.5% 90
Chris Carter 119 43 36.1% 74
Steven Souza Jr. 108 39 36.1% 114
Eugenio Suarez 105 37 35.2% 52
Justin Upton 98 34 34.7% 64

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

Name BF K K% ERA
Jose Fernandez 148 56 36% 1.38
Clayton Kershaw 169 65 34% 0.91
Noah Syndergaard 141 43 32.9% 1.95
Max Scherzer 164 60 31.1% 3.83
Stephen Strasburg 158 50 30.5% 3.11

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.

6,726 strikeouts in May sets all-time monthly record
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