One of the biggest stories in baseball’s off-season was the trade of all-star outfielder and reigning National League Most Valuable Player Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins to the New York Yankees. Along with reigning American League Rookie of the Year, Aaron Judge, the acquisition of Stanton gives the Yankees two of Baseball’s heaviest hitters. Each are capable to slugging 50 home runs in a hitter-friendly ballpark like Yankee Stadium, even for a right-handed hitter.
But while we can expect 100 home runs between the two, I also expect a good number of strike outs. In fact, both Stanton and Judge can rack up at least 300 strikeouts together and it would not surprise me that at the end of the 2018 season, Stanton and Judge each have a minimum of 200 strikeouts.
In Judge’s rookie year, he struck out 208 times in 678 plate appearances, or one strike out for every 3.26 plate appearances. The Yankees as a team struck out a total of 1386 times that season. That is 6th most in the American League, 12th most in the Majors. If you do the math, that means Judge accounted for 15 percent of the team’s strikeouts. Baseball reference is projecting Judge will have 161 strikeouts in 549 plate appearances.
Stanton will be going into his 9th season in the majors. Last year, he made through an entire season without a significant injury since 2011. In 2017, Stanton struck out 163 times in 693 plate appearances, or one strikeout for every 4.25 plate appearances, or 12.7 percent of the Marlins strikeout total (1,282). It’s a little better than Judge but that is still quite a lot.
Compare the numbers of those two to that of Boston’s Mookie Betts. Betts struck of 79 times in 712 plate appearances last season, or one strike out for every 9.01 plate appearances. And Betts is no slouch at the plate smacking 24 home runs in 2017 and a career-high 31 the year before (in 2016).
The Toronto Blue Jays could not reach the Yankees in the standings but almost caught up to them on the strikeouts list. The Blue Jays accumulated 1,327 strikeouts last season, 8th most in the American League and 17th most in the Majors. 170 belonged to Jose Bautista or 12.8 percent of the team’s total.
There have been those who felt part of the reason the Blue Jays had poor season was the number of strikeouts the team had. But that’s fewer compared to the Yankees who ended up clinching the first wild card spot. And the Minnesota Twins, the second wild card team, had 1,342 strikeouts. Perhaps you can make the case if a good number of those strikeouts came with runners in scoring position. But overall, that doesn’t seem to matter. And the Yankees are willing to see Judge and Stanton swing and miss a good number of times in order to see them launch one into the seats.
The Yankees are expected to contend and their success this season will rest on the shoulders of Judge and Stanton. But if swinging at air was a commodity, I would bet the house that those two will be striking out a lot this season.