Four strikeouts in an inning

CaptainLaddie

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This might be a stupid question, but....

According to MLB.com, there have been 90 cases of a pitcher striking out four batters in an inning.... yet 53 of these have come since the year 2000, and 37 since the start of the 2010 season. Is there a reason why 41.1% of four-strikeout innings have come within the last 9 seasons when this has been recorded since 1888 (which means 41.1% of the feat has happened in 0.7% of baseball history)? I'm assuming what MLB.com has isn't an incomplete chart, so this is just kind of shocking.
 

Mueller's Twin Grannies

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Guys throw harder, more crazy breaking stuff, less skilled defensive catchers and first basemen, and more selective and disciplined hitters?
 

SoFloSoxFan

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I would think simply the number of strikeouts would be a major factor.

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/hitting/histrk4.shtml

The earliest data they have says there were 9,283 strikeouts in 1913. The first year that cracked 10,000 was 1952. As recently as 1994 there were less than 20,000. Last season there were 41,207.

A lot of the increase during the 20th century is just more innings being played by more teams due to expansion and to a lesser degree season length. But the rise is dramatic in the last 20 years.
 
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Dernells Casket n Flagon

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The K/9 trend for the league is pretty crazy:



2019 - 9
2018 - 8.5
2017 - 8.3
2016 - 8.1
2015 - 7.8
2014 - 7.7
2013 - 7.6
2012 - 7.6
2011 - 7.1
2010 - 7.1
2009 - 7
2008 - 6.8
2007 - 6.7
2006 - 6.6
2005 - 6.4
2004 - 6.6
2003 - 6.4
2002 - 6.5
2001 - 6.7
2000 - 6.5
1999 - 6.5
1998 - 6.6
1997 - 6.7
1996 - 6.5
1995 - 6.4
1994 - 6.2
1993 - 5.8
1992 - 5.6
1991 - 5.8
1990 - 5.7
1989 - 5.6
1988 - 5.6
1987 - 6
1986 - 5.9
1985 - 5.4
1984 - 5.4
1983 - 5.2
1982 - 5
1981 - 4.7
1980 - 4.8
1979 - 4.8
1978 - 4.8
1977 - 5.2
1976 - 4.8
1975 - 5
1974 - 5
1973 - 5.3
1972 - 5.6
1971 - 5.4
1970 - 5.8
1969 - 5.8
1968 - 5.9
1967 - 6
1966 - 5.8
1965 - 5.9
1964 - 5.9
1963 - 5.8
1962 - 5.5
1961 - 5.3
1960 - 5.2
1959 - 5.1
1958 - 5
1957 - 4.8
1956 - 4.7
1955 - 4.4
1954 - 4.2
1953 - 4.2
1952 - 4.2
1951 - 3.8
1950 - 3.9
1949 - 3.7
1948 - 3.7
1947 - 3.7
1946 - 3.9
1945 - 3.3
1944 - 3.3
1943 - 3.4
1942 - 3.4
1941 - 3.6
1940 - 3.7
1939 - 3.5
1938 - 3.5
1937 - 3.7
1936 - 3.4
1935 - 3.3
1934 - 3.5
1933 - 3.1
1932 - 3.2
1931 - 3.2
1930 - 3.3
1929 - 2.9
1928 - 2.9
1927 - 2.8
1926 - 2.8
1925 - 2.8
1924 - 2.7
1923 - 2.9
1922 - 2.8
1921 - 2.8
1920 - 2.9
1919 - 3.1
1918 - 2.9
1917 - 3.5
1916 - 3.8
1915 - 3.8
1914 - 4
1913 - 3.9
1912 - 4
1911 - 4
1910 - 3.9
1909 - 3.8
1908 - 3.7
1907 - 3.6
1906 - 3.8
1905 - 3.9
1904 - 3.8
1903 - 3.6
1902 - 3
1901 - 3.2
1900 - 2.4
1899 - 2.2
1898 - 2.4
1897 - 2.4
1896 - 2.3
1895 - 2.4
1894 - 2.2
1893 - 2.2
1892 - 3.3
1891 - 3.5
1890 - 3.5
1889 - 3.6
1888 - 3.8
1887 - 2.9
1886 - 4.5
1885 - 3.8
1884 - 5
1883 - 3.4
1882 - 3
1881 - 2.7
1880 - 3
1879 - 2.9
1878 - 2.9
1877 - 2
1876 - 1.1
1875 - 1
1874 - 0.8
1873 - 0.7
1872 - 0.7
1871 - 0.7
 

SumnerH

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Is there a reason why 41.1% of four-strikeout innings have come within the last 9 seasons when this has been recorded since 1888 (which means 41.1% of the feat has happened in 0.7% of baseball history)?
It's a bit over 6.5% of baseball history by those numbers.
 

Saints Rest

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The K/9 trend for the league is pretty crazy:



2019 - 9
2018 - 8.5
2017 - 8.3
2016 - 8.1
2015 - 7.8
2014 - 7.7
2013 - 7.6
2012 - 7.6
2011 - 7.1
2010 - 7.1
2009 - 7
2008 - 6.8
2007 - 6.7
2006 - 6.6
2005 - 6.4
2004 - 6.6
2003 - 6.4
2002 - 6.5
2001 - 6.7
2000 - 6.5
1999 - 6.5
1998 - 6.6
1997 - 6.7
1996 - 6.5
1995 - 6.4
1994 - 6.2
1993 - 5.8
1992 - 5.6
1991 - 5.8
1990 - 5.7
1989 - 5.6
1988 - 5.6
1987 - 6
1986 - 5.9
1985 - 5.4
1984 - 5.4
1983 - 5.2
1982 - 5
1981 - 4.7
1980 - 4.8
1979 - 4.8
1978 - 4.8
1977 - 5.2
1976 - 4.8
1975 - 5
1974 - 5
1973 - 5.3
1972 - 5.6
1971 - 5.4
1970 - 5.8
1969 - 5.8
1968 - 5.9
1967 - 6
1966 - 5.8
1965 - 5.9
1964 - 5.9
1963 - 5.8
1962 - 5.5
1961 - 5.3
1960 - 5.2
1959 - 5.1
1958 - 5
1957 - 4.8
1956 - 4.7
1955 - 4.4
1954 - 4.2
1953 - 4.2
1952 - 4.2
1951 - 3.8
1950 - 3.9
1949 - 3.7
1948 - 3.7
1947 - 3.7
1946 - 3.9
1945 - 3.3
1944 - 3.3
1943 - 3.4
1942 - 3.4
1941 - 3.6
1940 - 3.7
1939 - 3.5
1938 - 3.5
1937 - 3.7
1936 - 3.4
1935 - 3.3
1934 - 3.5
1933 - 3.1
1932 - 3.2
1931 - 3.2
1930 - 3.3
1929 - 2.9
1928 - 2.9
1927 - 2.8
1926 - 2.8
1925 - 2.8
1924 - 2.7
1923 - 2.9
1922 - 2.8
1921 - 2.8
1920 - 2.9
1919 - 3.1
1918 - 2.9
1917 - 3.5
1916 - 3.8
1915 - 3.8
1914 - 4
1913 - 3.9
1912 - 4
1911 - 4
1910 - 3.9
1909 - 3.8
1908 - 3.7
1907 - 3.6
1906 - 3.8
1905 - 3.9
1904 - 3.8
1903 - 3.6
1902 - 3
1901 - 3.2
1900 - 2.4
1899 - 2.2
1898 - 2.4
1897 - 2.4
1896 - 2.3
1895 - 2.4
1894 - 2.2
1893 - 2.2
1892 - 3.3
1891 - 3.5
1890 - 3.5
1889 - 3.6
1888 - 3.8
1887 - 2.9
1886 - 4.5
1885 - 3.8
1884 - 5
1883 - 3.4
1882 - 3
1881 - 2.7
1880 - 3
1879 - 2.9
1878 - 2.9
1877 - 2
1876 - 1.1
1875 - 1
1874 - 0.8
1873 - 0.7
1872 - 0.7
1871 - 0.7
My guess is if you ran those numbers thru a binomial probability calculator, where you need to get four successes in a row, the percentages probably line up with actual results. Though I wonder how you would factor in the fact that they don’t need to be in a row, which means that you have three potential outcomes: K, non-K out, and non-K non-out. The latter outcome doesn’t change your chance for four of the former but one non-K out pretty much doors the chance otherwise
 

singaporesoxfan

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Guys throw harder, more crazy breaking stuff, less skilled defensive catchers and first basemen, and more selective and disciplined hitters?
I think you're right, but I wonder how much of that is simply the "more Ks" part with the errors / passed balls being simply noise.

Edit: if you graphed the ratio of 3 strikeouts in an inning against number of total innings played against time, I wouldn't be surprised if you found that the period since 2000 accounts for most of the "striking out the side" innings, and that what happened with the 4-K innings is simply an offshoot of that.
 

Mueller's Twin Grannies

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I wouldn't know how to quantify it or when it officially shifted, but there's also the analytics that have permeated the game in all facets, including the ones that dictate that smallball (including bunting) is actually not a sound strategy for scoring runs, so you see fewer guys bunting or going for the sac fly or a grounder to first with a man on third. I think there's fewer guys leaning in with their armpad hanging over the plate trying to work a HBP. Aren't the balls different now, too, in terms of materials, how tight the stitching is, etc.? That would also have an effect, I would think, since it might be the difference in getting a piece of one of the seams to foul it off and just missing the pitch completely.
 

Jim Ed Rice in HOF

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One of the factors that @Mueller's Twin Grannies threw out there was the crazy breaking stuff and there has been a trend of decreased fastball usage. The link shows that fastball usage has been dropping through the years they tracked starting in 2002 and the increase has been in sliders and cutters. Think about Sale's slider. Not only is it tough to hit but if it's bouncing around at a hitter's cleats there's a better chance that goes to the backstop on strike 3 than a fastball. I couldn't find data to show strikeout pitches by type but that could be another factor.
 

LogansDad

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You may need to look at the rules for early baseball.
In researching this a little, I stumbled across this article, which, while not necessarily answering the question at hand, was interesting in and of itself.

I found this particularly amusing:

While the tactical purpose of intentionally dropping the third strike is long gone, at least one catcher of the twentieth century is said to have done it three times in one game though that story may be apocryphal. Marty Appel tells of the day in the early 1970s when he, in his capacity as Yankees public relations director, included in his daily press notes that Carlton Fisk had two more assists than did Thurman Munson. Munson took this poorly, and proceeded in that day’s game to set the record straight with three dropped third strikes, each followed by a throw to first for an assist. His point made, whether about Fisk or the meaningfulness of the statistic, he completed the game in the normal manner
 

charlieoscar

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Sep 28, 2014
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According to MLB.com, there have been 90 cases of a pitcher striking out four batters in an inning
According to Retrosheet Game log, there were 15 times when the batter reached first base on a strikeout in 1949 and 125 times in 2017. This happened about twice as often in 2017 than it did 1949. I didn't try pulling all the data because prior to 1974 there are games missing play-by-play information (1949 has all but five of the strikeouts recorded).

edit
When I said it happened about twice as often in 2017, I was referring to the ratio of batters reaching base on a strikeout to total strikeouts.
 
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