MODESTO - The call has gone out to all the stat-heads in the country - find a full-season professional baseball team at any level that ever has averaged striking out 10 times a game across an entire season.
So far, muddled crickets.
The topic is pertinent because the Modesto Nuts, entering Thursday night, had struck out 1,227 times through 122 games, or 10.06 times per game. The pace at which the Nuts have whiffed this season has been addressed frequently in this blog as well as in game stories.
Here are the milestones that are ahead in the Nuts’ dubious pace.
1. This year’s team already has the all-time Nuts (since 2005) record. The 2005 and 2008 teams both struck out 1,157 times.
2. The all-time franchise record is 1,266, set by the 1970 Modesto Reds, who went 76-64. There were no playoffs that season, with Bakersfield winning the title. The California League operated as a single-division league from its inception through the 1981 season, and if a team won both halves it was proclaimed the league champion.
3. The all-time California League record was set two seasons ago by High Desert, which whiffed 1,344 times en route to a 59-81 record. In order to avoid breaking that record, Modesto would have to strike out fewer than 6.5 times per game the rest of the season. Right now, California League teams are averaging 8.23 strikeouts per game.
So far, in response to my binary question “Has any team every averaged striking out 10 times per game over a full season,” the responses have not been definite by any means.
Baseball America responded with an explanation of park factors and could only provide numbers covering the last three seasons. Stats, Inc., also is a newcomer to minor league record keeping, but did say that this year’s Astros team has a whiff average of 9.48, which would be the highest in major league history, surpassing the 9.44 of the 2010 Arizona Diamondbacks.
Is there a silver lining for the Modesto Nuts in all of this? Yes, and more than one.
Most notably, the Nuts are in first place in the North Division heading into these final weeks.
Also, they’re not alone. The Hickory Crawdads of the South Atlantic League, the low-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, entered Thursday having struck out 1,213 times in 122 games, or 9.94 times per game.