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Thread: JB's April 40: More Ks Ain't OK...Or are they?

  1. #46
    Et tu, Brutus? Brutus's Avatar
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    Re: JB's April 40: More Ks Ain't OK...Or are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Footstool View Post
    The goal isn't to draw walks. Any major league batter is looking for something good to hit. Some are just choosier than others. "Being patient for the sake of being patient" is one way to define it; another is "waiting for the pitch you want, so you can drive it."
    There are hitters that confess to not planning on swinging until/unless there are two strikes. Those players are not going up to the plate looking to "hit the pitch you want."

    If that were the case, often the "pitch you want" is the first pitch. That's going to be, in many cases, the best pitch to truly try and hit. But the fact of the matter is swinging at the first pitch is taboo these days. Want evidence...merely peruse the game thread when anyone swings at the first pitch... it's not a pretty sight.
    "No matter how good you are, you're going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you're going to win one-third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference." ~Tommy Lasorda

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  3. #47
    Et tu, Brutus? Brutus's Avatar
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    Re: JB's April 40: More Ks Ain't OK...Or are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by AtomicDumpling View Post
    We all agree that "productive outs" occur and they are not as harmful as strikeouts. What some people apparently do not agree about is that there are also "extra-harmful outs" that are worse than strikeouts and completely negate the value of "productive outs".

    Looking at your scenarios again: (this time we will use Run Expectancy because unless it is the bottom of the last inning of a tie game the goal is to score as many runs as possible, not just one run)

    Runner at first, one out. Run Expectancy is 0.573 Runs. If batter hits weak grounder that advances runner to 2nd base the Run Expectancy becomes 0.344 Runs. If the batter struck out instead or hit a fly ball or otherwise failed to advance the runner the Run Expectancy would be 0.251 Runs. If the batter hit into a double play and ended the inning the Run Expectancy becomes 0.000 Runs (ie much, much worse than a strikeout). A weak grounder that advances a runner from first to second is not very common, nor is it worth the risk of an inning ending double play.

    Runner at second, no outs. Run Expectancy is 1.189 Runs. If the batter hits a fly ball to right field and the batter tags up and runs to third safely the Run Expectancy becomes 0.983 Runs. If the batter strikes out or makes another type of out that does not advance the runner the Run Expectancy becomes 0.725 Runs. If the batter hits a fly ball and the runner gets thrown out after tagging up, or if the batter hits a line drive that causes the runner to get doubled-off the Run Expectancy becomes 0.117 Runs! If the batter hits a grounder that is fielded and the lead runner is retired on a fielder's choice the Run Expectancy becomes 0.573 Runs. So you can see that sometimes making contact ends up with a result that is far worse than a strikeout would have been.

    Here is another scenario: Runner on 3rd base, no outs. Run Expectancy is 1.482 Runs. Batter hits a bouncer back to the pitcher, the runner on third gets caught in no-man's-land and is retired, batter is safe at first. Run Expectancy falls to 0.573 Runs. If the batter had struck out there would still be a man on third with one out and the Run Expectancy would be 0.983 Runs.

    As I showed earlier, sometimes an out can be productive and advance a runner or even drive in a run. Other times the batter can make contact and create a situation that is far worse than if he had struck out. Sometimes a strikeout is preferable to making contact. All in all, once every situation is accounted for in its proper frequency and magnitude it turns out that strikeouts are no more or no less harmful than contact outs on average. People find this concept very hard to grasp, but it is a proven fact.
    It's also a proven fact that more positive things happen with the ball in play than happen when it's not in play.

    And that's the whole point.

    That is, after all, why there is such a desire to find pitchers that have high strikeout totals. Because after all, when the ball is in play, there simply won't be as many outs.
    "No matter how good you are, you're going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you're going to win one-third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference." ~Tommy Lasorda

  4. #48
    Member Norm Chortleton's Avatar
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    Re: JB's April 40: More Ks Ain't OK...Or are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by AtomicDumpling View Post
    This CHART measures the effects of all types of batting events, including strikeouts, contact outs and hits.

    You can see that the average effect of a strikeout is -0.31 expected runs whereas a contact out is -0.30 expected runs. This means there is essentially no difference at all between a strikeout or a contact out. On average, strikeouts are no worse than other outs. That is an average across all base/out states and out types. Obviously, in certain situations strikeouts can be more harmful and in other situations strikeouts can actually be less harmful than other ways of making outs.

    If there are 0 outs and a man on third base then a strikeout could hurt less than a contact out because the contact out could drive the runner home (however the contact out could also cause the runner at third to get thrown out if the ball is hit to the pitcher or is a line drive to an infielder or is a shallow popup where the runner tries to tag up and gets thrown out, in which case it would have been FAR better for the team if the batter had struck out instead of hitting the ball).

    If there is a man on first base and 0 outs it would be better for the hitter to strike out than to hit the ball to an infielder. Once you factor in all the different situations and batted ball types and multiply them by their actual frequency in real MLB games it turns out that strikeouts are no worse than contact outs. It is a proven fact.

    Most people (and Reds announcers) like to extol the virtues of making contact because of the good things that can happen with "productive outs", but they fail to consider the extremely harmful things than can and do happen due to contact outs.
    Using that chart to argue productive outs vs. Ks = apples and oranges. There are 24 rows on your chart -- one for each combination of outs and possible baserunners. However, 10 of the 24 scenarios are when by definition there can be no such thing as a productive out. 8 of these come when there are 2 outs; 2 of them come when there is no one on base. Including the expected run differentials for these scenarios in the totals skews the results overwhelmingly to your argument that Ks = all other outs.

    There are 14 scenarios where there are runners on base and less than 2 outs. Of these situations, in only 3 of them do your numbers suggest a K is preferable to an out where the ball is put in play. And they are very close:
    1) -.47 to -.45 (1st, 0 out)
    2) -.37 to -.33 (1st, 1 out)
    3) -.60 to -.53 (1st & 2nd, 1 out)

    On the other hand, 11 such situations where putting the ball in play is preferable, many of them by very large differentials:
    1) -.36 to -.51 (2nd, 0 out)
    2) -.36 to -.39 (2nd, 1 out)
    3) -.28 to -.42 (3rd, 0 out)
    4) -.25 to -.63 (3rd, 1 out)
    5) -.63 to -.66 (1st & 2nd, 0 out)
    6) -.47 to -.67 (1st & 3rd, 0 out)
    7) -.47 to -.74 (1st & 3rd, 1 out)
    8) -.44 to -.66 (2nd & 3rd, 0 out)
    9) -.41 to -.82 (2nd & 3rd, 1 out)
    10) -.63 to -.72 (Loaded, 0 out)
    11) -.70 to -.89 (Loaded, 1 out)

  5. #49
    Member Norm Chortleton's Avatar
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    Re: JB's April 40: More Ks Ain't OK...Or are they?

    ^ And those numbers don't even include all balls put in play. They only counts outs. How about if you also compare K's (-.31) to reaching base on error (.546)? That's a difference of almost a full run.

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    KungFu Fighter AtomicDumpling's Avatar
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    Re: JB's April 40: More Ks Ain't OK...Or are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brutus View Post
    It's also a proven fact that more positive things happen with the ball in play than happen when it's not in play.

    And that's the whole point.

    That is, after all, why there is such a desire to find pitchers that have high strikeout totals. Because after all, when the ball is in play, there simply won't be as many outs.
    No, it is not a proven fact at all. The facts prove otherwise. You want to focus only on the positive things that can happen while ignoring the negative things that can happen. Linear weights have proven that contact outs, on average, are no better or worse than strikeouts.

    And apparently you have not read the posts above or the linked articles that show that strikeouts have a completely different impact on pitchers and hitters. Teams are not looking for pitchers with high strikeout totals. They are looking for pitchers with high K/9 and high K:BB rates. It is because that is a great way to identify which pitchers are good or bad. However, strikeout rates are most decidedly and emphatically NOT a good way to identify which hitters are good or bad. This is true because hitters can compensate for high strikeout rates by having good BB rates and/or by hitting for power. Pitchers cannot do this. Read posts #4 and #6 in this thread for more information.

  7. #51
    KungFu Fighter AtomicDumpling's Avatar
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    Re: JB's April 40: More Ks Ain't OK...Or are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by Norm Chortleton View Post
    Using that chart to argue productive outs vs. Ks = apples and oranges. There are 24 rows on your chart -- one for each combination of outs and possible baserunners. However, 10 of the 24 scenarios are when by definition there can be no such thing as a productive out. 8 of these come when there are 2 outs; 2 of them come when there is no one on base. Including the expected run differentials for these scenarios in the totals skews the results overwhelmingly to your argument that Ks = all other outs.

    There are 14 scenarios where there are runners on base and less than 2 outs. Of these situations, in only 3 of them do your numbers suggest a K is preferable to an out where the ball is put in play. And they are very close:
    1) -.47 to -.45 (1st, 0 out)
    2) -.37 to -.33 (1st, 1 out)
    3) -.60 to -.53 (1st & 2nd, 1 out)

    On the other hand, 11 such situations where putting the ball in play is preferable, many of them by very large differentials:
    1) -.36 to -.51 (2nd, 0 out)
    2) -.36 to -.39 (2nd, 1 out)
    3) -.28 to -.42 (3rd, 0 out)
    4) -.25 to -.63 (3rd, 1 out)
    5) -.63 to -.66 (1st & 2nd, 0 out)
    6) -.47 to -.67 (1st & 3rd, 0 out)
    7) -.47 to -.74 (1st & 3rd, 1 out)
    8) -.44 to -.66 (2nd & 3rd, 0 out)
    9) -.41 to -.82 (2nd & 3rd, 1 out)
    10) -.63 to -.72 (Loaded, 0 out)
    11) -.70 to -.89 (Loaded, 1 out)
    Just go to the green row at the bottom and look at the Out column and the Strikeout column. If you just use the numbers you quoted above you will have no idea how frequently those outcomes happen relative to each other. Some of them happen much more often than the others.

    Secondly, your argument about the situations when there is nobody on base and when there are two outs actually argue against your argument, not in favor of it. You can't make a productive out when there is nobody on base or if there are two outs, yet you want to include those strikeouts in your argument for making more contact. When there is actually a runner on first base making a contact out is extremely dangerous and is likely to be quite harmful to your team's Run Expectancy. I mentioned this effect a couple times earlier in the thread. Most of the time it makes no difference if an out comes via strikeout or contact.

    This debate is really not worth having again and again and again every year. This debate has been held here on Redszone hundreds of times. The question is one that has been answered persuasively all over the Internet and in many books for more than a decade now. It is accepted as fact among sabermetricians that on average strikeouts are no better or worse than other outs. It is accepted as fact not as a matter of faith but rather because it has been mathematically proven based on the actual results of real MLB games. For more information read The Book by Tom Tango and read Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything you Know about the Game is Wrong by Baseball Prospectus. There are tons more resources available but those will get you started. Here is another CHART you may find interesting.

    This fact is one of the hardest pills to swallow for fans and baseball lifers alike. If you are focusing on strikeouts you are missing the big picture. Forget about obsessing over how a hitter makes his outs. Focus instead on how often he is succesful (OBP) and the magnitude of his successes (SLG) instead of worrying about his failures. Don't sacrifice any OPS to turn strikeouts into contact outs.
    Last edited by AtomicDumpling; 05-06-2013 at 01:22 AM.

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  9. #52
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mth123 View Post
    Consider two of our former lightening rods in 2012.

    Adam Dunn 41 HR, 105 BB and 222K. 146 times on base in 368 PAs without a BIP. That works out to a .397 OBP with a lot of power using an approach where he gets behind waiting for his pitch leading to huge K numbers. IMO, the Ks aren't an issue. The HIGH OBP and big power that result from his approach is well worth it.

    Drew Stubbs 14HR, 42BB and 166K. Waiting for his perfect pitch just isn't helping. 56 Successful PAs in 222 PAs results in an OBP of .252 with only moderate power. IMO it's clear, he'd benefit by putting it in play more. His Ks are a big problem.

    This board spent a lot of time debating Ks and convincing itself that they didn't matter. Adam Dunn was the central figure in those discussions and it was true, his K's weren't a problem and trying to cut down on them would have created a big risk of reducing his power (swinging at pitches he can't drive as well) and reducing his walks. He wasn't going to be more successful putting the ball in play. It's just not always true IMO. Some guys just don't have what it takes to be successful playing the three true outcome game and need to hack at the decent pitches to hit to give themselves a better chance.
    I think the big myth is that these types of guys can cut down on the strikeouts; they strike out first and foremost because they lack a talent for putting the bat on the ball. Baseball is game theory and it tends to reach points of equilibrium. If a Stubbs or Dunn type starts to be more aggressive earlier in the count, they're just going to get even less to hit.

    Stubbs would absolutely benefit from putting it in play more. Unfortunately, short of bunting, he's not really capable of doing so.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  10. #53
    KungFu Fighter AtomicDumpling's Avatar
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    Re: JB's April 40: More Ks Ain't OK...Or are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    I think the big myth is that these types of guys can cut down on the strikeouts; they strike out first and foremost because they lack a talent for putting the bat on the ball. Baseball is game theory and it tends to reach points of equilibrium. If a Stubbs or Dunn type starts to be more aggressive earlier in the count, they're just going to get even less to hit.

    Stubbs would absolutely benefit from putting it in play more. Unfortunately, short of bunting, he's not really capable of doing so.
    Agreed. You can't change the outcome of only your strikeouts. There is no way to get a do-over on your strikeouts. Any change to your approach is going to affect all of your at-bats, not just the strikeouts. Cutting down your swing or choking up or trying to maximize contact is going to hurt your OBP and your SLG for most players. If you try to increase contact you end up reducing how hard you hit the ball, which results in fewer hits -- especially extra base hits.

    I think the reason why Drew Stubbs got worse every year was because the team freaked out about his strikeouts and made him concentrate on trying to put the ball in play, a skill he does not have nor ever will have. It resulted in weaker contact, which ruined his power and resulted in weakly hit balls which were less likely to become hits. Stubbs is off to a good start in Cleveland. He is still striking out a ton but is hitting the ball harder and getting some good results. It is still way too early to convince me that he has turned things around, but I wish him the best.

  11. #54
    The Big Dog mth123's Avatar
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    Re: JB's April 40: More Ks Ain't OK...Or are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    I think the big myth is that these types of guys can cut down on the strikeouts; they strike out first and foremost because they lack a talent for putting the bat on the ball. Baseball is game theory and it tends to reach points of equilibrium. If a Stubbs or Dunn type starts to be more aggressive earlier in the count, they're just going to get even less to hit.

    Stubbs would absolutely benefit from putting it in play more. Unfortunately, short of bunting, he's not really capable of doing so.
    Not sure I agree. I think Stubbs takes really good pitches to hit simply because he thinks swinging early in the count is a bad thing. If he'd swing at some of those, I think he'd make more contact than by waiting until he's down in the count and forced to swing at anything close. Not only would he make contact, but after a few years of watching him every day, I'd say he usually lets the best pitch in his PA go by for strike one and he'd have a better chance at good contact if he'd swing at it.

    The big myth is that anyone is saying he has to swing earlier in the count. There should be no preconcieved notion that he should swing early as a practice any more than he should swing late as a practice. He simply should swing when he gets a good pitch to hit. Period. Don't worry whether its late or early in the count. Get a good pitch to hit, let it rip. Stubbs doesn't do that. He lets the good ones go by because, IMO, he thinks he has to wait until he's deep in the count before he starts swinging. I think its in his head that he has to wait. Your game theory comes into play because there is this preconcieved notion. Stubbs doesn't swing early. Right now its kiling him because they know he won't swing early.

    I agree with your assertion that Stubbs can't put in play as well as others might. He he has a limited zone where he can make decent contact because of his skillset. IMO, that's all the more reason to swing when one is in that zone. Letting it go by because its the first or second pitch in the PA makes it really unlikely that he'll see another one.

    The problem isn't waiting until a guy gets a good pitch to hit before he swings. All hitters should do that. The problem, or at least a big part of it, IMO, is not swinging when he does get it. IMO, it's because he's got some preconcieved notion that he has to see X number of pitches in each PA and just won't swing early in the count even if a pitch he should kill comes along. Heck, sometimes I think they could put it on a tee for him and he wouldn't swing unless he had two strikes.
    Last edited by mth123; 05-06-2013 at 06:00 AM.
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  12. #55
    High five! nate's Avatar
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    Re: JB's April 40: More Ks Ain't OK...Or are they?

    There's a great comment from the article I linked upthread:

    This is a vital paradox to the game.

    What allows it to happen is that there are different styles of hitters. The ones who do the most damage (higher wOBAs) tend not to rely only on making contact to produce runs — which is Juan Pierre’s strategy, to take an extreme example. For Juan Pierre, contact is the only way he can stay in the majors. The only reason people like Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds are allowed in the lineup with their strikeouts rates is that they have amazing power.

    What that means in a mathematical sense is that those free-swinging power hitters tend to be the ones who generate the most “true” outcomes (walks, home runs, and strikeouts). It’s a delicate balance.

    For a pitcher, exploiting this delicate balance is the key to success. Keeping home runs and walks low, and strikeouts high, is precisely the idea behind Tom Tango’s FIP. What it means in practice is neutralizing the power threat of sluggers and striking them out instead.
    And a bit further down:

    After thinking about it a bit, I have come to this conclusion: batters can offset a higher strikeout rate by hitting for power. A higher strikeout rate is good for pitchers because this limits the amount of balls that can fall in for hits.
    "Bring on Rod Stupid!"

  13. #56
    Member Norm Chortleton's Avatar
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    Re: JB's April 40: More Ks Ain't OK...Or are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by AtomicDumpling View Post
    Just go to the green row at the bottom and look at the Out column and the Strikeout column. If you just use the numbers you quoted above you will have no idea how frequently those outcomes happen relative to each other. Some of them happen much more often than the others.
    I'm not concerned with frequency. I don't care what the ratio of ball-in-play outs to strikeouts is. That chart tells me that with man on 2nd and 0 outs, scoring expectancy drops less with a ball-in-play out (-.36) than a strikeout (-.51). The same can be said of 10 other baserunner/out situations.


    Quote Originally Posted by AtomicDumpling View Post
    Secondly, your argument about the situations when there is nobody on base and when there are two outs actually argue against your argument, not in favor of it. You can't make a productive out when there is nobody on base or if there are two outs, yet you want to include those strikeouts in your argument for making more contact.
    No. You are wrong again. My argument -- backed up by your data -- is that there is no difference what kind of out you make with the bases empty or with 2 outs. If it is guaranteed a player will make an out in these 10 situations, every single one of them can be strikeouts and it would not bother me in the least. All outs are equal if no one is on or if there are 2 outs.

    Quote Originally Posted by AtomicDumpling View Post
    When there is actually a runner on first base making a contact out is extremely dangerous and is likely to be quite harmful to your team's Run Expectancy. I mentioned this effect a couple times earlier in the thread.
    That is the first thing I mentioned in my post. Again, per your chart, with runners on and less than 2 out there are 3 situations where contact outs hurt your run expectancy worse than Ks. 1) 1st base with 0 outs. 2) 1st base with 1 out. 3) 1st and 2nd bases with 1 out. The other 11 situations with a combination of runners on base and less than 2 outs your run expectancy is hurt worse by a strikeout than a contact out.

    And that was the point of my whole post. I will summarize again. If you read nothing else, read this: With the bases empty, it doesn't matter if you make a contact out or strikeout. If there are 2 outs, it doesn't matter if you make a contact out or strikeout. However, there are 14 different situations where you can have combinations of runners on base and less than 2 outs. In 11 of those situations, it is better (and usually much better) to make a contact out than strikeout.
    Last edited by Norm Chortleton; 05-06-2013 at 10:38 AM.

  14. #57
    Viva la Rolen kaldaniels's Avatar
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    Re: JB's April 40: More Ks Ain't OK...Or are they?

    Regarding the "productive outs" in a bubble...

    I'd say an "average" player regarding strikeouts K's 18.5 percent of the time. Let's leave all of Jay's stats alone except strikeouts, and regress that to those of an average player, and turn the remainder of his K's into normal outs.

    That would give him about 27 strikeouts so far, but would mean he hit 19 balls into play that would have the chance of being a productive outs. How many of those do you think would actually be "productive". I'd wager 5 at most. So as horrid as his strikeout rate has been, it has cost the Reds a handfuls of productive outs...something I won't worry about.

    Now, the big picture view is that Jay has had a bad start to the season, there is no disputing that. I don't "like" to see Bruce strikeout, but that is not his problem right now. He needs to get on base and he needs to hit for power to improve his season. Those two statements are somewhat related to each other, but need to be viewed separately.

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: JB's April 40: More Ks Ain't OK...Or are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brutus View Post
    There are hitters that confess to not planning on swinging until/unless there are two strikes. Those players are not going up to the plate looking to "hit the pitch you want."

    If that were the case, often the "pitch you want" is the first pitch. That's going to be, in many cases, the best pitch to truly try and hit. But the fact of the matter is swinging at the first pitch is taboo these days. Want evidence...merely peruse the game thread when anyone swings at the first pitch... it's not a pretty sight.
    I can't recall a major leaguer saying that's his everyday approach. Which ones are you referring to?

    I can understand that approach in certain situations, like a 3-1 count after the pitcher has just walked the previous two batters. But if anyone used that approach for very long, they'd quickly find themselves out of MLB.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: JB's April 40: More Ks Ain't OK...Or are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by Norm Chortleton View Post
    And that was the point of my whole post. I will summarize again. If you read nothing else, read this: With the bases empty, it doesn't matter if you make a contact out or strikeout. If there are 2 outs, it doesn't matter if you make a contact out or strikeout. However, there are 14 different situations where you can have combinations of runners on base and less than 2 outs. In 11 of those situations, it is better (and usually much better) to make a contact out than strikeout.
    Yes, but it is always better to get a hit than an out. Changing your approach at the plate in order to avoid a strikeout compromises your ability to get a hit. I'm betting that it's better not to change your approach, and to accept strikeouts as a necessary evil.
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