Giancarlo, King of the Strikeouts?

Giancarlo, King of the Strikeouts? article feature image

Noah K. Murray – USA TODAY Sports

The Highlights

  • One sportsbook has posted several prop bets for strikeouts this season
  • Giancarlo Stanton (pictured above) has odds to lead the league and break the single-season strikeout record
  • Marky does some math to figure out what it takes to break the strikeout record

In the words of John Sterling, “Giancarlo, non si può stoparlo…striking out.” Or something like that …

Stanton is striking out at an absurd pace and he’s caught oddsmakers’ attention. One sportsbook put up four prop bets for strikeouts this season, two of which include the new Yankee.

Giancarlo Stanton leads MLB in strikeouts for 2018 regular season
Yes: +150
No: -180

Giancarlo Stanton breaks MLB single-season strikeout record (223)
Yes: +165
No: -200

MLB single-season strikeout record (223) is broken in 2018
Yes: -130
No: +100

Total MLB strikeouts during 2018 regular season
Over 41,500: -150
Under: 41,500: +120

Through Tuesday, Stanton is second in the league with 46 Ks, one behind Yoan Moncada. Seeing as he hasn’t missed a game and has plenty of plate appearances toward the top of New York’s lineup, he’s currently on pace to get a whopping 257 Ks, easily surpassing the record of 223 set by Mark Reynolds back in 2009. The +165 odds suggest he only has about a 37.5% chance of doing so, though.

Apparently, they believe he will either: A) miss some time or, B) stop striking out so frequently. His strikeout rate of 34.8% is actually the 5th highest in the league, but only about 7% higher than his career average.

Let’s do a little math. If he stays healthy and plays every game, he’ll end up with around 600 more plate appearances. Right now, he needs 178 more strikeouts to break the record. Soo … my arithmetic has come to the conclusion that he’ll need to strikeout 29.6% of the time the rest of the season to break that record.

It’s certainly possible, but I won’t bet on it personally. Giancarlo is a great hitter and I believe he can make the adjustments to strikeout less than 30% of the time. Furthermore, I don’t think he’ll play 162 games. Even if he plays 150, that strikeout rate for the rest of the year would bump up over 32%.

Let’s bring it back to Moncada. He’s played two fewer games than Stanton thus far and is striking out more frequently. He’s on pace for, gulp, 278 strikeouts on the year.

He hits leadoff, he’s young, and unlike Stanton, he’s actually having a very good season thus far with a wRC+ of 141. I don’t see him cutting back a ton into that high K-rate. Barring any large chunks of time missed, Moncada should surpass Reynolds’ record. I think you can specifically look at him when you ask yourself why the strikeout record is -130 to be broken, but Stanton himself is +165.

Lastly, we have the total number of strikeouts by the entire league. Last season, there were 40,104 in 185,295 plate appearances. That comes out to 21.64% of the time. This year, there have been 7,595 Ks in 29,744 PAs. This comes out to a whopping 25.53%. If there are between 183,000 and 186,000 PAs this year, like there have been in every season this decade, we’ll end up with somewhere between 46,728 and 47,494 strikeouts — way more than the total of 41,500 listed. I expect the K-rate to go down a bit, but even if the total number of plate appearances winds up on the low end, the strikeout rate would need to drop all the way to about 22.6% for the record to stay intact.

I don’t blame anyone for not taking a season-long -150 future/prop bet, but I’m pretty comfortable taking this one.