Bonds not receiving much help

The Giants' pitching staff better start striking out some opponents or it's going to be a long, long season.

Updated: April 27, 2004, 9:26 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
Can a team have its pitching staff finish last in the league in strikeouts and still be successful? It hasn't been tried in a long time but the Giants had better be hoping that history can repeat itself. The current Giants have the lowest strikeout total in the National League, whiffing a batter only once ever two innings. The last National League club to win over 90 games while also coming in last in strikeouts was the '89 Giants. They made it all the way to the World Series that year before being swept by the A's. That Giants staff balanced their propensity for allowing balls into play by not surrendering many walks. They had the second-fewest in the league that year. This year's Giants haven't been so stingy with the passes, unfortunately.

Kirk Rueter
Kirk Rueter has not been striking out batters this season.
More recently, the N.L. teams that come in last in strikeouts have been nowhere near .500. Over the past six seasons, they've averaged 68 wins. The Giants are off to an 8-12 start. As a team, San Francisco is striking out 4.41 batters per nine innings. This is a pretty big drop from last year's 6.30 per nine innings, a number which put them ahead of six teams in Ks.

Any team that has Kirk Rueter in its rotation is probably never going to win a strikeout title but even Rueter is down this year. Last year he whiffed 2.51 men per nine. This year it's dropped to 1.74 as he does his best Nate Cornejo imitation. More troublesome has been the drop in Jason Schmidt's total. Last year he struck out over a man per inning. So far this year he's been at about two-thirds of that total. He did fan six in five innings last night, though.

Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at