When it comes to strikeouts, baseball is experiencing grade inflation.
It's the age of the power pitcher, and we're not just talking about the Clayton Kershaw. Sure, the Los Angeles Dodgers ace was the first pitcher since 2002 to top the 300-K plateau last season -- he finished with 301 K's in 232 2/3 innings -- but he was one of 55 hurlers to fan 150 batters or more. Just a decade earlier, Johan Santana led the majors with 238 strikeouts and was just one of 34 guys to reach 150.
Comparing players over different time frames generates passion and debate -- just ask Goose Gossage and Mike Schmidt -- but is there a relatively simple way to compare strikeout seasons over different decades?
We can get at least a glimpse by looking at strikeout percentage -- number of K's divided by batters faced -- and comparing that to the ratio for all pitchers over an entire season.
Kershaw's 2015 strikeout percentage (K/batters faced) of 33.8 percent definitely deserves a round of applause. But when we look at where the three-time Cy Young Award winner ranks in relation to league average, his performance doesn't even reach the top 30 all-time strikeout seasons in the live-ball era (since 1920).
With that in mind, let's look at the best strikeout seasons of all time, factoring in K rates and league averages.