Strikeouts continue to grow at an alarming rate and the question that gets asked is simple: are pitchers getting better or are hitters getting worse?
The answer to that is somewhere in between, but the increase in K% is no joke among pitchers around MLB. Most pitchers who have breakout seasons can usually attribute it to making hitters swing and miss more. Pitchers in 2014 include guys such as:
Corey Kluber, Indians (now one of the elites in baseball, check tweet); Jake Odorizzi, Rays; Johnny Cueto, Reds; Garrett Richards, Angels (before his season-ending injury); Tyson Ross, Padres; and Drew Hutchison, Blue Jays
Then, there are guys who are producing without merely help of the strikeout. These are guys that can be grouped together using their FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) as a way to determine how each individual is performing on their own. This is done by factoring in what the pitcher, himself, controls, things such as walks, strikeouts, and home runs. Each of these individuals have low FIPs (good thing), despite their lower strikeout totals:
Phil Hughes, Twins; Jose Quintana, White Sox; Dallas Keuchel, Astros; Lance Lynn, Cardinals; Rick Porcello, Tigers; and Nathan Eovaldi, Marlins
Only Hughes and Quintana have FIPs under 3.00, but each of those names have FIPs that still considered to be good (around 3.60 and lower). The normal curve trends suggest that it is hard to repeat success each year like this, so these names are ones to watch as the season closes and the calendar turns to 2015.