1.an out resulting from the batter getting three strikes
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3,000 strikeout club • List of CPBL strikeout champions • List of Major League Baseball strikeout champions • List of Top 100 all-time Major League Baseball strikeout leaders • Strikeout-to-walk ratio • Top 100 Major League Baseball strikeout pitchers • Walk-to-strikeout ratio
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In baseball or softball, a strikeout or strike-out (denoted by SO or K) occurs when a batter receives three strikes during his time at bat. A strikeout is a statistic recorded for both pitchers and batters. Pitchers want to throw as many strikeouts as possible, while batters attempt to minimize striking out themselves.
Although strikeouts are associated with dominance on the part of the pitcher, it is recognized that the style of swing that generates a home run also leaves batters somewhat susceptible to striking out. Some of the greatest home run hitters of all time – such as Reggie Jackson and Sammy Sosa – were notorious for striking out.
A pitcher receives credit for (and a batter is charged with) a strikeout on any third strike, but a batter is out only if one of the following is true:
Thus, it is possible for a batter to strike out, but still become a runner and reach base safely if the catcher is unable to catch the third strike cleanly, and he then does not either tag out the batter or force him out at first base. In Japan, this is called furinige (振り逃げ), or "swing and escape." In Major League Baseball, it is known as an uncaught third strike. When this happens, pitchers will occasionally be able to record four strikeouts in one half-inning.
In baseball scorekeeping, a swinging strikeout is recorded as a K, or a K-S. A strikeout looking (where the batter does not swing at a pitch that the umpire then calls strike three) is often scored with a Backwards K, and sometimes as a K-L. Despite the scorekeeping custom of using "K" for strikeout, "SO" is the official abbreviation used by Major League Baseball.
"K" is still commonly used by fans and enthusiasts for purposes other than official record-keeping. One baseball ritual involves fans attaching a succession of small "K" signs to the nearest railing, one added for every strikeout notched by the home team's pitcher. The "K" may placed backwards in cases where the batter strikes out looking, just as it would appear on a scorecard. Virtually every televised display of a high-strikeout major league game will include a shot of a fan's strikeout display, and if the pitcher continues to strike out batters, the display may be shown following every strikeout.
The use of "K" for a strikeout was invented by Henry Chadwick, a newspaper journalist who is widely credited as the originator of the box score and the baseball scorecard. As is true in much of baseball, both the box score and scorecard remain largely unchanged to this day. Chadwick decided to use "K," the last letter in "struck," since the letter "S" was used for "sacrifice." Chadwick was responsible for several other scorekeeping conventions, including the use of numbers to designate player positions.
Those unaware of Chadwick's contributions have speculated that "K" was derived from the last name of 19th century pitcher Matt Kilroy. If not for the evidence supporting Chadwick's earlier use of "K," this explanation would be reasonable. Kilroy raised the prominence of the strikeout, setting an all-time single-season record of 513 strikeouts in 1886, only two years after overhand pitching was permitted. His record, however, is forever confined to its era since the pitcher's mound was only 50 feet (15 m) from the batter during that season. It was moved to its current distance of 60'6" in 1893. The modern record (1901–present) is 383 strikeouts, held by Nolan Ryan, one better than Sandy Koufax's 382.
Early rules stated that "three balls being struck at and missed and the last one caught, is a hand-out; if not caught is considered fair, and the striker bound to run." The modern rule has changed very little. The addition of the called strike came in 1858.
In 1880, the rules were changed to specify that a third strike had to be caught on the fly. A later adjustment to the dropped third strike rule specified that a batter is automatically out when there are fewer than two out and a runner on first base. In 1887, the number of strikes for an out was changed to four, but it was promptly changed back to three the next season.
A swinging strikeout is often called a whiff, while a batter who is struck out by a fastball is often said to have been blown away. A batter who strikes out on a swung third strike is said to have fanned (as in a fanning motion), whereas if he takes a called third strike it is called a punchout (describing the plate umpire's punching motion on a called third strike).
But sometimes these descriptive words are used generally as synonyms for strikeouts, irrespective of whether they were swinging or looking (e.g. Tim Lincecum has punched out nine batters tonight or Ryan Howard has been fanned six times in this series).
On a called third strike, it is said that the batter was caught looking, or that he looked at a strike. Typically, a called third strike can be somewhat more embarrassing for a batter, as it shows that he was either fooled by the pitcher or, even worse, had a moment of hesitation.
For example, Carlos Beltran was caught looking at strike 3 to end the 2006 NLCS, and the season, for the New York Mets. Sports commentators have also been known to refer to it as browsing if the batter did not move his bat at all.
A pitcher is said to strike out the side when he retires all three batters in a half-inning by striking them out. A batter that takes the third strike looking, especially on a breaking pitch like a slider or a curveball that appears to be out of the strike zone but drops in before he can get the bat off his shoulders, can be said to have been frozen.
In slang, when a batter strikes out three times in a game, he is said to have completed a hat trick. If he strikes out four times, it is called a golden sombrero. He receives a platinum sombrero if he strikes out five times, and this dishonor is also known as the Olympic Rings.
Striking out six times is a rare occurrence, which in the history of major league play has only been accomplished in games that went to extra innings, with Sam Horn of the Baltimore Orioles being one of the distinguished few to achieve this feat. The slugger's then-teammate, pitcher Mike Flanagan, told reporters after that 1991 event that six strikeouts would thereafter be known as a Horn. He added that if anyone ever strikes out seven times in one game, it will be a Horn of Plenty.
Some pitchers who specialize in strikeouts have acquired nicknames including the letter "K." Dwight Gooden was known as "Doctor K" (back-referencing basketball star Julius Erving a.k.a. "Dr. J"). Francisco Rodriguez is known as "K-Rod." Roger Clemens has taken the "K" name to an extreme by naming his four sons Koby, Kory, Kacy, and Kody. Tim Lincecum is nicknamed "The Say 'K' Kid", referencing former Giants player Willie Mays.
Hall of Fame strikeout artist Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers coincidentally has a last name starting with "K," and in his call of the pitcher's perfect game in 1965, Dodgers announcer Vin Scully commented that Koufax's name "will always remind you of strikeouts." Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka is known as "Dice-K," a term which was used as a pronunciation guide for his name when he first arrived in MLB.
If a third strike is not caught cleanly by the catcher, it is still recorded as a strikeout for both the pitcher and the batter. Under certain situations, however, the batter is not ruled out and the play is still alive. This occurs under the following circumstances:
The batter may begin to run to first base as soon as he sees the catcher fail to cleanly catch the ball. If he makes it to first base without being tagged or forced out, the out is not recorded. Since a strikeout is awarded in such cases while the play that does not result in an out, it is possible for a pitcher to record more than three strikeouts in one standard half-inning. Recording four strikeouts in one inning has occurred 61 times in Major League history. The first Major League player credited with this rare feat was Ed "Cannonball" Crane of the New York Giants on October 4, 1888.
Prior to 1960, the event was extremely rare, having taken place only eight times. Although more common since then, it remains one of the most rare single-game achievements. Increased use of the split-finger fastball and forkball may contribute to a higher incidence of dropped third strikes, as both pitches are hard to catch since they usually reach the catcher near the dirt. More teams, an expanded schedule, and a higher total number of strikeouts could all be contributors to this phenomenon as well.
Chuck Finley accomplished the feat on May 12 and August 15, 1999, with the Anaheim Angels and again on April 16, 2000, with the Cleveland Indians. Pete Richert of the Los Angeles Dodgers is the only pitcher to do it in his MLB debut (April 12, 1962, against the Cincinnati Reds). The most recent player to achieve the feat is Francisco Liriano of the Minnesota Twins in the fourth inning of a game against the Kansas City Royals on June 5, 2012.
Five strikeouts in one inning has never occurred in a regulation Major League Baseball game. It has occurred at least three times at the minor league level. Mike Schultz of the Lancaster JetHawks struck out five batters in one inning on July 16, 2004, and Garrett Bauer of the Rockford RiverHawks struck out five batters in one inning on July 1, 2008.
Houston Astros pitcher Joe Niekro struck out five Minnesota Twins batters in the first inning of an exhibition spring training game, April 7, 1976 at New Orleans. Niekro's catcher, Cliff Johnson, was charged with five passed balls in the inning.  Exhibition games are not recorded in official statistics.
|Nolan Ryan||383||1973||California Angels||AL||8|
|Sandy Koufax||382||1965||Los Angeles Dodgers||NL||9|
|Randy Johnson||372||2001||Arizona Diamondbacks||NL||11|
|Nolan Ryan||367||1974||California Angels||AL||14|
|Randy Johnson||364||1999||Arizona Diamondbacks||NL||15|
|Rube Waddell||349||1904||Philadelphia Athletics||AL||18|
|Bob Feller||348||1946||Cleveland Indians||AL||19|
|Randy Johnson||347||2000||Arizona Diamondbacks||NL||20|
|Nolan Ryan||341||1977||California Angels||AL||25|
|Randy Johnson||334||2002||Arizona Diamondbacks||NL||30|
|Matt Kilroy||513||1886||Baltimore Orioles||AA||1|
|Toad Ramsey||499||1886||Louisville Colonels||AA||2|
|Hugh Daily||483||1884||Chicago Browns/Pittsburgh Stogies/Washington Nationals||UA||3|
|Dupee Shaw||451||1884||Detroit Wolverines/Boston Reds||NL/UA||4|
|Old Hoss Radbourn||441||1884||Providence Grays||NL||5|
|Charlie Buffington||417||1884||Boston Beaneaters||NL||6|
|Guy Hecker||385||1884||Louisville Eclipse||AA||7|
|Nolan Ryan||383||1973||California Angels||AL||8|
|Sandy Koufax||382||1965||Los Angeles Dodgers||NL||9|
|Bill Sweeney||374||1884||Baltimore Monumentals||UA||10|
Progression of major league strikeout record for one nine-inning game, regular season (partial listing):
Progression of strikeout record for one game, World Series:
Progression of major league strikeout record for a relief pitcher, regular season (partial listing)
The Top 16 Major League Baseball career strikeout leaders (through June 25, 2012):
Active batters with over 1,400 K's (through June 25, 2012):
Single season strikeout records (batters):
|1||Mark Reynolds||Arizona Diamondbacks||223||2009|
|2||Mark Reynolds||Arizona Diamondbacks||211||2010|
|3||Drew Stubbs||Cincinnati Reds||205||2011|
|4||Mark Reynolds||Arizona Diamondbacks||204||2008|
|5||Ryan Howard||Philadelphia Phillies||199||2007|
|6||Ryan Howard||Philadelphia Phillies||199||2008|
|7||Adam Dunn||Washington Nationals||199||2010|
|8||Jack Cust||Oakland Athletics||197||2008|
|9||Mark Reynolds||Baltimore Orioles||196||2011|
|10||Adam Dunn||Cincinnati Reds||195||2004|
|11||Adam Dunn||Cincinnati Reds||194||2006|
|12||Bobby Bonds||San Francisco Giants||189||1970|
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