Ever Wondered What Does K Mean In Baseball? Here Is The Answer!

By Daniel | Baseball

Feb 17
What Does K Mean In Baseball?

How many times have you looked at the box score of a baseball match and realized you do not understand all the information that stands there? The goal of a box score is to present all the relevant statistics in a concise and well-organized way.

If you want to learn how to read all this information efficiently, it is essential to know all the abbreviations. That is why we are answering the question “what does K mean in baseball” in this article. 

K Denotes Strikeout In Baseball Statistics

  • When it comes to baseball scorekeeping, you will find that K marks a strikeout. The important thing to mention is that there are two different strikeouts: 
  • Standard letter K marks a swinging strikeout.
    Backward K is used to denote a called strike-out, which happens when the hitter didn’t swing at all as he watched a strike 3 go by.

What Is A Strikeout?

Now we know what is the use of K in baseball scoring, but you might be wondering – what is a strikeout? For those that are not baseball experts, we contact the official Major League Baseball glossary; According to it, a strikeout happens when a pitcher manages to combine three looking or swinging strikes to a batter.

The only two scenarios preventing the hitter of going on a strikeout automatically are if the ball hits the dirt or the catcher cleanly holds onto it. When the catcher misses getting the final strike, the hitter can try to run to first base. However, that is only an option if there are two outs or if it is open. Even if the hitter manages to reach the first base, the box score will still note a strikeout for them and the pitcher.

Why Strikeout Statistics Matters In Baseball?

When you take a look at the statistics, you can see the number of strikeouts for both the batters and the pitchers. In reality, they do not tell us a lot about the talents of the hitters. You will find many power hitters that have a high number of strikeouts but are still essential members of their squads.

On the other hand, strikeouts can tell us a lot about the skills of the pitchers. It is the general rule of thumb that pitchers who have a high number of strikeouts are well-respected in their squad and considered skillful.

Why Is K Used To Mark A Strikeout?

If we want an answer to this question, we have to journey back almost two centuries. As Encyclopedia Britannica explains, it was a writer named Henry Chadwick who first used K to denote a strikeout. Chadwick was a huge fan of cricket until he discovered baseball in 1856. He is considered one of the first baseball reporters ever, which is why we can thank him for many details regarding baseball scorekeeping and tracking statistics.

The reason why Chadwick selected K to denote a strikeout is that S was already taken. When he designed his box score layout, Chadwick used S for “Sacrifice.” He didn’t want to change that, so he decided to go with K because that is the last letter in “struck.” When Chadwick was reporting about baseball, that was the term used when the hitter would miss all three strikes.

Chadwick is the one who implemented the called strikeout. Up until today, only minor changes were made to the way he tracked baseball scores. Everyone respects his contributions to the game of baseball, which is the main reason why he is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Furthermore, he is the only journalist among all the other greats who marked the history of this game.

Here is an interesting short video about Henry Chadwick:

Who Has The Best Strikeout Statistics In Baseball History?

According to the strikeout statistics, the best pitcher in the history of baseball is Nolan Ryan. He was a right-hand thrower who started his career in 1966 and ended it 1993. During that period, he made a total of 5,714 strikeouts, almost a thousand more than Randy Johnson who takes the second place with 4875 strikeouts.

When it comes to active players, it is CC Sabathia who has the most strikeouts. This left-handed pitcher currently playing for the Yankees has a total of 2986 strikeouts in his career so far. It may be interesting to mention that Matt Kilroy is considered a pitcher who had the best season ever. In 1886, he recorded a total of 513 strikeouts. 


If you had any dilemmas on what does K mean in baseball, I hope that this article resolved it. If you have any further questions about the topic, do not hesitate to write in the comments section. Alternatively, find a box score for a match and use the information you learned in this article to read the scoring properly!

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