The Yahoo Sports baseball page has a feature article on this. It says "New alphabet: Fewer K's, more W's for Nats: Washington's emphasis on pitching to contact is paying off in victories." The article then is Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty believes fewer K's equals more W's, and so far so good by Les Carpenter. I really don't see any statistical evidence offered to support this in the article.
This year the Nationals are 3rd in the NL in strikeouts per 9 IP with 8.3 and they have an ERA of 3.21. Last year they were 15th in the NL in strikeouts per 9 IP 6.5 and they had an ERA of 3.58. So it actually seems like they are striking out more batters and their ERA is lower.
This issue came up in April, 2011. See my post Can "Pitching To Contact" Lead To More Scoring? The Twins were supposedly benefiting from it. I was skeptical. Here is what I wrote:
"To look at this, I calculated the batting average and slugging percentage in the
AL in 2010 on contact. For contact, I used AB - K + SF. I assumed that sacrifice
hits (bunts) and their attempts rarely end up in strikeouts. So in the AL last
year when a plate appearance ended in contact, the AVG was .320 and the SLG was
How many runs per game might this lead to? To approximate this, I
used the equation
R/G = 16.04*OBP + 11.595*SLG - 5.52
from regression analysis based on the 2007-2009 seasons.
Last year the AL
had a leage OBP of .327 and a league SLG of .407. The equation predicts that
would lead to a runs per game of 4.44 (it was actually 4.45). But if we used
.320 for OBP and used the .501 for SLG, we get 5.44 runs per game. That seems
like a big difference.
I am not sure if this approximation works. It
would be quite a different game with no walks and the denominator for OBP and
SLG is not the same in each case. But even with that said, I am skeptical that
pitching to contact (or not trying to cause batters to miss the pitch) is a good
Jeff Sullivan of "Baseball Nation" has a good take on this. See Being Wrong, With The Nationals' Pitching Coach
Baseball Think Factory has an interesting discussion on this. See Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty believes fewer K’s equals more W’s, and so far so good