Last year, the Oakland A's traded Grant Green to the Los Angeles As for Alberto Collaspo. Both had similar statistics (as of 2013), and both can play second base. (Collaspo has since been moved to first, where he is a "light hitter" for his position with a batting average below .250.)

Oakland's general manager, Billy Beane has been known for (generally) getting the better of such trades. In Collaspo's case, he has a "feature" that the As prize; he strikes out at a lower rate (something like once per eleven innings) than anyone else in the majors.

In "Moneyball," Michael Lewis pointed out that the strikeout was the "worst" possible way to get an out (with the possible exception of the double play). So not striking out appears to be worth something.

What exactly are the advantages of having low strikeouts, compared to other ways of making an out? To what extent would Callaspo's lower strikout/higher contact rate than others make up for his low batting average?

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A low strikeout rate is valued because when the ball "goes into play", good things can happen. Perhaps the other team won't field the ball cleanly (or make an error) and you'll get on base. Or maybe if you're selective about what you swing at, you'll get walked. The A's have the highest run differential of any team this year by quite a margin - it's roughly twice that of the next team. That doesn't happen by luck - it comes from wanting to get on base no matter how it happens because getting on base more leads to more runs scored. And if you strikeout, there is no way to get on base and eventually score.

In the case of Callaspo it's more than just the low strikeout rate - he's also a switch hitter which gives him a good righty/lefty matchup at the plate. Grant Green is/was not a switch hitter. The A's love having switch hitting batters in their lineup. They also have switch hitters in Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie and Nick Punto as well as right and left handed batting platoon spots at catcher with John Jaso (LH) and Derrick Norris (RH) and options in the outfield (Reddick) and at DH (Brandon Moss/Darric Barton). So the A's starting lineup will change depending on whether a right or left handed pitcher is starting.

In case you're wondering, the A's are my team. ;)

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    To add on to the answer, an MLB team fields between .975 and .988 during the course of a season. Adding up the chances for 162 games, you are looking at 6500 - 7000 chances defensively. That means somewhere between 75 and 150 errors. If the batter puts the ball in play he can reach on an error. Strike outs put little to no pressure on the defense. Also when you are putting the ball in play, ground balls and pops ups will find holes. Its a pure numbers game. That is why sabermetrics and statistics have become a large part of the game of baseball.
    – diggers3
    Jun 5, 2014 at 18:44
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    on average hitters hit .300 in the state we call BABIP (batted balls in play, which is (H-HR)/(AB-HR-K)). That means that batting average on a K is .000 vs batting average on a ball in play is .300. A pretty big difference. (Now granted, a HR is more valuable and guys how tend to strike out a lot also tend to have a lot power, and get a lot of walks, both good outcomes). It's worth investigating the concept of the "3 true outcome" player. the player who walks, Ks or Homers.
    – wax eagle
    Jun 5, 2014 at 19:26
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    Not to mention, those who strikeout less will generally (safe to assume) have more pitches per at-bat, thus increasing the pitcher's pitch count.
    – Nick
    Jun 5, 2014 at 21:10

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