Fewer strikeouts, more DPs a trend for Rays hitters

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Rays made better contact in 2013, striking out just 1,171 times in 5,538 at-bats as compared to 1,323 strikeouts in 5,398 at-bats the previous season.

On the flip side, Rays hitters grounded into 140 double plays in 2013 as compared to 133 in '12.

"If you think about the contact we make now as compared to the contact we made a couple of years ago, our strikeouts are down [and] our double plays are up, just because the ball is getting put in play more," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We have to accept that part of it."

Maddon noted that the nature of the overall lineup lends itself to more contact.

"You see the ball move more and probably striking out less," said Maddon, who allowed that the Rays will "just have to be more creative and try to pick better pitches to start the runners with against certain pitchers."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.