Thursday April 13, 2017
The Brothers K
Joe Posnanaski has a nice piece on the early hot hand of the Rockies' Mark Reynolds without ignore Reynolds' more infamous letter: K. He writes about Reynolds in 2008 breaking Bobby Bonds' long-standing single-season strikeout mark of 189—long-standing because (and Poz fails to mention this) players who approached it generally sat out a few games at the end of the season so they didn't break it. Reynolds had more courage, struck out 204 times, then like a Bizarro Babe Ruth shattered his own mark the next season with 223. That's still the record—although Adam Dunn, Chris Davis and Chris Carter keep trying. Interestingly, Bonds' mark, so long unbreakable, isn't even in the top 20 anymore. It's a whole new ballgame. Whuff!
At one point in the piece, Poz tries to get you to statistically comprehend just how much of a strikeout artist Reynolds is, and he does this by comparing him to one of the greatest hitters of all time:
[Reynolds] has hit 255 career home runs, which is great. He has struck out a mind-boggling 1,638 times in about 5,300 plate appearances, roughly one time in three. Reynolds has struck out 250 more times than Henry Aaron — in 8,500 fewer plate appearances.
I might've done this, too, but I would've used Reggie Jackson—the man who holds the career strikeout mark with 2,597. How do they compare?
There's actually some odd similarities between Jackson and Reynolds. Both led the league in strikeouts their first four full seasons in the majors—and then never again for Reynolds (so far) and only once more for Jackson (1982). Jackson was obviously the better player—leading the league in RBIs once, runs scored twice, OPS twice, slugging three times and HRs four times. Reynolds has led the league in nothing but Ks.
As for the Ks? Reynolds currently has 1,638 Ks in 5,285 plate appearances. When Jackson was at 5,285 plate appearances—about July 5, 1976 by my rudimentary calculations—he had 1,174 Ks, or 71% of Reynolds' total. Which would mean if Reynolds has the kind of career longevity Jackson had, and if he continues to strike out at the same pace he's at now, he'll set the mark with more than 3,600 career strikeouts. Yowsah!
Don't hold your breath. Like so many before him, Reynolds seems to be finding new life in Colorado: hitting for a higher batting average (.280 last year), striking out less often (112 whiffs). So if he stays at Coors, he might not strike out enough. If he leaves Coors, and has the kind of seasons he had in, say, Milwaukee in 2014 (.196 BA, .696 OPS), he probably won't stay in the bigs long enough. Old saying: You've got to be really, really good to strike out as much as Jackson did.