There's an emerging leniency for sluggers who strike out like it's going out of style. Such players include Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn. Then there's Mark Reynolds, who went to the Will Ferrell School Of Calculated Risks.
C'mon, Will Ferrell has made some incredibly hilarious movies (Old School, Anchorman, and somehow I have a soft spot for Step Brothers). Yet his laundry list of bombed movies is astounding, and people will overlook Land of the Lost in lieu of giving the world Frank the Tank.
Case in point: Reynolds was the first guy to record 200 strikeouts in a season in 2008, and this year he's on pace to do the same. But hey, it's okay. He has 42 home runs, which is second only to Albert Pujols. I'll admit I didn't expect Mar-K to ding that many out of the park, nor did I expect exactly one-third of his at bats to result in strikeouts.
He's aware of how bad he is in this regard, and I admire his honesty in hitting it head on by flipping the table around. Well, at least he's not hitting into double plays!
"I don't understand why the strikeout is such a bad stat," Reynolds told ESPN. "But if there's a man on first and one out and you hit a weak ground ball to second base and it's a double play, what good does that do? If I strike out, at least the guy on deck still has a chance."
So it's like renting Blades of Glory, and then saying, "Well, just be glad it wasn't Bewitched, because then you'd really have seen something terrible."
(If I'm batting in that situation, I'd probably strike out too. But I'm not a major league hitter. I write about sports on the Internet. You'd strike out too in my situation.)
Reynolds only has eight GIDP this season, which is better than most, but he's also not a ground ball hitter. A flyout is marginally better than a strikeout, because there is a chance the ball could drop, or carry far enough to result in a sacrifice hit.
His splits with runners on base are astounding. With runners on third and less than two outs — where a ground ball will almost always score the run unless it's hit with a two-ton lead pipe directly to the shortstop — Reynolds has 9 RBI in 22 chances despite just one hit (a .045 average), but he also has nine strikeouts. When the bases are loaded, he's 0-for-10 with 4 RBI and four strikeouts. But at least he's never hit into a double play in those situations. Phew!
Suppose Reynolds had 80 fewer strikeouts, putting him much closer to the league average. Using his numbers this year, that could be about 29 more times on base, a few more home runs, and yes, a couple other double plays. Even 40 fewer strikeouts, which would still keep him in the top 10 in that category, might make a big difference.
Or just embrace the stat. Reggie Jackson has more strikeouts than anyone else. Top him, and who can deny your Hall of Fame credibility?