You Can’t Spell Mark Without K: A Snapshot In The Season of Mark Reynolds, Volume I

It is May 3 and we are a month into the 2011 MLB Season.  The Orioles have played 27 games so far and have a record of 13 wins versus 14 losses.  I wrote a piece a few months ago about Mark Reynolds and how everyone freaks out about his monstrous strikeout numbers and I figured I had a decent sample size from this year to go back and see if I was right or not. 

My main argument was that a strikeout is the same as any other out in most situations and that just because he strikes out doesn’t mean that he hurts the team any more than someone who makes their outs another way (ground out, fly out, base running).  In 27 games played Reynolds has 91 official at bats.  He has hits in 16 of those.  That isn’t very good, especially since he isn’t walking as much as I said he would be.

 8 walks?  Thanks for making me a liar, Mark.  I’m sorry, I still love you.

Let’s see…91 at bats, 16 hits, that means he has gotten out 75 times already. Strikeouts have accounted for 28 of those 75 outs.  He leads the O’s in that category although Derrick Lee is right on his heels with 27 and Adam Jones and Matt Wieters are determined not to fall too far behind as they round out the 4 Baltimorians with 20 or more strikeouts this season so far.  Let’s dig into these Reynolds strikeouts a bit more…

3 have come when he leads off an inning, 7 have come with none on and 1 out, 2 with none on and 2 outs, 2 with 1 on and no outs, 4 with 1 on and 1 out, 5 with 1 on and 2 out, 3 with 2 on and 2 out, 1 with 3 on and 1 out and 1 with none on and none out when not leading off the inning.  Yes, I have logged every at bat including count, inning and situation this year for Mark Reynolds.

One of the more troubling things about his strikeouts this year is that he only sees an average of 4.67 pitches per at bat when he strikes out.  In general his patience seems to be dipping a bit this year, but it is still early so I think what has been a strength in the past for him will improve a bit.  Hey, he still sees more pitches per strikeout than Vlad sees per at bat period.  Ok, I’m just guessing there but if you told me that somehow Vlad sees less than 1 pitch per at bat (yes, I know that it isn’t possible) I would probably believe you.

With runners on base and less than 2 outs this season Reynolds is 7 for 20 with 7 Ks.  Three times those Ks came with a runner only at first base.  That is part of the reason he doesn’t GIDP often (just once this year so far) and a reason I give to everyone who complains that strikeouts are evil all of the time no matter what with guys on base.  In only 4 instances this year has he had an opportunity for a “productive out” where with a deep fly ball or well placed ground ball he could advance a runner while still getting himself out.  If you have ever played baseball you know that a strikeout in these situations is still not automatically worse than a ground ball or fly out.  If you hit it in the air, it must be deep enough to advance a runner and if you have a runner on second base and want to advance him with a ground out conventional baseball practice says that the ball must be hit to the baserunners left.  We’ll just assume for argument sake that if he hadn’t struck out in these situations they would be replaced by so called “productive outs.”   Four times is all that would be different this season.  Once with a runner on third base and 1 out, either a decent fly ball to the outfield or most likely any ground ball not to the pitcher would have gotten a run in.  Once with the bases loaded and 1 out, a fly ball gets the runner in on a sacrifice while a groundball most likely ends the inning with a double play.  So we’ll call that a push.  Once with no outs and a runner on second base and once with one out and a runner on second base.  Three and a half at bats over the course of 91 where a strikeout was worse than another type of out.  That is 4%, like I said all along very few at bats over a season result in a strikeout being the worst possible outcome.  If you want to say he should get more hits, then go ahead.  But I don’t want to hear any more bellyaching about him striking out until you prove me wrong that his strikeouts specifically are hurting the team more than Vlad’s weak ass flailing ground balls.  I’ll follow up on his future at bats when the time is right.

Until then, see you at the yard.  I’ll be the one losing my mind when uninformed fans start freaking out about someone striking out 200 times.

~ Jjaks Clayton

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