When is a strikeout just like any other out?

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Mark Reynolds is hitting .274/.367/.575 with 41 homers, 28 doubles, 72 walks, and 94 RBIs in 137 games.
Adam Dunn is hitting .282/.410/.563 with 37 homers, 27 doubles, 104 walks, and 99 RBIs in 142 games.
They rank fourth and eighth among NL hitters in OPS, respectively. And yet people continue to make a big deal about their strikeouts.
Yesterday alone MLB.com had an article entitled “Reynolds not worried about strikeout totals” and the New York Times had an article entitled “Dunn keeps swinging despite detractors.”
Conventional wisdom is that strikeouts are a terrible thing and when viewed in isolation that’s certainly true. However, in the grand scheme of things strikeouts are no worse than pop outs or fly outs or ground outs. And unlike those other methods of making an out, strikeouts tend to come along with extra-base hits and walks because guys who whiff a lot usually do so while swinging hard and working long counts.
Among all hitters with at least 400 plate appearances this season, the 10 guys who strike out most often have an average OPS of .938 and the 10 guys who strike out least often have an average OPS of .753. Yet for all the criticism high-strikeout guys take for being productive in a manner that rubs some people the wrong way and all the articles questioning whether guys like Dunn or Reynolds need to cut down on their strikeouts, have you ever seen the opposite?
Where are all the people taking David Eckstein to task for making too much contact while posting a measly .265/.322/.337 line? Where are all the articles wondering if Yuniesky Betancourt should try to strike out more often to improve upon his putrid .241/.275/.347 mark? Despite all the advancements in baseball analysis, apparently there are still an awful lot of people who would prefer if guys like Reynolds and Dunn weren’t nearly as good, but grounded out to second base much more often.

The day Giancarlo Stanton became a “True Yankee”

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Personally, I would’ve assumed that the day Giancarlo Stanton became a “True Yankee” was when the Yankees traded for him, thereby willingly incurring a legal obligation to pay him hundreds of millions of dollars and pencil him in the lineup until his knees fell off and, probably, for some time after. That, however, is not how things go with the New York Yankees.

The Yankees can trade for you, but that does not make you a “True Yankee.” They can sign you to a nine-figure deal in free agency, but your signature on the contract is not your “signature Yankee moment.” They can draft you, develop you for six years and play you for another three and you still may not have enough time and accomplishments under your belt to be anything other than, more or less, a probationary employee.

No, to be a “True Yankee” you have to be declared so by the media after doing something neat like hitting a big home run like Stanton did last night to lead the Yankees to victory over the Mariners. Until then — until you become the hero of a Wednesday night game in June, I guess — you’re suspect. After that, well . . .

And:


And:

Seeing these headlines and the many other stories and tweets with references to Stanton’s newfound “True Yankee”-dom makes me wonder when, say, Jonathan Villar, became a “True Brewer” or when Daniel Descalso will deliver his “Signature Diamondback Moment.” I’m sure someone will tell us.

Haha, just kidding. No other team does that. Probably because no other team likes to stoke its own mystique like the Yankees do. They have always done this to some degree — and given the franchise’s success, they are allowed a bit more leeway to boast than other ones are — but I blame George Steinbrenner for taking this to silly levels.

Big Stein was the first owner to really take advantage of free agency, but that also made him the first owner to stigmatize the players he signed as somehow owing the team more than any other player for their having accepted a big paycheck. For having to prove themselves in ways other players didn’t. He famously did this with Dave Winfield, contrasting him poorly with Reggie Jackson, who had proven himself in ways that made Steinbrenner happy. He never really did this with homegrown Yankees players. It was like a parent being partial to their natural child and cold to the adopted one.

Steinbrenner also built up the level of expectations for Yankees players — all of them — beyond reason. I think it was in the late 90s that he started up with that “anything less than a World Series title is failure” jazz. I question whether that was motivational to highly-trained and already motivated baseball players, but it was certainly good for building the Yankees brand. The idea that you’re not a “True Yankee” — which I seem to first remember being a sticking point with Jason Giambi — is a logical extension of that. While it may not be the best way to run an organization it is, as a matter of brand-building, pretty effective to portray your team as having higher expectations and something of an initiation period for its players. It’s a way of making fans feel like the club and the players they root for are a level above everyone else.

Of course, George Steinbrenner was George Steinbrenner, and being sorta crazy and sorta unfair and working overtime to build the Yankees brand was what made him The Boss. It was literally his job to do that kind of thing, so let’s not be too hard on him. I get why he did it that way.

I do wonder why, however, the media tasked with covering the Yankees has so eagerly taken up the job of Yankees brand-building like that. Wherever Big Stein is today, he’s likely beyond caring about things like money, but I bet he’s still probably pretty happy with all of the free P.R. work his team continues to get, long after he shuffled off this planet and became an immortal Yankee.

Wait. I’ve gotta talk to a trademark lawyer, stat.