Reynolds breaks own strikeout record in midst of excellent season

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Mark Reynolds broke his own single-season strikeout record last night by whiffing for the 205th (and 206th) time and … well, no one seems to care all that much. Which is a good thing.
Not so long ago a player even approaching the strikeout record was viewed as a big deal that usually drew all sorts of heavy-handed criticism from columnists and talking heads, but whether because the baseball media has evolved or someone breaking his own record simply isn’t much of a story the hand-wringing over Reynolds has been minimal.
Last week, while writing about why the focus on hitter strikeouts is largely misguided, I noted that the 10 guys who’ve struck out most often this season have been significantly more productive hitters than the 10 guys who’ve struck out least often. Along those same lines, the 10 highest single-season strikeout totals have all come from very productive hitters:

                    YEAR      SO      AVG     HR     RBI      OPS
Mark Reynolds       2009     206     .266     43     100     .919
Mark Reynolds       2008     204     .239     28      97     .779
Ryan Howard         2007     199     .268     47     136     .976
Ryan Howard         2008     199     .251     48     146     .881
Jack Cust           2008     197     .231     33      77     .851
Adam Dunn           2004     195     .266     46     102     .956
Adam Dunn           2006     194     .234     40      92     .855
Bobby Bonds         1970     189     .302     26      78     .879
Jose Hernandez      2002     188     .288     24      73     .834
Bobby Bonds         1969     187     .259     32      90     .824
Preston Wilson      2000     187     .264     31     121     .817



It’s very difficult to post a high batting average while striking out 180-200 times in a season, but batting average doesn’t equal production and the seasons shown on the above list have averaged 36 homers and 101 RBIs with an .870 OPS. Reynolds is having a fantastic offensive season, just as guys like Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn and Bobby Bonds did before him, and anyone unwilling to see that is missing the forest through the trees.
There are some situations where a strikeout is worse than other types of outs. For example, with a runner on third base and less than two outs, hitting a sacrifice fly out has more value than striking out. However, there are also some situations where a strikeout is better than other types of outs. For example, with a runner on first base and less than two outs, striking out is more valuable than grounding into a double play (which Reynolds has done just eight times this year compared to 29 for high-contact hitter Miguel Tejada).
Add up all of those different situations and at the end of the day a strikeout is no worse than flying out or grounding out, even if a certain segment of the baseball-watching public refuses to believe it. Striking out has the added bonus of typically coming with lots of homers and walks, and unlike the difference between types of outs those things actually have a huge impact on scoring runs.

Buyers and Sellers at the Trade Deadline: American League Central

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With Manny Machado’s trade completed, the rest of baseball can now turn its attention to the non-blue chip players on the market.

Yesterday, in our look-ahead to the second half, we mentioned some of the top players likely to be made available. Today we look at each team to see who is buying, who is selling, what they’re seeking and what they have to offer. Note: almost every contender, always, needs relief help.

As a reminder, the non-waiver Trade Deadline is July 31. Players traded after that date but before August 31 need to pass through waivers unclaimed before they can be traded. All players traded before August 31 are eligible to be on their new team’s playoff roster should they make the postseason.

Next up, the American League Central:

Indians
Status: Buyers
Wanted: Bullpen help, bullpen help and then, maybe, some bullpen help. Who woulda thunk that a year or two ago? They could also use a spare outfielder. Everyone is gonna ask for righty Shane Bieber in return but it’d be hard to see the Indians trading him at all. Look for small deals, not big ones.

Twins
Status: Probably sellers
For Sale: Not a ton as, while they have underachieved this year, there is a good young core on this team that the Twins are going to give a chance to bounce back. Brian Dozier could be moved, though, as could the finishing-piece veterans the Twins brought in thinking that they’d contend this year. Guys like Fernando Rodney and Lance Lynn could be dealt. No blockbusters seem likely to run through Minnesota, however.

Tigers
Staus: Sellers
For Sale: Vetrans Francisco Liriano and Mike Fiers could be had and, if the Tigers decide to do bigger deals, they could dangle starter Michael Fulmer or maybe even Nicholas Castellanos, though they could be considered pieces to build around rather than to deal. The Tigers need projectable and controllable bats and plenty of them.


White Sox
Status: Sellers
For Sale: Possibly Jose Abreu, though he’s probably worth more to Chicago than to the market. James Shields, Joakim Soria and Avasail Garcia could be had. Basically, if you can’t picture them playing on the 2020 White Sox, they’re at least worth asking about.

Royals
Status: Sellers
For Sale: Moustakas, Lucas Duda, maybe Jason Hammel if the market for starters goes crazy. It’s a rebuild footing for Kansas City, so it’s like a going-out-of-business sale at Woolworth’s circa 1990. If you ask for it, you can probably get it.