Reggie Jackson is the career leader in batters’ strikeouts with 2,597. Over a 162 game season, Reggie averaged 149 strikeouts, 32 home runs, a .262 batting average and a .490 slugging average.

Reggie is, of course, a Hall of Famer.

Jim Thome, who will be in the Hall of Fame, is second to Reggie in lifetime strikeouts with 2,395. There is a slight chance that Thome may eclipse Reggie’s strikeout mark.

Over a 162-game season, Thome averages 162 strikeouts, 40 home runs, has a .278 batting average and has slugged .559. Thome averages a strikeout a game.

Mark Reynolds, who batted .198 in 2010 with the Arizona Diamondbacks, makes Jackson and Thome look like Nellie Fox. Reynolds struck out 211 times, which, incredibly, was 12 fewer than his 2009 total.

Over a 162-game season, Reynolds averages 221 strikeouts. That, folks, is 1.36 times a game. If 26-year-old Mark plays as long as Reggie Jackson, he will rack up about 4,500 strikeouts.

The Baltimore Orioles recently acquired the services of Mark Reynolds in the hope that he will add power to their lineup. Playing in home run friendly Camden Yards, some “experts” give Mark a chance of hitting 50 home runs.

He may do that, but he will be involved in many critical situations where, if he fails to make contact, he will kill a rally. Reynolds is a home run hitter who can be described by the Frank Sinatra classic, “All or Nothing at All.”

Mark Reynolds is a player with great power who is a threat to hit a home run every time he steps to the plate, but he hits a home run about 35 times a season, which means he hits a home run once every 4.6 games. He is a disaster area when he doesn’t hit the ball out of the park.

Now for a fascinating comparison.

Joe Sewell, who played for the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees from 1920-1933, struck out 114 times in his career, averaging 10 strikeouts over a 162 game season.

Mark Reynolds strikes out 211 times more than Joe Sewel did during an average season. Keeping things simple, Sewell put the ball in play approximately 200 times more per season.

Those 200 contacts instead of strikeouts produced fly balls that scored runners, ground balla that advanced runners, (there are no records with respect to how many times Sewell grounded into a double play) and base hits.

Sewell batted .312 during his career, compared to Mark’s .242. Simple arithmetic reveals that 200 multiplied by .312 equals 62.

Sewell was a singles hitter, so third baseman Joe Sewell would give his team 62 safeties, while Reynolds would produce 62 strikeouts based on Sewell making contact 200 more times.

Reynolds averages 276 total bases a season. Sewell averaged 251 total bases a season, which might be surprising.

A modern statistic produces even more of a surprise. Mark Reynolds has an OPS (on base plus slugging) of .817. Joe Sewell had an .804 OPS.

Don’t underestimate the damage that striking out can do. Joe Sewell averaged only four home runs a season. Don’t overestimate the value of a home run.

When the lead off batter of an inning strikes out, a strikeout is just another out. With two outs, a strikeout is usually just another out, but it is not just another out other times.

Most great sluggers strike out often, Reggie Jackson, Jim Thome, Mike Schmidt and Willie Sewell were strikeout artists, but they rank among the greatest hitters of all time. However, there are limits.

Whatever those limits, averaging 221 a season exceeds them.

You decide if Mark Reynolds’ great power home runs are more productive than his strikeouts are counter productive. I’ll take Joe Sewell.


Baseball Reference

Read more MLB news on