If you’re one who has the opportunity to swing a bat, one of the ugliest stats is that of the strikeout. I think you already know where I’m going with this one.
Reds center fielder Drew Stubbs is approaching 200. Not hits, but those ugly strikeouts. In a season now filled with deflated expectations, the one “newsworthy” item may be those K’s. Most of us are fully aware of the 177 whiffs Stubbs has so far in 2011. He leads all of baseball in that area. In the past, one that is termed as a “slugger” usually resided on this list. And Stubbs is not that type of player. Yet. He might be. We just don’t know.
For those wondering, Stubbs has 30 more than the guy in second (in the NL), Philly’s Ryan Howard (147). He owns 20 more than the AL leader, Orioles third baseman Mark Reynolds (157). And that’s where I got to looking at some things.
Reynolds has the distinction of owning the MLB record for strikeouts in a season with 223. He pulled off that feat in 2009 when he was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. When comparing Reynolds of 2009 to Stubbs for this season, it really isn’t as close as you’d think. In 2009, Reynolds struck out every 2.97 plate appearances (223 SO in 662 PA). For 2011, Stubbs has those 177 in 585 plate appearances for a ratio of 3.31. It appears that Reynolds MLB record is safe.
But not the Reds team record. Adam Dunn set that in 2004 when he amassed 195 strikeouts. In that season, Dunn’s ratio was 3.49 (195 K’s in 681 PA). Stubbs is ahead of that pace…currently. There is a saving grace for the Stubbster…maybe. His plate appearances should see a slight decline over the last month of the season since he has no longer batting leadoff. You could speculate that his playing time could be reduced only due to looking at other players (Sappelt, Heisey). An off day is never a bad thing.
And what about Stubbs last year. He was bitten by the strikeout bug then, too. That was a reason he was moved down in the order in 2010. In the 583 plate appearances for 2010, Stubbs struck out 168 times, or a 3.47 ratio.
I think about everyone has had their say on Stubbs and how he fits into the Reds lineup. I know that Alex (in a comment) stated that once Stubbs figures out the type of player he is, then the Reds can be more cognizant of where to put him in the lineup. Last year, it was moving into the 7th spot that seemed to get him going. No pressure to get on base.
Going into 2012, I don’t believe the Reds should even toy with the idea of putting him back into the leadoff role. While his combination of speed an pop seems like a natural, it doesn’t work for Stubbs. And that’s not a bad thing. If he can be more productive on down in the lineup, I am now at peace with that.