With strikeout rates at record levels, that inevitably means we're going to get some crazy strikeout totals for hitters. Let's take a stroll through some of my favorite numbers heading into Monday's games.
Adam Dunn, White Sox: 26 SO, 3 BB in 69 PAs. Dunn, of course, has always struck in prodigious numbers, but he's taking it to a new level this year, whiffing in 37.7 percent of his plate appearances, which would top his previous career worst of 35.7 percent in 2011. To make matters worse, he's stopped walking. And is hitting .108.
J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays: 28 SO, 1 BB in 73 PAs. The Toronto catcher is tied with Houston's Chris Carter for the major league strikeout lead at 28. What's fun about his line is he has just one walk, so he has a .260 OBP to go with his .250 batting average. He also has belted seven home runs so he's slugging over .600, so he could be headed for the worst 30-homer season in history.
Rick Ankiel, Astros: 23 SO, 0 BB in 35 PAs. My lord. That's a strikeout rate of 65.7 percent! He's made contact 12 times and has eight hits, including four home runs. Still ... 23 whiffs in 35 PAs. By the way, the non-pitcher "record" for most strikeouts in a season without drawing a walk belongs to Alejandro Sanchez, a DH/outfielder on the '85 Tigers who had 39 strikeouts and no walks in 133 PAs. The "record" for most PAs without a walk for non-pitcher belongs to Craig Robinson, an infielder on the '73 Phillies, who had 148 PAs. Here's the funny thing: Robinson turned that season into a gig as the Braves' starting shortstop in 1974. He hit .230 with no home runs but did draw 30 walks in 506 PAs.
Ryan Braun, Brewers: 20 SO, 10 BB in 60 PAs. Braun is putting up his usual big numbers but his strikeout rate of 33 percent is sixth highest among qualified hitters. But his walk rate is up 7 percent over the past two years. (Colby Rasmus, Arencibia's Blue Jays teammate, has the highest K rate among regulars at 43.5 percent.)
Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox: 22 SO, 3 BB in 72 PAs. Outside of that three-homer game, Middlebrooks has been terrible, hitting .172 overall and 2 for his last 25. Until he learns to lay off those pitches out of the zone he's not going to help the Sox much. A stint back in the minors may eventually be needed.
Josh Hamilton, Angels: 23 SO, 5 BB in 77 PAs. Compared to last year, Hamilton's K rate is up and his walk rate is down. He's second only to Pablo Sandoval in swing percentage on pitches outside the strike zone among regulars. His approach hurt him in the second half last season and is a main reason he's struggling early on (.176, 2 HR).