With the 2011 season all but lost, I typically turn my attention to individual stats to see if there could be any interesting milestones reached before the end of the year. I don’t see a lot of those, to be honest with you. Nick Markakis’ next home run will be the 100th of his career and he is two runs short of scoring 500 career runs. Interesting, but not exactly riveting countdowns to watch.
But the addition of first baseman Chris Davis to the roster got me thinking. With Mark Reynolds playing third base and Davis manning first base in 2012, could the Orioles set a team record for strikeouts?
(Before you start entertaining any ideas of Prince Fielder coming to Baltimore, forget them. This season, which will be a step back in terms of win total, has sunk any chance of Fielder considering Baltimore as a long-term home. He’s not coming here and Davis is the best bet to play first next season.)
Reynolds has struck out in 32.7 percent of his career plate appearances. Davis has struck out at a 31.5 percent rate for his career. In short, these guys, by themselves, could propel the 2012 Orioles to the all-time strikeout team in franchise history.
But first, I had to find out the Baltimore clubs who racked up the most Ks in team history. Here are the top five:
5. 1967 Orioles - 1,002 strikeouts
This was a true team effort as no single Orioles racked up more than 94 strikeouts. First baseman Boog Powell and center fielder Curt Blefary tied for the team lead (94) with right fielder Frank Robinson chipping in 84 of his own. This being a pre-DH team, Oriole pitchers contributed 168 of their own.
4. 2009 Orioles - 1,013 strikeouts
This team was full of free swingers, so this was not overly surprising. Second baseman Brian Roberts led the team with 112 Ks follwed by DH Luke Scott (104), Markakis (98), center fielder Adam Jones (94) and catcher Matt Wieters (86, in just 96 games). Left fielder Nolan Reimold chipped in 77 and first baseman Aubrey Huff had 74.
2. (tie) 1964 Orioles - 1,019 strikeouts
The 1964 Oriole outfield of right fielder Sam Bowens (99), center fielder Jackie Brandt (104) and Powell (91) in left struck out a total of 294 times all by themselves. First baseman Norm Siebern had another 87.
2. (tie) 1968 Orioles -1,019 strikeouts
No big surprise here. Shortstop Mark Belanger led the team with 114 Ks followed by Powell’s 97 and Robinson’s ever-consistent 84. Pitcher Dave McNally struck out 46 times in 104 plate appearances, a whopping 44.2 percent of the time.
1. 2010 Orioles - 1,056 strikeouts
This was a bit surprising because the 2010 Orioles are the franchise strikeout kings by such a wide margin over the others. Five players struck out more than 90 times (led by Adam Jones’ 119 Ks) and five more kicked in at least 50. I suppose third baseman Josh Bell put this team over the top when he was called up after the trade deadline and struck out once for every game in which he appeared (53).
So, with all those strikeouts in 2010 and the offseason addition of Reynolds, I began to wonder if the 2011 Orioles were contenders for the all-time strikeout crown already. Through 107 games, Orioles batters have struck out 726 times. They are on a pace for a new team record of 1099 strikeouts.
(If it’s any consolation, they are also on pace to hit 191 homers, the most since the 1999 season. What? It’s no consolation? Well, OK ...)
So forget about 2012, this 2011 team is a serious contender for all-time strikeout king. I predict they break the record Sept. 22 at Detroit. Let the coutdown begin!
Heath Bintliff blogs about the Orioles at Dempsey’s Army. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.