One player that I predict will be much-discussed by fans this year is O's third baseman Mark Reynolds.
If he gets off to a slow start with the strikeouts mounting, I can see fans getting frustrated. Not Garrett Atkins type frustrated, but still agitated.
There is no doubt in my mind that Reynolds' high number of strikeouts is going to bother some fans. There is also no doubt that Reynolds will have a lot of strikeouts.
He has averaged 213 strikeouts over the last three years. He won't automatically cut that down just because he wears orange and black now. There is no magical coaching he will now suddenly get to help him there that hasn't been tried before.
His track record says the K's will be coming and no one should be surprised when they do.
But here is the bottom line on Reynolds: He was brought here to drive the ball and hit homers. If he can hit 35 home runs and it comes with 200 strikeouts, that's a trade-off you can more than live with.
By the way, Reynolds has averaged 38 homers over the last two seasons, hitting a whopping 44 in 2009 and 32 last year. The last Oriole to hit 35 or more in one season was Albert Belle, who hit 37 in 1999.
Reynolds averaged a homer every 13.1 at bats in 2009 and one every 15.6 at-bats last year. That is hitting them at a very productive clip.
Here are some hitters who didn't do as well in 2010:
1 every 16.2 at-bats - David Ortiz
1 every 16.6 at-bats - Luke Scott
1 every 17.4 at-bats - Alex Rodriguez
1 every 17.7 at-bats - Ryan Howard
1 every 18.1 at-bats - Prince Fielder
1 every 18.2 at-bats - Mark Teixeira
1 every 19.1 at-bats - Adrian Gonzalez
1 every 20.4 at-bats - Vlad Guerrero
1 every 20.5 at-bats - Jayson Werth
1 every 21.0 at-bats - Ryan Zimmerman
1 every 21.6 at-bats - Robinson Cano
Reynolds' track record says the power will be there. But so will the strikeouts. Don't sweat it when that happens.
I can see nights when he goes 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and fans get worked up. He had 23 games last year when he fanned three or more times.
Reynolds fanned 211 times last season and averaged one strikeout every 2.58 at-bats. Adam Jones led the O's with 119 K's in 2010, and that was one every 4.88 at bats.
When he's facing a two-strike count, Reynolds has hit 40 homers in his three-plus major league seasons. Asking him to shorten up with two strikes to strikeout less is a bad move. He needs to be a dangerous hitter up there, no matter the count. So what if he could cut his strikeouts down to a more manageable 150? If he did, it could come with 10 fewer homers.
Memo to O's fans for 2011: Don't get too worked up when Reynolds strikes out. They come with the home runs.
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