Fanning no joking matter

24 09 2009
Mark Reynolds is swinging and missing at pitches and with his childish attitude.

Mark Reynolds is swinging and missing at pitches and with his childish attitude.

Mark Reynolds has had a breakthrough season in nearly every facet of his game, yet his most glaring flaw persists. He broke his own single-season strikeout record on Tuesday by whiffing for the 205th time, and he sounded like a petulant child in defending what is an indefensible record.

Reynolds, who entered Wednesday’s game with 43 homers, 100 RBIs and 24 steals, hasn’t expressed an inkling of remorse for swinging and missing so often. After Tuesday’s game, the third baseman responded to a question about breaking his record with a gut-churning answer (if you’re a D-backs fan): “So what?” In a Sept. 14 article on, Reynolds claimed, “I don’t care about the strikeouts.”

Well, he should if he wants to turn into a superstar that the rest of his game suggests he is. Think if Reynolds chopped 40 Ks off his total. By sheer luck, he probably would pick up five hits extra hits. With skill — he has a career .350 BABIP — he could pick up another five to 10 hits. Think an extra 10-15 hits couldn’t help the D-backs win another game or two?

Of course, we can theorize all day about the number of possible hits he’s leaving at the plate. What’s more important is he appears unwilling to improve  a massive flaw in his game. It’s like a kid who knows his poor study habits lead to mediocre grades yet maintains the stubborness and immaturity to keep the status quo.

Perhaps Reynolds is working behind the scenes to improve his batting eye while playing down his efforts to the media. Perhaps, but I’m not so sure that most athletes are savvy enough to be that deceiving. What’s more likely is that Reynolds is upset more media members aren’t praising his otherwise stellar campaign. (He’s a pretty good defender in addition to his fantastic power/speed combo on offense.)

However, the great players recognize their deficiencies and show the humility to acknowledge them. Instead, Reynolds is acting like Serena Williams, who during a post-match U.S. Open press conference refused to own up to her childish on-court tirade in which she threatened to physically hurt a linesperson.

If Reynolds is wishing that critics lose their persistence in highlighting his startling propensity to swing and miss, he’s going to have a long 2010. And if he continues to strike out at the rate he has throughout his career — he has fanned in 37 percent of his lifetime at-bats — then all those potential hits he’s losing by not putting the ball in play as much as he should will help to create a possible regression in 2010.




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