06.29.09 9 years ago 16 Comments

The Washington Nationals are quickly becoming the “other team” in major league baseball for me. Sure, I have the team I grew up with, and I’ll always love that team. But then I look across the room and I see the Nationals doing all these debaucherous things and think to myself, I gotta get with THAT team. It’s been no secret that the Nationals, with their impressive array of power hitting and equally impressive dearth of suitable pitching, are becoming a sports darling on this site. I would help it if I could.

Anyway, the Nats are chock full of rejects, closet cases, and baseball miscreants, but for my money, no one personifies this band of fuggups better than ex-Red Adam Dunn, aka The White Manny Ramirez. And that means exactly what it sounds like it means. With one significant exception: Adam Dunn either hits a home run or strikes out, generally speaking. More often striking out:

ASYLUM POLL: How many strikeouts is excusable for a slugger?

In 2004, [Dunn, playing for the Cincinnati Reds,] walked 108 times, but struck out 195 times. Of those, 72 were called third strikes, which means he struck out more times looking that season than Williams struck out — looking or swinging — in any season.

Dunn’s strikeouts–or rather, his teams’ tolerance of them–are indicative of a growing trend in baseball. ESPN points out that 90 players struck out 100 times last year, almost triple the number that did so in 1990.

“[In today’s game,] you’ll see three pitchers in the seventh, eighth and ninth inning — and most of them are throwing 95 mph,” Dunn said. “For every crucial at-bat I’ll take late in a game, I’ll always be facing the toughest lefty on the other team. That’s why the strikeout rate is up.”

Or it might be because you have the most nauseating at-bat music in the history of the game. Phil Collins? Really? Why not something more upbeat? Like Pachebel’s Canon? Or the sound of puppies sleeping? Whatever gets you in the zone, Adam. You only have 82 strikeouts on the year so far. Better pick up the pace.

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