Coming soon: The new single season strikeout king.
It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.
We are without a doubt in the strikeout era. I have had this conversation over and over again with hitting coaches as well as players from earlier generations. The conclusion is always the same: Hitters are taking bigger swings these days -- even with two strikes -- and are no longer embarrassed to strike out. Home runs pay well and hitters will continue to go for the long ball with their eyes set on the big prize, regardless of the count, regardless of the situation.
In 1970, Bobby Bonds set the single-season strikeout record with 189 K's in 745 plate appearances. That record stood for 34 years until Adam Dunn broke it with 195 punchouts in 2004 (681 PA). Since that 2004 season, Dunn's record has been broken 12 times, including twice by Dunn. Mark Reynolds is the current single-season strikeout record holder with 223, a mark he set in 2009 (662 PA).
We have seen an influx of very exciting young power hitters come into the league recently. The scouting reports are somewhat similar: great pop in the bat, but there are some swings and misses there, too.
Below are projected single-season strikeout totals for a few of the young exciting hitters, based on 650 plate appearances and their 2014 strikeout rates:
Javier Baez - 275
Zach Walters - 230
Jon Singleton - 228
Junior Lake - 217
George Springer - 215
Mark Reynolds will soon be dethroned.
Additonally, Major League Baseball has never seen two players with 200 or more strikeouts in the same season. That is very likely to change as well.