Slugger nears dubious record

One whiff at a time, Mark Reynolds is closing in on his own single-season strikeout record.

Arizona Diamondbacks slugger Mark Reynolds is nearing the strikeout record that he set last season (204).

PHOENIX — One whiff at a time, Mark Reynolds is closing in on his own single-season strikeout record.

Please don’t remind him. The normally good-natured Reynolds turns chilly when the subject arises.

“I don’t care,” Reynolds said. “I haven’t talked about it all year. I don’t even know now how many strikeouts I have.”

Reynolds has 200 after striking out four times on Wednesday, leaving him only a few swings and misses shy of the record he set last season (204).

It’s understandable that the 26-year-old Reynolds is touchy about the question. He’d rather be known for his power — his 42 homers are second to Albert Pujols in the majors — than be hailed as King of the Ks.

At a glance, Reynolds’ strikeout and homer numbers paint a comical picture of a batter with his shirt buttons popping and helmet spinning, and the ball either in the catcher’s mitt or the left-field seats.

But while Reynolds rarely gets cheated on a cut, his other statistics tell a different story.

Reynolds’ batting average, walks, on-base percentage and slugging percentage are all up over last year, his first full season in the majors. Reynolds also has 23 stolen bases.

“He’s not an all-or-nothing guy,” Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said. “It looks like that way sometimes; he’ll have nights that it’s like that. But over the course of his complete work, his complete season, he’s been very productive in times where he’s not hitting a home run and he’s not striking out.”

A few hours after Hinch made that comment, Reynolds backed up his manager’s words by drawing a bases-loaded walk to force in the winning run in a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sept. 9.

Facing Ramon Troncoso, Reynolds worked the count to 3-2, fouling off a couple of pitches with two strikes, and then laid off a fastball that was just off the outside corner.

“I think he’s got a plan when he goes up there,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.

Most of the time, the plan is to swing hard.

After hitting 28 homers a year ago, Reynolds has 42 this season, and most aren’t cheap.

On July 28, his shot off Phillies reliever Brad Lidge carried an estimated 481 feet into a restaurant in the left field upper deck, one of the longest homers in Chase Field’s 12-year history.

“He’s unique,” Torre said. “He’s got (42) home runs, so I think whatever you have to pay for that strikeout-wise is something you take because when he gets up there, he’s a threat. I mean, he may have some holes, but you still have to find the holes. If you miss your spot, it’s not going to be a single.”

Reynolds quickly points to his other numbers whenever someone asks about his strikeout total.

“You know, if I was hitting a buck-fifty and driving in 20 runs and striking out 200 times — but I’m being productive,” Reynolds said. “So whatever.”

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