Okay, we have to deal with this strikeout thing. There are, as far as I can tell, 12 players on pace to strike out 200 times. There has never been a season in which more than one player struck out 200 times. So let’s stop and break this down with totally made up guesses at how likely a player is to strike out 200 times. From the top…
1. Chris Carter, 44 Ks, 283 K pace— Carter is a slightly better than average hitter even with this mammoth strikeout pace, so I don’t see him going to the bench (and he plays for Houston). He won’t K 283 times, but barring injury, I’d place his odds of getting to 200 at 117 percent.
2. Jay Bruce, 38 Ks, 228 K pace—Bruce always has slumps. He started this year with one. His career high in Ks is 158. He might hit 200, but I doubt it. Peg his odds at 30 percent.
3. J.P. Arencibia, 37 Ks, 238 K pace—Arencibia has a higher pace than Bruce because Toronto has played one fewer game than the Reds. As with Bruce, there’s no background suggesting he’ll continue to swing and miss this often. Another 30-percenter.
4. Mike Napoli, 36 Ks, 233 K pace—Not happening. No way, no how. 15 percent chance at best.
5. Colby Rasmus, 36 Ks, 231 K pace—I can see it with Rasmus a little more than Napoli, but not much. Call it a 15.5 percent chance (remember, I’m making these numbers up just for fun!).
6. Rickie Weeks, 34 Ks, 229 K pace— Now we might finally have something. Weeks does have a 184-strikeout season under his belt. So, this is certainly possible. He’ll need to hit better than he has, but there’s no reason to think that won’t happen. Call it a 45 percent chance.
7. Dan Uggla, 33 Ks, 213 K pace— Another solid possibility. Uggla sits somewhere between Weeks and Bruce; he’s been in the neighborhood before even if he hasn’t exactly knocked on the door. 35 percent chance.
8. B.J. Upton, 32 Ks, 207 K pace—A lot like Bruce in terms of Ks. Call it 30 percent.
9. Alejandro De Aza, 30 Ks, 210 K pace—I find it very unlikely. 10 percent.
10. Adam Dunn, 30 Ks, 210 K pace—The question is whether he’ll hit enough to keep playing. If he does, take it to the bank. But then, he might not. 80 percent.
11. Will Middlebrooks, 30 Ks, 201 K pace—I’ll confess to not knowing much about Middlebrooks. What I see makes this seem like a possibility. 50 percent? How does that sound?
Bonus Players: Pedro Alvarez is on pace for 193 Ks, but is a better bet than many of the players listed. Rick Ankiel is playing in only 77 percent of Houston’s games, but is still on pace to strike out 180 times. Wow.
Okay, so strikeout wise, this is who I plan to follow. You can tell me in the comments if you agree or disagree: Carter, Weeks, Dunn, Middlebrooks, Alvarez, Ankiel. Those guys seem to me like the best bet to have monster strikeout seasons.
In other news, Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo both ceased to merit tracking where OBP is concerned. Mr. Votto, however, is still on pace to top 150 walks (156), so we’ll keep an eye on him for at least one more week.
Justin Upton, you keep it up. I’ve got my eye on you. I’m not convinced we need to track you just yet, but I’m paying attention.
Last week, Greg Simons ID’d Houston’s ridiculous strikeout rate and we will certainly start tracking that. The all-time record is 1,387 Ks. The Astros are currently on pace for 1,588. They are averaging very nearly 10 Ks per game as a team.
Now’s it’s time for our weekly list…
Todd Helton (573) is on the DL, so it will be a while before he gets the one more double he needs to enter the top 20.
Adrian Beltre had a double this week and needs 32 more to reach 500.
Albert Pujols hit a pair in that Monday-night marathon and now has 479. That’s 21 to reach 500 and 33 to enter the top 20.
Prince Fielder hit one of his own and needs 34 to get to 300.
Extra base hits:
Helton, again, is DL’d. He still needs 36 extra base hits to get to 1,000. This might not happen for him.
Runs batted in:
Pujols had five RBI this week and needs 50 to reach 1500.
Juan Pierre had a heck of a week. He stole five bases and is achingly close (599) to 600. Seriously, you should be aching right now. If you aren’t, you’re not doing baseball fandom right. He is still two caught stealings away from 200.
Michael Bourn (277) is on the DL, but there are at least rumors of a rehab assignment soon. We’ll keep him around.
Mariano Rivera is now the seventh most game-playing pitcher ever. Three away is Dan Plesac with 1,064 appearances. Rivera will likely end up fourth sometime in the coming weeks and has an outside shot at third by the end of the season.
Tim Hudson (199) is still trying to win number 200. Maybe next week. Sabathia (195) notched a win.
Jonathan Papelbon (261) needs 39 to get to 300.
Ryan Dempster is starting the year well. He needs 39 to reach 2,000.
Pettitte now needs 10 to reach 1000.
Pittsburgh needs 24 wins to make it to 10,000.
Thanks for reading. As always, stats are through Monday’s games. Tell me if I’m missing anything.