Hot Stove: 2/2

Ten more signings were made, including three by the Mets and two by the Phillies. We also visit offensive strikeouts for Stat of the Day.

Stat of the Day: Strikeouts (Batter)

Abbreviation: SO or K.  Leaders: All Time: Reggie Jackson (2597).  Single Season: Mark Reynolds (223 in 2009).  Active: Jim Thome (2548).  2012: Adam Dunn (222).

Striking out is something nobody wants to do.  It's an out, it won't move any runners or drive any in, and worst of all, the act is just embarrassing.  As a player, I know striking out sucks.  From the moment the ball pops into the catcher's glove, it stick's in your head.  "Why did I watch that pitch go by?", "Why did I chase that ball?", or "This umpire is blind" undoubtedly cross the mind of anyone who strikes out some point between the solemn walk back to the dugout and grabbing your glove to head out to the field.  The good ballplayers take strikeouts and learn from them, then use them to get pumped up for the next at bat.  I know that when I strike out, I can't wait to grab a bat and hit again.  If I could, I would hop right back in the on-deck circle.  While striking out may be something nobody wants to do, everybody does it.  Ichiro, Pujols, Jeter, and Zimmerman all strike out.  In fact, more players are striking out today than ever before.  Among the top single season strikeout annals, each of the top 14 were by active players.  Each of the top 703 marks of all time have occurred since 1960.  One reason strikeouts are so common nowadays is that baseball is more about the power, hit big or miss big type of play.  Another reason is that pitchers are throwing harder than ever with more specific training.  No player struck out even 100 times in a season until 1884, when Sam Wise of the Boston Braves struck out 104 times in 114 games.  In 2012, 111 players struck out at least 100 times.   Wise remained the only player to reach triple digits in a single season until 1913, when Washington's Danny Moeller struck out 103 times (Offensive strikeouts were not recorded from 1897-1909).  Then, in 1914, two players, Gus Williams and Grover Gilmore, broke Wise's record, with Williams striking out 120 times.  It still took until 1932 before another player reached 100, and until 1938 before Vince DiMaggio set a new record at 134.  In 1956, Jim Lemon set a new record at 138.  All of this, and 138 strikeouts were reached by 34 players in 2012.  In 1961, rookie Jake Wood struck out 141 times, and that set off a rapid fire ascension in K's.  In 1963, three players broke Wood's record, and two of them reached 150.  Dave Nicholson of the White Sox struck out 175 times, an incredible number that was still reached by five players in 2012 alone.  Still, strikeouts were skyrocketing, and in 1969, Bobby Bonds struck out 187 times in 158 games.  He broke his own record the next year with 189 strikeouts.  Around this time, the all time strikeout king, Reggie Jackson, arose.  From 1968-1986, he failed to reach 105 strikeouts just once, going over 150 three times.  His rookie year, 1968, was his career high, where he K'd 171 times.  By the time he had finished, he had struck out 2597 times.  Nowadays, the strikeout record stands at 223, set by Mark Reynolds in 2009.  Two other players, Adam Dunn (2012) and Drew Stubbs (2011), as well as two additional times by Reynolds (2008 and 2010), have marked over 200.  Jim Thome, who is just 49 behind Jackson for the all time record, struck out at least 113 times every year except '05 from 1995-2009.  Since he struck out 61 times last year, it is not unlikely that he could become the all time strikeout "king" for hitters, though that's a crown no player truly wants to wear.  On the other side, there are power hitters who rarely strike out.  In 1947, Johnny Mize knocked 51 home runs while striking out just 42 times, then followed up the next year with 40 home runs and 37 strikeouts.  He accomplished the feat of hitting more home runs than strikeouts a third time in 1952, when he homered 25 times and struck out 24 times.  Joe DiMaggio was another one of those players, accomplishing the feat in five straight years from 1937-1941.  His numbers were 46-37, 32-21, 30-20, 31-30, and 30-13.  He would do it twice more in his career, once in 1946 (25-24) and once in 1948 (39-30).  However, he finished his career just short of matching the numbers, ending up with 361 home runs and 369 strikeouts.



Free Agent Signings

Mets signed Shaun Marcum (7-4, 3.70 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 2013 age: 31) to a one year, $4 million deal (plus up to $4 million in incentives).

Yankees signed Travis Hafner (12 HR, 34 RBI, .228 AVG, 0 SB, 2013 age: 36) to a one year, $2 million deal (plus up to $4 million in incentives).

Indians signed Matt Capps (1-4, 3.68 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 14 saves, 2013 age: 29) to a minor league deal.

Padres signed Freddy Garcia (7-6, 5.20 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 2013 age: 36) to a minor league deal.

Phillies signed Chad Durbin (4-1, 3.10 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 1 save, 2013 age: 35) to a one year, $1 million deal.

Mets also signed LaTroy Hawkins (2-3, 3.64 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 1 save, 2013 age: 40) to a minor league deal.

Reds signed Miguel Olivo (12 HR, 29 RBI, .222 AVG, 3 SB, 2013 age: 34-35) to a minor league deal.

Cardinals signed Ronny Cedeño (4 HR, 22 RBI, .259 AVG, 0 SB, 2013 age: 30) to a one year, $1.15 million deal.

Phillies also signed Yuniesky Betancourt (7 HR, 36 RBI, .228 AVG, 0 SB, 2013 age: 31) to a minor league deal.

Mets also signed Marlon Byrd (1 HR, 9 RBI, .210 AVG, 0 SB, 2013 age: 35) to a minor league deal.

Shaun Marcum will bring stability to the Mets rotation that lost R.A. Dickey and Mike Pelfrey this offseason.  He'll join Johan Santana, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, and Aaron Laffey in starting games.  Marcum has had an injury-plagued but effective career.  The Kansas City native had his best year in 2011, when he was 13-7 with a 3.54 ERA for Milwaukee.  Injuries have cost him significant time in 2008, 2009, and 2012.  In '09, a year after he had been 9-7 with a 3.39 ERA for the Blue Jays, he missed all but five minor league starts due to Tommy John surgery.  While healthy, he has won at least twelve games three times and posted ERA's of 3.70 or lower in four straight seasons. Over his seven year career, he is 57-36 with a 3.76 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, meaning if he can stay healthy, he will slot somewhere in the middle to front of the New York rotation.  Last year, he made just 21 starts due to more elbow issues.

Headed to the Bronx is eleven year veteran Travis Hafner, formerly one of the most feared hitters in baseball.  A former valedictorian in his small hometown of Sykston, North Dakota (population 117), Hafner spent ten years with the Indians and had his best year in 2006.  Playing in just 129 games, "Pronk" hit 42 home runs, knocked in 117, and batted .308 with 100 runs scored.  It was his third straight 25 HR/100 RBI/.300 AVG season, but sadly, it would be his last.  He still knocked in 100 in 2007, but his home run total dropped to 24 while his average fell to .266.  Injuries have plagued him ever since, as he has not played in more than 118 games since '07.  He was still productive in his limited playing time, and as recently as 2011, he hit 13 home runs and batted .280.  Last year, his average dropped to .228 while he played in just 66 games, his lowest total since 2008.  Over his 11 year career, he hit 201 home runs, knocked in 694, and batted .278 with nine stolen bases.  He will DH for the Yankees, and his 201 home runs oust Darin Erstad's 124 for most ever by a North Dakota born player.

Matt Capps gives the Indians a bargain on a talented reliever.  Even though he has 138 saves under his belt, he won't close, and may even have to fight for a late-innings job.  Not closing will be new for Capper, as he has saved at least 14 games in each of the past six seasons.  A standout during his days in Pittsburgh, the Georgian took over the closer's role in 2007 at just 23 years old and was 4-7 with a 2.28 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 18 saves in 76 appearances.  After saving 21 games with a 3.02 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 2008, the sky was the limit for the 25 year old kid.  However, he struggled mightily in 2009 and ended up in Washington in 2010.  Combining the season with Minnesota, he was 5-3 with a 2.47 ERA and 42 saves for his best season.  He struggled in 2011, and was injured for much of 2012, though he did post a 3.68 ERA and 1.09 WHIP last year.  He has great command, as evidenced by 3.80 strikeout to walk ratio (K/BB ratio) and 1.72 walks per nine innings pitched (BB/9IP).  Over his eight year career, he is 29-33 with a 3.52 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 138 saves in 444 appearances.

Teams followed in this update: Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies

If your team is not included, please leave a comment.

HR: home runs.  RBI: runs batted in.  AVG: batting average.  SB: stolen bases.  ERA: earned run average. WHIP: walks/hits per innings pitched.  K's: strikeouts. WPCT: winning percentage

Zack Silverman

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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