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April 8, 2011 at 10:19 am ET
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Chasing Reggie

Ever since Reggie Jackson retired after the 1987 season, we’ve all been wondering whether anyone is going to break his all-time strikeout record.

Jim Thome is close. But I don’t see him doing it. Still, I believe the record will fall because, as always, the Youth Are Our Future.

Thome is solidly No. 2 with 2,398; however, he’s 40 and he’s running out of time. I’m thinking he needs about 800 plate appearances to surpass Mr. October’s whiff tally of 2,597.

Two more seasons like the ones Thome just had (774 PA, 205 K’s) would just barely do it. You can’t expect him to stay healthy enough for that to happen.

On the horizon, though, a somewhat younger breed of breezebringers is making noise. And that noise is “suh-wishhhhhhh.” The four hitters responsible for the nine best single-season strikeout totals are all active and still are catching a lot of air.

You have Adam Dunn (age 31), Ryan Howard (31), Jack Cust (32). And then you have Mark Reynolds, who was traded from Arizona to Baltimore in December. After only four seasons, his performance is significant. Reynolds, of course, already has the three best single-season tallies, led by 223 strikeouts in 2009.

His mounting K count places the 27-year-old third baseman 440th in history. Reynolds is closing in on Buddy Bell (tied for 435th), who has well over four times as many at bats). In two seasons he very well could be trailing only about 150 players.

Only the puny batting averages he’s been putting up lately could undermine his efforts; managers get queasy about starting a guy who’s dragging around a Mendoza-like percentage even when he’s going deep 30 times a year.

Dunn ranks 28th and at his current pace would pass Reggie in about 2016. He and Howard are better bets than Mike Cameron (10th all-time, with 1,843) and Alex Rodriguez (11th, 1,839) to claim the top spot.

But you watch: In 10 years, when he’s designated hitting for the San Juan Rays, Mark Reynolds will surpass Dunn, Howard, Thome, Reggie and any other upstarts and call it a career.

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