In case there is any feeling that I loathe Ryan Howard above all other players, let me dispel that rumor. Sure, I feel that $25million for 5 years + enough extra for a 6th year to take it just under $140million for the package is ridiculous and laughable, but that doesn't constitute hatred. Sure, I laugh when he whiffs and I feel that sitting him out from time to time to not hit 200 strikeouts in a year (for that reason, I'm not impressed with Adam Dunn either), but that doesn't constitute loathing of a player.
Loathing is something special - Barry Bonds in 2001 was loathing. Ken Griffey Jr. as the opponent in 1998 wasn't loathing (though I came close to wanting it to be), but it bubbled under feeling that way until he vanished from the chase for Maris altogether. Albert Belle until his retirement was loathing. Pretty much the entire Yankee roster until they choked in 2004 (GREATEST CHOKE EVER) was loath-able. Hell, many of them still are, but fortunately, the worst have gone the way of the dodo bird.
Now, the hatred is reserved for Mark Reynolds and his mighty swings at... nothing.
According to the guys at MLB-TV, if he didn't sit out from time to time, he could not hit ball 300 times a year. Last year, he came to bat 499 times. He whiffed 211 times. That sucks.
In full seasons from 1921 to 1933 (and 70 at bats in 1920), Joe Sewell struck out 114 times. His career average was .312. In just under 8000 career at bats, Lloyd Waner whiffed 173 times from 1927 to 1945. That's it. Even as recently as 1948, Lou Boudreau only struck out 9 times in a season (560 at bats, .355 average). For him, it was "all future and no past."
For Mark Reynolds, the entire career of Joe DiMaggio from 1936 to 1951 (minus WW2) yielded 369 whiffs. For Reynolds, that isn't even 2 full seasons. Yogi Berra may sound like an idiot with some of his quotes, but from 1946 to 1964, he struck out 414 times. That includes 3 times in his last 9 at bats when he finally called it quits in 1965 as he was well past his prime. In his last 7 at bats, Reynolds struck out 5 times. He also sat 5 full games and came in to pinch hit in another game. There, he walked.
The Diamondbacks shipped him to Baltimore for 2 players after they signed him to a $14.5 million 3-year extension. That gives him $5million this season to shoot for the stars and whiff the incredible total of 250+ times (if Buck Showalter doesn't choke him out first).
MLB TV calls him the 7th best player on the hot corner. I think they're smoking crack.
We've reached critical mass in baseball on whiffs. Reynolds hit .198 for the year. His 32 homers and 85 RBIs led his team into last place (65-97) in a relatively competitive division.
He's not alone in his futility. Carlos Pena was also sub .200 with 150+ Ks - albeit for a winning team (the Rays). At least they're home run hitters - for what that's worth. BJ Upton and Austin Jackson can't say that for their major whiffs.
So yeah... Houston... we've got a problem. Too many strikeouts. It's gotta go. I don't care what the statisticians say. This is just futility.