The Chicago White Sox re-claimed sole possession of first place in the AL Central on Monday night with a 4-2 home win over the hapless Minnesota Twins.
Designated hitter Adam Dunn, who missed Chicago’s past three games over the weekend, returned to the lineup and connected on a double in three at bats. He also made history by becoming just the sixth player in Major League history to strikeout at least 2,000 times in a career. Others who have previously reached such rare air include Reggie Jackson, Jim Thome, Sammy Sosa, Andres Galarraga, and Alex Rodriguez.
The list of those in Dunn’s company shows a seismic shift in the way strikeouts have been viewed over the past 25-30 years. It used to be that strikeouts were so frowned upon that hitters would do anything they could to make contact, often sacrificing power for the chance to put the ball in play. When Jackson retired in 1987, he had fanned 2,597 times, which remains the major league record. Of the remaining five players in the 2,000 strikeout club, only Galarraga had even begun their big league careers when Jackson retired following the 1987 season. It took Galarraga until his age 43 season to break into the 2,000 K club.
The remarkable thing isn’t Dunn propensity to whiff, it’s the alarming rate at which he’s gotten to 2,000. It took Jackson 21 season to fan almost 2,600 times. Thome, who could pass Jackson if he plays again next year, sits 63 K’s behind. It has taken him 22 season to get there. Sosa compiled his over 18 years, while Galarraga and A-Rod reached the club in 19 seasons. Adam Dunn has done in in just 12 big league campaigns.
At his current rate of 167 strikeout per season (that number seems low to me), it will take Dunn just another three-and-a-half seasons to surpass Jackson as the all-time leader in strikeouts.
For more on the White Sox and Dunn’s quest for immortality, visit Southside Showdown.