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Steven Souza8217s March to the Record Bo | Forum

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Abbey Pendleton

When Adam Dunn Jairus Byrd Jersey posted his 190th strikeout in 2004, he broke an archive originally set by Bobby Bonds over 3 decades earlier, in 1970. While it took a while for Bonds mark to be surpa sed, its become a common occurrence meanwhile. Indeed, including that one produced by Dunn, there have now been 18 player seasons which have met or exceeded Bonds previous high.

While Bonds strikeout distinction has been exceeded on a quantity of occasions, theres another one that remains untouched. Since Pete Incaviglias 1986 season, his mark of 185 strikeouts has endured because the record for rookies. Not a single rookie has come within even 10 strikeouts of Incaviglias record. Tampa Bay outfielder Steven Souza looks poised to make a run in the record this season, however.

Souza has followed an interesting track towards the majors, spending eight years within the Washington Nationals minor-league system prior to getting a shot like a full-time starter with the Rays this season. Souza, an element of the trade that sent Wil Myers to the San Diego Padres, hit very well within the minor leagues during the last couple of years. As Carson Cistulli noted following the trade, through no fault of his own, Souza found himself behind Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, and Denard Span which makes it hard to receive a promotion to the big leagues. In Chris Mitchells profile of Souza, he reinforced the same point, writing:

Yes, Souza has been old for his level for a long time now, but the old for his league caveat means le s and le s the closer a hitter gets to the majors. So when a hitter performs like Souza did in Triple-A, you will have to take notice. More often than not, hitters who rake in Triple-A turn into serviceable big leaguers, regardle s of how old they are.

The Rays saw this logjam and pounced Junior Galette Jersey , providing the team with a player to exchange the departed Myers while also securing other players in the deal as well. Despite Souzas age in accordance with other prospects, Kiley McDaniel rated him the 52nd best prospect in main League Baseball heading into the season. For that Rays, the move has exercised in the early going.

Wil Myers: .291/.340/.493, 134 wRC+ Steven Souza: .233/.333/.475, 133 wRC+

Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) May 31, 2015

Souza has hit very well for the Rays and he has paired his good production with incredibly high strikeout numbers. Souza has only five starts in which he has not struck out this season. A look at the current strikeout rate leaders shows that the majority of the players at the top, like Souza, will have good overall production.

NameK%AVGOBPSLGwRC+Steven Souza37.20.2320.3260.463128Chris Davis35.40.2270.3130.500123Chris Carter35.20.1940.3020.35989Jorge Soler32.20.2650.3220.40296Giancarlo Stanton31.40.2280.3180.508120Kris Bryant30.20.2800.3960.480143Adam LaRoche29.60.2360.3650.395117Joc Pederson29.60.2540.3800.550156Brett Lawrie28.60.2660.2940.37287George Springer28.40.2240.3500.412118

In order to rack up a lot of strikeouts, a player needs to have other aspects of his game that can compensate for producing so many outs without obtaining the ball in play. Souza has utilized his power, speed, and patience at the plate to create himself an optimistic contributor. Souza has seven steals, C.J. Spiller Jersey and it has been worth about two runs excellent on the basepaths this season. We dont have enough innings to conclude much from his UZR within the outfield, but Souza will be able to use his speed to create more plays like this one:

While Souza does strike out a great deal, he's also drawn lots of walks. His 11.7% walk rate is 11th in the American League and consistent with his high walk rates within the minors. He does not chase lots of pitches from the zone, although as he does, he tends not to get in touch. Consider: his 42% contact rate on pitches from the zone is worst within the majors. Despite seeing a first-pitch strike nearly 70% of times, Souza has witne sed greater than four pitches per plate appearances, one of the most within the majors. Souza includes a low batting average due to the strikeouts, but his walks keep his on-base average afloat.

While speed and patience are members of Souzas game, his power takes him from an average offensive player for an above-average one. With ten homers, Souzas .232 ISO is 13th in the AL and, as he hits the ball, he hits it tough. Only 17 players this year have hit greater than five batted balls with an exit velocity of 110 mph or greater, per Baseball Savant. Souza has eight such hits and Keenan Lewis Jersey also the only players ahead of him around the leaderboard (Giancarlo Stanton, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Trout, Carlos Gonzalez, Josh Donaldson, Jorge Soler, Jose Abreu, and Miguel Cabrera) are not exactly lightweights. This is one particular shot:

That same swing produces violent results even when he mi ses.

About last month, I took a look at the leaders within the three true outcomes when discu sing the play of Joc Pederson. Souza appeared on the list in those days, but has shot to the top from the leaderboard.

TTO%Steven Souza54.3%Joc Pederson52.4%Chris Carter52.3%Bryce Harper52.2%Chris Davis52.0%Giancarlo Stanton49.8%Kris Bryant48.9%Adam LaRoche48.7%George Springer48.3%Paul Goldschmidt43.7%

If Souza would continue at his current pace, he'd only need 600 plate appearances to tie the all-time single-season strikeout record and just 500 to break Pete Incaviglias rookie record B.W. Webb Jersey . Hes unlikely to continue at his current pace, however. The highest strikeout rate in the last decade belongs to Chris Carter in 2013, and even he only struck out in 36.2% of his plate appearances. Our Depth Chart Projections have Souza recovering from 400 more at bats the rest of the way and striking out around 30% of the time, leading to 199 strikeouts around the season. If he strikes in 30% of his plate appearances continuing to move forward, he will need just 387 plate appearances to interrupt Incaviglias rookie record.

The strikeout record is probably not one Souza will cherish, but if he is doing reach it, which means he's doing something right. Souza will require good health and that he will need to hit, walk, and run good enough to become worthy of home plate appearances e sential to break the record. Pete Incaviglia is not the worst company to po se s in the record books, but when Souza is able to reach both 20 home runs and 20 steals, his company would improve considerably. The only real rookie to reach both of those numbers in the last five years? Mike Trout.