Chicago White Sox

Jim Thome's Quest to Become the All-Time Strikeout Leader

CHICAGO - AUGUST 9:  Jim Thome #25 of the Chicago White Sox takes a strike from Randy Johnson of the New York Yankees on August 9, 2006 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Paul SwaneySenior Analyst IMay 17, 2009

Baseball, as we know, is a game of statistics. Lists of numbers attributed to names form a database from which many of us derive inspiration.

I have spent time analyzing what is so appealing about the endless numbers of baseball.

More specifically, why do we remember specific numbers like 56, 61, 406, 511, 714, and 755? Without providing any explanation, most readers will recognize these numbers and know the story behind them.

I have finally given up trying to reach an exact comprehension of the magic of these numbers. Instead, I've resigned myself to the joy provided by the common numerical inkblot test that we share.

In an attempt to add to the pantheon of famous numbers, I submit 2,597.

The strikeout for a hitter is in many ways a sign of failure. But what does it take to achieve such an epic failure as 2,597?

For Reggie Jackson, the owner of 2,597, it took 21 seasons and nearly 10,000 at bats. Along the way, he also belted 563 home runs, good for 11th all-time (seventh if you remove anyone accused or confirmed as using performance-enhancing drugs).

Jim Thome is the active leader in career strikeouts, and is third all-time. At the time of publication, Thome still trailed Jackson by 375 according to baseball-reference.com.

Thome, who will turn 39 next month, has averaged 145 games per season when he has been healthy.

In order to overtake Jackson, Thome must stay healthy this year and next year. He would then need to play in 105 games in 2011 at this pace to become the all-time strikeout champ, and knock 2,597 out of our collective numerological libraries.

If he is able to reach that level of failure, he will truly be one of the greats of all-time.

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