Before Preston Wilson struck out 187 times and Mo Vaughn 181 in 2000, only three players led their respective leagues in strikeouts with 180 or more in a particular year. Bobby Bonds had 187 in 1969 and 189 in 1970 and Mike Schmidt had 180 1975. Other than that, there was no evidence of a player striking out that many times. Since 2000, there has only been one season where a player has led MLB in Ks with less than 182- Adam Dunn with 168 in 2005.
I have more of an issue with a high K percentage than the total amount of strikeouts a player has a season. If all power numbers are up and the player has a high BA and OPS, the total times a player strikes out in a season does not matter as much. The list I have put together (using my own research- so, please use the comment section to add a player I may have missed) indicates the players who strike out more often per at bat than anybody in baseball this year. I used the criteria of a minimum of 50 Ks and the 25 players I have listed all strike out once every 2 and 3 at bats.
(as of 9/17/2014)
Player Team ABs Ks K%
Javier Baez Cubs 170 77 2.2077
Mike Olt Cubs 215 94 2.2872
Jon Singleton Astros 297 126 2.3571
Juan Francisco Blue Jays 284 114 2.4912
David Ross Red Sox 146 57 2.5614
George Springer Astros 295 114 2.5877
Jarrod Saltalamacchia Marlins 352 136 2.5882
Tyler Flowers White Sox 397 126 2.5948
Chris Davis Orioles 450 173 2.6012
Alex Avila Tigers 372 143 2.6014
Jason Kubel Twins 156 59 2.6440
Brandon Hicks Giants 204 77 2.6494
Danny Espinosa Nationals 316 116 2.7241
Jeff Mathis Marlins 167 61 2.7377
Mike Zunino Mariners 405 147 2.7551
Anthony Recker Mets 160 58 2.8166
Adam Dunn White Sox/Athletics 399 144 2.7708
Colby Rasmus Blue Jays 345 123 2.8048
Chris Carter Astros 476 169 2.8166
Brandon Barnes Rockies 269 94 2.8617
Drew Stubbs Indians 368 125 2.9440
Oswaldo Arcia Twins 333 113 2.9469
Scott Van Slyke Dodgers 192 65 2.9538
Josh Willingham Twins/Royals 290 98 2.9592
Hector Sanchez Giants 163 55 2.9636
A couple things I found interesting after putting this list together. Eight of the 25 players mentioned are catchers. This has something to do with the fact that offensive production has been down on catchers over the past three seasons. And perhaps the fact that teams are valuing the ability to call a game and defense over being an offensive MLB player, which is evident with the strikeout rates of some of the backup catchers. A couple of teams with up and coming offensive players are near the top of the list, with guys like Javier Baez, Mike Olt and Jon Singleton- with George Springer a little further down. A total of 18 out of the 30 teams had a player on this list striking out once every less than 3 at bats. The Astros, with Singleton, Springer and Chris Carter, were the only team to have three players in the top 25. The Twins did as well, but neither WIllingham nor Kubel is on the team anymore. The Cubs, Giants, Blue Jays, Marlins and White Sox had 2 each, with Adam Dunn now playing for Oakland and Miami having both parts of their catching tandem in the top 25.
Another thing that needs to be stated is the fact that marginal players cannot strike out at this rate. Guys like Brandon Hicks and Jason Kubel are going to have difficulty finding MLB jobs and Brandon Barnes, Scott Van Slyke and Danny Espinosa may never be MLB regulars (again) because of this.