07 October 2011

Mark Reynolds' 2011 is Third Worst for a Guy Hitting 37 home runs or more

At least Reynolds fields better than he dresses.
I have read in a few places how Mark Reynolds was a great revelation this past year and gave the Orioles a true power hitter.  It is certainly true that he is an amazing power hitter and his bat does grade out as above average.  He works the count well, gets his walks, and crushes pitches he squares up on.  Half of Reynolds' hits are fly balls and a quarter of them leave the yard.  It is all very impressive.  However, his difficulties in using his bat to get on base is rather inadequate and drops the value of his bat.  His offense basically profiles as above average for third base, below average for first base, and average for left field.  His defense erodes the rest of his value and makes it arguable that even with the home run capability, he might be more of a role player coming off the bench against southpaws than as a starter.  Mark Reynolds really is not someone the team should consider for an extension.

It is remarkable how peculiar this past season was.  His offense and his defense (split between third and first) was worth 30 and -25 runs, respectively.  This earned him a rWAR of 0.5.  For context, your league average starter should be worth about 2 rWAR.  Below the 2 mark and you need to seriously consider the guy to be a spare part.  Amazingly, David Hernandez, one of the guys the Orioles traded for Reynolds, earned a 1.1 rWAR this past year and is making a tenth of Reynolds' salary.  The conclusion that Hernandez in the bullpen would have been better or at least equal to Reynolds in the field was one I would not have been comfortable making last year.  I knew Reynolds' defense was poor, but it was such a train wreck this past season that it effectively obscured his hitting.

It should be clear that Reynolds has no place on this team at third base.  It should also be clear that you are looking at an average 1B at best.  At DH, he would be more valuable than Vlad, but Vlad performed like a replacement player this past year.  I think it all goes back to seeing how well Reynolds can play left field and then not picking up the option as the team wanders into the 2012 off season.

List of the five worst seasons by rWAR for players who hit 37 or more homeruns.

1) Dave Kingman - 1982, 37 HR, 204/285/432, -0.2 rWAR
Only player to hit 37 home runs or more and have a negative rWAR.
2) Dante Bichette - 1995, 40 HR, 340/364/620, 0.3 rWAR
Evidence of how crazy a run environment Coors Field was and how awful of an outfielder Bichette was.

3) Mark Reynolds - 2011, 37 HR, 221/323/483, 0.5 rWAR
Good offense mitigated by terrible defense at third and first.

4) Cecil Fielder - 1996, 39 HR, 252/350/484, 0.5 rWAR
I could see the same exact line for his son when he is 32.

5) Adam Dunn - 2006, 40 HR, 234/365/490, 0.6 rWAR
Just miserable defense, pure and simple.


Chris in Hawaii said...

I have to wonder though, is Reynolds really an upgrade over Reimold?

Reynolds only had a James Bondish .007 advantage over Reimold in wOBA for the 2011 season. Once you take into account Reimold's slightly above average defense, even if Reynolds grades out at average defensively in LF (which is unlikely) you're probably getting less overall value (and that's without taking their contracts into consideration).

Seeing as how Reimold would have the longer future with the team, it would probably be more beneficial to get him the majority of the playing time in LF.

Anonymous said...

My assessment is that Reimold has below average defensive skills. He is not the most natural out there and does not well utilize his strengths.


Chris in Hawaii said...

I would say that Reimold definitely looks awkward when he's out there. And his bad plays certainly seem more memorable than the good plays he makes (I remember him losing that one ball in the lights this year and just looking awful), but given from what we've seen from Reynolds in the field, I can't imagine he'd bring even what Nolan does to the position.

I can see myself closing my eyes in fear every time Reynolds tries to hit the cut-off man as well.

Jon Shepherd said...

I've seen plenty of shaky infielders who were fine in the outfield. The mechanics are slightly different between the two and the throws are not so instantaneously rushed. So, I don't think the infield gives you any indication of what Reynolds can do in the outfield except that he has a decent arm in terms of strength.

Reimold...he has issues, pretty big issues, with the routes he uses in the outfield. He just is not a good judge of trajectory. Slow first step (or in the wrong direction) and his path is a bit wobbly. He has a strong arm, but has issues with accuracy. It really is not that he "looks" bad, it is that he is not particularly good at a couple things. It turns him into a below average defender. I think the best we can hope from him is average defensive play in left.