Where to start with Mark Reynolds? First of all, the obvious: he is sporting an offensive triple slash (AVG/OBP/SLG) of .191/.298/.362. In the words of the famous loner Kevin Mcallister, “Woof.” Part of what makes Reynolds poor performance difficult to understand is that he is walking at a higher rate than his career average (12.4% vs. 11.4%) and striking out less than his career average (32.2% vs. 38.2%). These characteristics usually indicate that a player is locked in and swinging at “his pitches”. However, this isn’t the case with Reynolds. Pitchers in the AL are attacking him in a different manner than pitchers in the NL did and he has yet to adjust. He is receiving fewer fastballs (47.8% vs. 54.8%) and more change-ups (13.4% vs. 9.5%) than ever before in his career. Its safe to assume this trend will continue since Reynolds is swinging and missing at 32.7% of the change-ups that he sees.

Reynolds struggles are especially evident against lefties. Throughout his career he has maintained a (.242/.372/.503) triple slash against left-handed pitching. This year, he stands at (.108/.250/.162). It is really difficult to achieve numbers this low. In fact, its so difficult its worth taking a deeper look at how Reynolds is doing it. Below is his batted ball profile against righties and against lefties.

Mark Reynolds vs. Lefties
Mark Reynolds vs. Lefties

Mark Reynolds Performance vs. Righties
Mark Reynolds Performance vs. Righties

Against righties Reynolds is near his career norms in each batted ball category. Given this data it seems reasonable to expect Reynolds’ career triple slash (.237/.317/.465) against righties going forward. However, Reynolds profile against lefties elucidates his struggles. He is hitting ground balls (GB %) and infield fly balls (IFFB %), the two least desirable batted ball outcomes, at extremely high rates. He has yet to homer against a lefty this year and overall his fly ball rate (FB %) is down. There is nothing unlucky going on here, Reynolds skills against lefties in 2011 are terrible. In fact, his numbers are so bad that even the most pessimistic of us would concede that some improvement is on its way; its just too difficult for any MLB player with 4+ years of service to be this bad.

Based on casual monitoring of the games one might speculate that Reynolds defense appears to be his saving grace; its seems as if he is always on his knees making a difficult throw to first. Alas, this appears to be just be selective memory sampling bias. Reynolds has been pretty poor this year defensively. He has already made seven errors yielding a .928 fielding percentage. His UZR rating (an advance fielding metric) is negative, showing that he is not getting jobbed by official scorers.

Offensively and defensively this is probably close to the low point in Reynolds’ season. Its been ugly to watch, and while I see no reason for Buck to consider batting him ninth, it would not be a ridiculous decision against lefties based on his performance thus far.


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  1. Note: These stats do not include Reynold’s HR last night (against a RHP) or his 8th error of the season at 3B.

  2. Ross…I’m guessing I already know the answer, but does Reynolds swing and miss at more pitches than anyone in baseball? And a thought, his improved walk rate not withstanding — is his vision within normal specs? With more than 800 K’s in just over 2,100 at bats since 2007, and with the number of batted balls I’ve seen hit the heel of his glove this year, I really have to wonder if he has an undiagnosed or at least un-remedied vision problem.

    In other news…Ol’ Bruz attended today’s game with four buddies, including a couple from the office…Let me start by thanking the over-eager usher in Section 30 who ran me and my well-behaved buddies outta ROW FREAKING TWENTY-EIGHT just 90 seconds after we tried to “steal” those seats…If only this Nation’s Border Security Patrol folks were so vigilant! But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself…Ol’ Bruz had to turn back in the first $11 Cheeseburger & Fries Combo since the fries were cold and the burger looked old. Okay, on to the game…Early on, the recently promoted LF (presumably with his MLB career squarely in the balance) loafed after base hit a little toward left center…Turns out the KC runner on first was running hard all the way and took third due to the LF’s unhurried approach to defense (this, of course, will be over-shadowed by his 4-hit performance but is to me indicative that Buck’s approach to doing all the little things right hasn’t exactly resonated with everyone)…Twice later in the game, and for the third time this week already, O’s were unable to execute a simple sacrifice bunt…Even more weird, in the bottom of the 7th inning, with the game tied and most everyone over-heated, Buck somehow thought it was a GOOD IDEA to NOT PINCH RUN for Catcher Tatum…I didn’t see the post-game show, but I do hope to at least read in the paper tomorrow the answer to that “strategy”…Oh yeah, speaking of strategy…I could not believe Buck left the left-hand hitting Luuuuuuuuuuke Scott in to face KC’s lefty reliever with the sacks full and no one out…Scott, as it turned out, actually exceeded my expectations by getting some wood on the ball, advancing it a mere 68 feet down the first base line…Look, I’ll admit I have about 938 fewer wins as a major league manager than Buck, but come on…Scott had no chance, and I have to think there was a better option somewhere in the first base dugout…Final observation…The “fans” in attendance were about as…Man, I dunno…I can’t even describe it…Lame comes to mind…At one point in extra innings, we could here a lone O’s fan from the first base side call out “Let’s go, O’s” all the way down the left field line in our seats…I guess what I’m sayin’ is…If your gonna take off work, put on the Orange, find your way to the middle of the city to watch your favorite team coming off four straight wins heading in to a long Memorial Day weekend, why not cheer a little bit “before” something happens and not just after the fact?

  3. @Ol’ Bruz – Regarding Reynolds – he does swing an miss an awful lot , 14.7% for the year. However, he doesn’t lead MLB or AL. He is second in the AL behind Miguel Olivio of Seattle (16.9 %) and fourth in the MLB behind Olivio, Stanton (15.0 %) and Soriano (14.9 %). Other statistics regarding his inability to make contact:

    1) He is fifth worst in MLB in terms the percentage of pitches a batter makes contact with outside the strike zone when swinging the bat (49.4 %).

    2) He worst in the MLB in terms The percentage of pitches a batter makes contact with inside the strike zone when swinging the bat (76.1%).

    Regarding his eyesight. I assume the Orioles have had his eyesight tested several times. It at least should have been checked in a physical when he was traded or during spring training. In a recent podcast with Jonah Keri Evan Longoria stated the following about eyesight and pitch recognition: “Everybody who plays at the MLB level has pretty close to perfect vision, if not they are having Lasik surgery or getting contacts. We get eyetests every year so they [the front offices] know if you are proficient in that.”

    That quote is pretty definitive. It doesn’t seem rational to conclude Reynolds has undiagnosed problems. Teams would have wanted to test him and fix something to improve his production and as a player he has a financial incentive to make physical improvements that benefit his production. Interesting theory none the less, but I don’t think its a Bryce Harper situation.

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