Today, big swinging third baseman Mark Reynolds was traded to the Baltimore Orioles. Coming off of a horrific season in terms of strikeouts and AVG, how does this move affect Reynold’s 2011 projection?
In September of 2010, Mark Reynolds hit .078/.213/.078 with no home runs, two RBI and 31 strikeouts in 64 at-bats. His lowest home run output for any other month was five and he hit eight in August. Clearly, the injury to his thumb affected his number in an extreme way. Given reports of a clean bill of health, the Orioles decided to add Reynolds to their lineup, hoping for a return to his 40-plus home run levels.
Reynold’s late season thumb injury made his already poor 2010 numbers look even worse. However, a healthy Reynolds in 2011 should once again approach the 40 home run mark, if not blow past it hitting in Camden Yards. Arizona is no slouch of a hitters park. In fact, it is one of the best parks in baseball for hitters. The big difference from Chase Field to Camden Yards is the difference in distance in the gaps. Camden’s left field fence is shorter in the left-center and right-center gaps.
Not that I think this will make a dramatic difference, as Reynolds has the power to hit plenty of home runs in any yard, but he could see a few more fly balls to the gaps turn into home runs.
The AVG will be another issue altogether. Reynolds did not have a month in 2010 where he hit over .240. While his thumb injury caused him to finish under the Mendoza Line, he still would have ended with an AVG between .200-.220. It’s hard to imagine him having much better luck in 2011, as his strikeout rates continue to stay extremely high and his whiff rates have been among the worst in baseball. However, given that he does a good job of drawing walks, leagues that use OBP won’t be hurt nearly as much. If Reynolds can lower his fly ball rate to something closer to his career average of about 48 percent, he could see a bit more luck in BABIP.
The bottom line with Reynolds is that he has both big upside and very big downside. He is going to hit a bunch of home runs, probably around 40 if he can avoid injury. With some luck in BABIP, there is a slight chance he hits around .250 or so. The downside is that the strikeout rate could continue to rise and he might not find his groove in the American League, thus causing a complete collapse in value.
Given the positional scarcity at third base for the 2011 season, Reynolds, especially coming off of such a poor season, may actually be a valuable bat to add after the top thirdbasemen come off the board. As long as you can add some bats that will balance out your AVG, the upside of how Reynold’s bat will play in Baltimore is worth a little risk.