Found May 07, 2013 on
Waiting For Next Year:
There were not many sure things coming out of this off-season. Maybe Michael Bourn would age gracefully or maybe he’d become Juan Pierre. Maybe Justin Masterson would wrangle some control and be a front-end option or maybe he’d fall apart with his ongoing struggles against left handed batters. Maybe Jason Kipnis would take the next step to developing into a power-speed second baseman or maybe he’d languish with a sub-.700 OPS for two straight years, reminding us all of that Josh Barfield jersey we burned last decade.
But one thing we were all sure of: Mark Reynolds would strike out. A LOT.
Among players with more than 1,500 plate appearances, Mark Reynolds led the known universe in strikeout percentage from 2009-2012, managing to K in nearly 33% of his plate appearances. Over that four year span, he struck out 790 times in just over 2400 plate appearances—averaging just a hair under 200 Ks per season. The only other player to strikeout in more than 30% of his appearances was Adam Dunn, who could at least make up for his whiffs with a remarkably patient batting eye (15.2% BB-rate, compared to 12.7% for Reynolds).
Below I’ve summarized some of Reynolds’ stats from 2009-2012 (taken from my MLB player dashboard):
Mark Reynolds – Rate Hitting Stats
Mark Reynolds – Strikeouts, Walks & Contact Stats
As you can see, after a great 2009 season (adjusted OPS 27% better than league average), his production regressed in some pretty basic ways. His BABiP dropped from .338 to the .260 – .280 range. His isolated power went from nearly .300 to the low to mid .200s. In 2009, more than one out of every four flyballs he hit became a home run; over the next three years, that became less than one out of every five.
But the one thing that stayed pretty consistent was his tendency to strikeout: over that four year span, only once was Reynolds not the MLB leader in K-rate (2012). Back to that minimum 1,500 PAs over the four year span, Reynolds contact-rate of 64.2% was the lowest in all of baseball. His swinging-strike rate of 16.3% was second only to Miguel Olivo. He’s just a remarkably consistent whiffer.
And since we expected Reynolds to be an everyday player for this season in some capacity, everyone just marked him down for another 600 plate appearances and another 200 Ks. We hoped for 25 homers along the way, but we were pretty sure we’d get some nice breezes out of the deal.
But something funny is happening on the way to strikeout-city: Reynolds is making contact with the baseball at heretofore unexpected levels. And it’s making him one of the game’s most valuable hitters.
Check this out:
By increasing his contact rate and reducing his swinging-strike rate, Reynolds has cut his strikeout-rate from a ghastly 33% to a mortal-ish 23%. That’s by itself isn’t going to win any awards, but when you have the sort of power Reynolds does, any appreciable increase in batted balls is going to translate pretty quickly into more home runs. So far this season he leads the league in home runs (10) and isolated power (.350), and has already been worth more than a win above replacement, only one month into the season.
While I’d hesitate to believe that nearly 30% of Reynolds’ flyballs will continue to become home runs (that’s absurdly high, even for him), I’d suggest that it’ll almost certainly remain above 20%. Couple this with the notion that plate discipline stats like Swing%, Contact Rate and Strikeout rate all begin to mean something (i.e. tend toward real development rather than fluky aberration) after only 100-150 plate appearances, and you start to think that perhaps Reynolds has really figured something out in his approach or mechanics that is leading to a decreased rate of strikeouts. After all, he’s already accrued 117 plate appearances so far this year: we’re getting beyond the point of small sample sized hand-wringing with some of these developments. Would I bet that he finishes the season with a strikeout-rate below 24%? Probably not, but I would bet that he’s going to set a career low this season–and that’s nothing to turn your nose up at.
I don’t think Mark Reynolds will be one of the most valuable hitters in the game this year. But in 2009, he hit 44 home runs and OPS’d close to .900. And that was with a strikeout-rate of 34%. I’m not sure what those numbers would’ve been had 10% more of his plate appearances ended with a batted ball instead of strikeout. But I’m ready to find out.
BEST OF MAXIM
CLEVELAND -- The Indians believed theyd have a better lineup this season.They didnt know theyd be taking part in home run derbies.At least they didnt say so.Monday night, Cleveland hit four solo home runs to back up Ubaldo Jimenez's second strong start in beating the Oakland As 7-3. The Indians now have 44 for the season, which leads the American League and is tied for first...
Akron Aeros’ right-hander Danny Salazar spent the offseason working out with Ubaldo Jimenez, but Tribe fans needn’t be concerned.
Salazar, 23, has fared better than Jimenez this season, as he is presently 2-3 with a 2.67 ERA and a 51:10 K:BB. In three appearances from April 20-May 2, Salazar didn’t allow an earned run. On Tuesday, his final start with the Aeros, he tossed...
The Indians have placed reliever Vinnie Pestano on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right elbow.
After several days of indecision, Cleveland announced the move Monday night shortly before the opener of a four-game series against Oakland. Manager Terry Francona had expected Pestano to be available, but the Indians are taking a cautious approach with the right-hander, who has...
CLEVELAND (AP) --Asdrubal Cabrera homered twice and Mark Reynolds hit one to the deepest reaches of Progressive Field, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 7-3 win over the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.
Jason Kipnis and Cabrera hit consecutive homers in the first inning off Jarrod Parker (1-5). In the fifth, Cabrera homered again and Reynolds launched a 460-foot shot -- his 10th...
7:33 PM – A bit late getting started here, but luckily we haven’t missed much. Through two innings, both Zach McAllister and Tommy Milone are perfect.
7:35 PM – Oh look. Mike Aviles is playing left field tonight. That’s weird.
I remember thinking when they traded for Aviles that it was all but certain that Asdrubal would be traded and that Aviles would become our starting...
The Cleveland Indians' losing streak to the Oakland Athletics is over.
The Indians will now try to hand Tommy Milone a career-worst fourth straight loss.
Cleveland could also move a season high-tying two games above .500 on Tuesday night when this four-game series continues at Progressive Field.
Asdrubal Cabrera had a career high-tying two homers, Mark Reynolds' AL-leading...
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Zach McAllister and two relievers combined on a shutout and the Cleveland Indians scored an unearned run in the fifth inning for their eighth win in nine games, 1-0 over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.
McAllister, Rich Hill and Chris Perez limited the highest-scoring offense in the majors to six hits and did not allow a runner to reach second base.
The IBI Hot List is back for another week and recaps the hot (and some cold) performances in the Indians system over the past week. The top 20 performances over the past seven days are ranked with some commentary, and the five worst showings are also ranked with some commentary there as well. This week I take a look at the hot showing by shortstop Francisco Lindor, outfielder LeVon...
If you thought the Chase Headley/Padres extension rumors were exciting, just wait until you get a load of the Michael Brantley situation! Cleveland has been rumored to be talking to Brantley and his representatives about an extension during the off-season. Despite things changing a bit since the signing of Michael Bourn, and Brantley himself saying he has not heard anything about...
Player of the Game
The Indians ace showed his stuff once again tonight, pitching seven innings and striking out seven to earn his fifth win of the season. Masterson wasn't perfect, giving up three runs, all in the fourth inning, but other than that was fantastic. His final POG score was 4.70, his best start of his last five.
The Indians needed some luck...
Utah State athletic director Scott Barnes has been chosen as the NCAA Division I basketball committee chairman for 2014-15.
He's already on the committee and will spend this season as the vice chairman to Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman.
Barnes played basketball at Fresno State and went on to play professionally in Germany, then began his coaching career at the high...
CLEVELAND (AP) -- An apparent game-tying homer by Oakland's Adam Rosales was ruled a double by umpires in the ninth inning, and the Cleveland Indians held on to beat the Athletics 4-3 on Wednesday night.
Rosales sent a drive off Indians closer Chris Perez that looked as if it cleared the left field wall. However, second base umpire Angel Hernandez called it a double, and the...
While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you haven’t seen the Charles Ramsey interview, well you’re just doing it wrong. [Youtube]
“The economy and game-day experience are factors as well. Sure, a...