Monday, December 6, 2010

Mark Reynolds Coming to Baltimore

The Orioles have acquired 27-year old 3B Mark Reynolds from the Arizona Diamondbacks, reportedly for RP David Hernandez and RP Kam Mickolio.
I am not really sure how I feel about this deal. Really, it depends on how the rest of the offseason goes. But even Reynolds, in a vacuum, leaves me conflicted.

If you have read my blog for even a little bit, you know how much I love power bats. Love 'em. It's why I keep banging the drum for Luke Scott. It's why I was pimping Adam Dunn for Baltimore this offseason and in the 2008 offseason. It's why I love the potential of Adam Jones and Matt Wieters. Power. Power makes the offense go. It's a game changer and the Orioles don't have nearly enough.

Reynolds brings power in spades. Over the past three seasons, Reynolds has an ISO .247. That's 9th in baseball over that span, ahead of guys like Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Evan Longoria, Ryan Braun and Dan Uggla. On top of that, nobody ahead of him on that list plays anything other than DH or first base. According to HitTrackerOnline, the True Distance of his average homer was 415.6, tops among the leading home run hitters in baseball. If you can get that kind of power from your third baseman, you take it. Anytime. Sick, sick power. 32 homers in 2010...that was a down year.

Of course, I'm leaving out the downside. Reynolds hit .198 last season. .198...that's it. I don't care much about batting average by itself but when you hit .198, it's really tough to build enough good on top of that to make the overall offensive numbers look respectable.

Not that Reynolds didn't try. His walk rate was 13.9% in 2010. That was 9th in baseball. He has a good eye, something his 200+ strikeouts in each of the last three seasons seems to contradict. I don't care much about strikeouts either...but 200+ consistently is enough to raise anyone's eyebrow. That and the fact that his K rate has risen in each of the last three seasons too. And his Line Drive rates have dropped.

But his walk rate has increased over that span too. And he was hampered by a bad hammy late in the season and the Diamondbacks, in an effort to cut down on the strikeouts, started tinkering with his swing mid-season. And even with all this working against him, he put up an OPS of .754 (98 OPS+) Those are serviceable numbers, even with a .198 average.

The O's are only committed to him for 2 years. Maybe he gets healthy and Jim Pressley (the new Oriole hitting coach) sees a way to get him back on track. But I think he's going to turn me into a manic-depressive every at bat as I experience ecstasy everytime he launches one into the leftfield seats and despairing when he strikes out four times in a game.

As for the guys Baltimore sent to the desert, losing David Hernandez is a bit of a blow. I think Hernandez will be, someday, a successful major league pitcher. However, his path is almost certainly that of a reliever at this point and you shouldn't hesitate to part with relief arms to improve the club. Hernandez did manage to increase his K rate to something close to his minor league rate in 2010 but he was still essentially a flyball pitcher and figures to do better in Arizona. I have little doubt that he may have success going forward but he won't be as valuable as Reynolds has the chance to be.

Kam Mickolio is another story. Mickolio was a top relief prospect coming into the 2010 season. He's got a live fastball and was seen by many as a future closer. But he has struggled with wildness, struggled a bit during brief stints in the majors and will be 27 next season. Again, he may develop into a top notch reliever but there's no guarantee. And he is, after all, just a relief prospect.

I have no idea how all of this will work out. As you can see, I'm back and forth on Reynolds. I don't even know if this means the end of Josh Bell either since Reynolds could be moved over to first base. But there's a lot of upside here and the O's didn't give up any of their core building blocks. I'm cautiously pleased.

3 comments:

The Oriole Way said...

I second the "cautiously pleased" and "conflicted" sentiments, for all the reasons above. One other point about Reynolds 2010: his BABIP was .257, far below his .334 career average. If he had his career BABIP, he would have had 20 extra hits last season, bumping his batting average to a more acceptable (but still bad) .238.

Heath said...

Right. And something people are missing with his BABIP is that hi Line Drive percentage pretty much supports that BABIP. He wasn't particularly unlucky, the .198 average was pretty legit.

I'm just hoping he will be healthy and that they can just let him be himself...he's going to strikout a ton, no sense in tinkering too much with his swing.

Sean said...

I agree with your sentiments about this trade, unless it's seen as a replacement for Bell going forward. If that's the case, it's a bad trade.