Checking In On Nolan Reimold

As he was coming through the Orioles’ minor league system, I was a fan of Nolan Reimold’s. The power and patience blend wasn’t something the O’s had a lot of at the major league level, and I was hopeful that he would produce if given a shot. He got it in 2009, and lead the team with a .365 wOBA and a .279/.365/.466 batting line. Expectations may have been a bit high coming into 2010 – the projection was for .276/.355/.467 – but there was some concern given that Nolan might not have been 100% healthy after his off-season Achilles surgery, and he might have been a little lucky in 2009 besides.

He started out the year in a terrible slump, hitting just .205/.302/.337 in 96 PA before being demoted to Triple-A. I thought that was rash, given his .242 BABIP and still strong 11.5% walk rate, but he’s continued to swing a weak bat in the minors.

Hitting .207/.297/.320 against lesser competition isn’t a good way to reclaim one’s job, though Reimold is still suffering from a low BABIP (.227). His walk and strike-out rates (10% and 19%, respectively) are fine and not out of line with his major league numbers – a little lower in both cases. It would be nice if he was drawing more free passes, but he might be pressing a bit given his struggles. In fact, his “park and luck” adjusted line – from MinorLeagueSplits – is .278/.359/.414; very close to how he hit in the majors in ’09, and the difference in slugging is partially accounted for by a drop in HR/FB rate, from over 14% to 12% (for the adjusted stats – it’s actually only about 10%). It’s a shame that this happened to Nolan heading into what is supposed to be the peak of his career (he turns 27 later this year). Eventually his luck will even out (the latest CHONE update had a projection of .266/.343/.458), and hopefully his troubles this year won’t affect his chances of holding down a job in the majors going forward.