2011 Orioles Projections: Mark Reynolds

The initial team projections are posted here. A more thorough walkthrough of how I put the individual ones together is in the Matt Wieters post here. The components I’m looking for are playing time (plate appearances), batting line (BA/OBP/SLG), and fielding.

Today we’re looking at the Orioles’ new slugging third-baseman; Mark Reynolds.

Playing Time:

Since his first full season in the big leagues (2008), Reynolds has averaged 624 plate appearances with 2010′s 596 being his lowest total. I don’t see any real reason not to go with 600 PA for 2011 (I don’t expect Josh Bell to mash enough at Triple-A to force the O’s hand).

Batting:

Reynolds has a 11.4% career walk rate, but it’s been trending upwards every season; 8.9% to 10.4% to 11.5% to 13.9% last year. A part of that 13.9% was 7 intentional walks, which I’m not sure he’ll see next season. Then there’s the move to the AL and some regression to the mean – I’m going with a 12% walk rate for 2011 (which still gives him a fair chance of leading the team, as he would have last year).

Everyone knows the major knock on Reynolds is his prolific strike-out totals – he owns the #1, #2, and #3 spots on the single-season K’s list – and things have been getting worse. His strike-out rates started at 35.2% in 2007 (already really high) and then increased further to 37.8%, 38.6%, and finally an absurd 42.3%. Though his career rate works out to 38.7%, I can’t bring myself to expected less than 40% next year – which means that another 200+ K season is likely around the corner.

Like his walk and strike-out numbers, Reynolds has increased his flyball rate every year of his career – topping out at almost 55% in 2010. I doubt it goes that high again, but Reynolds will surely be putting the ball in the air quite a bit. His home run per flyball rate hasn’t been on the same steady climb, peaking at 26% in 2009 and varying from 16% to 20% in his other seasons – with a career mark of 20.6%. Orioles Park is favorable to right-handed power though, and his three-year weighted average is 21.5%, so I’ll go with that figure. That would give Reynolds 34 home runs in 2011; the most by an Oriole since Miguel Tejada also hit 34 in his first year with the team (2004). If Reynolds gets an extra one over the fence, we’d have to go back to Raffy Palmeiro’s 43 in 1998 for a higher total.

All of the K’s keep Reynolds’ batting average down, but he’s been able to ameliorate that with high BABIPs – at least until 2010. After three seasons in the .323-.378 range, it tumbled all the way down to .257. His xBABIP was still a relatively decent .294 though, and something much closer to his career .323 makes more sense for 2011. Half way between that mark and league average (~.300) seems fair, so that’s. That would result in 88 non-HR hits, with 22 being doubles and 1 being a triple

So now we’ve got all the components. 121 hits in 528 at bats is a .229 batting average. Add 72 walks (and a few HBP) for a .328 on-base percentage. Slugging would be .468.

A .229/.328/.468 line would make Reynolds around 6 runs above average with the bat in 2011.

Fielding:

I’ve heard people saying that Reynolds is a good fielder (or, at least, vastly improved), and that’s what his UZR numbers show; from -11 UZR/150 to -7 to +2. His DRS numbers aren’t as good, but are moving in the same direction. Same with the Fan Scouting Report (though that’s just 2009 and 2010). Total Zone, strangely enough, has the opposite trend. In any case, I’d be very hesitant to call Reynolds even an average fielder at this point, but it looks like he  may have improved enough to not be a butcher with the glove. Taking a weighted three-year average across all the metrics gives you something like -5 runs over a full season, which is what I’m going with. Reynolds may very well be better than that, but I’m not prepared to expect that yet.

WAR:

Adding it up, Reynolds would be at about 2.3 Wins Above Replacement in 2011. That’s right around where I had him at the time of the trade, but I see a little more variance with him than with some other O’s. If he fields well, keeps walking a lot, and has his BABIP bounce back more fully, then he could approach 4 wins pretty easily. His glove-work drops back to where it was a couple years ago and his plate discipline falls off moving to the tougher league, then he could be not much above replacement level.

Let me know how you think Mark Reynolds will do next year here.


Stats: BB% & K%, FB%, HR/FB%, BABIP, wRAA, UZR, DRS, Total Zone, Fan Scouting Report, WAR