Saturday, September 8, 2012

Reynolds Red Hot

Mark Reynolds is locked in at the plate (ESPN)
Look out, New York Yankees.  The Orioles are hot on your trail, and (with apologies to Adrian Beltre, Chase Headleyand Miguel Cabrera) they have Mark Reynolds, the hottest hitter in baseball right now.

Reynolds' recent tear shouldn't surprise anybody.  He is notoriously streaky, as are most high strikeout power-hitters.  Think Adam Dunn, Pedro Alvarez, Jay Bruce.  They're hot one minute, cold the next.  They'll look lost at the plate for weeks at a time, and then they go and homer in four straight games. They have the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  The long balls come in bunches, and so do the whiffs.

With Reynolds, you get plenty of both.  From 2008-'11 he averaged 35 big flies and 208 strikeouts per season, so by comparison his 20 blasts and 129 whiffs this year are on the low side because he's missed 27 games.  But right now, he's so hot that his teammates should treat him like a fire hazard.  In his past seven games, Baltimore's slugging third baseman has clobbered eight home runs, driven in 16 runs and scored ten.  He just did in a week what many great sluggers need an entire month to do.

That one ridiculous week salvaged his season.  On the penultimate day in August, his batting line was an uninspiring .221/.343/.397.  Now he's up to a much more respectable .235/.353/.465, right in line with his career averages.  It's good to see Reynolds finally breaking out of his season long funk, especially after I talked him up before the season.  He started slow out of the gate with no homers and just three RBI in April, and as soon as his power came around he landed on the DL. He missed most of May and when he came back just couldn't get in a groove.  His timing might have been off, because he slumped for most of the summer.  As recently as August 5th he was hitting .203 with eight dingers and 32 RBI, well on his way to a repeat performance of Dunn's dismal 2011.  In the month of games since then, he has crushed everything in his path, batting .333/.444/.789 with a dozen moon shots, 26 RBI, and 18 walks.  He's killing it right now.

His resurgence couldn't have come at a better time for his Orioles, currently trying to unseat the visiting Yankees from first place in the AL East.  Reynolds has feasted on New York's pitching for six home runs in their past four meetings, and will have several more chances this weekend to add to his burgeoning power figures.

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