Two weeks ago, I wrote about rookies that have put together All-Star numbers among their counterparts. One player, Bryan Reynolds, wasn’t on my list, but he’s put together a solid rookie campaign in his own right. The Pirates rookie outfielder entered Sunday having slashed .333/.409/.522, and while the power hasn’t quite showed up, I believe it’s only a matter of time before more fly balls start leaving the ballpark. This week, I want to focus on the rookie outfielder in “That’s Amore!” Bryan Reynolds is Still Available in Numerous Leagues.
While New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso is running away with the National League Rookie of the Year award, Bryan Reynolds has been a consistent player since getting the call towards the end of April. While 49 of his 76 hits have been singles, he’s been awfully consistent with his at-bats keeping his strikeout percentage at a respectable 25% and his walk percentage at 11.4%. Looking deeper, 35.5% of his hits have gone for extra bases. As consistent as Reynolds has been, the switch-hitting rookie is owned in only a quarter of fantasy leagues (26.4% in ESPN & 32% in Yahoo!).
Among fellow rookies, Reynolds is tied for seventh in games played (71), 11th in plate appearances (259), fourth in BB% (11.4%), and second in BABIP (.418). While he’s tied for 13th in home runs (7), he’s been consistent in nearly every other statistical category and has seen himself top-10 in numerous. What makes Bryan Reynolds stick out is his presence at the plate and plate discipline. He doesn’t look to do too much, and he’s more than welcoming of a base hit. His patience and discipline were noticeable during his time at Vanderbilt where the former second-round pick owned a collegiate slash line of .328/.414/.515 with 103 walks (13%) and 174 strikeouts (21.9%) in 791 career at-bats. Even during his four years in the minor leagues, Reynolds owned a career slash line of .312/.373/.472 with 101 walks (9.2%) and 251 strikeouts (23%). Simply put, he’s been consistent at every level of baseball he’s played.
Through the first three months of the season, Reynolds was on fire. He was hitting the ball with authority to all parts of the field, and no month’s Soft% was at 20%. This tells me that he was locked in, and getting solid looks off pitchers. Through the first two weeks of July, we’ve seen some regression, but this is to be expected as there will be balls that don’t land that have in the past, and there are better scouting reports on the rookie hitter. Still, his July BB% of 25% is the highest it’s been compared to the previous three months, and I would suggest a solid portion of his lackluster numbers are attributed to hitting the ball at players, and relying heavily on pulling the baseball. Again, his BB% is at an all-time high, and looking at the above chart we can see he’s pulling the ball more than he has in the past, and he’s made more soft contact in July than in the previous three months. Off the top of my head, a good adjustment would entail going back to using all parts of the field, specifically going up the middle and hitting the ball the other way. This can be done regardless if whether he’s batting right-handed or left-handed as he’s posted similar numbers from the right (.335/.422/.509 in 167 at-bats) and left side of the plate (.328/.373/.557 in 61 at-bats). It’s always a positive indicator when a player has more than double the number of at-bats hitting one way compared to another, but still posts almost identical numbers.
What can we expect the rest of the way? One positive factor is that Reynolds is by no means in jeopardy of losing playing time and at-bats. He’s been one of Pittsburgh’s most consistent hitters after Josh Bell and Starling Marte. I mentioned earlier that July is the first time we’ve seen regression. His BB% while his strikeouts are at a higher percentage than in months past , But, I don’t feel it’s a drastic increase give the small number of at-bats he’s had in July. Looking at his collegiate and minor league stats, I expect Reynolds to make adjustments by month’s end. , I see Reynolds finishing the season with an average around .315-.320, an on-base percentage of .395-.405, and a slugging percentage between .500-.510. I’m telling everyone now, he possesses the size to get leverage on more balls, and as the temperatures stay hot, I see more balls leaving the yard and can see Reynolds easily hitting more home runs in the second half than he did in the first (7), and ending the season with a home run total in the low 20s.