Thursday, August 23, 2012

What Ails Mark Reynolds

A little over a month ago I took a stab at analyzing some of the Oriole hitters using the Pitch F/x for hitters tool from Baseball Prospectus and Brooks Baseball.  Here's a second go-round with the data, this time looking at everyone's favorite 1B/3B/DH Mark Reynolds:

Mark Reynolds has been well, Mark Reynolds this season with one glaring exception.  In fact, look at these numbers from this year and last year:

As you can see, his numbers this season compare fairly favorably to last year with the exception of one little thing.  Those two numbers out to the right highlight the severe power outage that Reynolds has experienced this season.  A drop of .081 in his SLG and ISO (ISO or isolated power is a component of SLG which is why the numbers match) shows that Reynolds has lost considerable power.  For reference, that's the difference equivalent to 2012 Michael Young (0.79 ISO).

So what is the problem?  Well, it's not his ability to hit fastballs, as you can see below:

2011 ISO vs. Hard Pitches (FB, Sinkers, Cutter, etc.)

2012 ISO vs. Hard Pitches (FB, Sinkers, Cutter, etc.)

While there are some differences in these two depictions, the changes are, in my opinion, nominal and don't explain Reynolds' drop off in power.  The following graphs however, might.  They show Reynolds' ISO on breaking pitches, which is how pitchers have been attacking Reynolds since he came to Baltimore.

2011 ISO vs. Breaking Pitches (Curveball, Slider, etc.)

2012 ISO vs. Breaking Pitches (Curveball, Slider, etc.)

As you can see, Reynolds has been demonstrably worse this season against breaking balls than he was in 2011.  Last year Reynolds was able to cover almost the entire strikezone with breaking balls, meaning pitchers would need him to chase.  However, this season pitchers should have no fear of leaving a breaking ball in the zone, so long as it's not right down the middle.

Reynolds' inability to hit breaking balls for power is definitely something O's fans should watch for as the season comes to a close.  If he improves, then maybe bringing him back in 2013 seems like a good idea.  However, if he continues to struggle against breaking balls then he may never get back to those power numbers he once used to be known for.

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