Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’14 – #7 Mark Reynolds

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Welcome back to “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” for Monday, March 24, 2014! If you haven’t already done the match, March 31st is just one week away! Seven days. That’s all. We’ve almost made it.

Okay, I’ll try to remain calm and get through the end of this series.

Today, on our countdown to Opening Day, we stop to take a look at the newly named primary starting first baseman…

Mark Reynolds.

MarkReynolds

In the last couple of days, this post has taken on a whole different tone. No longer do I have to assure you that Mark Andrew Reynolds will be making the 25-man roster and that he was only signed to a minor-league contract because they didn’t want to have to make any of those 40-man roster based decisions right away.

I suppose I do still need to assure you that Reynolds will be starting on Opening Day. And I can certainly mention that the plan is such that he’ll be getting the vast majority of the starts at first base this season for the Brewers.

I can tell you that at 6’2″ tall, Reynolds makes for an adequately sized first baseman defensively, and that he’s played enough innings there over (500.0 in 2013 alone and over 2000 innings in his seven-year MLB career) that he’s more than comfortable at this point. This is no “work in progress” nor is it a “he’s never played there before” like nearly every option the Brewers tried in 2013. Is Reynolds a defensive whiz? Of course not. But what else Reynolds is not is Juan Francisco, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jonathan Lucroy, Martin Maldonado, Opening Day starter Alex Gonzalez, or otherwise. He’ll be fine.

Where Reynolds will earn — and hopefully exceed — the value of his contract is at the plate. Reynolds has a ton of power and enough patience that manifest together in a very 3TO-like set of results.

Reynolds is going to strikeout. All players do, though some are more prolific than others. Reynolds takes it to the next level though. He’s led all of MLB on more than one occasion and holds the single-season record for strikeouts in a season (ironically coming in the same season he finished 20th in league MVP voting) as well as three of the top 6 single-season strikeout totals in MLB history. He’s cut down on his strikeouts in each of the last two years (29.6% & 30.6% respectively versus a 32.3% career mark), but that hurts the narrative so many people won’t bother to recognize it.

Reynolds is going to walk. All players do, but Reynolds’ 11.6% career walk percentage is more than four points north of league average. To illustrate: In his worst season of batting average (.198 in 2010), Reynolds also posted his highest single-season walks total (83) en route to a .320 OBP. In fact, Reynolds career K/BB ratio isn’t actually terrible out of whack with the league either (2.78 to 2.20) and he was actually below league average (2.18) as recently as 2012.

Reynolds is going to hit home runs. A career HR% nearly twice the league rate (5.1% to 2.6%), a career AB/HR more than twice as frequent as league average (16.9 against 34.6), and a HR/fly ball rate more than 10 points higher than the league. The power is real, it’s always been there for him, and it’ll continue. The key for Reynolds is contact. Will he hit the ball enough to let the rest of his skills affect the outcomes of said batted ball?

The Brewers are willing to give him an opportunity to figure it out. He’ll also have up to 81 games in Miller Park to impact the bottom line, which certainly isn’t going to hurt his efforts.

There will be some windy conditions around home plate when Reynolds steps into the box, but make sure you keep your eye on the ball to know whether that powerful cut sent the ball into the stratosphere…or missed it completely.

Chances are? There’ll be a whole lot of fun along the way, especially for the bleacher dwellers.

Bottom line though is that Reynolds will not be worse than the combined efforts of the 2013 amalgam of Brewer “first basemen”. Quite the opposite in fact. He’ll be better.

Enjoy the power and try not to worry too much about the strikeouts. After all, they only count as one.

Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” profiles to this point:

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