So Mark Reynolds is leading the Orioles in walks right now. I know, shocker. The guy known for striking out a lot is leading the team in walks.
Here’s the thing, though: he actually walks quite a bit. Most people assume he just hits home runs or strikes out, but now that I’ve been getting a good look at him on the team this year, I’ve noticed that he actually walks more often than people give him credit for. Let’s look at his numbers to figure out why this is.
Okay, so see that bold font in there? This chart is from Baseball Reference, and the bold font denotes a league-leading stat. In Reynolds’ case, of course, that leading stat is his strikeouts. When I sarcastically said “Say WHAT?” on Twitter when Reynolds walked today, I ended up having a conversation with @Eutawhooligans about how Reynolds is overlooked (which started because my sarcasm didn’t go through on Twitter, ugh). At first, I thought Reynolds’ OBP had increased since being with the Orioles, but apparently he’s been about the same his entire career. The year it was the highest, in fact, was the year in which he had a record-setting 223 strikeouts. Interesting.
The fact is this: Reynolds doesn’t just strike out. His plate discipline’s not as bad as it’s reputed to be. Let’s zero in on his walks and strikeouts:
The numbers on the bottom white section are his numbers from 2011 so far. See his strikeouts? They’re pretty high. In his last three seasons, he’s been over two hundred Ks each time. But look at the walks, too. He’s actually increased in the number of walks he’s taken each season consecutively. Right now, he’s already up to thirty-five walks, and it’s only mid-June.
Although Reynolds has never had a batting average higher than .279 at the end of a season, his walking skills ensure his OBP has been over .300 in each of the seasons he’s been in the Majors. If you notice, he’s never had more than 150 hits in a season. It’s the walks that make Reynolds a serviceable Major Leaguer.
Now the big question: Why do Reynolds’ walks get overlooked? It might be his unusually high strikeout numbers. He’s seen as a player who either fans or hits total bombs. That doesn’t really depict the full picture, though – the man walks pretty darn often, too. Although he sticks out because of those strikeouts, it’s the walks that we need to be looking at, because when Reynolds walks he’s giving us a slightly better chance to win. I say slightly because we’re still the Orioles, but there’s at least a pretty good shot.
For what it’s worth, Reynolds is at 35 walks right now. If he eclipses 83 this season, he’s walked more this season than last season, continuing that upwards trend. Let’s see if he gets there. I’m betting that Reynolds can still surprise some people.