Mark Reynolds’ Path to Success

Mark Reynolds is a special breed. The stereotype of the slugger swinging from his heels is well known, but Mark Reynolds has been setting a new benchmark for that this season, far eclipsing his peers.

On pitches located outside the strike zone, Reynolds makes contact just 44% of the time when he swings. That is the league’s worst rate by a couple percentage points, even worse than the likes of Ryan Howard, Adam Dunn and Justin Upton, the only other hitters to fall below 50%.

What truly sets Reynolds apart though is his contact rate on pitches inside the strike zone. At 69%, Reynolds is a whopping eight points behind the next nearest whiff master, Mike Napoli. Of course, that means that Reynolds paces the league in swinging and missing both at pitches inside and outside the zone. Even with a moderate overall swing rate of just 46%, Reynolds far and away leads the league in pitches swung at and missed at 17%, three points more than Josh Hamilton.

Reynolds is striking out in 42% of all his plate appearances, also leading the league by a considerable margin over fellow Diamondback Justin Upton. Incidentally, teammate Adam LaRoche ranks seventh in the league in strikeout rate and Arizona as a whole is the worst hitting team in baseball when it comes to strikeouts.

This is not new territory for Reynolds however. Reynolds had baseball’s worst contact rate and highest swinging strike rate in 2008 and 2009 as well. Reynolds also led in strikeout rate last season, but Jack Cust managed to eclipse him in 2008. Despite all those strikeouts, Reynolds has been a productive hitter his whole Major League career. Nobody launches more fly balls in the league than Reynolds does and doing that in a home run haven as Arizona is can pay big dividends when you have power behind them. Mark certainly has that to spare and as a result, his home run per fly ball ratio is one of the league’s best.

Now if only he could field.

Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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