Nolan Reimold on one of his better days. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Nolan Reimold, our pleasant surprise from 2009, the rookie with the patient eye and the power bat, has been nothing but a disappointment this season. He's been unable to come close to his success last year through the first month of the season and it's really hurting the team. His Achilles injury delayed him in Spring Training but we haven't heard about it lately and it doesn't appear to be affecting him. He's just not hitting and at some point something is going to have to be done.
Reimold's patience hasn't waivered; he's not chasing balls out of the strike zone. He's walked 9 times in his 74 plate appearances, which isn't really much to go on, but it is a 12.2% walk rate. That's up from his 11.4% rate in 2009 and behind only Nick Markakis on the team. I think that's actually what has made watching Reimold more bearable than Adam Jones this year. Both are having their troubles (although Adam seems to be getting it together thank goodness), but Nolan isn't flailing around out there looking totally lost.
If anything, Reimold is being too patient (or tentative, perhaps). Last season he swung at 20.5% of balls outside the strike zone; this year he's at 17.8%. Unfortunately he's swinging at a lot less balls inside the strike zone as well, just 50.7% compared to 63.7% in 2009. Overall he only swings at 34.4% of all pitches, lowest in the team by a pretty big margin. That's a whole lot of standing around looking, and explains his increased strikeout rate (25.4%, which is better than only Rhyne Hughes and Luke Scott).
When he does swing, Reimold is making contact a little bit less frequently than he did last year, but his BABIP is just .213 (last year it was .316), probably because he's hitting a lot of fly balls without enough power to get them over the fence.
It's still early and Reimold has time to turn it around, of course. It would appear that he needs to be a little more aggressive at the plate. It seems bizarre to say that about an Oriole, especially with the knock on the O's being that they go after pitches too frequently. Reimold appears to be the complete opposite of Adam Jones. If he can drop his K rate back down closer to 20% and put more balls into play, maybe his BABIP would get back up to a more respectable number.
The question is, how long can or will the Orioles wait for Reimold to get his act together? He does have minor league options but we haven't heard if any consideration has been given to sending him back down. If it would help him in the long run I'd be all for it, but then there is the issue of replacing him. Luke Scott can play left field of course but he's just as cold at the plate, and if you move him there you still have to replace the DH. The current options on the bench are no better, and the outfielders in AAA are behind Lou Montanez on the depth chart for crying out loud. For now it seems that Reimold will continue to try and figure things out at the major league level, and hopefully he'll put it together soon.
I miss Felix Pie.
(All data from FanGraphs)