The Cleveland Indians come to town tonight for a four-game series, the first time the two teams play each other this season. The Indians are bringing with them our old friend Mark Reynolds. I would like to talk about him for a second.
There was much hand wringing over the Orioles decision to not try and retain Reynolds for the 2013 season. This especially flared up when the season started and the O's designated hitters were flailing about and looking awful while Reynolds started the season on a home run tear. Oh to have Reynolds in the lineup instead of these current bums!
During the month of April, Reynolds hit .301/.368/.651 in 95 plate appearances with 8 home runs and 10 walks. Since then, in 191 plate appearances, he has hit .196/.288/.315. There is certainly still for him to turn his season around, but with a price tag of $6M it has to be frustrating for the Indians and their fans seeing him hit that way.
To make matters worse for the Indians, Reynolds has been playing third base for them quite a bit. When Reynolds was signed, every mention of it over at Let's Go Tribe, SBN's Indians blog, specifically pointed out that Reynolds would be playing first base and designated hitter, and he would not play third base. That position belonged to Lonnie Chisenhall.
Chisenhall did start the season at third base with Reynolds DH'ing and getting some time at 1B. But after the game on May 12th, when Chisenhall's batting line was .213/.253/.351, he was optioned to the minors and Reynolds was installed at the hot corner. He played there almost exclusively until Nick Swisher's sore shoulder forced him back to first with Chisenhall recalled.
Anyone who has seen Mark Reynolds play third base knows how awful it is. There are arguments sometimes between what the stats say and what our eyes tell us, but not in this case. Any way you measure it, Reynolds is terrible at third base. In 34 games there, Reynolds has a UZR of -4.8 and UZR/150 of -30. He's at -6 Defensive Runs Saved for the season at 3B and he's -4 Runs Saved Above Average.
(In a totally unfair comparison that only serves to make us feel better about ourselves, Manny Machado has a UZR/150 of 28.1 and runs saved above average of +18.)
So far the Indians' $6 million has bought them 24 games at first base, 34 games at third base, and only 13 games at DH for a player who should never, ever be in the field. In playing first and third base, Reynolds is at a position normally reserved for high-level offensive players, and he's hitting .231/.315/.426 for the season and much worse of late. He has accumulated an fWAR of 0.2, which would rank him 11th among Orioles hitters, just behind Ryan Flaherty and tied with Brian Roberts, who has played three games this season.
It will be interesting to revisit Reynolds' overall numbers at the end of the season to see if he would have made the Orioles better (he'd already be better on the Orioles since they wouldn't need to play him in the field), but for now it looks like a good decision by GM Dan Duquette. And I don't know if the Orioles could have realistically added $6M to their 2013 payroll, but if they could I think we'd all agree there would have been better ways to spend it than on Mark Reynolds.