MMs Top 25: #13 SS Matt Reynolds

#13 SS Matt Reynolds (LR#21)
Bats: R Throws: R
Height: 6' 1" Weight: 200 lb
Age: 24
Acquired: 2012 Rule IV Draft, 2nd Round, University of Arkansas

2014: (AA/AAA) .343/.405/.454, 6 HR, 61 RBI, 20 SB (74%), 50 BB, 101 K
2013: (A+)         .225/.300/.335, 5 HR, 49 RBI, 9 SB (82%), 36 BB, 80 K
2012: (A)           .259/.335/.367, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 5 SB (83%), 12 BB, 26 K

     All aboard the Matt Reynolds bandwagon and the conductor Thomas Brennan! Seriously though, Matt Reynolds is a crazy anomaly. Is he the poor slap hitting, can't play SS, player that he was in 2012 and 2013? Or is he the .350 batting average stud that destroyed the upper levels of the minors and is forcing his way into consideration for the MLB roster? The answer depends on how committed you are to either traditional stats or sabermetrics.

    Contact oriented hitters are at the mercy of the baseball gods more than any other type of hitter. One stat that is extremely important to them is BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play). The MLB average for BABIP is roughly .300. In 2013, Reynolds posted a BABIP of .263 which resulted in a .226 AVG. In 2014 though, his BABIP skyrocketed to .419! which rose his batting average to a ridiculously good .343. This rate, by SABR standards, is ungodly unsustainable. In fact the highest BABIP rates in baseball right now is .377. Generally this high rates belong to only the most elite of players. The only proven guys with BABIP's above .350 are Puig, Goldschmidt, Cano, Gomez, Trout, Stanton, Altuve, Kemp, Tulowitzski, McCutcheon, and Rios.....all Superstars.

     While the actual contact abilities are certainly in question, Reynolds has made tangible and REAL improvements in other facets of his game. Power wise, Reynolds has gained both raw strength as well as game strength. Over the past 3 seasons, Reynolds Isolated Power Rate (Slugging - Average) has improved from .108 to .111 to .146 in 2014. The rate even made a brief appearance in the .200's when he posted a .208 ISO during the Arizona Fall League. The average MLB SS generally carries an ISO rate of only .105 to .115 so if Reynolds continues to display power rates in the .140 - .150+ range, he immediately carries more value than most other SS in the league. In fact, in 2014 the only MLB SS's who posted ISO rate above .150 were Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki, Jhonny Peralta, and Ian Desmond.

     Questions surrounding Reynolds ability to stick at SS defensively have also been answered too. He has soft hands, good range, thanks to his sneaky good speed, and a least an average arm that could play. While he won't be a defensive star...he certainly won't hurt you either. Even if he doesn't become a full-time starter, he still carries very little risk as he defensive skill set can also match up well at 2B or 3B. I would personally declare him MLB ready and I honestly would not be surprised if we saw him either make the team out of spring or end up playing the big league club come the end of May.

Ceiling: Offense oriented MLB SS (Asdrubal Cabrera)
Floor: Back-up MLB Utility Player.
Anticipated Assignment: (AAA) Las Vegas starting SS


Mack Ade said...

I have been converted here, but he needs to go play everyday in Vegas and the Mets need to give Flores some room to excel here.

IBfromWhitePlains said...

His D has been pretty shaky from what I've seen. Could be jitters.
Previous comparisons to Mark Loretta sound pretty good to me.

Reading a SABR analysis of a player makes me wonder: What's the scientific relationship between BABIP and 'Hit'em where they aint'?

Thomas Brennan said...

I would think a guy who hits tons of line drives and hard hit grounders will have an unusually high BABIP - may be the case for Matt.

Another oft-abused SS prospect closer to locking up the starting SS position, Wilmer Flores, is kicking butt this spring - including 3 for 3 with a single, double, and HR in a rout going on today. Up to .476.

Thomas Brennan said...

Chris, as you note, he has added power to his game. He's got the size (6'1", 200, I believe) to add some power as a regular part of his game.

My guess is he made an extreme effort first half 2014 to drive his average way up from 2013's .225, and forego power at first to do it.

He has hit about 10 homers since late July, including winter ball, as he likely had adjusted to the high average approach of spraying the ball around and decided to look to go long on certain pitches or pitch counts. I'm just guessing, but that makes sense to me.

It will be interesting to see how the power/average combo plays out in 2015.

Anonymous said...

>> Questions surrounding Reynolds ability to stick at SS defensively have also been answered too. He has soft hands, good range, thanks to his sneaky good speed, and a least an average arm that could play. <<

I am surprised you'd write that, Chris. I don't believe that his ability to stick at SS has been conclusively answered by a long stretch. Based on what? His time in Vegas or this brief sample in Florida? There's nothing I've read that says he's been good there this spring or is any better than Wilmer, who already has three throwing errors.

Look: I want it to be true. I think Wilmer's bat at SS would be wonderful. But I also want a real SS. I don't believe that anybody knows the answer to that for Wilmer or Matt as everyday SS.

James Preller

Mack's Mets © 2012