The Cleveland Indians are playing decent baseball at the current moment. You wouldn’t say they are red-hot, but they aren’t also ice-cold and in the middle of a losing streak. Simply put, they are playing solid baseball across the board. However, a growing cause of concern among Indians fans has been the regression of Mark Reynolds from all-world beater of baseballs to an almost for sure out.
Reynolds began the 2013 season as hot as anyone in baseball, Chris Davis included. As April drew to a close, he had posted a .301/.368/.651 slash line to go along with eight home runs and 22 RBI. His OPS+ for the month was an astronomical 178. Simply put, at the rate he was going, Mark Reynolds looked like one of the best bargains in all of baseball and the Indians front office looked like geniuses for having the foresight to bring him aboard.
However, since the calendar flipped over from April to May, Reynolds has experienced a slow an agonizing regression not just back to the mean, but back to where has been for his career both statistically speaking and from a visual stand point. What am I trying to say exactly? What I’m trying to say is that Reynolds’ free fall has been ugly and at times hard to watch. Just take a look at his month to month splits.
The main issue for Mark Reynolds is that he has begun to do more “Mark Reynoldsy” types of things as the season has worn on. Mainly, he is making less contact and striking out more. With each and every month, Reynolds’s strike out totals have grown. In addition, when he is making contact the power he displayed early on in the season has been non-existent. He’s gone from looking like an all-star who might lead the league in home runs out of the cleanup spot to batting eighth and having fans question his usefulness moving forward.
Here’s the thing to remember about Mark Reynolds, though. For as cold as he might be right now, there is another equally hot streak brewing inside of him. This is what he does. Reynolds strikes out and he hits home runs in an almost inverse relationship. When he is going good, you get the version of Reynolds we saw in April and early May. When he’s going bad, you get the version we are currently witnessing.
Does that mean that the Indians should abandon Reynolds and look for power production elsewhere? No, not at all.
First of all, there is not another player on this roster with the exception of maybe Jason Giambi, who possess the amount of raw power that Reynolds does. He is a threat to hit the ball out of the ball park every time he steps up to the plate. Yes, there are holes in his swing that pitchers can exploit, but if they hang a breaking pitch or leave a fastball out over the plate Reynolds will hit it three-quarters of the way up the bleachers.
The bottom line in all of this is that in order to get the good Mark Reynolds, you have to learn to live with the bad Mark Reynolds. The Indians cannot afford to relegate him to the bench and only occasionally insert him into the lineup. They have to ride out his streaks for as long as they may last. He recently broke an 0-24 streak so perhaps that is the beginning of the transition back into the good version of himself.