And the hits – or lack thereof – just keep on coming for the Indians, losers of three straight against the division leading Tigers. Cleveland announced on Thursday afternoon that infielder/designated hitter Mark Reynolds has been designated for assignment. The organization now has ten days to trade or release him.
The problem, of course, has been the disappearance of Reynolds’ bat.
After beginning the year as one of the league’s top hitters – he hit .291/.372/.624 through the first 34 games – he’s posted a paltry .174/.271/.239 line while striking out more than 35% of the time since May 13th. The timing of the move is rather easy to explain: the bullpen’s taxed.
The club hasn’t had a day off in two weeks and isn’t due for another one until next Thursday. Manager Terry Francona used six of the pen’s eight relievers in Wednesday night’s 14-inning loss. And by DFA’ing Reynolds allows the club to call up right-hander Preston Guilmet, a reliever with the rare ability to throw multiple innings at a time, from Columbus.
As for the reason for essentially giving up on Reynolds, I have to admit I’m a little flummoxed.
Despite his complete inadequacy against RHs this year (.215/.295/.355), Reynolds has actually fared much better against southpaws, batting .215/.333/.411. And given Lonnie Chisenhall’s complete inability to hit LHs (.088/.139/.235 this year and .189/.220/.385 in his career), Reynolds would have made for a useful platoon partner as the club tries to mount a second half push towards the playoffs.
And the reason for Reynolds’ struggles is actually quite simple to explain, at least in terms of statistical analysis: he’s putting the ball on the ground far too much.
Throughout the 2008 to 2011, Reynolds’ fly ball percentage was between 45.2% and 54.9%. Over the last two seasons it’s been 42.5% and a career worst 40.7% this season, which also coincides with career lows in power numbers (.208 and .158 ISOs). He’s being paid to hit homeruns. He can’t do that while posting career lows in fly ball rates.
In the end, though, the Indians took a relatively small risk in signing Reynolds this past season, committing just one year and $6 million. Unfortunately for both parties, it didn’t work.
Photo of Mark Reynolds Courtesy of AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young via Cleveland.com