For the record, I was adamantly against signing Mark Reynolds. I understand the value he brings to a team that desperately needed some power in the middle of the lineup, but as a fan I simply can’t stand watching a guy who strikes out at least once per game.
So in an effort to cheer myself up about the move, I went out in search of something positive to take away from the addition of Mark Reynolds. And since Reynolds in pretty much a one-trick pony, it didn’t take long to find.
While Reynolds has more than a few holes in his swing, he absolutely crushes inside fastballs from right-handed pitchers (click image for larger version).
Unfortunately, this is the one of the worst kept secrets in the baseball. Over 50 percent of the pitches Reynolds saw from right-handers in 2012 were of the off-speed variety. And when they did test him with the hard stuff, the kept it on the outside part of the plate.
The heat map below shows the pitch frequency of all fastballs thrown to Reynolds by righties in 2012. It’s no coincidence that the hot zone drifts well outside the strike zone.
In fact, just 15.3 percent of the fastballs Reynolds saw in 2012 from righties fell within the three hot zones designated in the first heat map – a grand total of 125 pitches of the 1,670 total pitches he saw from right handers last year.
So while Reynolds can certainly do some damage, he is almost entirely at the mercy of the pitcher. When the pitches are located, his power can be neutralized. But when a ball drifts into those hot zones, get your gloves ready in the left field bleachers.