Reynolds much-needed upgrade for O's

Mark Reynolds

ReynoldsThe Baltimore Orioles traded for third baseman Mark Reynolds on Monday, adding power that hasn’t been seen in Baltimore in years. Reynolds has averaged more than 34 home runs the past three years and averaged 38 the past two seasons. The Orioles haven’t had a hitter hit 34 in a season since Miguel Tejada in 2004 and haven’t had a player hit 38 in a season since Rafael Palmeiro hit 43 in 1998.

Best slugging pct., 2010
When making contact

When O’s manager Buck Showalter was a "Baseball Tonight" analyst, he discussed a stat that he called "contact to damage ratio." The stat is a hitter’s slugging percentage when he makes contact, and the formula is pretty simple: total bases divided by at-bats in which the player didn't strike out, plus sacrifice flies and sacrifice bunts. Reynolds rated very favorably in this statistic last season among the 151 players who qualified for the batting title.

Last season, Baltimore managed only 133 home runs, its fewest since 1990. Its infield accounted for only 45 home runs, just one more than Reynolds had in his breakout 2009 season. And in 2010, Reynolds' .433 slugging percentage far exceeded the collective .345 slugging percentage of the Orioles' infield.

But also Reynolds has some holes that have kept him from becoming a complete player. Last season Reynolds smacked 32 home runs but hit just .198, becoming the first player in MLB history to hit under .200 with 30 or more home runs. He also easily set the record for most strikeouts in a player’s first four seasons, having struck out 767 times since entering the league in 2007. That’s 125 times more than Pete Incaviglia struck out in his first four seasons, and the gap from first to second is nearly as big as the gap between second and eighth on the list.

Believe it or not, one area where Reynolds might be an upgrade is defensively. Orioles third basemen ranked third-worst in the AL last season with minus-9 runs saved, a Baseball Info Solutions stat that measures a player’s ability to turn batted balls into outs and defend bunts. Reynolds, the 2009 Web Gem Championship runner-up to Ryan Zimmerman, finished 2010 with minus-3 runs saved at the hot corner, but he's rated negatively in each of the past four seasons.