One of the positions that carries a question mark for the Baltimore Orioles going into 2013 is first base. They originally aquired Mark Reynolds as a third baseman, however that was flawed almost from the beginning. However Reynolds proved both this year and last that he was an above-average first baseman. Especially in the last month-and-a-half or so of the season, Reynolds’ defense was superior. Reynolds currently has a club option for 2013 with the Orioles. The question is whether or not the team will opt to pick it up, let him loose, or perhaps renegotiate a deal.
The main reason that Reynolds was aquired via trade following the 2011 season was for his bat. While he struck out a lot, he was also hitting 35 home runs a year. And in fact, he tallied 37 last year while only hitting .221. He didn’t get it going until much later in the season in 2012, and only finished with 23 homers and that same .221 average. In 2012 he reminded me a lot more of Luke Scott in the sense that he was pretty streaky. He went through periods where fans would cringe to see his name in the lineup, and others where you figured he was good for producing a homer or two. At the plate, the Orioles know what they’re getting from Reynolds if they do pick up his option; some dark hours, and some really good times.
Here’s another point that’s worth making on Reynolds; he drew 73 walks in 2012. Granted he drew 75 last year, however he played in 20 more games since he spent time on the DL this past season. Reynolds always would seem to strike out swinging on a changeup or slider in the middle of the plate when his bat would get in front of the ball. Rarely did he strike out looking or actually swing at balls that were well out of the zone. In other words, Reynolds might not have the quickest bat in the world but he does actually have a decent knowledge of the strike zone.
For whatever one writer’s opinion is worth, I think that the Orioles should consider either picking up Reynolds’ option or perhaps more realistically renegotiating a deal for less money in 2013. Don’t get me wrong, the holes in his bat are most certainly a concern. Certainly when he does get hold of one it’s going to go a long way, however he doesn’t always get hold of one! However I think Reynolds coming back to the Orioles is a good idea for a deeper reason than just production: HE CARES. Buck Showalter said on a few different occasions that Reynolds had been hit by pitches, hit on the foot, injured, etc, and yet he refused to come out of the games. In Showalter’s words,”…this is a tough, tough man.”
That kind of attitude sets an example for younger players. I recognize that everyone’s threshold for pain is different, and I’m not suggesting that players who don’t play through certain amounts of pain are in anyway soft. However the effort that he puts in should tell people that Mark Reynolds is not a guy that’s simply playing to collect a paycheck. This is a guy that cares about his team and his teammates. If you need more proof than just not wanting to come out of the lineup, let’s go back to the fact that he wasn’t cutting it at third base. He swallowed his pride and went to first because he wanted to help. In no way am I suggesting that the strikeouts aren’t a concern, however Mark Reynolds puts the effort forth to win and there should be no question that he’s doing much more than just going through the motions. That’s exactly the type of guy that I want to be a part of my franchise.