Mark Reynolds was an integral part of the 2012 Baltimore Orioles; that’s an opinion that I’ll take to my grave with me. As we know, the Birds neglected to re-sign Reynolds over the off season, and he signed with Cleveland. Reynolds is currently hitting .300 on the year with an OBP of .376, and he’s slammed 10 homers with 27 RBI. If you look through various Orioles-themed message boards, you’ll occasionally see fans questioning why the Orioles hadn’t re-signed Reynolds. Before I go any further, let me once again re-state that Reynolds was an integral part of getting the O’s into the playoffs last year; for that, O’s fans owe him a debt of gratitude. Speaking for myself, I wish Reynolds all the success in the world in Cleveland.
But those good tydings don’t answer the question. First off, Reynolds signed a one-year $6 million dollar contract with Cleveland. Based on his average year in and year out, I would submit that’s way too much to have offered Reynolds. However it’s safe to say now that he’s been worth Cleveland’s money thus far. That’s not something that the Orioles or anyone else could have controled. For all the O’s know they could have re-signed him and he would have started the season in a slump. Those are the risks you run in the sports business when it comes to personnel.
Should the O’s have re-signed Reynolds? My answer was and still is yes. This has nothing to do with anything that he’s done on the field in 2013 (or previously), but moreso due to his attitude. This was well documented on Birds Watcher in the off season, however Mark Reynolds brought a great attitude to the Orioles. The guy made a lot of mistakes in the field and he struck out a lot; however his resolve and his work ethic could never have been questioned. Reynolds was a guy that was willing to do anything he needed to do in order to help the team win, including move across the diamond to play first base last year. And for the record, Mark Reynolds played a great first base. Reynolds was hit by six pitches last year, and suffered a few other minor maladies in the field and on the base paths. He fouled a countless number of balls off of himself at various points, and yet despite all of those things he was in the lineup pretty much every day. Buck Showalter remarked at one point (with regard to Reynolds) that this was a “tough, tough man.”
You can’t help but respect a guy that’s getting beaten up day in and day out in different ways, and yet comes back for more. That to me set a great example for the younger players. Reynolds comes with 150-200 strikeouts built into his stats over the course of the season. The Orioles knew that when they got him. However he seemed to embody the concept of you never stop grinding in terms of trying to succeed. He was a team player in every sense of the term. To me that’s someone that you might want to consider keeping on your team. Note that I said I felt Cleveland overpaid him; everything has a price I suppose, including team chemistry. But for different reasons than most, yes I do feel the Birds made a mistake in not bringing him back.
However, most people tend to look at Reynolds’ stats and project them onto the 2013 Orioles. Again, we don’t know how he would have been pitched had he stayed here (among other things). It’s probably unfair to make this an apples-t0-apples comparison in that sense. And I feel that Chris Davis has atoned for himself very well in the field thus far, and he’s not too shabby at the plate either! We should also keep in mind that the Orioles are a “sum-of-the-parts team,” and Reynolds, Davis, Steve Pearce, et al, are/were only one part in that sum. But I stand by what I said above; the Baltimore fans owe Reynolds a debt of gratitude for what he brought to this team last year. He should always look back on what he accomplished in Baltimore and feel proud.