Orioles 2012 Reflections: The Corner Infield
This is the 7th of 12 posts on the season past and is a personal reflection upon some of the really stupid and few rather intelligent things I wrote since last winter. Here now is a 3rd item I was pleased to have some accurate thinking upon.
About the corner infield positions …
I wrote on 5/5 – Mark Reynolds has indeed had a difficult start this season. He is a common whipping boy for O’s fans, and I have to admit he brings much of that upon himself. I confess also to being a part of that choir a year ago. But I’ve changed my tune (though don’t count me as a huge fan!). There aren’t many people around who can hit 37 homers in a season, and though he strikes out a lot, he makes up for much of that with the large number of walks he gets. However, his defensive blunders are almost unforgiveable and are the larger problem. Lately, it seems that throwing the ball is a bigger issue than even catching it. Though he does not embrace being at first base, it seems the better position for him.
March 20, 2012; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Mark Reynolds (12) against the Philadelphia Phillies during a spring training game atEd Smith
Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
I was impressed in 2011 about how well Mark Reynolds handled first base defensively. It was my opinion in the offseason that he should have been the choice, while Chris Davis could be assigned to third base. But Buck Showalter made it clear long before spring that he was going to do just the opposite – citing a concern for Davis’ shoulder. Reynolds had a terribly difficult time at third in the early weeks; it was simply unsustainable. Davis likewise struggled with four errors in 32 games at first base – and that does not account for plays not made that did not statistically count against him. Beyond the statistics, as I wrote, Reynolds really saw himself as a third baseman. He lost weight over the winter in an attempt to be more nimble at the hot corner. It simply did not work. To be in the lineup, Reynolds needed to yield to playing time at first. And to his credit, as time went on, he grew to embrace the position as a way to help the team.
I wrote on 7/5 – talking about what to do with first base for the 2nd half of the season ………. First Base – There are a number of choices (hopefully which do not include Nick Johnson). Actually, Mark Reynolds is the best defensively (I’ll pause for a moment while the words “Mark Reynolds” and “best defensively” sink in as having been used in the same sentence without a negative).
Eventually during the 2012 season, it became obvious that Reynolds was the best choice at first, and it kept his bat in the lineup for better or worse. Though his power numbers were far less this year, his batting average was higher, and he continued to work counts to maintain a decent OBP. And though he will be remembered for the 2012 season for his power surge over a short period in September – especially against the Yankees – it was his defense that was truly most impressive.
The average fielding percentage for first base in the American League is .994. As a team, the Orioles were slightly below this at .993, while Reynolds was slightly better at .995. Reynolds played exactly two-thirds of the Orioles’ games at first base (108). He committed a total of five errors – four while fielding, one throwing. But his value defensively – not statistically measured – was his ability to field errant throws and on numerable occasions somehow stretching out fully while holding his toe on the bag.
Reynolds for the future?
I don’t know, and though this was written in mid November, it will hit on the final day before we know much about Reynolds’ future. I will say that I believe him to be truly one of the really good guys on a team that is unusually filled with really good guys. The personal side of me likes him a lot … and I’m sure Buck agrees with this as well. It all depends, I suppose, on who else could be secured, and at what price. The market is thin, so, maybe he’ll be back … or maybe Buck will again read this blog and take my advice from a couple weeks ago to turn Reimold into a first baseman!