Player Profile: Nolan Reimold

Orioles vs. Athletics

Brought up midseason to buttress a beleaguered Orioles outfield, Nolan Reimold was one of the bigger surprises of the 2009 fantasy season. Drawn from relative obscurity, he put up good power numbers and a decent batting average—rounding out many teams in need of free outfield help off the waiver wire. But where did this Nolan Reimold come from? And, more importantly, what can we expect from him next season?

Drafted in the second round of the 2005 June draft by the Baltimore Orioles, the 21-year-old Reimold began his professional baseball career at Aberdeen of the New York-Penn League. He got off to quite the hot start, showing good power (nine home runs in 180 at-bats) with a good sense of the strike zone, walking 29 times to go along with 44 strikeouts on his way to a .294/.392/.550 line. Finishing out the season at High-A Frederick, Reimold continued his hot hitting, belting six homers in 83 at-bats, with 12 walks but a ghastly 27 strikeouts. Still, his power potential was very encouraging, propelling the outfielder to a ranking of fourth-best in the Orioles’ system and 99th-best in MLB. Acquitting himself well, Reimold was left to repeat High-A in 2006, where he would continue to work on his plate discipline and power stroke.

As in the season before, Reimold’s 2006 was a positive mix of power and plate discipline, but some nagging strikeout issues. With 19 home runs in 415 at-bats and a 76:107 walk to strikeout rate, Reimold put up a .255/.379/.455 line. While his BB:K rate was very encouraging—especially his 15.5 walk percentage—his strikeouts were still less than optimal, as he struck out in just under 26 percent of his at-bats. Without 30-plus home run power, it was starting to look like he would struggle to put up consistently good batting averages. Still, the Orioles had little to complain about with a powerful batter who profiled as a starting corner outfielder.

2007 was very much a lost season for Reimold, as he registered just 242 plate appearances between nine games at rookie ball and 50 at Double-A Bowie. In the time he did play, he posted another solid season for a power-hitting prospect, belting 11 home runs in 186 at bats. However, his plate discipline faltered in the promotion, as Double-A pitchers ate him up to a 0.36 BB:K ratio with 47 strikeouts in 186 at-bats, against just 17 walks. While he didn’t strike out with any more frequency at Double-A, the drop in walks was a concern, hinting that Reimold could have problems controlling the strike zone at the upper levels of the minors. Still, the season was a fine one and prospects had made careers with less. Still among the best prospects in the Orioles’ system, Reimold headed to 2008 scheduled for a repeat of Double-A Bowie, where he looked to put a full season together in his path to the big leagues.

His age-24 season under way, Reimold showed some good improvement in his second tour at Bowie. In 507 at-bats, Reimold slugged 25 home runs, with a 0.77 BB:K ratio. His walk rate recovered a bit from its 2007 decline, rising to 11.1 percent. Perhaps more exciting, however, was Reimold’s steep drop in strikeouts, as he whiffed just 82 times in 507 at-bats, good for a 16.2 percent K-rate. For a batter with good, not great, power like Reimold, this was a welcome development, as it was a great help to his rate statistics and batting averages. On the strength of his .284/.367/.501 line, Reimold headed to Triple-A as Baltimore’s fifth-best prospect and one with his eye on a possible big league call-up.

The 2009 season was a big one for the 25-year-old Reimold, as it included a blistering stint at Triple-A followed by his promotion and success as the major league level. His short stint at Triple-A consisted of just 31 games and 109 at-bats, including nine home runs and a .394/.485/.743 line. The big club needing reinforcements from injury early on, Reimold was called up in mid-May and stayed there for good. Playing in 104 games, Reimold performed very well, especially for a rookie getting his first dose of major league pitching. With 358 at-bats to his credit, he slugged 15 home runs to go along with a 0.61 BB:K ratio on his way to a .279/.365/.466 triple slash line. Overall, it was a very good rookie season, though not spectacular by any means.

The bottom line on Reimold seems to be that he is a good hitter though lacking in any real star power. For fantasy purposes, his power hitting is really his best asset, though it doesn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary when it comes to fantasy batters. His 14.2 percent HR/FB ratio is a good number but nothing to write home about, comparable to Matt Kemp (14.4 percent), Pablo Sandoval (14.0 percent) and Mark DeRosa (14.5 percent). It would help his power numbers to hit a higher percentage of fly balls, as his 37.3 percent flyball rate is, again, nothing special. His 1.29 GB/FB rate could use a little help as well for a player profiling as a power hitter as Reimold does.

If anything in his batted ball profile could use improvement, however, it would be his line drive rate and his pop-up rate. With just a 14.4 percent line drive rate on the season, Reimold would benefit from hitting a few more line drives. However, his .320 BABIP means that the low line drive rate didn’t hurt him much last year. His pop-up rate of 16.0 percent is also a poor number, leading to too many easy outs. If he had qualified for the batting title last season, he would have had the fifth-highest pop-up rate in the league—not the most glowing review of his prospects for maintaining a .320 BABIP.

In terms of his plate discipline, what you see is just about what you get. His 21.5 percent strikeout rate and 11.6 percent walk rate are right about where you would expect them to be, given his plate discipline indicators. His 80.3 percent contact rate is good for a power hitter and his 20.5 percent O-Swing percentage is encouraging in that he doesn’t chase poor pitches often. With a 42.3 percent swing rate and 50.5 percent zone percentage, he will be continue to draw walks at a good rate, so there doesn’t seem to be much to worry about here. Everything seems to be right in place.

Overall, Reimold profiles as a below-average outfielder in 12-team mixed leagues, which, considering the standards it takes to be an average outfielder, is still valuable. For next year, he seems good for some where in the mid-20s for home runs, with a shot to launch 30 bombs. His batting average should fall somewhere right around .270, given a slight regression in his BABIP. Tossing in double-digit steals, he looks like a good bet for some decent production next year, but nothing overly spectacular.

When analyzing his stats early on, keep an eye on his line drive rate, strikeout rate, and O-Swing percentage. It would be nice to see an improvement in his line drive percentage, which would indicate that he is putting better swings on the ball. His strikeout rate and O-Swing rate will likely go hand-in-hand. If he can keep the O-Swing rate down, he’ll likely be fine on the strikeout front—which really hasn’t been problematic since 2007. In all, Reimold should be a solid pick, just don’t expect anything overwhelming out of his stat line.

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Comments

  1. Nate said...

    Wouldn’t mid 20s to 30 HRs, a .270 BA, and double digit steals basically give him the upside of being Jason Bay next year? Seems like he could be a great value pick.

  2. phil said...

    runs would probably be down as would rbi’s.  25HR has some value, but he’s no better than a 3rd OF.  I would see 75/25/75 and whatever steals is a plus

  3. B-Chad said...

    Reimold is definitely a guy I’m buying into.  Love how quick the learning curve was for him opening the season at Triple-A and then in stride raking at the Major League level.  It is disappointing he finished the season early due to an achilles injury since it seems injuries derailed some of his minor league career as well.  I hate to paint a player as injury prone, but it seems like something worth monitoring going forward in keeper/dynasty leagues.

    All that said James and Shandler have him pegged for 29 and 24 HR’s respectively along with 13 and 11 SB’s.  Decent numbers if they come with a .270-.280 BA.  Counting stats are tough to project since it remains to be seen where he’ll hit in the lineup, but he seems to have an outside shot at hitting in a favorable lineup slot (3-5) somewhere, so I wouldn’t immediately write off him posting good run and rbi totals either.

    Nice write-up, enjoyable read.  I was already a Reimold fan, but it was good reading a little more background info.

  4. Jon Williams said...

    Reimold is probably a nice keeper in most AL-only leagues. I like him, but I would not compare him to Jason Bay who seems to hit for quite a bit more power. Cuddyer seems like a closer match.

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