Power from replacement

You have to assume any player who hits 37 home runs with a wOBA of .348 is going to at least help your team win baseball games, but in 2011 Mark Reynolds did just that, but only earned the Orioles 0.3 wins according to fWAR. His bWAR was only slightly better at 0.5 bWAR for half a win. Obviously Reynolds was a drain defensively, costing his team more than two wins by both Total Zone and UZR. There have been only two players in baseball other than Mark Reynolds to top 35 home runs and be worth less than half a win according to fWAR.

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Mark Reynolds(Icon/SMI)

In 1982 and 1986 Dave Kingman set the bar by hitting a combined 72 home runs, but being worth a combined -0.9. In nearly three hundred games played Kingman cost his team a win and still hit 72 home runs. Part of it was his defense like Reynolds as he was a -16 UZR in 1982, but only a -2 in 1986. The big problem for Kingman was as he aged his BABIP suffered and he went from poor OBP to awful.

In 1982 his OBP was only .285 and hit a career low in 1986 of .255. Kingman retunred after the 1986 season with a career total of 442 home runs putting him 38th all time. On the other hand he had a career OBP of .302 and UZR of -59. His career fWAR was 25 in 16 seasons played.

The other player to reach the level of Reynolds was Tony Armas in 1983. In his first season with the Red Sox Armas had a terrible BABIP of .214, but had enough power to hit 36 home runs. His OBP nearly matched the season produced by Kingman in 1986 at .254 and his fWAR finished 0.2.

Armas went on to have two more solid seasons in Boston before fading and becoming unable to stay on the field. Both Kingman and Armas seem to have approached their futility differently than Reynolds. Armas career OBP of .287 shows a player who will never be known for getting on base and Kingman was nearly as bad. Reynolds may strike out more than anyone in baseball, but something he can do is take a walk and still get on base greater than 30 percent of the time. His career OBP stands at .331, which is not great, but enough for someone able to slug 35 or more home runs and who has an ISO of .246.

The big problem for Reynolds is his defense. He’s always been known as a poor glove and his arm is erratic as well. He totaled 34 errors in 2008 and looked like someone the Diamondbacks would hide in the outfield or at first base. His range graded average and over the next few seasons he would be a slightly below average fielder, including a shot at first base with the Diamondbacks.

Once in Baltimore, however, his runs against from errors held strong, but his range suddenly fell to terrible levels. His RngR, which tells how many runs his range saved or cost was -15.2 and ranked as one of the 50 worst in the last ten years and seventh since 2000 among third baseman.

It’s fair to say based on the variability of UZR that this might just be a one year fluctuation and nothing more than noise. He’s shown good range previously and his error total was only slightly worse. It looks like Reynolds joins the exclusive grouping of Kingman and Armas due to the wildness of UZR. The concern for Reynolds is his poor defense and strikeouts are just bad enough that one down season for his power could quickly make him a liability to teams.

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