Washington Nationals: Comparing Mark Reynolds to Adam Dunn

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WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 19: Mark Reynolds #14 of the Washington Nationals hits a double in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park during game two of a doubleheader on May 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 19: Mark Reynolds #14 of the Washington Nationals hits a double in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park during game two of a doubleheader on May 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /
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So far, Mark Reynolds has batting numbers much like a former Washington Nationals slugger that played with the team in 2009 and 2010, Adam Dunn.

On May 12th, the Washington Nationals placed Ryan Zimmerman on the 10-day DL and selected the contract of Mark Reynolds from the Syracuse Chiefs. In doing so, they were able to purchase the contract of an All-Star first baseman from Triple-A to replace their currently injured All-Star first baseman.

Last season both players represented the National League in the 2017 All-Star Game. Zimmerman from the Nationals and Reynolds from the Colorado Rockies. So how is it possible that the Nationals were able to sign a reigning All-Star to a minor league contract in mid-April?

Last season he batted .267 with 30 homers and 97 RBI. Even as recently as 10 years ago, those numbers would’ve been more than enough to earn him a lucrative multi-year contract, but all 30 teams still passed on him.

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Batting power numbers are no longer being overvalued on the free agent market like they used to be. So Mark Reynolds’ high strikeout rate and sub-par batting average, outside the effect of Coors Field, leaves a lot to be desired. Combine that with mediocre defense and his age, and it’s easy to see why teams opted not to sign him.

With 11 years of data, front offices know what kind of player Reynolds is. Hence why the Nationals only signed Reynolds as a low-risk insurance policy for Zimmerman and Matt Adams.

In time, Nationals fans may come to see Reynolds as the reincarnation of former Nats slugger, Adam Dunn.

We usually expect two outcomes from their ABs: a strikeout or a home run.  But the numbers suggest that Reynolds is a poor man’s Dunn, at best.

As you can see on FanGraphs, Dunn out-homers Reynolds in almost every season and often by a considerable amount. Only in their age 25 and age 31 seasons did Dunn fail to eclipse Reynolds’s total.

While Mark Reynolds consistently draws walks higher than the league average, he reaches base via the walk at a far slower pace than Adam Dunn.  There’s not one season where Reynolds had a better BB% than Dunn.

Washington Nationals Adam Dunn
DETROIT – JUNE 17: Adam Dunn #44 of the Washington Nationals get ready to bat in the seventh inning during the game against the Detroit Tigers on June 17, 2010 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Nationals 8-3. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

And then you look at their K%. In 8 of 11 seasons, Mark Reynolds was striking out in 30% or more of his plate appearances, which Adam Dunn didn’t do until his career was well into decline.

This gives you a snapshot of the type of hitter that Mark Reynolds is. Forget the batting averages of his last two seasons in Colorado, as they were inflated by the atmosphere of Coors Field. He is an extreme feast or famine type hitter.

We already got to see him feast on his debut when he went 3 for 4 with 2 home runs, against one of his former teams in the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 13th.  And he’s continued to feast since joining the Nationals, going 11 for 23 with 4 HR in just 8 games since joining the big league roster.

Some commentators and analysts will try to credit his performance in Colorado to a changed swing and a new approach at the plate.  But the numbers just don’t reflect that.

Next: Building Blocks or Busts?

Mark Reynolds is still the same type of hitter that he’s always been, and that’s okay for the Washington Nationals. Nats fans always liked Adam Dunn, after all.

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