Washington Nationals: Mark Reynolds one of the year’s pleasant surprises

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 02: Mark Reynolds #14 of the Washington Nationals singles in tow runs in the third inning during a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park on September 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 02: Mark Reynolds #14 of the Washington Nationals singles in tow runs in the third inning during a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park on September 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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Our 2018 Report Cards have crossed the halfway point now. The next Washington Nationals player we look at is Mark Reynolds who was a huge surprise this year.

We’ve now moved over halfway in our 2018 Report Card series, looking over each member of the Washington Nationals. Mark Reynolds is next and was one of the surprises of the season for the team with some key contributions.

Reynolds missed out on Spring Training before agreeing to a minor league contract with the Nationals on April 17th. Then just under a month later on May 12th, he made his season debut after Ryan Zimmerman hit the Disabled List.

The first baseman finished the season with a very familiar feel to his slash line of .248/.328/.476 in 2018. While it wasn’t anything close to MVP standard, it’s still surprising that someone like that was sat at home all spring.

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The Positives for Reynolds

For all his flaws, the first baseman was actually able to come up clutch a few times for the Nats. According to FanGraphs, Reynolds had the second highest wRC+ in High Leverage situations, behind only Juan Soto in his astonishing rookie season. One of the main criticisms of the Nats in 2018 was the lack of veteran leadership, but you certainly can’t fault Reynolds for that as in big spots, he was able to come up big often.

Mark Reynolds had some pretty remarkable spells in his time with the Nationals, as you’d expect from a streaky hitter. In his first 12 games for the team, he hit .432 with six home runs and eight RBI and a 1.421 OPS. Then between June 29th and July 8th, he slashed a ridiculous .519/.588/1.037 which included his historic 10 RBI performance, and a big walk-off home run against the Miami Marlins. When he was hot, he was able to carry the team

Areas of Improvement

However, to go along with his hot streaks, Mark Reynolds also had cold streaks and more of them throughout the year. After that amazing 12 game start to his year, he followed it up with 16 games where he hit a measly .065 with 19 strikeouts and a grim OPS of just .202 in that spell. Also, after July 9th through until the end of the season, he had a slash line of just .188/.282/.333 the rest of the way. With Reynolds, you have to take the good with the bad, and there were certainly a lot of sub-par streaks.

Just as the cold streaks have been a theme throughout Reynolds’ career, so have the strikeouts. His 27.2 percent strikeout rate was second to Michael Taylor among hitters on the team with at least 80 plate appearances. A lot of this was down to his lowest contact percentage, and highest swinging strike percentage since 2011 as he struggled to put his bat on ball at times last year.

The Final Grade

Overall, you got what you bargained for out of Mark Reynolds, although arguably a bit better. So for the virtual peanuts that it cost to bring him in, it turned out to be fantastic value, especially when he was needed to fill in for Zimmerman.

But all that considered, it still can’t be overlooked, that overall, he still didn’t light up the stat sheet with the low batting average and high strikeouts. A solid showing, but it also wouldn’t be surprising if he needed to find another prove-it deal heading into 2019. B

Washington Nationals. MARK REYNOLDS. B. . 1B

Next. Anthony Rendon - 2018 Report Card. dark

Remember to keep an eye out for more Washington Nationals 2018 Report Cards during the upcoming weeks here at District on Deck.

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