BRYAN REYNOLDS, CENTER FIELDER
|Born: January 27, 1995
Drafted: 2nd Round, 59th Overall, 2016 (Giants)
How Acquired: Trade (from Giants for Andrew McCutchen)
College: Vanderbilt University
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|The Giants drafted Reynolds as an outfielder with a good, but not outstanding, hit tool and some power potential. Scouts had doubts, though, whether his approach would lead to much power as a pro, as he tended to hit the ball on the ground. In the minors he had some strikeout problems and didn’t walk much. Those trends have both changed as he’s gotten established in the majors. Over time he’s become a good outfielder and has shown that he’s a legitimate center fielder. His arm is average and his speed well above average.
Reynolds hit well in his debut in the New York-Penn League, although with weak plate discipline. He got a mid-August promotion to full season ball and continued to hit well with poor walk and K rates. The Giants played him in center exclusively. Baseball America ranked him the fourth best prospect in the Giants’ system.
The Giants moved Reynolds up to high A, where he split his time evenly among the three outfield positions. He hit well, but with only modest power and marginal plate discipline, although he did cut down on the strikeouts. BA ranked him fifth in a very weak system.
Reynolds’ season got off to a rough start, as he suffered a hamate injury in his fourth game and had to have surgery. He returned in late May. Hitters don’t necessarily get back into form right away following hamate surgery. In particular, their power may take a half a year or more to return. Reynolds, though, came back strongly. After going 0-for-11 in his first three games back, he hit 316/398/456. The power was an especially welcome development; despite the injury and despite moving from the extreme, high-offense environment of the California League, Reynolds had only a slightly lower isolated power. He also improved his walk rate from .07 to .11, and cut his K rate a little. He played right and center in the four games before the hamate injury, then played left until Jason Martin moved up to Indianapolis. After that he played center.
Reynolds got off to a very hot start in AAA and, when Starling Marte went on the injured list, the Pirates called him up. He hit very well right from the start and won a regular job. He contended for the batting title until a weak September (.643 OPS). He missed the last few days of the season with a hamstring injury. A lot of analysts considered Reynolds’ hitting unsustainable due to a batting average on balls in play that stayed over .400 much of the year. It finished, though, at .387, which isn’t far off his figures in the minors, which ranged from .362 to .391. Like many switch hitters, Reynolds hit much better left-handed (.931 OPS) than right-handed (.756). He showed good speed and played mostly left, but made 29 starts in right and 25 in center. Overall, Statcast suggests he was about average defensively.
As with nearly all of the Pirates’ position players, Reynolds’ 2020 season was a disaster. His hitting largely fell off a cliff. He hit for nearly as much power as in his rookie year and his walk rate increased, but his K rate increased sharply and he didn’t hit the ball as hard. His exit velocity dropped from above average to below. Some of the problem may have been bad luck, as his BABIP plummeted all the way to .231. With Jarrod Dyson gone and Cole Tucker hurt, Reynolds played a lot in center in September. Otherwise, he played left. His defense improved; most measures had him as above average in left and average or a little better in center.
Reynolds bounced back in a big way, establishing himself as an elite hitter and center fielder, and earning a starting spot in the All-Star Game. His power took a big step forward without a sacrifice in any other area. In fact, his walk total increased sharply as opponents pitched much more carefully to him. That’ll probably be an increasing trend if the Pirates don’t start piecing together a major league lineup around him. Reynolds handled pitchers from both sides of the plate, with a platoon split of just four OPS points. On his defense, the metrics were a little divided, as UZR showed him a little below average in center, while Statcast Outs Above Average had him sixth among all center fielders. He was a Gold Glove finalist.
Before the season, Reynolds and the Pirates avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year deal. He then got off to a start that was reminiscent of his 2020 season, batting 194/293/306. He recovered with a decent May and a big (333/379/610) June. Reynolds missed half of July with an oblique injury and slumped when he did play, but he hit well over the season’s last two months. He finished with a good season, if not one that was up to his 2021 level. Some of it was his BABIP dropping to .306, which is a typical level for most hitters but well below his career norms. Another factor was poorer walk and K rates. Reynolds’ defense in center wasn’t good. In fact, Statcast had him going from well above average in 2021 to near the bottom in 2022.
Reynolds remains the Pirates’ best hitter by a wide margin. He’ll probably be the subject of some trade speculation in the off-season, but it’s been clear for a long time that only a massive offer will tempt the Pirates to move him. They should move him to left, but that’s not likely to happen.
|Signing Bonus: $1,350,000
MiLB Debut: 2016
MLB Debut: 4/20/2019
MiLB FA Eligible: 2025
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 4/20/2019
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 3.163
|June 10, 2016: Drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 2nd round, 100th overall pick; signed on June 22.
January 15, 2018: Traded by the San Francisco Giants with Kyle Crick and $500,000 in international bonus pool space to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Andrew McCutchen and $2,500,000.
April 20, 2019: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.