Rum Bunter’s 2020 Pittsburgh Pirates Staff Preview: Jack

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Pirates, Bryan Reynolds
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Team MVP – Bryan Reynolds

In 2019, Josh Bell was the most discussed Pirate due to his torrid first half and towering home runs. However, Bryan Reynolds was the brightest spot on a disappointing team. As a rookie, Reynolds slashed .314/.377/.503 with 16 home runs and 68 RBI, amassing 4.1 WAR. He played solid defense in all three outfield positions with the majority of his innings played in left field and finished fourth in National League Rookie of the Year voting.

Reynolds’ basic statistics paint a picture of an impressive rookie campaign, but so do his peripherals. He displayed a high batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .387, perhaps hinting at some good luck. However, his BABIP has been high at every level throughout his professional career. He also only pulled the ball 38.6% of the time in 2019 and hit the ball hard 42.9% of the time, so he hits into far fewer outs than the average MLB player. He walked 8.4% of the time, an acceptable number on a team that walked only 6.8% of the time.

Going forward, Reynolds will be a key, perhaps the key, part of the team that Ben Cherrington builds in Pittsburgh. He certainly passes the eye test, with a swing that is as pure as they come, hustle in the field and twenty-plus home run ability. He is more than capable of duplicating or improving on his numbers from 2019, and I see his offensive floor as a .275/.330/.450 bat. He has garnered praise from new manager Derek Shelton despite flying under the radar on a national stage. I expect that to change in the coming years.