Pittsburgh Pirates: Bryan Reynolds Proving 2020 Was a Fluke

May 31, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Bryan Reynolds (10) watches after hitting a home run against the Kansas City Royals during the eighth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
May 31, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Bryan Reynolds (10) watches after hitting a home run against the Kansas City Royals during the eighth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /
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After suffering through a sophomore slump last season, Bryan Reynolds is bouncing back with the Pittsburgh Pirates and proving his 2020 struggles were a fluke

During the 2019 season the Pittsburgh Pirates had a pair of breakout rookie stars. Along with Kevin Newman, the other rookie to burst onto the scene in 2019 was switch hitting outfielder Bryan Reynolds.

While both Newman and Reynolds struggled in 2020 their poor seasons were viewed differently. Due to being toward the bottom of baseball in exit velocity and hard-hit rate in 2019 regression was expected from Newman. For Reynolds, however, that was not the case.

As a rookie in 2019 Reynolds hit for a .314/.377/.503 slash line to go with a .189 isolated power (ISO), 130 wRC+, 8.4% walk rate and a Pirate rookie record 37 doubles. Last season, Reynolds regressed to a slash line of .189/.275/.357, as well as a .168 ISO and wRC+ of 72. Although, his walk rate did rise to 10.1%.

So far in 2021 Reynolds has not just looked like the hitter he was in 2020, he has looked even better. Reynolds is currently hitting for a .284/.389/.507 slash line to go with a .223 ISO, 147 wRC+ and a walk rate of 13.4%. This gives Reynolds a new career high OBP, slugging percentage, ISO, wRC+ and walk rate. Additionally, his 21.5% strikeout rate has dropped over 6% from last season and is the lowest of his career.

After hitting just 7 home runs and 6 doubles last season, Reynolds has already hit 10 long balls to go with 17 doubles thus far this season. This puts Reynolds on pace for a new career high in home runs and doubles.

A big reason that Reynolds has bounced back is his improvement in quality contact. His 88.4 MPH exit velocity, 38.5% hard-hit rate and 10.9% barrel rate are all an improvement over last season. Reynolds is also going the opposite way more this season, hitting the ball the opposite way 29.0% after doing so just 21.1% last season. This has helped Reynolds pull the ball less, hitting to all fields more and making him a more dangerous hitter, as well as a hitter that is more difficult to defend.

Reynolds has also made an adjust at the plate this season. He has dropped the slight toe tap he had last season while closing up his stance. This has led to more contact and power from Reynolds, especially as a left-handed hitter.

So far this season Reynolds has also been chasing pitches less. Reynolds has swung at just 25.7% of pitches thrown to him outside of the strike zone, this is an improvement from 2020 when he swung at 29.2% of such pitches.

Through the first 61 Pirate games of the season Reynolds has been worth an fWAR of 2.1 which is tied for 10th among position players in the National League. This puts him on pace to be a 5.8 fWAR players which would put him among not just the most valuable outfielders, but the most valuable players in the entire NL.

Next. Pirates Swept by Dodgers. dark

While Reynolds remains under club control through the 2025 season he is still a player the Pittsburgh Pirates should be thinking contract extension with. In just his third MLB season Reynolds has already established himself as one of the top switch hitters in the game and appears to be a perennial All-Star for years to come.

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