Left Field – Bryan Reynolds
Trade rumors and trade requests be damned, until he’s traded, I’m still lining up Bryan Reynolds in the Pittsburgh Pirates Opening Day outfield. He is arguably the team’s best player. Reynolds is technically coming off a down year based on his standards. However, he was still a highly productive player and even a Silver Slugger finalist. His defense in center field might move him to left field, but he still should be highly effective in 2023.
Last year, Reynolds still hit a fantastic .262/.345/.461 line. He had a solid 23% strikeout rate and a 9.1% walk rate with a healthy .199 isolated slugging percentage. Reynolds reached a career-high home run total with 27, leading to an overall .349 wOBA and 125 wRC+. That’s a decent step back from the .385 wOBA and 141 wRC+ he had in 2021, but he still ranked top five at his position in both statistical categories.
But it is worth noting that Reynolds did start the year off ice cold. Up until the start of June, he had a .690 OPS, .306 wOBA, and 96 wRC+. However, from June through the year’s end, Reynolds returned to form. His final four months consisted of a .285/.365/.495 slash, .369 wOBA, and 139 wRC+. In terms of wRC+, that was nearly exactly how he performed in 2021.
Reynolds was a Gold Glove finalist in 2021, but his defense took a step back in 2022. Defensive runs saved has never loved his work in center field, but -14 made him the least valuable defender in center. What was worrying was his massive dip in outs above average. He went from +10 in 2021 to -7 in 2022, making him the least valuable glove in center field.
Even if Reynolds needs to move from center field to left field, he’s still a batter who can put up a wRC+ of 130 or greater. He’s steadily seen his home run total increase since his rookie year, and his plate discipline has always been average or better. Next year should be another great year for the outfielder. While there is certaintly the possibility Reynolds gets traded, even more so now, I’m still putting him in the Pirates’ Opening Day outfield until something happens to change that.