For over a month now Bryan Reynolds has been swinging a hot bat for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Let's examine Reynolds turning his season around.
For much of the early part of the season things were not going the way Bryan Reynolds had hoped. Especially after he became the first $100 million player in franchise history, cementing himself as a building block for the Pittsburgh Pirates after signing an 8-year contract extension in April.
When the Pirates arrived in Anaheim for a series against the Angels on July 21st Reynolds was hitting for just a .255/.323/.427 slash line with a 100 wRC+ and 9 home runs. He owned a .172 isolated slugging (ISO), 8.8% walk rate, and a 19.3% strikeout rate.
These are league average numbers at best, and numbers that are well below what both Reynolds and the Pirates expect from him. Well, starting with that series against the Angels the switch-hitting outfielder has completely turned his season around. Let's examine that turn around.
Well, first off, let's look at the numbers. Dating back to game one of that series Reynolds has 150 plate appearances. Reynolds has hit for a .286/.333/.536 slash line with a 130 wRC+, .250 ISO, and 9 home runs in these 150 PAs. It's probably not a coincidence that since this hot stretch has started for Reynolds the Pirates have played much better baseball going 16-16.
During this stretch, his line drive rate has improved from 23.5% through his first 353 PAs to 26.7% in his last 150 PAs. He's also made less soft contact, with his soft contact rate dropping from 10.8% to 8.6%.
Reynolds has also done a better job of hitting the ball where it is pitched. His opposite field hit rate jumping from 25.5% to 30.5% is a good example of this. However, he has also maintained his pull rate at 39% which has helped keep his power numbers up.
Reynolds' launch angle has gone from 12.5 degrees to 9.5 degrees. An uptick in line drives is undoubtedly a factor here. Due to this, Reynolds has watched his home run/fly ball rate jump from 10.3% all the way to 26.5%. It goes back to one of the most basic, Little League concepts of hitting a baseball - think line drive.
Reynolds finishing the season strong is big for both him and the Pirates. While no one ever should have been worried about anything long-term with Reynolds while he was struggling, especially since there were whispers of him dealing with a back issue as well, but you still want to see your best players perform as such.