clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bryan Reynolds Is Flirting With Rookie History

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Can Bryan Reynolds even qualify for a breakout game anymore? Can a player who came out of the gate by matching the longest hitting streak to start a career in team history burst onto the scene again?

Maybe not, but Wednesday might have been the game that gets the attention of some national outlets. In it, Reynolds ripped three hits, including a game-winning three run homer.

“It’s a big-time play by a big-time player,” said Trevor Williams. Reynolds’ home run took Williams off the hook for the loss. “He’s been doing nothing but impressing Pirates and guys that he’s been playing against. I think it’s time for the national media to pay attention to what Bryan Reynolds is doing.”

Well, Bucs Dugout is part of SB Nation, which is itself a part of Vox. I guess that technically makes us national media. Maybe we can get the ball rolling.

Reynolds currently has a .362 batting average- the highest in baseball among players with at least 190 PAs. For those wondering how close he is to qualifying for the batting crown, he needs to average 3.1 PAs per game his team plays. Since the Pirates have played 73 games, he’d need 227 PAs to qualify. He’s currently at 194, so he’s slowly getting there. Assuming the Pirates play the full 162 game schedule this year, he’d need 502 PAs to be eligible.

Reynolds’ .362 batting average is among the very best all-time in Pirate history. Here are all the Pirates to accomplish the feat in a season since 1900 (min. 190 PAs).

Courtesy of FanGraphs.

If Reynolds’ average holds, it would be the highest for a Pirate batter since 1936. The only Bucs with a higher single season average are Pie Traynor, Honus Wagner, Arky Vaughn and Reb Russell. Pretty good company to be in, especially as a rookie.

And he’s earning those hits. Yes, he’s being elevated by a .446 BABIP clip, but he’s also hitting the ball hard. According to Baseball Savant, his hard hit rate is in the 89th percentile in baseball, while his expected batting average is in the top five percent. Even if his BABIP dropped to the .385 expected average Baseball Savant forecasts, he’d still be having a great season.

MLB leaders in expected BABIP (min. 50 PAs). Courtesy of Baseball Savant.

In most years, such a performance would make the Reynolds the Rookie of the Year front runner. Unfortunately for him and Pirate fans, the field is pretty crowded this year, with Fernando Tatis Jr., Pete Alonso, Mike Soroka, Austin Riley, Chris Paddack and Alex Verdugo staking a claim for the award.

That doesn’t mean Reynolds is being left behind. He’s in the thick of the race.

Through June 19. Courtesy of Baseball-Reference.

Of course, this field could thin out because of slumps, injuries or either pitcher potentially being shut down to limit innings, but as it stands now, this could be a four or five man race.

Even if Reynolds doesn’t come out on top in the ROY vote, he could still make some history. After all, .362 batting averages don’t come along every day, especially for rookies. In baseball history, these are the rookies who hit .362 or better with at least as many PAs as Reynolds.

Courtesy of the Play Index.

Jeff Stone is the last rookie to accomplish the feat, doing so over 199 PAs in 1984. Reynolds should crack the 200 plate appearance mark sometime this weekend. After Stone, you’d have to go back to the extremely hitter happy 1930 campaign to find a rookie hitting .362.

But batting average doesn’t tell the whole story for Reynolds. He also is drawing his fair share of walks and has posted some good power numbers. Let’s up the ante and see which rookies match his .418 OBP and .571 slugging percentage as well.

Courtesy of the Play Index.

There you go. Reynolds, Showboat Fisher- a product of that 1930 season- and Shoeless Joe Jackson. If Reynolds keeps it up, he’s going to need a nickname, too.

May I suggest “Deadpool”? I know that’s not very original. Maybe someone in the national media can do better.