Through one week of baseball in 2023, there are several storylines starting to emerge as fans and analysts hilariously try to make sense of this small sample size.
Tampa Bay is obviously on fire and have yet to lose a game and are clearly World Series Favorites. Fernando Tatis Jr. is also excelling in his new role as a Minor League player on assignment and shows no signs of steroids ever being in his system. And hey, as an airman who has several years left on his contract in Las Vegas, the attendance in Oakland could see the A’s considering the Rio for their next venue and that would have me over the moon.
Much less sarcastically, the Pirates are actually playing well, and are just one game back from the Brewers first place in the NL Central. A lot of that success has been generated by All-Star outfielder, Bryan Reynolds. While the sample size is once again very minute, Bryan Reynolds could be laying the groundwork for an NL MVP season.
The fact that Reynolds even started the season with the Buccos is amazing. His contract situation was a talking point through all of the offseason and Spring Training. Headlines like that often diminish a players reputation, and we end up focusing on off-the-field happenings rather than the product on the field.
If one can put aside all of that, they would see that Reynolds has opened up the season guns blazing and is showing no signs of slowing down.
At the plate Reynolds has been dominant, still yet to end a contest without a hit so far this season. As for production, there is plenty of it. Through nine games, Reynolds is posting an impressive .405 batting average with 14 RBIs and OPS of 1.334. He is currently ranked top five in OPS, average, hits, and is tied for first with the most home runs in all of baseball with five so far this season.
Reynolds has never started a season this hot at the plate, and while it’s not realistic he stays this hot, just performing close to this standard will be impressive.
“It’s probably the most locked in I’ve seen him,” said Derek Shelton
Batting aside, Reynolds is also the anchor for Pittsburgh’s outfield. Lineup changes have been constant for the Pirates’ outfield so far this season, but Reynolds has been the consistent piece playing in either left or center. Just as he was in years prior, Reynolds is lockdown defensively, and is an asset that hopefully Pittsburgh can afford to keep.
Major League Baseball recently released their odds for the top five MVP candidates in the NL, and Reynolds was absent from it. This hot start to the season is going to be tough to maintain, but it really seems Reynolds is out to prove his worth this season, and I love that.
This is a guy who admittedly deserves more money. I seldom feel bad for professional athletes being underpaid, but Reynolds to me is one of those blue collar guys who even when the situation isn’t great still shows up to work and puts forth his best effort. At the very least he’s relatable. Playing in Pittsburgh also doesn’t often put him in medias’ eyes nationally, but 2023 may be the season where the whole country takes note of how special he is.
Once again, it is far far to early to be making MVP and World Series predictions. With that being said, I don’t think it’s unfair to put Reynolds into these early conversation because of the stats. He will inevitably cool off a bit, but I think that with the talent he possesses and the mentality he’s bringing this year, the sky is the limit for our reluctant Pirate.