Mark Reynolds’ Whiffs by Pitch Type

Mark Reynolds is perhaps one of the more interesting power hitters heading into his prime this season. He has led the entire league in strikeouts since 2008, holding the all-time record for most strikeouts in a season with 223 K’s last season.

This year, he leads the league once again in strikeouts, as well as perennial leader in swinging strike percentage. He has whiffed on 17.3% of all pitches this season, second place being Ryan Howard at 14.4%. Interestingly, Reynolds does not actually swing at everything a la Jeff Francoeur (60.7% swing percentage) and is barely in the top 50 in percentage of pitches he swings at with 46.8%. This makes it even more amazing that Reynolds leads the league in strikeouts and swinging strike percentage regularly without even taking that many swings. That’s a lot of whiffing going on, and I do suppose that the rare times he does connect the bat to the ball, he hits it hard.

I wanted to know more about Mark Reynolds’ swinging strike percentages to see how he fares against certain pitch types by handedness. Of the five main pitch types, fastballs, sliders, cutters, curveballs, and changeups, Mark Reynolds has seen cutters less than 200 times since his debut, 139 cutters from right-handed pitchers and 41 cutters from left-handed pitchers. He has seen at least 200 pitches for the other pitch types for right-handed pitchers or left-handed pitchers. Ignoring cutters due to small sample size, I will take a look at Reynolds’ swinging strike percentages against four-seam fastballs, sliders, curveballs, and changeups.

Let’s take a look at Mark Reynolds’ swinging strike percentages against four-seam fastballs split by RHP and LHP (1435 pitches from RHP, 468 pitches from LHP):

Four-seam fastballs

Here, it looks like Reynolds falls victim to high fastballs from both right-handers and left-handers. For Reynolds, he whiffs on the outside fastball from LHP stick out as well as the low and inside fastball from RHP.

Here’s a look at Reynolds against sliders (1542 from RHP, 224 from LHP):


This is interesting. Reynolds strikes out far more against right-handed pitchers than against left-handed pitchers, but he tends to swing at (and miss) sliders coming from LHP more than he does from RHP. LHP sliders come low and inside while RHP sliders go low and outside, but even LHP sliders coming in from low and outside are swung at and missed by Reynolds.

Curveballs against Reynolds are a whole different story (567 from RHP, 228 from LHP):


Here, Reynolds clearly struggles at connecting on curveballs from right-handed pitchers, some in the strikezone and most low and outside the strikezone. Curveballs from LHP also get Reynolds to whiff sometimes on the inside part of the plate as well as the lower part.

Finally, here’s a look at Reynolds against changeups, which look like his greatest weakness when it comes to missing pitches (430 from RHP, 338 from LHP):


This is very telling. The splits against changeups are very different, as Reynolds whiffs on over 50% of changeups from right-handers that are located on the edge of the strikezone at the bottom. This is much different from LHP changeups, where any spot doesn’t look to cross over 30% whiff rate, except the lower righthand corner of the zone. What’s also crazy about this is that when you look at Reynolds against changeups in general, he misses at around 20% of nearly all changeups low outside and nearly all areas within the strikezone as well.

From these plots, there are characteristics of Reynolds’ swinging strikes that are similar to conventional thought and common knowledge, such as chasing high fastballs or low breaking balls. But the key to exploiting Reynolds’ weakness at missing the ball when swinging is definitely throwing timely changeups, especially from right-handed pitchers, while it seems that Reynolds is less prone to whiff against LHP curveballs the most.

This article was originally posted at Think Blue Crew, a blog dedicated to data visualization of baseball, basketball, and football statistics. Check it out for more f/x visualizations like this.

Albert Lyu (@thinkbluecrew, LinkedIn) is a graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, but will always root for his beloved Northwestern Wildcats. Feel free to email him with any comments or suggestions.

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13 years ago

Great graphs…

13 years ago

How is he such an interesting player? He sucks at defense, is hitting near the Mendoza line(Rob Deer anyone?), is on pace for 222 k’s this season, and has home/road splits that make the guy look like he should be a part-time player. He hits .193 and only has 9 homeruns on the road… he’s a righty who can’t hit right handed pitchers. Not only does he suck against right handed pitchers(who dominate the MLB),but he is actually one of the worst hitters against them. Take away his at-bats from Philly, and he’s a .200 hitter. Last year, he had a great article in Sport Illustrated… talking about how strikeouts didn’t matter as long as he hit homeruns and drove in runs.

Now he’s not stealing bases, hitting a hella sick awesome .260(for him), or on pace for 44 homeruns and 102 RBI or even 30 doubles. If he hits 21 doubles, 35 bombs, and only drives in 92 runs with his amazing defense… he should be benched. Of course, I’d think it’d be hilarious after his amazing article where he boasted how his homeruns were so amazing, if he hits .200 or below. And that’s a possibility. 3 straight seasons of leading the league in strikeouts, and having the most errors at 3rd base twice(coming up second once)in the past 3 years is quite an accomplishment.

13 years ago

Actually, Reynolds has devoted a lot of time to becoming a plus defender at the hot corner. His UZR has gone from -11 to +2 this year due to his hard work. In fact, he made a great play tonight to snag a line drive and steal extra bases. Also, Reynolds is clearly having an unlucky season at the plate. His babip this year is a paltry .276, which is below average for anyone, but especially for Reynolds who had a career babip above .340 entering this year and has never been below .328. I have watched a lot of DBacks games this year, and I can attest to the fact that Reynolds has noticeably been robbed on a lot of line drives, as well as a fair amount of warning track flies. Give Reynolds Jose Bautista’s “just out” HRs this year and he would have 40. (Barely any of his HRs are “just outs” though, as you can infer)
Yes, Reynolds is an incredibly unique player. Perhaps one of the most unique in MLB history as I recall a former article on this site that said he is the only so much as semi-successful MLB player to have a K rate of over 30% in college. That said, he is a very good player that any team would be happy to have. He is still, despite his struggles, producing an above average wOBA of .342, which when coupled with his defensive progress makes him a legitimate asset with loads of potential entering his age-27 season next year.

13 years ago

Also, he has battled that hip injury throughout the season which has zapped his ability to steal bases for the most part. Most certainly it has affected his hitting as well.

13 years ago

Kyle, you sir, clearly do not understand what makes Mark Reynolds valuable. You want to bench him? In favor of who? Augie Ojeda and his .230 wOBA? Maybe Tony Abreu and his .242 wOBA? Reynolds posted 3.5 WAR last year and is at 3.1 this year so far. Mix in his improved D as Dan mentioned and you have the makings of a solid fielding, power-hitting 3B entering his prime.

Anyway, before I read Kyle’s misinformed drivel, I really just wanted to compliment Albert on this research. This is one of the most interesting Community articles I have read. So kudos, I enjoyed this very much…way more than Reynolds enjoys trying to hit changeups.

13 years ago

I must second spyder’s compliment of Albert’s research. Top notch stuff, and great graphs to boot. Great community article.

Can’t help but mention that Reynolds has looked real good this week, blasting 3 home runs all easily over 440 feet. Two of them in fact, went over the right-center field pool in ‘Zona… that’s opposite way for Reynolds. Dude’s got POP.

13 years ago

The most recent community piece has been returning a dead link for me all week – can anyone see the article?

13 years ago

What a bunch of fools Reynolds sucks flat out he hits 30 hr so what big deal he strikes out 200 + every season quit saying how he’s unlucky quit making excuses for someone who’s only good at hitting the long ball you are all probably dback fans which nobody on the team can hit the ball so they all suck