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Arizona Diamondbacks All-Time Top 50: #26, Mark Reynolds

Or Special K as we called him. ‘Cos his at-bats were either special, or they were K’s...

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Arizona Diamondbacks v San Francisco Giants
  • Avg ranking (high/low/most common): 25.85 (9/46/31)
  • Seasons: 2007-2010
  • Stats: 563 games, .242/.334/.483 = .817 OPS, 108 OPS+, 5.5 bWAR
  • Best season: 2009 - 155 games, .260/.349/.543 = .892 OPS, 127 OPS+, 4.4 bWAR

How loved was Mark Reynolds during his time here? So much so, that in August 2010 we had an entire week of posts about him, entitled “Mark Week”. Even Goldschmidt has yet to be feted by the SnakePit writers in quite the same way (though it’s not a bad idea...). Mark was an exercise in contrasts. He was renowned for some prodigious home-run tallies, and even more startling strikeout numbers. Similarly, his defense was a mix of the awful and awesome. He made a staggering 35 errors in 2008; the same season, his swan-dive into the San Francisco photographer’s pit in pursuit of a foul (below - potato-level screen-grab, sorry!) was an honorable mention for Play of the Year.

What perhaps helped set Reynolds apart was being one of the first top-tier position players who was wholly home-grown, whom we’d followed as a prospect. When he debuted in May 2007, to that point, we hadn’t had much come up through our farm system: Chad Tracy was perhaps the best. But in 2007, Stephen Drew was coming into his own, and later that season, J-Up would debut. Reynolds had further to come than either, having been a 16th-round pick in 2004, and it didn’t take long for his power to show. Two years later, he hammered 31 homers between High-A and Double-A, while also batting .318, for a 1.034 OPS, but still was only #12 on John Sickels’ prospect list.

Indeed, Reynolds got his break when Tracy went on the DL with a strained oblique, and bypassed AAA completely, being promoted straight from Double-A Mobile. After making his debut, Mark said, “Me and my roommates played Xbox all night until it was time to go to the airport. I slept maybe an hour on the plane ride and that was it. I just didn’t want to miss my flight or do something stupid.” It clearly didn’t hurt: he became the first AZ player to have multiple hits and RBI in his major-league debut, leading the team in WP for that game. He had 17 home-runs and batted .279 the rest of the way, though disappointed in the post-season, going 4-for-26, albeit with two homers.

He became our everyday 3B the following year, almost immediately becoming the player we would know, love and be frustrated by, over the coming years. He had 27 home-runs, but set a franchise record for strikeouts, and his 35 errors hasn’t been equaled by any National League player since Jose Offerman in 1995. These were likely more an issue than the K’s: in September, we concluded the latter were a result of a low contact rate rather than a bad eye, and “While it would be great if our third-baseman could improve the contact rate when he swings, it’s not something on which we should rely”.

In 2009, he had his best year, becoming the only Diamondback apart from Luis Gonzalez on the World Series team, to reach the forty-homer level. He finished the year with 44, including an insane 13-game spell from July 26 through August 9, when he had 11 homers. No Diamondback since then has come closer than within eight of Reynolds’s tally for the season. He was plowing a lonely furrow, however, playing on an Arizona team which would finish last in the division, with a record of 70-92, though Mark got his only MVP nod to date, and was the leading D-back, coming in 20th. He also made it to the “Last Man” ballot for the All-Star Game in July, and finished third.

The same month, Reynolds showed himself prepared to call out those on the team whose efforts under new manager A.J. Hinch were not up to the standard required.

“It seems like we get down one or two runs and no one [cares] anymore ... This is the Major Leagues. You can’t go out there and make three errors a night and expect to win a game. We look like the Bad News Bears out there and it’s frustrating. It’s to the point where stuff’s got to change... You can give all the rah-rah speeches you want and have all the team meetings you want and yell at guys, but guys have got to [care]. I don’t really see it. I know I care. I’m out there busting my tail every night trying to win. Physical errors are fine, but guys loafing, guys not being where they’re supposed to be or guys giving up on ABs, it’s not acceptable at any level.”
Mark Reynolds

Of course, along with the 44 home-runs, our prediction came true as Reynolds set another franchise mark. His 233 strikeouts are the most in Arizona history, a dozen clear of the second-placed man... who is also Mark Reynolds, the following season. In third place? That would be... Mark Reynolds, the previous year, when he whiffed 204 times. There is then a long drop-off to fourth for us, where Adam LaRoche sits on 172. Despite the rise of the strikeout since, Reynolds’ 223 remains the all-time major-league record, having survived sustained assaults from the likes of Adam Dunn (222 in 2012), Chris Davis (219 in 2016) and Aaron Judge (208 last year).

Just after being feted with ‘Mark Week’, he was traded to Baltimore in December 2010, for David Hernandez and the forgotten Kam Mickolio. SnakePit reaction was almost evenly split: 35% rated the deal Excellent/Good, while 36% had it as Poor/Awful. In the end, it was solid: Reynolds was only worth 0.8 bWAR over the following two years, less than the cheaper Hernandez. Reynolds has not been entirely forgotten: he is still in the majors, and a frequent opponent, having spent 2016-17 with the Colorado Rockies. The K’s are down a bit - he “only” fanned 175 times last year - and he’s now almost exclusively a first-baseman. But he’s still a reminder of strikeouts and home-runs past.