Franmil Reyes: Dark-Horse All-Star Candidate

The Padres are a team to watch in 2019. Their farm system is highly regarded and is ranked by most pundits as the best in all of baseball. Top 3 prospect (in the MLB) Fernando Tatis Jr. will unquestionably break camp with the team. With Manny Machado at the helm, the future looks real bright for the Padres. One player who could greatly impact the lethality of the offense is OF Franmil Reyes.

Photo: The Athletic

2018 was a breakout season for Reyes, who tore the cover off the baseball in AAA (PA: 250; HR: 16; BB: 14.8%; K: 23.6%; AVG: .324; OBP: .428), and got rewarded with a major league call-up (in May). The results early on left a lot to be desired, but Reyes delivered big time in the 2nd half (Post- All-Star Break)…

Stats (per FanGraphs) Pre- All-Star Break Post- All-Star Break
PA 105 180
AVG .222 .315
OBP .267 .383
SLG .434 .537
HR 6 10
BB 5.7% 10%
K 39.0% 21.7%
GB 46.6% 50.4%
LD 19.0% 22.0%
FB 34.5% 27.6%
IFFB 5.0% 8.8%
Hard 44.8% 43.9%
Medium 41.4% 40.7%
Soft 13.8% 15.5%
Contact 69.0% 70.5%
O-Swing (swinging at pitches outside strike-zone) 34.2% 30.1%
Z-Swing (swinging at pitches inside strike-zone) 64.5% 71.8%
O-Contact 57.6% 51.9%
Z-Contact 78.4% 82.4%
SwStr 14.3% 13.8%

In looking at Franmil Reyes’ profile before and after the all-star break, it is clear that his plate disciplined improved dramatically in the 2nd half. His walk rate practically doubled from 5.7% to 10% and he struck out far less frequently (K-rate halved from a staggering 39.0% to just under 22%); Reyes was more notably more selective at the plate, laying off of more pitches outside of the zone and taking his chances on pitches (inside the strike-zone) he could really do damage with. I anticipate that Reyes’ strikeout rate will land in the ballpark of 24 – 28% in 2019, as his plate discipline numbers are still mildly concerning.

Reyes’ biggest area of strength is his enormous power. He hit 16 big flies in just over 1/2 a season’s worth of games (87). For every 10 fly balls Reyes hit, ~3 of them left the park. His 29.6% HR/FB rate ranked 3rd highest in all of baseball — behind only Shohei Ohtani (2nd place: 29.7%) and Christian Yelich (1st place: 35%) — in 2018 and 5th highest of all time among rookies with at least 250 PA (4th place: Shohei Ohtani: 29.7%; 3rd place: Chris Duncan: 30.3%; 2nd place: Ryan Howard: 32.9%; 1st place: Aaron Judge: 33.3%). Reyes will undoubtedly perform exceptionally well in this regard next season, but his 29.6% HR/FB is seemingly unsustainable. Up until 2018 (AAA HR/FB: 32%; MLB HR/FB: 29.6%), Reyes had never recorded a HR/FB above 19.4%.

If Reyes could hit the ball in the air more often (which would subsequently result in more XBHs and HRs), the likelihood of him getting to even more game power is significantly higher. In the 2nd half, Reyes hit the ball into the ground half the time (50.4%). A player with as much power as Reyes should try to alter his swing in a way that would enable him to get to his power as much as humanly possible. Reyes’ 6.7 degrees launch angle ranks as the 51st lowest in all of baseball. Generally speaking, a higher launch angle translates to more fly balls. This is something Reyes and the Padres should experiment with.

Regardless of whether or not Reyes makes any adjustments to his swing, he remains a power threat who is very much capable of hitting 20 – 30 HRs (in 2019) and batting behind newly acquired superstar 3B Manny Machado.

Thanks for reading.

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