By: Noah Wright
The Pirates had a pretty set outfield entering 2019. Starling Marte and Corey Dickerson manned centerfield and left field, and neither have had a large injury history in the past few seasons. Even with Gregory Polanco out, Melky Cabrera made a fine replacement until he would be ready. But an unforeseen injury that has costed Dickerson over an entire month to heal from, and a short, but 10 day IL trip for Starling Marte opened the doors for some unlikely heroes. The aforementioned Melky Cabrera has seen more playing time than what you probably predicted by late May, and Jason Martin received a call up as well. But one prospect has stood out in 2019. No, it’s not shortstop Cole Tucker, but outfielder Bryan Reynolds. He has silently been putting up an outstanding rookie season.
Before the 2019 regular season, Reynolds ranked as the Pirates’ #8 prospect. He was sent over from San Francisco to Pittsburgh in the McCutchen deal. During 2018, Reynolds put up solid numbers. He had a .302/.381/.438 line in 383 plate appearances in AA. Overall, he finished the season with a 128 wRC+. Reynolds also showed some decent fielding prowess, and could play all 3 OF positions. After spring training, Reynolds was sent to AAA where he produced an outstanding .367/.446/.735 line in 57 plate appearances. After injuries to key players, Reynolds received a call to the MLB.
Reynolds has kept up the great AAA production in the MLB. Currently, Reynolds is batting .321/.382/.568 with 4 home runs and a 155 wRC+/OPS+ in 89 plate appearances. He rarely makes soft contact, only doing so about 13% of the time. Reynolds has also been great with the glove in left field. He has 4 DRS, and .4 UZR in the corner outfield position. Overall (combined with the sub-par defense in center field, a position he has only played 48 innings of this year), Reynolds has a .2 dWAR. Reynolds has been pretty comparable to some players that are considered prime rookie of the year candidates. Out of rookies with at least 80 plate appearances, Reynolds ranks #2 in wRC+, just behind Dan Vogelbach. Fangraphs has also given Reynolds an offensive rating of 6.7. That ranks 5th among all rookies. Reynolds also leads all rookies in OPS with at least 80 at bats. In terms of wOBA, Reynolds is also just behind Dan Vogelbach for the lead.
If Reynolds keeps up this pace, he could be one of the lead candidates for NL Rookie Of The Year. He is easily outperforming the likes of Fernando Tatis Jr., and Pete Alonso. There is plenty of time left in the year, and we’ll just have to wait to see how stuff plays out. However on the tear Reynolds has been on so far in his early MLB career, Reynolds could be one of the Pirates top outfield options for years to come.