Mark Reynolds has been on fire over the last four weeks, hitting .296/.446/.648. He leads the Orioles in home runs, doubles and walks. He trails only J.J. Hardy in on-base percentage and is arguably the best hitter on the team. Despite all of that, Reynolds remains at the bottom of the lineup, hitting ahead of only Robert Andino or Blake Davis and sometimes Felix Pie (who really shouldn’t be in the starting lineup, ever, but that’s another story).
I spent last week in Pittsburgh watching the Orioles take on the Pirates, and Reynolds had a great series, reaching base nine times on five hits and four walks. He only scored twice, though, on a single by Jake Arrieta and a double by leadoff hitter Hardy. The hitters below him in the lineup those three games went 6-for-30 with zero walks.
Reynolds reached base seven more times this weekend but scored only once, and that was on his own home run. Many people would tell you that runs (along with RBIs) aren’t a good measure of how well a player is playing, and I agree with those people. Because if Reynolds were in the lineup where he belongs - or in a better lineup altogether - he’d surely have scored and knocked in a few more runs than he has.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee remain in the heart of the lineup, and they are not hitting well. Guerrero has turned into a singles hitter and has taken only nine walks on the year, 36 less than Reynolds. Lee has an on-base percentage of just .305. Guerrero is a future Hall of Famer and Lee has had a long and successful career, but right now, Reynolds is a much better hitter than either of them. They are being placed in the lineup based on their reputations, not their performance, and it’s hurting the team.
Often, too much is made of the lineup. Fans love to bicker over players not batting where they should when in reality it doesn’t make a huge difference over the course of the season. But the Orioles need every advantage they can get if they want to be competitive in individual games and perhaps get their record back over the .500 mark. Reynolds needs to be batting closer to Hardy, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones so that his power and excellent batting eye don’t continue to go to waste.
Stacey Long blogs about the Orioles at Camden Chat. Read Long’s Orioles observations as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.