Could Reynolds do what Albert Belle once did in Baltimore?

When looking at new O’s corner infielders Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds, you could make a case for either as the club’s best power bat acquisition.

Lee has a career OPS of .865 to Reynolds’ .817. While Reynolds has never had an OPS over .900 in his four big league seasons, Lee’s OPS was .972 with the Cubs in 2009.

But if you talk strictly homers only, Reynolds moves to the top of the charts. While Lee hit 35 in 2009, Reynolds has averaged nearly 35 over the last three seasons at 34.66.

The Orioles have not had someone hit at many as 35 homers in one year since Albert Belle hit 37 in 1999.

Fans that have been watching videos of Reynolds’ home runs have been remarking about his tape-measure shots and awesome power to all fields.

On the day he acquired Reynolds from Arizona at the Winter Meetings, Andy MacPhail talked about his power.

“I think it’s to all fields and ours is a pretty right-handed-friendly park and I think he’ll benefit from that, as well. I think he would have led our club in runs, RBIs, home runs, walks. Those are the things that you are getting,” said MacPhail, the Orioles’ president of baseball operations.

Last year, when Reynolds hit 12 fewer homers than he did in 2009 (44 to 32), he still averaged one homer every 15.6 at bats. That was fourth-best in the National League.

NL leaders, 2010, homer ratio:
one every 13.98 at bats - Albert Pujols, St. Louis
one every 14.68 at bats - Adam Dunn, Washington
one every 14.78 at bats - Joey Votto, Cincinnati
one every 15.59 at bats - Reynolds, Arizona

In 2009, when Reynolds was fourth in the NL with 44 homers, he was third in the league in homer ratio, ahead of even Ryan Howard and Adrian Gonzalez.

It appears that one big difference the last two years in Reynolds’ homer totals was his ability to homer against right-handed pitchers. In 2009, Reynolds homered once every 12.8 at bats with an OPS of .889 versus right-handers. Those numbers were 18.3 and .694 last season.

If Reynolds has a longball season like 2009 for the 2011 Birds, he could become just the fifth Oriole ever to hit 40 or more in one year. The others:

50 - Brady Anderson, 1996
49 - Frank Robinson, 1966
46 - Jim Gentile, 1961
43 - Rafael Palmeiro, 1998

By the way, Orioles’ third basemen hit a total of 16 homers last year, while their first basemen hit just 11.

I don’t want to totally change my tune here, in that I have written many times that I don’t think a club needs to hit a lot of homers to have a good offense and that a club doesn’t need a lot of homers to win games.

But in the case of Reynolds, this guy was brought here to hit homers. He may well strike out 200-plus times, which would be more than any Oriole ever. But if he homers at a pace like he can, that will be a tradeoff worth it for this offense, which was so lacking in pop in 2010.

Reynolds figures to frustrate some fans with all the strikeouts. But at the same time, you will want to pay attention when he bats. You could miss a 450-foot homer.

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