One Man’s Trash: Hoop-Deville Franmil

It was Wednesday. The sun had risen many hours prior and Son needed inspiration for his latest Razzball piece. The stomach growled. The mouth began to water. The nose began to inhale what the mind was dreaming of. Chicken and waffles from Roscoe’s then. As I eschewed the traffic-infested freeway of LA….Random thought: Don’t people in LA work? Anyways, stopped at a traffic light, my windows began to shake and the eardrums began to beat while my head nodded up and down, side to side. As I turned my head to see where the sound was coming from, my eyes locked with the fella to my left. We nodded and both continued to bobble our heads to the beat. The light turned green and the fella lurched his car forward. It was a black 2018 Mercedes Benz S-500. The exhaust puttered out smoke. The right rear bumper was hanging onto a lone hook as if it were to plummet hundreds of feet from a cliff. The side doors had dents galore. The rims were all scratched up. A straight up hoop-deville. That said, while there were plenty of issues with the car, it just needed a little work to return to glory. Franmil Reyes is the hoop-deville of fantasy right now, slashing .139/.171/.215 with a 46.3% strikeout rate and .076 ISO. As a result, he was dropped in 9.3% of ESPN leagues. He’s hit at least 30 home runs twice in his career. Is this the New World Order or is there hope?

Reyes is 26 years old, 6’5″, 265 pounds, and bats from the right side. He signed with the Padres in 2011 as an international free agent. In 2019, he was traded to the Guardians.

Early on, Reyes was a light-hitting player who stole double-digit bases twice! The strikeout rate was in the low-20% range and the batting average fluctuated. As he matured physically, the power started to manifest. In 2016 in Single-A, the ISO was .174 and he hit 16 home runs. He then hit 25 home runs in Double-A then 16 homers in Triple-A. The walk rate was in the 8 to 10% area while the strikeout rate had a slight uptick to 23%.

He made his MLB debut in 2018 and hit 16 home runs in 250 plate appearances. The walk rate remained at 8% but the strikeout rate climbed to 28%. He hit .280 with a .345 BABIP that season. The following season, he mashed 37 home runs between two teams. The batting average went down to .249 while the ISO was .263. Last season, Reyes hit 30 home runs and stole four bases but the strikeout rate climbed to 32%. The ISO was .268 and the slash was .254/.324/.522.

So, what’s going on so far this season? Let’s dig in.

He’s hitting fewer ground balls and more line drives. That’s good. The fly ball rate has increased as well. He’s still pulling the ball 40% of the time and the hard hit rate is still above 40%. Hmmm.

The chase rate is in line with his career average. The contact rates have come down by 4.4% in the zone and 6.8% in general from last season while the swinging strike rate is at 17%. Last season it was at 14.2% but it was in the 17% range the prior two seasons. The biggest anomalies that I see are that he’s swinging less in the zone and letting more pitches go by for strikes.

Looking at the Statcast data, he’s in the 91st percentile for average exit velocity, 67th percentile for hard hit rate, and 78th percentile in barrel rate. All of those numbers are down from last season except for the average exit velocity, but they are still good numbers.

Reyes is obviously out of sorts right now. It could be from not seeing the ball well or just getting into his own head. He’s been in the bigs for four seasons and has extensive MLB experience. It’s early in the season and I will side with history here. I don’t see structural issues with his game. Just being in a funk. The power is immense and if you can acquire for cheap, I’d be all over that as the risk/reward seems very favorable.

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