Thoughts on Jeremy Reed
One of the more disappointing rookies this season was Mariners outfielder Jeremy Reed.
First, a review of the projections:
Baseball Forecaster: .259/.333/.385
John Sickels JSPS-2: .287/.351/.413
Baseball Prospectus: .286/.353/.423
Bill James Handbook: .307/.378/.446
Actual Performance: .254/.322/.352
As you can see, only Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster came close to predicting what Reed would do, and even Shandler was a bit too optimistic.
So, where does Reed go from here? Looking into his splits, we find that he had a LOT of problems against lefthanded pitchers, hitting just .200/.276/.267 against them, vs. .269/.335/.376 against righties. Improving against southpaws is obviously a necessity. His month-by-month splits are unremarkable. His home/road splits are close, although he showed a bit more pop on the road, not unusual considering the nature of Safeco. Reed was, essentially, consistently mediocre throughout the season. His only really good month was May, when he hit .312/.373/.473.
His hitting charts don't show much. . .he sprayed hits to all fields. All three of his home runs were pulled, but otherwise his extra-base hits are all over the place, some to the opposite field gap, some down either line, some pulled to the gap in right, etc. Nothing remarkable there.
Other than the problems against lefties, the numbers don't tell us much about why he struggled. Scouting-wise, he didn't seem to have too many problems controlling the strike zone. He just didn't hit with the authority expected. He did look tentative at times in games I saw, a bit unsure of himself, but that's hard to quantify. I'm not privy to any particular information about any problems with his swing or approach, and the Mariners were certainly patient with him.
One factor to consider is injury. Although Reed got into 141 games, he was bothered by injuries through most of the season, including a sore foot, a concussion, and chronic pain in his left wrist. The wrist apparently bothered him all season, and was eventually diagnosed with a torn ligament, ending his season early. Wrist problems can be a serious handicap for a hitter. Many hitters who try to play through wrist injuries end up making the problem worse, and obviously it can have a detrimental impact on performance. It's impossible to know how much the wrist was responsible for Reed's numbers this year, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was a major factor.
The year wasn't all negative. Reed turned out to be an excellent defensive center fielder (word of mouth, more below), which helped him keep his job even when he wasn't hitting well. This is important because defense was a question for him entering the season. Some scouts didn't think his range was good enough for center field, at least not in Safeco. NOTE: I've spent the last half hour trying to quantify Reed's defensive statistics to see if the "excellent" word-of-mouth rating is backed up by the numbers, but I'm having internet problems today and keep getting "timed out" of all the websites I normally use for stats. If anyone can post his defensive numbers in the comments, I would appreciate it. It would be a good thing to discuss.
Anyhow, I have not given up on Reed, and I expect he will rebound next year. That is more opinion than anything else, but I don't think what he did in the minors was a complete fluke, and I still expect him to emerge as a .280-.300 style hitter, with sound overall on-base skills and a bit of power. Mark Kotsay is a comparison I'd use. Let's see what Reed can do without a bum wrist before giving up on him.