St. Louis Cardinals: Should the Cardinals bring back Mark Reynolds?

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 11: Mark Reynolds
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 11: Mark Reynolds /

With Matt Carpenter uncertain for opening day, should the St. Louis Cardinals bring back Mark Reynolds?

The St. Louis Cardinals recently announced first baseman Matt Carpenter may not be ready for opening day due to a nagging back injury.  This news raised concerns about the seriousness of Carpenter’s health going into the 2018 season.

That leaves the Cardinals with options of Jose Martinez and the unproven Luke Voit to play first base if Carpenter is on the DL.  Also, Martinez was scratched from last Tuesday’s game due to “groin spasms”, raising more concerns. He recovered in time to play in yesterday’s game, including hitting a home run.

That brings us to this question: If Carpenter starts the season on the DL, should the St. Louis Cardinals sign a free agent as an insurance policy?  If they go in that direction, should that free agent be former Cardinal Mark Reynolds?

Mark Reynolds came to St. Louis in 2015 on a one year contract to back up Matt Adams at first base and Matt Carpenter at third base.  Reynolds played in 140 games with the Cardinals, that included a 100 games at first and 22 games at third.   The right-handed Reynolds had a .230 BA with 13 HR, 48 RBI, 121 SO, 44 BB in 432 PA.

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Meanwhile, Reynolds played  competent, if not outstanding defensively at first base.  He had a .992 fielding percentage, a Rtot of 5 and a RF/9 of 9.20.

His numbers at third base were not nearly as steady, with a .897 fielding percentage, a Rtot of -3, and a RF/9 of 1.63.

Mark Reynolds left the Cardinals after 2015 and signed with the Colorado Rockies.  In hitter- friendly Colorado for the last two years, he had a .274 BA, 44 HRs, 150 RBI, 111 BB, 287 SO in 1,034 plate appearances.

Defensively, Reynolds played almost all of his games at first base in Colorado.  Although his defensive metrics in 2016 and 2017 were slightly less than they were in St. Louis, he saw more playing time.

Mark Reynolds became a free agent after the 2017 season.  Even though, he has expressed an interest in re-signing with the Rockies, Colorado has yet to make an offer.

The best way to determine if the St. Louis Cardinals should sign Mark Reynolds as an insurance policy is to look more closely at the numbers of Martinez and Voit.  Comparing the metrics between these three players is interesting, but only partly conclusive.

Mark Reynolds has an 11 year career average .329 OBP, .455 SLG, and a 104 OPS+.  He also has a career BA of .237 and a WAR of 8.5.  Baseball Reference projects for 2018 that Reynolds will have a .258 BA, .338, .451 SLG, and a .788 OPS. These offensive metrics are somewhat elevated due to Reynold’s last two years in Colorado.

Reynolds career defensive metrics show he has played more games at third base than first.  However, they also show he is stronger defensively at first base, with a career fielding percentage of .993 at first vs .929 at third.

The main problem comparing Jose Martinez and Luke Voit to Mark Reynolds, is their relative short major league experience.  However, I will look at 2017 stats as a comparison.

Jose Martinez’s 2017 offensive metrics actually blows both Reynolds and Voit “out of the water”, so to speak.  His .309 BA, .379 OBP, .518 SLG, .897 OPS, and 134 OPS+ top both the other players.  Only Martinez’s 14 HR and 47 RBI trail Reynold’s 30 HR and 97 RBI in 2017.   But Martinez had fewer at bats (272) vs Reynolds (520).

Defensively, Jose Martinez’s metrics are only slightly less than Reynolds in 2017.  Martinez trailed Reynolds in fld%, .992 vs .995.  Other metrics reflect the same.

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Baseball Reference projects Jose Martinez for 2018 a .289 BA, 14 HR and 48 RBI.  They also project that Martinez will have a .360 OBP, a .479 SLG, and a .839 OPS in 2018.

Luke Voit’s numbers were the weakest of the three, although he had only 114 AB in 2017.  His .246 BA, .306 OBP, .430 SLG, .732 OPS, and 92 OPS+ trails Reynolds line of .267/ .352/ .487/ .839,/105 in 2017.

Luke Voit’s defensive metrics at first base are hard to get a handle on since he played only 31 games in 2017 at that position.

Baseball Reference projects Luke Voit for 2018 a .254 BA, 9 HR, and 34 RBI.  They also project that Voit will have a .322 OBP, a .436 SLG, and a .758 OPS.

Finally, Baseball Reference projects Mark Reynolds in 2018  to hit 22 HR, with 73 RBI and a .258 BA.  They also predict a slash line of .338/.451/.788.

As stated earlier, based on 2017, Jose Martinez’s numbers indicate that he should be the choice to replace Matt Carpenter.   However, since that is based on one year, can Jose Martinez be trusted to put up those numbers again?

Would it be prudent for the St. Louis Cardinals front office to bring in Mark Reynolds on a one year contract as insurance?  Certainly, Reynolds has the career stats and experience to fill in for Matt Carpenter misses significant time in 2018.

In my opinion the Cardinals should not panic and sign Mark Reynolds.

The Cardinals should go with Jose Martinez in Matt Carpenter’s place if it becomes necessary.  Martinez’s 2017 performance deserves a closer look as an everyday player in 2018.  His 2017 stats are just too impressive to be ignored.

Defensively, the only advantage of going with Reynolds is his ability to back up Jed Gyorko at third base.  Other than that, Reynolds is not a significant improvement over Martinez at first.

In conclusion, if Jose Martinez falters in the early going in 2018, and Luke Voit doesn’t step up his performance, then the Cardinals can look outside the system for Mark Reynolds or another veteran.

Next: Possible crunch time for Mikolas

That’s my opinion, however. What’s yours?  Thanks for reading.