Mark Reynolds: Worst defensive year ever?

July, 15, 2011
7/15/11
1:49
PM ET
I'll give this to Mark Reynolds: He is one of most unique, fascinating players in major league history.

He holds the single-season strikeout record, of course, with 223 in 2009. Heck, he holds the top three single-season marks of all time. This season, he's hitting .224 with 99 strikeouts for the Orioles, but he's actually been a productive offensive player since he has 20 home runs and 50 walks. His .342 on-base percentage is nearly the equal of Robinson Cano's .346, even though he's hitting 76 points lower.

But there's another side to Reynolds' season, an ugly side that Orioles fans know all too well. He's committed 20 errors at third base and is fielding .894. But it's not just the errors; Reynolds isn't showing range either. Our friends at Baseball Info Solutions have tracked every batted ball since 2002 to come up with their defensive metric. Here are the worst fielding seasons since 2002 in terms of runs saved below average:

1. Orlando Cabrera (SS), A's-Twins, 2009: -33
2. Ryan Braun (3B), Brewers, 2007: -32
3. Michael Young (SS), Rangers, 2005: -31
4. Derek Jeter (SS), Yankees, 2005: -28
5. Michael Young (SS), Rangers: 2004: -28
6. Hanley Ramirez, (SS), Marlins, 2007: -27
7. MARK REYNOLDS (3B), ORIOLES, 2011: -26
8. Jermaine Dye (RF), White Sox, 2007: -24
9. Mike Jacobs (1B), Marlins, 2008: -23
9. Garrett Atkins (3B), Rockies, 2007: -23
9. Derek Jeter (SS), Yankees, 2007: -23
9. Mark Teahen (3B), Royals, 2005: -23
9. Robinson Cano (2B), Yankees, 2005: -23

As you can see, Reynolds is already at minus-26 runs through just 88 games played, bringing back memories of the rookie Braun attempting to play third in 2007, when he fielded just .895, prompting a move to left field the next season.

How does Reynolds compare to other horrific seasons prior to 2002? Baseball-Reference.com uses a different system, but here are its five worst fielding seasons since 1969:

1. Brad Hawpe (RF), Rockies, 2008: -41
2. Ryan Braun (3B), Brewers, 2007: -35
3. Jason Bay (LF), Pirates-Red Sox, 2008: -35
4. Dante Bichette (LF), Rockies, 1999: -34
5. Chris Gomez (SS), Padres, 1997: -33

(Gary Sheffield's 1993 season, when he fielded .899 at third base, just misses the cut.)

So no matter what metric you use, Reynolds has been all-time bad at third base this season, with a good chance to shatter the -40 barrier. Like I said, he's a unique ballplayer.

David Schoenfield | email

SweetSpot blogger

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