The Baltimore Orioles are off to a rough start at the plate. The O’s currently have a .308 team wOBA, ranking 11th in the American League. Baltimore batters have hacked at 30 percent of pitches thrown off the plate, a mark topped only by the Blue Jays and Royals. In particular, the outfielders have made outs at a dizzying clip: Orioles’ fly catchers have a collective .300 wOBA, besting only the Athletics among Junior Circuit clubs.
Expect that mark to improve in the weeks and months to come. Matt Klaassen recently discussed the poor luck on balls put in play endured by OF/DH Luke Scott, but Scott isn’t the only O’s hitter whose underlying performance is better than the ugly line that he currently holds. Nolan Reimold sits at the Mendoza Line, but he and his fantasy owners should expect that to soon change.
Reimold, 26, is a 2005 second-round pick out of Bowling Green State who compiled a .286/.383/.521 triple-slash in the minors. Though he showed quality secondary skills (12.5 percent walk rate, .235 Isolated Power), Reimold’s ascent to the majors was slowed by a series of injuries: foot and back problems in 2006 and a strained oblique in 2007.
Reaching Baltimore in May of 2009, Reimold put up a .279/.365/.466 line in 411 plate appearances during his rookie season. He popped 15 home runs with a .187 ISO, walking in 11.4 percent of his PA while posting a .365 wOBA. Injuries again crept into the conversation, as Reimold was shut down in mid-September with a left Achilles ailment that required surgery.
In 2010, the hulking 6-4 hitter was expected to be an offensive asset by ZiPS, CHONE and (especially) the FANS:
ZiPS: .273/.345/.440, .346 wOBA
CHONE: .275/.355/.477, .362 wOBA
FANS: .281/.370/.484, .372 wOBA
However, even after going deep off of David Robertson on Cinco de Mayo, Reimold owns a .200/.305/.357 line in 82 PA (.299 wOBA). The former Falcon’s Yahoo ownership has taken a dive to 26 percent. Look a little deeper, though, and it appears that there’s not much to worry about.
Reimold’s rate of free passes taken is 12.2%, up from last season. His K rate is slightly higher (24.3% in ’10, 21.5% in ’09) and his power is down a bit (.157 ISO). But neither of those changes are drastic, and given the sample size, they’re hardly alarming.
The biggest difference between Reimold’s debut and his 2010 season to date is his BABIP: .316 in 2009, and just .231 this year. Nothing in his batted ball profile has altered dramatically. He’s hitting more fly balls (which do have a lower BABIP than grounders), but those extra flys are in place of infield fly balls, the closest thing to a gimme out on a ball put in play. Point to the line drive rate if you’d like, but one person’s line drive can be another’s fly ball.
ZiPS projects Reimold for a .265/.338/.434 (.341 wOBA) performance for the rest of 2010. Personally, I’d take the over on that line if he has no further injury problems. Reimold’s misfortune provides fantasy owners with the chance to pick up a good hitter at a discount price.
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