The Cleveland Guardians offense desperately needs designated hitter Franmil Reyes to produce, but he’s currently trying to work himself out of a horrendous early-season slump.
A lot of the Cleveland Guardians’ current offensive problems could be solved if designated hitter Franmil Reyes could work himself out of a major funk.
Reyes is currently in the midst of a brutal stretch at the plate, highlighted – or lowlighted, really – by a recent 0-for-8 stretch that included eight consecutive strikeouts. On the season, he’s hitting just .145/.181/.232 with a baseball-worst 31 strikeouts and just two home runs in his first 72 plate appearances.
It’s about as bad a start as one can imagine for the righty, who is supposed to provide some much-needed protection for José Ramírez in the lineup. Which, honestly, makes it all the more incredible that Ramírez has gotten off to the hot start that he has, and that even with Reyes’ struggles, the Guardians continue to have one of the better offenses in the league.
While Reyes is hitting the ball hard when making contact, as you might expect, his advanced stats paint the story of a hitter who’s just lost at the plate right now. A 43.1% strikeout rate (along with a 21 wRC+) is absurd, and while a .178 xBA and .190 wOBA probably aren’t sustainable over time, things at the moment are pretty grim.
It likely comes as no surprise either to find that Reyes is having particular trouble with breaking pitches this season, whiffing at an extreme rate (61.4%) compared to even his career numbers in that department, which have ranged from 40-57%.
What Can Franmil Reyes Do to Right the Ship?
Moving him down in the lineup, as manager Terry Francona has already begun to do, is a start. Teams have begun to pitch around Ramírez more, not that it’s hurt him all that much. But having Josh Naylor or Owen Miller batting cleanup should help for the time being. Both possess good-to-great bat-to-ball skills and have flashed enough power to keep pitchers honest.
The silver lining here is that Reyes is prone to streaks as hot as this one to begin the year has been cold. Even with the start he’s had, Reyes is still more than capable of hitting 30 home runs this year with a full season’s worth of at-bats, which has been a goal for him.
The Guardians just aren’t left with too many options in the meantime, other than to let Reyes try to hit his way out of this massive slump. Cleveland really doesn’t have any other pure power hitters in the lineup besides Ramírez, but the Guardians can’t keep letting Reyes hit behind him if he’s going to be striking out at such a clip. Interestingly enough, speaking of strikeouts again, Reyes has increased his strikeout rate every single season of his career so far – last season he finished at 32%.
Maybe Reyes simply needs to hit lower in the lineup full-time. The Guardians surely need that power threat higher up in the order, but it’s doing more harm than good at the moment, and if a guy like Owen Miller is going to continue tearing the cover off the ball, it might just make more sense for the time being to leave him there.
If the Guardians are going to take a step forward as a team, though, they’ll eventually need Reyes to help them get there.