While there are a lot of players in Major League Baseball, only a handful have a legitimate shot of leading the league in home runs. Well, here’s one of them. Franmil Reyes has enough pop in that bat to make a run at the league title. In 2020, he hit nine home runs across 59 games, but back in 2019, he hit 37 home runs across 150 games. In 2018, he swatted 16 round-trippers in 87 games. He has massive power and, sure, he strikes out a good bit and his batting average isn’t always ideal despite his insane batted ball profile, but one thing is for certain, and that is the fact that Reyes gives you massive home run potential.
Before we get into the batted ball profile, which is sure to make you smile, let’s just get his plate discipline out of the way. Yes, his 28.6 percent strikeout rate in 2020 is a bit more elevated than one would like, but he’s been consistent, posting a strikeout rate between 28 and 29 percent in three straight seasons. His swinging strike rate dropped from 2019, but it’s still above 16 percent, but with Reyes, that is what it is. There’s some swing and miss in his game, but as long as the ball is flying out of the yard, you can live with that. On the other hand, he did post a ten percent walk rate in 2020, which is pretty darn good, and a step up from his recent 8.4 percent and 8.6 percent marks.
His contact rate took a sizable hit, as his 63.9 percent contact rate in 2020 was the eighth-lowest mark amongst qualified hitters, and for the second-straight year, his contact in the zone decreased.
It should come as no surprise that his whiff rate in the zone took a slight jump against everything except fastballs.
Okay, now it’s time for the fun stuff with Reyes. While his overall exit velocity was down a hair, it’s still at a solid mark. In 2019, he was in the top two percent of the league, whereas in 2020, he was only in the top nine percent of the league. Come on, Franmil! Anyway, his launch angle continues to increase. Back in 2018, his launch angle was at 6.8 degrees, and since that season, it has jumped from 9.5 degrees and then again to a career-best 11.2 degrees in 2020. However, it is interesting to note that his 50.3 percent ground ball rate was higher than recent seasons, largely due to beating non-fastballs into the ground with a greater frequency.
His home run pace from 2020 was a step or two behind his 2019 pace, but he’s still posting excellent exit velocities on fly balls and line drives. If he would have qualified back in 2018, he would have been in the top 12 of the league in each of the past three years, highlighted by the second-best mark in 2019.
96.7 (would have been 10th-best)
Reyes has power to all parts of the field and his 2019 spray chart was a thing of beauty, but his 2020 version featured a barren wasteland in the left field bleachers.
Reyes doesn’t need to pull the ball to leave the yard, but all but one of his home runs were to right-center or right field. It’s not that he can’t do it, as he has power to all parts of the field, but in 2021, Reyes needs to park some balls to the left side of the field, and not just for singles. Show it off, Franimal!
Don’t be fooled by his .275 batting average from 2020. He’s not a .275 hitter, and in 2021, he will likely return to the .245-.260 range. Decreasing contact numbers are far from ideal, and the numbers suggest that Reyes might be a bit lucky to have just a 28 percent strikeout rate, compared to perhaps a mark around or slightly above 30 percent. Now, what Reyes will do in 2021 is leave the yard with regularity, and like I said earlier, he’s one of just a handful of players with the ability to lead the league in home runs.
His utility-only usage in fantasy baseball hurts a bit, but you’ll want him in your lineup this season. He’s worth it, and he’s quite affordable at the time of this writing. Reyes is young and has all of the power potential in the world. Back-to-back seasons in the top ten percent of the league in terms of average exit velocity and a launch angle on the rise should catapult Reyes across the 40-home run threshold in 2021.