Bryan Reynolds is a phenomenal baseball player, and nothing I am about to write lessens my opinion of him. He is an All-American, played on the US National Team this past summer, and has the most professional approach at the plate of anyone on our team. In addition, he's a solid CF who takes great routes to balls and is never in the wrong place. However, from the first weekend series of the year, I noticed a pretty glaring hole in his swing.
For those who follow the in-game comment threads, I've been sitting on this observation all year, and told you I would only write about it when it became brutally obvious that other teams had picked up on it. Well, this week, it became so obvious a four year-old could understand it.
Against Kentucky, Reynolds opened strong, going 1-3 with a 2 run double and 2 walks on Friday. However, he struck out once, flailing by swinging over a ball thrown down and in.
On Saturday, he went 1-4 with a single. Again, not bad if you're just looking at the stat line. However, he struck out 3 times, all on pitches down and in. He swung over every last one of them.
By Sunday, UK pitchers didn't even pretend they were going to throw the ball anywhere else to The Aluminum Foil, and he went 0-5 with 3 Ks and grounded into a double play.
From the comment thread Sunday:
They've found the hole in his swing.
I've been avoiding reporting on it all year, but he'll have to adjust. Clearly, the book is out on him: throw hard, down and in.
In short, this largely has to do with his stance, which is great for pitches over the middle to outer part of the plate, but limits his plate coverage of the inside low corner while batting left handed.
Reynolds starts out with a relatively closed stance, takes a small step in, and then loads his hands. This is great for how most pitchers will attack a lefty - keep it away to sap their pull power - but as more and more of his at bats were on tape, coaches have seen the hole. It's not a "weak spot," it's a hole. Throw it hard, down and in - fastball or slider, and the best he's going to do is weakly ground it out. He will more often than not swing over it.
What can be done of this, this late in the season?
As it's unwise to try to correct an otherwise workable swing this late, my suggestion would just be to have him take all pitches down and in. They're likely to be balls about 75% of the time, anyway.
However, he might want to consider opening up his stance just a touch against RHP. By doing so, he will lose optimum coverage of the outer part of the plate, but if he pulls a few doubles to the corner, pitchers will adjust and start throwing him away again.
With the increase in televised games (though mostly on SECN+), opposing coaches no longer have to rely on the word of advanced scouts, who might see a player in one series at most before writing their report. Instead, they can assign their assistant coaches and G.A.s to watch every game their opponents play. As such, it's almost as easy now to get a "book" on someone as it is on the MLB level, where analysis has become so advanced, defenses position themselves differently for pretty much every batter these days.
Increasingly, the college game, much like MLB, is going to become about making adjustments. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though, and if any hitter on our team can re-write the book on him in two weeks, it's Reynolds, who has the most professional approach of any hitter on our team.
In short, they've got his number. He needs to change his number, so when pitchers come calling down and in, he can be all, "New phone. Who dis?"