Fans of the Cleveland Indians have been clamoring for a right-handed power bat to fill the middle of the batting order pretty much ever since Manny Ramirez departed as a free agent after the 2000 season.
The frugal ways of the Indians has certainly been a hurdle in finding the answer, as these types of players usually command mega dollars, but the trade of Trevor Bauer before the 2019 trade deadline looks to have finally solved the conundrum in the form of Franmil Reyes.
Reyes inflicted pain on the bleachers at Progressive Field Tuesday night against the Twins when he launched two, behemoth shots well over the mini monster. The first one went 3/4 of the way up. Together his bombs totaled 886 feet .
He’s now one of seven players tied for the American League lead in home runs with 7.
It’s not a huge surprise to see Reyes finally delivering, but his projection as a big-time, middle-of-the-order bat has has been, well, just that. We all thought he had this kind of potential, we were just waiting to see it unleashed.
When he came to the Tribe in 2019, Reyes had hit 27 bombs with the Padres. He ended up hitting 10 more with the Tribe. Think back to that season. Reyes hit just two homers from Aug. 1 through Aug. 23, leaving us scratching our heads.
He then went on a tear, hitting a total of four in his next three games off some bad Royals and Tigers pitching staffs. He spread out four more homers over September, but was really to inconsistent at the plate as the Tribe failed to earn a spot in the postseason.
Next came the pandemic shortened 2020 campaign. We had just seen him hit 10 homers in 194 plate appearances. If he was the real deal, surely he’d do better. He didn’t. Reyes hit nine home runs in 241 plate appearances. Overall, you’d say he had a good 60-game run, but nobody was going to be rushing to put him an All-Star game (if there had been one) and that’s what the Tribe needs Reyes to be if they’re going to win the Bauer trade.
Perhaps we’re seeing the fruit ripen, as Reyes has seven bombs in 83 plate appearances. He’s slugging .679. His wRC+ is an astounding 179. A mark of 100 is considered the league average, so this goes to show how much Reyes is improved. He posted a wRC+ of 109 in 2019 and 113 last season. Above league average, but blowing anyone away.
That’s changed for now, here’s hoping Reyes keeps it up.