After hitting 30 home runs, 85 RBI and batting .254 in 2021 and establishing himself as the clean up man and premier power hitter in the lineup, no one could’ve expected that in 2022, Franmil Reyes would no longer been in a Guardians uniform, let alone designated for assignment in August. Yet here we are. So how did this happen?

Strikeouts become a much bigger concern

Even in his successful seasons with Cleveland, 2019, 2020 and 2021, Reyes always had a problem with strikeouts. In 2021, despite hitting .254 and having an ops of .846, Reyes struck out a lot. 149 times to be exact, which meant he struck out 32% of the time he was at the dish. That put him in the bottom three percent of the league. In 2022, it got worse. In 263 at-bats, he struck out 104 times, or 37.1 percent of the time he was up. That put him in the bottom one percent of the league according to Baseball Savant.

The Guardians as a team have struck out only 747 times in 106 games this season, which means they strike out the least of any team in the majors. Since Franmil Reyes has struck out 104 times, Reyes accounts for about 7.18 percent of all of Cleveland’s strikeouts this season. Also, he’s only played in 70 games. If Reyes had kept the same strikeouts per game rate he had this season, nearly 1.5 strikeouts each game and multiply that by 106, It comes out to 157.49, meaning 53 more strikeouts over those 36 extra games. If you added those 53 to the 747 strikeouts the Guardians currently have, it would come up to 800. That would make Cleveland have the third least amount of strikeouts in the league behind Washington and Houston. The strikeouts just weren’t cutting it.

He was not hitting for Power

Reyes’ role on the Guardians was simple: hit for power and bring home the people we get on base. After having multiple 30+ home run seasons in his career so far, he seemed destined for an even better year when it came to power considering how he was going to be looked at for that reason. The problem was, he wasn’t hitting home runs. In 115 games last season, Reyes had 30 home runs, or good for about a home run every four games, 3.83 games to be exact. If you divide 162 by 3.83, it comes out to 42.3, meaning Reyes was on track to hit at least 42 home runs during a full 2021 season. This year, he had just nine home runs in 70 games. That meant he hit a home run every 7.78 games, or for easier sake every eight games. That’s on pace for just 20 home runs in a full 162 game season, not at all what is expected of someone who’s main job is to hit for power. The Guardians aren’t a team that’s built to hit many home runs, they’re built for speed and getting on base. That’s why it was very important for Reyes to be that power hitter they desperately needed. He wasn’t able to be that. The Guardians have only hit 85 home runs this season, tied for the second lowest in the majors this season.

His lack of fielding made it hard to use him all the time

When Reyes was acquired from the San Diego Padres in 2019, it was a fit because the American League had the role of Designated Hitter that the National League didn’t, and so the Guardians could insert Reyes into the role. They wouldn’t have to use him in the outfield, where he wasn’t built to play a position like that. He only made a total of 26 starts in the outfield in his three and half seasons with Cleveland, 11 of them occurring in 2021. However, 14 times during his 70 games with Cleveland this season, Reyes found himself in the outfield. This was because the Guardians knew they had a problem on their hands. They had many people in the minors that were ready to be called up to the majors. They were trying to move people around to allow many different players to get some at-bats to see what they had. With so many people being designated for assignment this season already, Yu Chang, Bobby Bradley and Oscar Mercado being three notable offensive players to be designated for Assignment this season, it allowed for more young guys to finally be called up. One reason those people were DFA were because while they did offer positional value, their lack of consistent hitting made them expandable in the eyes of the front office. Since Reyes was a DH, he was never needed to be a positional player, but when he wasn’t hitting well combined with the fact he was a DH, it made him expendable.

To clear way on the 40 man for younger players

It’s no secret the Guardians have a 40 man roster problem. It is filled to the brim. The problem is, they have one of the best farm systems in baseball currently and A LOT of really good players eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 draft in December. One obvious name that sticks out for who is Rule 5 eligible this upcoming offseason is catcher Bo Naylor. Many assume Naylor will be added to the 40 man before then whether it be someone like Luke Maile or even Austin Hedges be taken off it after the season. But what about guys like Peyton Battenfield, Will Brennan and Nick Mikolajchak? Each of those three have had very productive 2022 campaigns, but it’s highly unlikely that all three of them could be added given the current situation. What happens if they lose talented people like that? Hence why the situation in front of them is important and hence why someone like Franmil Reyes was surprisingly DFA. First, there are many people in the minors that are ready for their shot at the big leagues. Second, Reyes was batting a career low .213, his obp was .254, and that just wasn’t cutting it as their designated hitter. Third, it was time to get some of the younger guys like Oscar Gonzalez, Nolan Jones and Tyler Freeman some much needed at-bats since they were looked at as part of the future of this team. With a 40 man roster that was filled to the brim, someone needed to be DFA to make some room to protect some of those higher level prospects that were eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 draft. Reyes just happened to be the person the Guardians had to get rid of to clear space.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Franmil Reyes will find himself on a big league roster very soon. He has 30+ home run power and just needs to find his confidence. Maybe it’s in Cleveland soon enough, but most likely it’s somewhere else.

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