Since the Detroit Tigers took Victor Reyes number one overall in the Rule 5 draft, he has been the subject of many opinions and a tattoo. There are indications he is what he is. A solid baseball player.
For Tigers fans who participate on social media often, the debate comes up about Victor Reyes. Is he a good ballplayer? Why did Detroit go after a pitcher number one overall in the Rule 5 draft? So on and so on.
My initial reaction to the pick was who is Victor Reyes? I admit, I also wasn’t sure what Al Avila was thinking when he was selected. But no one fascinates the fanbase like Victor Reyes. So much so, contributor TigersJUK made a bet about Reyes, lost and now has a permanent home on Jed’s calf muscle.
But the tattoo, as much as it is just permanent ink, perhaps in some ways, gave Victor Reyes a “boost”?
All jokes and those numbers above aside, let’s do an overview of his improvements this season.
Exit Velocity isn’t everything but…
When you look at Victor Reyes’s slash line of .304/.336./.431 and fWAR of 1.6 last season, on the surface, it looks good and a lot of fans hung their hat on that as they should of. It’s progress from his Rule 5 season but to be fair, a good majority of fans did not expect anything from him his first season.
Upon a deeper look at his Statcast numbers from 2019, his exit velocity was 87.6%, his XBA was .277 and he only had 1.9% barrel percentage (4 barrels out of 214 batted balls put into play). So, he was still struggling with making hard contact. The only reason why I pointed this out is that the Tigers were very adamant about his power potential.
Well, it is showing up this season a bit.
Reyes has already 3 barrels on the season, his exit velocity is 90.1MPH and his launch angle has increased from 9.2 last season to 12.4. That is a nice leap. Not to mention, his hard-hit percentage has jumped to 42.6%, up from 31.6% from a year ago. His iso, which is an indicator for power numbers, is up to .151.
He has shown an arm from the outfield and granted sometimes watching taking a path to the ball is awkward, he does not embarrass himself.
Does he still strikeout too much? Yes, he is the 35% percentile in whiff % and his barrel % also could be higher. Does he draw walks more? No, but that’s not who he is as a batter.
Victor Reyes is a guy who plays whatever role Detroit needs him to play in the outfield. If you think about the Tigers’ outfield outside of JaCoby Jones this season, you may grimace. All of these numbers are just after 24 games, so you can automatically add in the “sample size” portion to the conservation.
It was Jay Markle on Twitter who said something that really stuck out to me about Victor Reyes that sparked this article and the reply from Brian Sakowski of Perfect Game that summed it up nicely.
He is an outfielder for the Detroit Tigers who has shown improvement. The proof is there. There is plenty else to debate when it comes to the Detroit Tigers but this debate may still “carry water” elsewhere.