Is Franmil Reyes being affected by the “dead baseball” problem?
Franmil Reyes has been an utter disappointment so far through 2022. While most of the Cleveland Guardians have had issues at some point this year with streaky hitting, Reyes has been next level, with a trajectory set to take him close to the all-time single-season strikeout record in Major League history. Reyes is only hitting .205 and has 54 strikeouts already, more than twice the amount of hits he had and just slightly less than two times the amount of total times on base.
He’s arguably the worst hitter on the team so far in 2022 but why? Well, Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes was asked if the “dead baseball” problem affecting the Major Leagues was causing Reyes’ issues.
Frankly, the answer is a resounding no. While the “dead baseball” problem may be affecting the lack of home runs some guys are having problems with, Reyes’ problem is not new, and not affected by the ball. No, Reyes has an issue with his plate vision and he’s always had that issue. For his career, he strikes out 30% of his plate appearances.
He’s hit 149 strikeouts twice in a season, and he’s well on his way to 200+ strikeouts this season assuming he hits the required amount of plate appearances. Reyes’ issues are part of who he is as a player, and it’s less to do with him struggling with the “dead balls” and more to do with the fact pitchers can figure him out if he has too much tape on him. In 2020, when there were only 60 games, Reyes was unstoppable.
Yet, keep in mind his second year. In San Diego, he struck out 26% of the time but after the mid-season trade to Cleveland, he jumped to 32% of the time. In fact, in San Diego, he only struck out 27% of the time over his near two-years with the club, while in Cleveland he’s hovering around 33%. The longer he pitches, the more film there is on him, and the more likely a pitching staff can figure out his issues.
Reyes is not just streaky, he’s got serious plate vision issues that is holding not just himself but the club back.
What is baseball’s “dead ball” problem?
Reyes’ issue is that he’s taking looping swings at balls he should not be swinging at. It’s all about plate vision for Reyes. The “dead ball” problem has nothing to do with that issue, at least in theory. The “dead ball” problem in baseball comes into play when contact is made with the baseball itself. Now, some claim the balls may warp a bit when thrown but that’s not been proven.
What is proven is that baseball is currently using two different types of baseballs due to material shortages. Not only is the lack of materials causing a decline in baseball quality, but the rate at which players are going through baseballs is at an all-time high. In 2005 the league used 900,000 baseballs in a single season. In 2019, that number was 1.2 million baseballs used in a single season.
Most of those were later sold or attempted to be sold by the Major Leagues to turn a profit, but in 2022, with supply chains still being disrupted, that volume of used balls is creating a strain on production.
Hence the two types of baseballs, and the “dead baseball” issue of the season. That leads to some balls going further than they should or falling shorter of where they should be.
None of that has any influence over Reyes being a strikeout machine, something he’s been for most of his time in Cleveland and in his career overall.
For a better look at the issues with the baseballs and why it’s not that big of a deal, check out Baseball Doesn’t Exist’s video above.