Gold Lot Sports Presents "Man Crush Monday" featuring Bryan Reynolds


Man Crush Monday is a new weekly segment from Gold Lot Sports where we will showcase one Pittsburgh athlete each Monday.  This particular athlete may have either had an outstanding weekend, a great week overall, or we just think the Pittsburgh audience should know a little more about this player.  Since this is the first edition, and it is fresh off the heels of the Pirates 2021 season, this week’s Man Crush Monday will showcase Pittsburgh Pirate centerfielder Bryan Reynolds.

How He Got Here

Bryan Reynolds came to Pittsburgh in one of the most polarizing trades in Pittsburgh sports history.  In a 3-player deal, the Pittsburgh Pirates sent legend and fan-favorite, Andrew McCutchen, to the San Francisco Giants for outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds and relief pitcher Kyle Crick.  While many baseball and business-minded folks understood the trade from the Pirates perspective, fans were heartbroken.  It would take a lot for Reynolds to fill the gigantic presence left behind by McCutchen.

Reynolds has not just taken on the challenge, he has embraced it.  He broke into the league in 2019 and played 134 games for the Pirates in his rookie season.  In his rookie year he batted .314 and had an OPS of .880.  He was showing true star potential as a Pirates outfielder.

Then the pandemic hit.  After a shortened spring training and a rather lengthy break before the 2020 season finally started, the Pirates finally took the field for 55 games starting in late July.  Reynolds struggled mightily.  He batted just .189 in 185 at-bats.  For all intents and purposes, I am tossing this season out.  There were far too many strange variables to consider this season among a player’s career stats.

All Star Season

Reynolds proved me right to toss out the 2020 season.  He picked up 2021 right where he left off in 2019.  By July, Reynolds was a starter in the MLB All-Star game and a legitimate candidate for the NL MVP and the NL Centerfield Gold Glove awards.  At the halfway point, Reynolds was batting .302 with 16 homeruns and 51 RBI.  He also was among the league leaders in doubles and extra base hits.  He was the superstar the Pirates were looking for in the McCutchen trade.

In the 2nd half of the season, he lost his best complement in the Pirates lineup in Adam Frazier, and did not perform as well.  Frazier was traded to the San Diego Padres and the whole lineup seemed to slump through much of August. 

Reynolds still batted .303 with a .921 OPS, but his homerun and RBI numbers regressed.  However, he still finished the season with a .302 batting average and a .912 OPS in just his second full season in the majors.  Reynolds is performing like a 10-year veteran after only two full seasons in the league.

Reynolds also has the highest National League fielding percentage at the centerfield position.  If he does not receive any MVP votes, which I think he should, he will certainly receive Gold Glove votes and should win it in the National League.  He also ranks 10th in the major leagues in Total WAR according to Fangraphs, and has the highest WAR among all centerfielders.  Reynolds actually ranks just slightly above former Pirate centerfielder, Starling Marte who is the second highest rated centerfielder in the category. 

Reynolds had one of the single greatest all-around seasons in recent Pirates history.  He has especially been the best Pirate since Andrew McCutchen left, and at just 24 years old, he is on pace to pass him statistically.  I know due to the circumstances involved with those 2012 through 2016 Pirate teams that Cutch will always be seen as a hero, but I hope people will objectively start to see that Reynolds as the return was well worth the trade.

The next step is for the Pirates to extend Bryan Reynolds with a long-term contract.  The guaranteed money and getting him off his rookie contract terms will show the faith the ballclub has in Reynolds and will establish a good working relationship with him moving forward.  I hope to see that happen this offseason as it cannot come soon enough.  Reynolds deserves our first ever Man Crush Monday spotlight and if his career continues as it has started he will receive many awards and accolades moving forward.