Since he joined the Chicago Cubs by waiver claim last week, Franmil Reyes has hit. You know, just hit.
Through 8 games, all with at least one hit, the 27-year-old DH is hitting .382/.382/.706/200 wRC+ with the Cubs, and his quality of contact is exceptionally good. This is the Reyes that showed out when he was at his best, before the start of the 2022 season with the Guardians.
The obvious questions are “can this continue?,” and “what happened earlier in the year?”
The first question can be reasonably answered today with a “no, he won’t continue at THIS pace in perpetuity, but he might be back to being fine!” The second question is the trickier one, and is probably tied to a combination of issues. It’ll take a lot longer to really suss out what was going on, and what could happen with the Cubs the rest of this year (and next year if they tender him a contract after the season).
For his part, Reyes sees a huge part of his break-back-out as being tied to the classic “change of scenery,” and maybe even specifically landing with the Cubs:
To go from such deep struggles that your team dumps you for nothing, to landing somewhere that obviously really wants you and wants you to start every single day – that means a lot to some guys. It is a confidence boost that, hey, if I just do what I’ve always done, I can be good here.
That’s a lot of what Reyes told Cubs.com, after discussing the confidence boost:
“It’s not like, ‘Try to show them,'” Reyes said. “Everybody knows me and knows — when I’m good — what I can do. … I just control picking my pitch, doing damage and taking advantage of what the game is giving me. If I’m going to be here for a long time? I don’t control that.”
There’s just no better attitude to have in a situation like this. Reyes and the Cubs both know he can be really good. And they both know a decision will be made in the future about whether to continue the relationship. But that decision isn’t going to be made today, and the Cubs don’t have the same immediate urgency that the Guardians had in a competitive season. There is no pressing necessary by Reyes or by his team, and maybe that’s all he needed for a full reset.
“Just the confidence,” he told Elise Menaker before smacking a pair of doubles in Wednesday’s victory. “I’m playing free. My mind is happy. I’m giving my best and selecting good pitches.”
For Reyes, it all comes back to confidence. He is feeling so good at the plate, he is not trying to do too much and only takes a handful of swings in the cages before games right now.
“In baseball, I think confidence is the most valuable thing,” Reyes said. “If you don’t have confidence, you’re not gonna have success. For me, these couple weeks, I’ve been up and down a lot.
“I finally found my spot. It looks like I landed right where I needed to be. God’s plans are perfect. I trust the plan and I trust myself.”
Nice to hear for a guy who already seems like a good and well-liked teammate.
All the good stuff said, of course there will be struggles. He won’t obliterated every single pitch he sees, and the strikeouts are going to spike at some point. But you just want him to be himself the rest of the way, and then evaluate the whole package with as much information as possible. Since Reyes is a bat-only guy, and since he is going to make real money in his second go through arbitration, he’s going to need to look pretty darn good the rest of the way to justify a tender. But he was a career .260/.325/.503/119 wRC+ hitter before this year, and that’d probably do the trick. So he’s just gotta be comfortable, and be himself.
So far, so good with Franmil Reyes and the Cubs. He’s fun to watch, too.