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Don’t blame Franmil Reyes for being a dangerous hitter.

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Don’t blame Franmil Reyes for being a dangerous hitter. Blame an ESPN writer for irresponsible reporting of one of baseball’s most tragic moments.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at San Diego Padres
LAUNCH ANGLE!
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

In an awkward case of timing, Franmil Reyes has been mentioned in two articles that describe the Padres slugger as dangerous, but in different contexts. One is quite complimentary, while the other may have been a case of bad reporting but unfortunately brings Franmil into the shadow of a dark moment for baseball.

Last night, Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs posted an article originally titled “The Padres’ Most Dangerous Hitter”. The title has since been changed for reasons described below, but the purpose of this article is to bring attention to something that Padres fans already know. Since making an adjustment during a mid-season option to AAA El Paso, Franmil Reyes was one of the most productive hitters in baseball. He uses his change in K%-BB% to highlight an improved ability to draw walks and avoid strikeouts along with his change in wRC+, a stat that compares a hitter’s value against the league average. Franmil showed a balanced approach at the plate which combined with his shorter mechanics and titanic strength allowed him to succeed beyond expectations. This might not be news to those of us who watched the team daily last year, but it’s news to the rest of the league who might not pay attention to this little team out west.

Okay, so that’s the good news. It’s great news for Franmil fans, and I hope that the big guy has had a chance to read it. He deserves the praise he gets. He’s a hard worker and by all accounts a supremely charismatic and affable guy.

Later last night, ESPN reporter William Weinbaum published an article about a tragedy that unfortunately occurred during a Padres game at Chavez Ravine. A grandmother named Linda Goldbloom was celebrating her 79th birthday and 59th wedding anniversary in the Loge section when a foul ball struck her in the head. She lost consciousness and slipped into a coma. Three days later, she passed away. The report was intended to release the findings of the coroner’s office that her death had been caused by the blunt force trauma from the foul ball. It’s an incredibly tragic incident.

The rotten part about this is that the article originally stated that Kenley Jansen was on the mound and that Franmil Reyes was the batter. Apparently there is now some uncertainty regarding the players involved, so ESPN removed the names of the players on the field and added a comment at the bottom regarding the edit. It really doesn’t matter who threw the pitch and who fouled it off, all that matters is that a fan lost her life. The fact that the reporter didn’t even do the due diligence to verify who was involved makes this a case of sloppy and reckless “journalism”.

This could have happened to anyone at any ballpark. It’s a harsh reminder items leaving the field of play are hazardous and that fans need to be attentive at all times, just like they announce over the loudspeaker before every game. Baseball players are trained not to think about the consequences of a baseball striking them or anyone else. They can’t, otherwise they’d be crippled by fear of hurting themselves or someone else. When a fan is clearly injured, the players involved are visibly moved and certainly must feel some responsibility and some remorse for those affected. The article didn’t need to draw attention to the players. The attention deserves to fall on the family and their loss. Instead, some drunk jerk at a Dodgers home game will take it upon himself to hurl hateful words at Franmil about killing little old ladies because some people have no class.

Franmil doesn’t deserve that. He deserves appreciation and respect for the work he’s done to get to where he is. We love you, big fella, and we’re sorry that this had to happen to you.