2012 Reds / Believe / Defending Adam Dunn

RN 2012 Preview: Center Field

Center field is the last position we have to deal with that is utterly set in stone. Like it or not, barring injury, there is no doubt Drew Stubbs will start at least 150 games.

Stubbs feels like the most hated player on the Reds to me. Fans get angry about the Ks, they want him to bunt (no matter how smart that may be – go check out this story, which Chad linked yesterday, if you haven’t already), or they are just generally unhappy with the cut of his jib. Mostly, I think it’s the strikeouts. Ks ran Adam Dunn out of Cincinnati and they might do the same thing to Stubbs eventually.

I tend to be very dismissive of the strikeout bugaboo. Generally, an out is an out, but it takes a particular type of player to generate a massive amount of whiffs and still be productive. Adam Dunn could do it. Whether or not Stubbs can is still at least something of a question.

Certainly, the 30 percent K rate last year is too high and contributed to Stubbs being a below average hitter for the first time. His power, as I’m sure you all know, was also way down. So it’s not as though he was trading strikeouts for home runs. So we can agree, at least, that last year was not what we want to see from him.

But there is reason to hope. 2011 will be Stubbs’ age-27 season, so he’s just entering his peak. Additionally, last season was probably his floor. It’s hard to imagine Stubbs being worse than last year, and that’s not so bad considering he plays a premium defensive position. The projection systems agree as they all have him showing at least some improvement. How much is more of a questions.

ZiPS and Oliver see just a slight uptick. Indicating perhaps that Stubbs more or less is who we saw last year. There’s also some heavy regression to the mean there, however, as Stubbs doesn’t have a ton of time in the majors. Correspondingly, I tend to side with the more optimistic projections. I think we’ll see a good improvement from Stubbs in 2012, though he’ll still make many of you grumpy with his strikeouts and unwillingness to bunt.

2012 Slash Line Prediction: .255/.330/.425

2011 Center Field WAR: 2.6

2012 Best Guess WAR: 3.5

Projected Difference: +0.9

2012 Floor WAR: 2.5

2012 Ceiling WAR: 5.0

Redleg Nation Position-by-Position Season Preview:

First Base
Second Base
Right Field
Center Field
Starting Pitching – Front End of the Rotation
Starting Pitching – Back End of the Rotation
Third Base
Left Field
Season Preview Wrap-Up

16 thoughts on “RN 2012 Preview: Center Field

  1. This is off topic, but every year there is a day where I officially get baseball fever. That day is today. I woke up this morning and all I could think is “baseball is coming soon”. I keep finding myself on Fangraphs looking up projections, on ESPN planning out my Fantasy team, staring at the Reds season calendar, or here trying to soak up every morsel of the Reds information like a piece of bread at the bottom of a bowl of soup. It’s making me all jittery, like the last day of school before summer.

    That is all

  2. Stubbs is interesting to me, b/c I have no idea what to think of him. I am not a hater, by any stretch, nor am I an advocate. I can’t decide. I never thought he should bunt more, but I do think he should bunt better on the occasions he does. I was more disappointed in his defense last year than I was in his offense. I don’t know what to “expect” from him offensively, but I do expect better from him defensively. He seemed to misplay too many balls that sailed over his head last year and let too many drop in front of him that (seemed to me) were catchable. I tend to think he has the potential to be much better offensively, but I’m not ready to expect it from yet.

  3. @RiverCity Redleg: That’s a lot of the same I feel… there are reasons to believe he’s good, there are reasons to doubt him. A curiousity, this Stubbs guy is.

  4. I like Stubbs more than most. That said, whether rational or not, Stubbs’ strikeouts are psychologically exhausting to fans. During the season, you kind of have to keep checking the objective data to avoid getting overly frustrated with him. Sometimes I think the Reds would be better off trading him to a team that doesn’t care too much about strikeouts. Out-of-market teams/fans can’t really appreciate how frustrating he is until they see him play 150 games.

  5. I want to start by saying that Stubbs may be my second favorite player on the team. I’d seen many mock drafts and hoped he’d land with the Reds. It has nothing to do with how good he is, it’s just something about his play that I like.

    With all of that said, we should be cautious whenever we use a phrase like “it’s hard to imagine Player X being worse than last year.”

  6. My concern is with casually saying “an out is an out,” to somewhat downplay the strikeout totals of the Reds. Stubbs had the most Ks so it stands out more with him, though not exclusively. Maybe at times, an out is just an out, but how many times did the Reds have runners in scoring position or even the bases loaded with fewer than two out, but failed to score, largely because of strikeouts that failed to move runners. For a team that was among the leaders in runs scored, failures in those areas were quite costly and seemed to stick out even more. …….. About Stubbs more specifically, if he is gonna hit 35 homers, perhaps 150-plus strikeouts wouldn’t hurt so much……….And I agree with the post saying that his defense isn’t a slam dunk. He’s blazing fast so he can cover some ground, but it sure seemed like a lot of balls fell in, that shouldn’t have. .. Not trying to be a hater, just thinking that the Reds could use a real strength in one area if they’re gonna live with struggles in another area from him.

  7. I believe the shroud of mystery over who the real Drew Stubbs is will be lifted this year. He is entering his age 27 season and has roughly 3 years of MLB experience. By the end of this year, I think we will pretty much know what we should expect from him. Hopefully those expectations will be high.

  8. @vegastypo: The “productive out” theory has been widely disproven. Basically, productive outs are balanced by double plays. You could argue that with speed like Stubbs, it’s less of an issue, but then you be back in the same territory we went over a few days ago.

  9. @CP: That is what I was saying last year—how is Stubbs not an Oakland A?

    Every second he would spend in bunting practice should be spent in hitting practice.

    I do wonder about the 2.5 WAR floor. I doubt that, personally, just because I could see him completely collapsing. I highly doubt that a complete collapse happens, of course, but if there’s a player that could completely collapse, it’d be a guy like Stubbs. Especially if the team starts pressuring him to change his game.

  10. @David: My last post was before I read what you said—that is my exact sentiment.

    Usually Stubbs-type players collapse later in their careers, but you never know. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen this year and that he improves again.

  11. @Dave Lowenthal: I thought hard about that floor. Ultimately, I decided that Stubbs’ speed, youth, position, and moderate power make his floor about what he did last season. I have a hard time imagining him striking out more or hitting fewer homers. But yeah, if there’s a guy I might be wrong about so far, it’s Stubbs. He’s been the one whose left me scratching my head the most.

  12. I have to agree with the don’t hate him but not buying my son a Stubbs jersey. That aside… I’m not one to get into the stats too much. I’m the basic fielding, Average, On base, slugging.. That whole bit. I am learning to look deeper these days.

    I look at Drew like this. Bat is just not there. They thought they would try him as a lead off but that hasn’t produced (supposedly pressure). Home run production I expect 18 to 20. I think he should expect 15. I think he would be best served by forgetting about the long ball and working on being a contact hitter. He has the speed to get to first. 40 stolen bases last year not bad… his covers a fair bit of ground in center field. 3 errors on the year. I think with the right hitting coach or mentor, Stubbs has the ability to be middle to upper caliber CF. I can live without him knocking em into the Ohio River, as long as he gets on base. If he can do that this year… Look out NL the road to the series goes through Cincinnati.

  13. 2012 Slash Line Prediction: .255/.330/.425

    The only thing that changed about Drew Stubbs game last season was a big decline SLG. He entered the season last year coming off of ~700 AB of ~.440 SLG in the majors. The problem is, before that he put up a .401 SLG in over 1500 AB in the minors. Based on that, my expectation for Stubbs next season would be about .255/.330/.385, which is closer to what he did in 2011 than in 2010. I was not real surprised with Stubbs numbers last year as his 2010 power explosions seemed to be the exception not the norm in his stat lines.

    Another thing about Stubbs that should be brought to light. He put up a career minor league OBP of .364 and his .321 OBP last season was right at the league average OBP, despite all his strike outs. I’ll take Stubbs and Phillips as the two players at the top of the order this season over Phillips and Cozart (Career Minor league OBP of .332).

  14. I think alot of the problems last year for Stubbs for what ever reason was because of batting in the leadoff spot in the first half of the year with that pressure to get on. If he bats lower in the lineup out of spring training and can get his feet under him. I think he can be a Mike Cameron type player in his prime, only with more speed.

  15. I’ll be honest with everyone, Stubbs is my least favorite Red. I disagree with anyone who says “an out is an out”. Maybe for someone like Adam Dunn, that’s closer to being true. But when you have the kind of speed Stubbs has, you put the ball in play and put pressure on the defense to make the out, not hand it to them on a silver platter.

    I can handle Stubbs batting eighth (ninth if we still had Dontrelle), but ONLY batting eighth.

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