The Reds outfielders have a combined 79 wRC+ in 2014. That is dead last in all of baseball this season.

It gets even worse. The Reds outfield also has a .650 OPS. That is the 22nd worst of any MLB OF since 1914 (last year data is available). The 1968 Chicago White Sox outfield holds the record with a .598 OPS. Also an interesting note, the 2014 Seattle Mariners outfield actually has the 18th worst OPS at .645.

And it gets even worse. The 2014 Cincinnati Reds outfield has the worst OPS in team history since 1914, and it’s not even close.


That is just the tip of the iceberg too. The Reds outfield’s AVG (.235), OBP (.290), and SLG (.359) in 2014 are all the worst in team history.

So what exactly has gone so wrong for the Reds outfield? In 2013, the Reds outfield had a 116 wRC+ (5th in the MLB) and .779 OPS (5th in the MLB). That is despite the Reds left-fielders posting an 86 wRC+ (26th in the MLB) and .674 OPS (25th in the MLB).

For starters, the Reds lost Shin-Soo Choo, and his second best in the MLB .423 OBP. Choo hit 285/.423/.462, and his 151 wRC+ was the fourth highest among all MLB outfielders.

The Reds have had an extremely disappointing season from Jay Bruce (.216/.286/.370, 80 wRC+). Bruce posted a 118 wRC+ in 2013. The knee injury Bruce suffered early in the season certainly has had an impact on his 2014 season.

Billy Hamilton has had a pretty good season by most measures. Hamilton has posted a 3.3 WAR, mostly due to his exceptional defense in CF. Hamilton’s bat however has been below average. Hamilton is hitting .259/.296/.366 with an 83 wRC+. This is not to say Hamilton’s 2014 season has been a failure, because he has actually been the Reds third most valuable position player using WAR. The overall offensive production just isn’t there yet, especially out of a leadoff hitter.

Left-field has once against been an absolute disaster for the Reds. The Reds LF spot has a combined 78 wRC+, which is dead last in the MLB. The most surprising thing about that number is the guy who has played the most in LF for the Reds, Ryan Ludwick, actually hasn’t been all that bad. Ludwick has posted a just below average 94 wRC+. Ludwick has made 84 starts in LF this season (Heisey has 30, Schumaker has 26).

Then there is the bench. Chris Heisey hasn’t been too terrible offensively, posting an 84 wRC+ (better than Bruce and Hamilton). Heisey’s 9 Defensive Runs Saved have helped him post a respectable 1.4 WAR. What has really sunk the Reds outfield offensive numbers has been Skip Schumaker. Skip has made 46 starts in the outfield (also 15 more at 2B), and has been very bad. Schumaker has a 66 wRC+, and has hit .235/.287/.308. Schumaker’s 66 wRC+ is the sixth worst of any OF in the MLB with 250+ PA.

Overall, it has been a pretty painful year for the Reds. The lack of offensive production from the Reds outfield is certainly a good place to start looking for reasons why.


All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference’s Play Index and Fangraphs (include games played through 9/12/14). For more information on the wRC+ statistic, visit Fangraphs website.


25 Responses

  1. Jeff

    If Schumaker and Hannahan are on this roster next year and Ludwick is the starting left fielder, I may have to boycott 2014.

    Billy has to get his walk rate up and he will be fine for leading off. We’ll see if he hast it in him. He has definitely been a pleasant surprise this year.

    • Thegaffer

      Schumaker will be on the roster, but may be too hurt to play. Ludwick and Hanahan will not, but we have to pay the 6.5 million just to go away! The reds MUST get a good right handed hitting LF! Cost and defense cannot be a factor! I think the only way to do this is a pitcher for LF trade, a la Cespedes for Lester. If they do not do this there is no point in watching this team next year, period.

      • Tom Reed

        If ‘who’s in the lineup today in left field’ continues next season then another disappointing year will be in the making. If the rumor is correct that the Reds turned down Cespedes for Latos, then the front office has led the Reds to this disastrous season and perhaps another in 2015.

    • misconcepcion

      If all that happens, boycott 2015; this one’s already toast.

  2. Michael J Hampton

    Price said yesterday that after his surgery, Schu will be good to go by spring training. Price loves the guy and would be starting him now if he were available. I look for the soon to be 35, career .705 OPS, 27 career HR, Schumaker to be the starting LF at least in some kind of platoon system coming out of spring training. After all, he was playing hurt this year, so that will give Jocketty and Price an excuse to play him as a regular for at least the first half of next season.

    I’m not hating on Schumaker, he could probably be a decent bench player and emergency starter, but I was continually baffled all season to see Price stick him in the lineup time after time whenever Ludwick was not playing. He was terrible in LF. I do not see how giving Lutz some regular playing time in LF to see what he could do, would have been worse than playing Schumaker and if Lutz failed to produce with some regular playing time, then Heisey was obviously a better option than Schumaker.

  3. Tiredofwaiting

    Hurt or not Schumakers performance over the last 4 years have been in decline:
    2011 .283
    2012 .276
    2013 .263
    2014 .235
    2015 .225 (projected based on decline)
    Unfortunately, we have another player who can’t produce and is most probably untradeable now. Sound familiar

  4. Dale Pearl

    Jay Bruce’s season is the singular reason why the Reds have the worst outfield in baseball. I hope he is able to reinvent himself over the winter because we need this guy to shine next year if we are to have any chance of a winning season.

    • lwblogger2

      I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s the singular reason but it’s definitely a major contributor. I feel at least some of it is due to the knee injury but I’m also seeing things he’s doing now that he’s never done before. Maybe he’s gotten into the bad habits due to the injury, maybe due to other reasons. Either way, I’m hoping the bad habits don’t continue into 2015 or we won’t see the Jay Bruce that we’ve seen in past years.

  5. George Mirones

    Nick pretty strong indictment. I went and looked at pre and post all star game numbers and here are some quick numbers;

    Post All Star
    Hamilton: 200 AB.,1 HR., 8 RBI., .215 AVG., .528 OPS
    Heisey: 97 AB., 5 HR., 9 RBI., .216 BA., .668 OPS
    Ludwick: 107 AB., 3 HR., 17 RBI., .206 BA., .624 OPS
    Bruce: 175 AB., 6 HR., 19 RBI., .194 BA., .555 OPS
    Schumaker: 101 AB., 1 HR., 8 RBI., .228 BA., .585 OPS

    Pre All Star
    Hamilton: 333 AB., 6 HR., 38 RBI., .285 AVG., .743 OPS
    Heisey: 157 AB., 3 HR., 12 RBI., .236 BA., .668 OPS
    Ludwick: 226 AB., 6 HR., 26 RBI., .271 BA., .736 OPS
    Bruce: 279 AB., 10 HR., 41 RBI., .229 BA., .719 OPS
    Schumaker: 146 AB., 1 HR., 14 RBI., .240 BA., .602 OPS


    I would like to add a comparison with MLB pre and post all star averages but time was an issue,

    • Nick Kirby

      Pretty crazy that Heisey has the exact same OPS in the first half and second half (and actually has the best OPS of the Reds OF in the second half). Hamilton has really fallen off.

      • George Mirones

        Another oddity is that Pre all star includes Bruce being injured, on the DL and coming back without rehab. I would have thought that his post all star numbers would be higher. Geez baseball.

      • Robby20

        There is more to the Bruce decline than the knee injury. He seems lost at bat and also in the field.

  6. Big Red Ghost in this Machine

    Good thing they have Schumaker locked up for next season.

  7. cfd3000

    Hamilton will improve. He seems to learn from experience and his own mistakes and get better. He does seem to be wearing down too, and I’m hoping after his first 162 game season he’ll improve not only his technique and decision making but his conditioning and endurance as well. Bruce will also improve, through improved health and because he’s too much of a professional to repeat this poor year. But this is only possible because both Bruce and Hamilton have the potential for better results. Heisey is a solid fourth outfielder and is fine in that role in my book. But Ludwick and Schumaker are already maxed out. Healthy or not, they are simply not premium players. The Reds desperately need an upgrade in left field. I would shop Latos as the key to a trade to acquire that upgrade, but if the rumors about a failed Cespedes trade are true then I am not optimistic. It will indeed be a very long year if Ludwick and Schumaker form the Reds left field tandem in 2015. I lobbied for a trade of pitching for a bat the day Ludwick got hurt last year. No one listens to me of course, nor should they, but I hope the powers that be might draw similar conclusions of their own…

  8. Steve Schoenbaechler

    First, I agree, this OF wasn’t good this year at all.

    But, with the bench, that is one reason why they are bench players. If they were 300 hitters, they would be starting somewhere and wouldn’t have signed on with us to be bench players. Don’t ever think we are going to get bench players who have a gold glove and 300 BA or something of that sort; those players are starting.

    So, with Heisey and Schu, I was happy with them. I believe Heisey still needs to learn some plate discipline, which can come with opportunities to play, aka Devin between his first 2 years and this year. If we don’t make a substantial upgrade in LF, I would have no problem putting Heisey out there. I believe we can get Ludwick caliber performance out of him out there.

    Schu, I like what he can bring in terms of leadership, but he’s just injured too darn much. We are going to need players ready to play. I wouldn’t have a problem bringing him back for the bench or platoon with Heisey, but he’s got to stay healthy.

    Now, for the starters, I was impressed with Hamilton, in consideration how much AAA ball he saw. But, my impression can be short-lived if he doesn’t improve on this season. He’s got to be able to hit better. I don’t care about the SB’s; those are going to be there. He’s got to be able to hit.

    Ludwick? Enough said. He just doesn’t have it anymore.

    Bruce? I can’t help thinking let him go. He’s never really had a breakout year like we all would expect from him. 100+ RBI’s last season? That was set up by having two of the league leaders in OBP in front of him. He’s just not producing in a ballpark that should be built for him. I can understand giving him one more season. But, if next year he doesn’t show some drastic improvement hitting, I can’t help thinking let him go. With that contract of his, we can easily use that money other places than paying for a non-productive RF. He’s been living on his one HR to win the division in 2010 long enough.

    • tct

      Agree with most of what you said, but you are way off base about Bruce never producing. From 2010-2013 nobody in the NL hit more home runs than Jay Bruce. He put up 14 WAR over that 4 yr period, good for 16th in the NL and 4th in baseball among rightfielders. He came into this season with three straight 30 homer seasons in a time where power and offense in general is drastically declining. How is that not producing? He makes 12 mil per for the next 2 years which would be a bargain if he comes close to putting up a four win season like he did last year. He has been horrible this year, but you can’t sell low on a 27 year old with his track record.

      • lwblogger2

        Fully agree. I’ll also add that that the comparisons to Adam Dunn that I’ve heard are crap. He’s a better overall hitter than Dunn and defensively much, much better. So the folks saying he’s a one-trick pony like Big Donkey are just wrong. He’s never had the MVP-like season that many, myself included, were expecting from him but he’s been a very, very good MLB player and hitter. At $12-million, with the season he’s had this year, he’d be way over priced but I strongly feel this season will end up being on outlier. He’s won 2 Silver Slugger awards, most recently last year. He’s been an All-Star twice and not because the team HAD to have a player in the game. He’s also finished 10th in MVP voting twice, including last season, which could make an argument that when right, he’s one of the top players in the game. He’ll also be a whopping 28 years old next season.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        I never said Bruce never produced. I specifically said “He’s never really had a breakout year”. Where’s it been? Remember, this kid was the Minor League player of the year for the minor league system of all of baseball, not just the Reds. His last 3 years in the minors, he hit 329 BA, just imagine what his OBP, SLG, etc. was. But, he’s barely smelled 280 up here. His OBP has been getting rather pedestrian the last 3 years, also. He’s not getting any better. If anything, he’s getting worse. Yes, K’s are down; so is everything else. And, besides HR’s the 3 seasons prior to this year, there hasn’t been much else. As well as, with the increasing K’s, again besides this year. That’s his track record. Those are the kind of words we talk about with Dave Kingman. I don’t want Dave Kingman. Especially for the kind of money we are paying him, I want what Jay Bruce was suppose to be for us, not Dave Kingman.

        I also specified I’m willing to give him another year to make it better. But, he needs to step up and earn that contract.

    • CP

      The Bruce analysis is just so lazy and misinformed. Kinda impressive really.

  9. wvredlegs

    We need the Atlanta Braves, Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, to miss the playoffs and the LA Dodgers, Detroit Tigers, and the Baltimore Orioles to not advance very far in the playoffs, so as to have more eager trading partners this winter. Especially the Dodgers.

  10. lwblogger2

    No man, the O’s have to win it all. They are my team in the AL.

  11. pinson343

    I’ll never forget that 1982 OF of Cedeno (after he was through), Milner and Householder. Didn’t think I’d see worse that that in my lifetime. It was the year after the Reds traded or or lost their entire OF: Foster, Griffy, Collins.

  12. pinson343

    Nick, the first team (chronologically) you list after the 1914 team in the 1967 team. Are you sure that from 1915 thru 1966 the Reds OF never had an OPS less than .746 ?
    The Reds had some terrible teams (including offense) over that stretch.

    • Chuck Elledge

      You are right. I checked on just one year – the 1915 Reds. The team OF OPS for that year was .696 which should have made the list. I think Nick compiled the last 50 years, not ALL TIME