2016 Reds

Tyler Holt and playing time

[This post was submitted from the old recliner by Warren Leeman (Shchi Cossack). Thanks, Warren!]

Note to Reds management (whomever that might be right now!) …

Tyler Holt must play regularly until he proves he can’t play regularly at the major league level. After his Sunday game against the Nats when he was 3-4 with 1 BB, Holt leads all Reds hitters with a .382 OBP and has the 6th highest OPS at .745. Holt plays solid defense and provides exceptional base running. Why is Holt not playing regularly?

Photo: David Jablonski/Dayton Daily News

Photo: David Jablonski/Dayton Daily News

The Reds have 4 players putting up replacement level production (0.3 WAR to -0.2 WAR). Of those 4 players, 3 players (Eugenio Suarez @ .239/.294/.454/.748, Tyler Holt @ .303/.382/.364/.745 & Billy Hamilton @ .248/.290/.359/.650) are the only players who may have a role with the next successful Reds team and are making near league minimum while the fourth player (Brandon Phillips @ .268/.303/.428/.731) will not be a member of the next successful Reds team and is making $13MM. There is no valid reason for Phillips to be handed regular playing time as the starting 2B except for the Reds management attempting to justify paying a replacement level player $13MM.

Reds management has designated 3 of these players as regular starters (Suarez @ 3B, Phillips @ 2B & Hamilton in CF). Holt has appeared in only 70% of the games played while averaging less than 2 PA per game played, but Holt is the only player in this group who provides the one offensive production capability sorely lacking in the Reds lineup, OBP, at above (significantly above) league average.

A real argument can be made for shifting playing time from Phillips to Holt, but even without factoring Jose Peraza into the playing time equation at the major league level, the Reds could manage an effective playing rotation to provide all 4 of these players an opportunity at regular playing time. This season should be about taking advantage of the opportunity available to evaluate the players through competitive game experience and right now Holt is being ignored in that process.

Due to the defensive flexibility offered by these 4 players combined with the defensive flexibility of Adam Duvall, a 4 game rotation could be established that allows all 4 players to start in 75% of the games played while keeping Duvall in a full time playing status.

The Reds have made the decision that Hamilton is going to play CF for the Reds, irrespective of his offensive contributions. Hamilton’s elite CF defense makes that decision plausible. Hamilton may or may not have turned a corner offensively this season, but his contributions still leave him performing at replacement level.

Holt has not received regular playing time but his 77 PA ranks with De Jesus as the top 2 utility players. Even with his limited playing time, Holt has mirrored his offensive production (.304/.398/.382/.779) in 702 PA at AAA. Although Holt can not match Hamilton’s elite speed, Holt may be the Reds best base runner, a skill also sorely lacking in the Reds lineup. Holt has very good speed and uses that speed as a smart, aggressive baserunner. Although Holt can not match Hamilton’s elite CF defense, Holt also provides very good OF defense, including CF. Can Holt continue to produce at his current level of production while playing regularly at the major league level? The only way to find out is to provide Holt regular playing time.

Last season, Suarez demonstrated poor defense while playing SS. This season, Suarez has also demonstrated equally poor defense playing 3B. These results mirror Suarez’ minor league performance. During his minor league experience, Suarez demonstrated by far his best defensive performance at 2B. Suarez needs a place to play unless another player proves more capable at the major league level. If his best defensive option is at 2B, let him start playing 2B now, at least in a job share arrangement with Phillips.

Adam Duvall has demonstrated very good LF defense. Duvall has also demonstrated very poor 3B defense. The defensive ineffectiveness at 3B is really a toss up between Suarez and Duvall, but Duvall’s ticket to success at the major league level will be with his bat, not his glove. Right now, Duvall has earned regular playing time as a full time starter and a spot in the middle of the lineup. The poor defense at 3B this season shouldn’t deter any efforts in determining what positive contributions the players can make. Can Duvall continue to produce offensively at his current level of production while playing regularly at the major league level? The only way to find out is to provide Duvall regular playing time.

The 4-Game Rotation

  • Hamilton: CF/CF/CF/PH
  • Holt: LF/LF/PH/CF
  • Suarez: 2B/PH/3B/3B
  • Phillips: PH/2B/2B/2B
  • Duvall: 3B/3B/LF/LF

The Lineup

  1. Holt
  2. Votto
  3. Cozart
  4. Bruce
  5. Duvall
  6. Suarez
  7. Barnhart/Cabrera
  8. Pitcher
  9. Hamilton

When Holt is out, shift Hamilton to the #1 hole and insert Phillips into the #7 hole

When Suarez is out, insert Phillips into the #6 hole

When Hamilton is out, insert Phillips into the #7 hole behind Suarez

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Even if Duvall and Holt can not maintain anything close to their current production, this is the time to find out what they can or can not produce at the major league level. As mentioned indirectly earlier in the post, moving Phillips to a pure utility role immediately seems more than justified based on his replacement level production and lack of any future role with a competitive Reds team. Bite the bullet and lock Holt into the starting lineup for the next 2 months along with Duvall and see how things shake out.

35 thoughts on “Tyler Holt and playing time

  1. Yes, I’d love to see Holt get more playing time, but figured he was the odd man out and it wasn’t gonna change. Maybe by the time the Reds get competitive again, Duvall and Holt will have proven they’re not to be counted on. But in an audition year, there’s only one way to find out. Let ’em play.

    And I can’t help but wonder whether BP might be more open to a trade without demanding so much extra compensation if he sees his playing time reduced a bit.

    • I think BP’s playing time should be reduced a whole lot, and it would open him up to a trade. I guess the Reds are waiting until they think Peralta is ready.

  2. With the way Hamilton was hitting before the concussion, and it was not an overnight thing, it reflected a change in approach that was effective for more than a month, you don’t bench him at this point, IF he’s really OK after the concussion.
    OPS does not measure BHam’s offensive contribution, with the way he runs the bases.

    And the OPS was rising steadily. I read an interesting article, maybe linked from Reds Reporter, about how not only has his ground ball rate increased, he’s hitting them harder, which is why more are getting thru the IF.

    I love Tyler Holt, he’s a terrific player and should be playing more. His skills and approach are suited for being an outstanding 4th OFer.
    His high energy all out game reminds me of Ryan Freel. Freel would impress so much as a 4th OFer that people would want him to play every day, and then when he would play every day he would wind down.

    I’m not against giving Holt an every day shot, but the best time would be after trading Bruce, which I still think is happening.
    And if Hamilton takes a step back, which he might after the concussion, put Holt in there as the regular guy and see what he can do over time.

    • I strongly agree with everything you say here. I’ll also add that Suarez’ development may be more important to the Reds than Holt’s development. I think Suarez’ best position may be 2B (wish they didn’t give up on him at SS) but right now he’s playing 3B. I think they need to keep giving him work there if the plan is to see if he can stick there. It doesn’t do Suarez much good to move around between 2B and 3B unless he’s being considered for a utility role. If he continues to stink at 3B, then perhaps the off-season and spring-training are the times to get him started working full time at 2B.

      • I’m no fan of Suarez’s glove, and one sparrow doth not a summer make, but he has looked much better at third the past few games. Better throws, too.

    • Hamiltons May OBP tells me this new approach is not yet effective. Its going to take a lot more than one real good week in June with a unsustainable BABIP to convince me hes figured it out. Id still send Hamilton down to AAA and make Holt the starting CF and leadoff hitter

  3. An easy solution would be for Holt to play second base–consigning Phillips to the bench–but Holt apparently has never played there and probably can’t this year. I suppose that they could use Peraza at short, when/if they trade Cozart.. As for Phillips, it is hard to know if benching him would encourage him to waive the no-trade clause, or just make him even harder to deal with.

    I wonder if Holt has even tried to play second; you would think somebody in his shoes would want to play anywhere he could to make himself useful. I used to wonder why Chris Heisey didn’t try to play third, but he apparently never did.

    Holt would be an excellent utility guy, if he could pick up a couple of infield positions.

    • I don’t know. Maybe Holt could play 2B. What we do know is that he’s a good OF. A lot of full time OF are out there because they simply don’t have the soft hands or twitch-reflexes to play on the IF. It’s possible that Holt would be a decent 2B but he’s a good CF/OF and I’m guessing there’s a reason why he’s never really played on the IF.

  4. I think they want Suarez to get used to 3B and Duvall is already a good LF’er. I understand the moves to get Holt in the lineup but I don’t see it happening? Of course all Reds fans have to love a good obp guy like Holt but if they trade Bruce/Cozart and they plan on running guys like Winker, Hamilton, Peraza, and Holt out there then we’re going to get outhomered by 50+ HRs playing in GABP! We don’t have the park for a bunch of speed/defense guys…..maybe 2 good obp/speed guys at most to set up for the sluggers! Its unlikely Mesoraco ever rakes for the Reds again. How do they replace Bruce if they trade him? Without looking I wonder if Holt has ever played 2B? Freel used to play 3B…and I think 2B occasionally? Either way BP needs to be a Carl Crawford highly paid pinch-hitter next year but it won’t happen.

  5. You and I agree on Holt. I disagree a little on BP, as I would reduce his role as a starter in that 4 game span to 2 starts. The message needs to be sent louder and clearer that it is time for a reduced role.
    If you want to keep Duvall in LF more, another alternative for 3B might be to take a look at the recently DFA’d Kyle Kubitza, a LH hitter that can play there when Suarez is at 2B. He is more of a doubles machine. He has a very good BB%, but a high K% too. A bit better defender too. A cheap option if Kubitza could handle the opportunity, and then the Reds can wait on Senzel in a couple years.

    • Kubitza seems somewhat interesting… never an OBP below .349 at any stop in the minors…a 112 wRC+ in a full season at AAA last year as a 24/5 yr old.

      • He’s a nice player. I think that the Angels are going to work out some sort of trade for him though. I don’t see anybody getting this guy for free.

        • You may be right. I was surprised to see Kubitza was DFA’d. Angels are making a lot of roster moves. He might not get past the AL teams on the waiver wire before Cincinnati would get a chance. The Angels have Yunel Escobar at 3B this year and option for next, which they will probably will pick up. They also have Kaleb Cowart at 3B at AAA too. So, Kubitza is the likely trade candidate. Angels have a bad farm system. Reds could match up easily to get him if they are interested.

  6. I agree that finding out if Tyler Holt can be a major league regular is a worthy goal.

    Here’s something…

    Going all the way back to 2013, here are Tyler Holt’s lines against LHP and RHP.

    LHP: .304/.403/.379 (505 PA)
    RHP: .273/.355/.348 (1150 PA)

    These cover AA/AAA/MLB.

    Even if he’s not an everyday starter, a guy with a .400+ OBP against lefties over several years is a valuable bench guy to have, I think.

  7. Well put and well argued. My only disagreement is that playing time for young players isn’t just for them to prove they belong. Ideally, its also to develop them. Suarez is not a very good third baseman but I don’t think his defense improves by playing one game of four at second. Same for Duval at third. At some point most players are better off having a regular position. If the decision is that Suarez’s future is at second then fine. If not, let him get used to playing third and work on the skills he needs there.

    And while BP may be on the decline, he needs to be handled in a way that keeps him involved and doesn’t look like he is being punished for wanting to stay in Cincinnati. Encouraging players to want to be a part of the team and the city is important, especially in a market like Cincinnati.

  8. I have said for weeks hat Holt needs to play more.Now with the data and the rotation provided by the great Shchi then lets do it.Forward this to the front office and lets play ball.As for BP,if he had got that extra money he would have left in a heart beat.He had a chance to go to a contender and prove he deserved another contract or an extension but when nobody would pony up the extra cash he vetoed the deal.Its about money.It always is and it should be.

    • I predict that the Reds will DFA or release Phillips in the off-season, if he won’t take a trade this year. They didn’t want to eat the $26 million over 2 years, but they will eat the $13 million (or so) next year. They could wait until spring training to it.

      • I think this could happen; but, I also think if they had been willing to eat the $13m due Phillips for 2017 woven into the deal with the Nats, something could have been worked out to get Phillips to agree to go to Washington. So, I wouldn’t bet the Reds will do it in this off season either.

        I suggested here last week that there needs to be some creative thinking applied to the situation. BP knows he is sliding; it shows in his reactions on the field to plays he doesn’t make. On one hand, why should he leave $13M on the table; on the other he might prefer a settlement to having to go through the motions next year. Find a way to do a defacto buy out that lets him walk away at the end of the year and also saves the Reds several million bucks.

  9. Don’t forget the new draftee, Nick Senzel. Whatever they do between now and when he arrives, sooner rather than later by most all estimates, needs to take into account that unless a lot of people are very wrong or Senzel loses time to injury he will be on the scene NLT 2019 and possibly sometime in 2018.

    • The infield by 2019 forward may well be Votto, Suarez, Peraza, and Senzel. A big question to get worked out is where the last three line up on defense. Senzel played 3B this year but has also played 2B and SS although he probably doesn’t cut it at SS in MLB. Suarez maybe a 3B, SS, or 2B(?). Peraza is definitely in the middle but to the left or right of second base???

  10. Holt gets the start in CF tonight. Waldrop 1st career MLB start in LF. Raining cats and dogs in Atlanta now. Hopefully no delay tonight.

  11. Just for the record,BP was part of the core group that made us relevant for the first time in a long long time.He continues to do the same things he has always done such as swinging at everything,runs the bases very very poorly and is a showboat in the field.He has just gotten old and his skills are in rapid decline so if you love him or hate him its time for him to go.We can discuss Cosart and Bruce about possibly resigning them but not BP.It happens to every ball player and to everybody else as well.We just get to old period.I know the feeling.

  12. I think that there might be something to this very good insight. I would add though that I think both Duvall and Suarez are improving their defense and perhaps it would be best to let them continue on with the OJT.

    Meanwhile with Jesse Winker fading out as a future star I can only see more opportunity for Holt. Waldrop is proving to be impressive off the bench as well.

    • How exactly is Winker fading out? I think “future star” may be a reach but “future very solid MLB starter” certainly isn’t. I see Winker as a Sean Casey, Hal Morris type of player. He also still may develop more power. He displays excellent plate discipline and makes very good contact. Is a Sean Casey/Hal Morris type player bad?

      • At worst, Winker profiles as a good lead-off hitter. That itself would be a huge plus and something the Reds haven’t had (2013 excepted) in a long time.

        • The wrist is scary but even if the power never shows up, he should be a solid big league starter with on-base skills.

  13. Gosh, lot’s of good discussion, as always. As much as I fully support both moves, I don’t think the Reds will sit Phillips or option Hamilton back to AAA. If both moves were executed, lots of good things could happen:

    1] Tyler Holt plays full time in CF for an extended look and evaluation
    2] The Reds can make a determination regarding 2B or 3B for Suarez and commit to that decision
    3] Selsky and Waldrop become primary PH and utility OF
    4] Cozart moves out of leadoff position
    5] Peraza plays full time at 3B or 2B to prove if his bat is major-league ready
    6] If Hamilton’s plate approach has improved, the Reds gain an additional year of team control

    I don’t see any negative impact from sitting Phillips and optioning Hamilton to AAA.

    Cozart may be seeing a regression back to his expected BAbip. For the 1st two months, Cozart slashed .310/.337/.540 with a .313 BAbip. That performance produced an artificial OBP and masked Cozart’s ineffectiveness as a leadoff option. Cozart has now gone through 2 mini slumps and his OBP has plummeted to well below league average. The regression may be a blessing for the Reds if it allows them to lock up Cozart for a reasonable cost and reasonable length on a contract extension.

    I have to believe that Bruce is pricing himself out of a contract extention, but may be positioning himself for a major haul on the trade market. That option for next season is looking very enticing once again. The good thing is that Duvall has the arm to handle RF very effectively and this would allow Winker an opening in LF. It also looks like Schebler has regained his confidence and stroke at AAA and could be ready for another run at the show again in the future, especially if Winker’s wrist proves troublesome and problematic.

    • The Phanatics decision to sit Ryan Howard and the Didgers decision to Carl Crawford contrasts markedly to the Reds reluctance to sit Phillips and the Reds lack of willingness to make the difficult, necessary moves.

    • Duvall’s arm is much better than I’d thought. A very pleasant surprise to me.

    • Yup, Bruce should have been extended this last offseason at a discount

      I would so sign Cozart long term. That glove is the hardest to replace

      Even at catcher, you can mix and match. Hard to platoon at ss

  14. Next year is going to be the most anticipated year for me in the last 38 years. One thing to think about as far as Votto’s struggles is this is a man who competes to win like no other and with this season being what it is then you know it his hard on him to keep that fire burning at the plate.

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