2017 Reds

Let’s Be Reasonable

The playoffs, obviously, are still going, but it’s time for Reds fans to start looking at next year and I found myself with an itch to do an analytical post and so here we are. I wrote a piece several weeks ago about the best case scenario for the Reds next year. But today, I want to look at what’s reasonable. That is, how good or bad can we reasonably expect the Reds to be. I’m going to assume they go with the pieces they have, but for a few exceptions:

  1. I assume the Reds will invest in the bullpen this offseason.
  2. I assume BP will not be starting, since the Reds have indicated that they will look to trade him again. If he isn’t traded, I assume he will take a smaller role or be released.
  3. I assume Cozart is traded.

I’m going to use the FanGraphs version of WAR for my estimations. Neither version of WAR is perfect, but it’s my personal feeling that FanGraphs does a slightly better job of separating pitching talent from fielding talent, whereas I feel that Baseball-Reference sometimes assigns credit/blame to both the fielder and the pitcher.

Okay, let’s go.

The Lineup

  1. Billy Hamilton, CF, 3.0 WAR – Yes, Hamilton has shown great improvement. He’s also shown himself to be somewhat fragile. If he plays an entire year, I can imagine him posting a total as high as 4.5 or 5 WAR. Similarly, barring catastrophic injury, I have a hard time imagining him below 2.0. He’s an above average player and potential all-star.
  2. Jesse Winker, RF/LF, 2.5 WAR – Many people misinterpreted my Jesse Winker profile by focusing too heavily on his negatives. He should finally get a chance next year and he will hit. I have him pegged as more or less average in his first year for two reasons: (1) Adjustment to MLB; and (2) I need to see the power come back before I rate him higher. Winker had a wrist injury and an unfavorable ballpark this year (seriously, come watch flyballs die in left-center here in Louisville). But he’ll get on base more than anyone on the team except Votto.
  3. Joey Votto, 1B, 5.0 WAR – He should probably bat 4th, but whatever. Go away Votto haters, I got nothing to say to you. Best hitter in the National League.
  4. Adam Duvall/Scott Schebler, RF/LF 2.0 WAR – Here’s the one where people are going to yell at me. Okay, fine, but here’s what I see. Duvall, I believe, was at his absolute peak last year and figures to decline (28-year-olds don’t really develop more). He also saw pitchers adjust to him after his torrid May and was a below-average hitter (.232/.296/.461, 95 wRC+) from June until the end of the year. Do I think he is a useful part? Yes, I do. Do I think he is the best player on the team as some suggested? Absolutely not. He and Scott Schebler may not start the year platooning, but I’ll be surprised if they don’t finish it that way because if Duvall is given the job and posts numbers like he did after May, the Reds will quickly start looking for a new solution. Schebler had a similarly hot streak toward the end of the year but is also getting long in the tooth for a prospect.
  5. Eugenio Suarez, 3B, 2.0 WAR – I’m assuming we’ll see a slight improvement now that he’s adjusted to playing third. He was a very good third baseman toward the end of the season and his hitting also improved after a May swoon. It’s not unreasonable to assume that the new position might have messed with him a bit. I’m a Suarez booster, but he doesn’t have enough of a track record for me to place him any higher than this. I do think he has the potential to significantly over perform 2.0 WAR. His performance is probably a good bellwether for the kind of year the Reds will have.
  6. Jose Peraza, SS, 1.5 WAR – Still very much an unknown with lots of potential. He could be a bust and he could be an all-star, we’ll just have to see. It does seem likely that this will be his first full-season in the big leagues, so he’ll get a chance to prove it. The walk rate worries me, but the speed could make up for it.
  7. Dilson Herrera, 2B, 1.5 WAR – See Peraza, Jose. Very hard to say what he’ll do. He has more pop than Peraza and a better plate approach, but we need to see him in the big leagues for an extended shot before making judgments.
  8. Tucker Barnhart/Devin Mesoraco, C, 0.5 WAR – Reds catchers combined to be worth 0.1 WAR last year primarily because there was no one decent to stick out there when Barnhart needed a day off. Tucker Barnhart is the perfect backup catcher, but he’s not a starter. If, by some miracle Mesoraco becomes a physically functional baseball player again, this number will be out performed. Without Mesoraco, it’s basically a replacement level position and we’ll be sending well wishes to Chris Okey and Tyler Stephenson down in the minors.

Overall:

The Reds are above average or better at 2 positions, average-ish at 5, and below average at 1. The end result is probably an offensive/defensive team that hovers around league average in terms of production. Better if some of the kids really turn out, or if Mesoraco comes back from the dead.

The Rotation

Let’s be real. The Reds are going to need more than 5 starters this year. Let’s also not get crazy thinking that Michael Lorenzen or Raisel Iglesias will be among them. Maybe that should happen, but it isn’t likely to. So, I’m going to go 8 deep here, listing them in order of how much I think they’ll contribute.

  1. Anthony DeSclafani, 3.5 WAR – If he’s healthy, he’s good. Currently the staff ace.
  2. Amir Garrett, 2.0 WAR – Among the big pitching prospects, he’s the one who garners the most good feeling and seems to have the best chance of fulfilling his potential. He may or may not start the season with the Reds and his innings will be limited, but I’ve seen him enough and heard enough good things. He’ll be a good pitcher. Also, be careful when looking at his numbers from last year, he had a couple of games where his mechanics got out of whack and he imploded as a result. He was very good in the vast majority of his games.
  3. Brandon Finnegan, 1.5 WAR – A much better second half makes him seem like he might get it together and avoid the bullpen. We’ll see, of course, but if he can continue to improve, he’ll contribute.
  4. Dan Straily, 1.5 WAR – Regression, regression, regression. Straily saved the Reds’ behinds this year. And maybe he can do it again, but he’s not young and the peripherals don’t line up.
  5. Cody Reed, 1.5 WAR – We all know Cody Reed got knocked around. It is also literally impossible that there wasn’t some bad luck involved there. Among pitchers with at least 10 starts, only Disco had a lower xFIP, which is something, at least. Also, lots of guys get knocked around in their first trip to the majors. I think Reed will be okay. His stuff is legit. We’ll see how the change up comes along.
  6. Homer Bailey, 1.0 WAR – Coming back from Tommy John surgery isn’t as easy as people make it out to be. I actually don’t think it’s likely at all that Homer produces 1.0 WAR. I think, however, there are equal chances that he’s unable to pitch and that he comes back and is very effective. We won’t know which until the spring.
  7. Robert Stephenson, 1.0 WAR – Again, I don’t think this is a likely result. Stephenson has started to get into squabbles in the organization and what it really all boils down to it that he needs to get his walk rate down. It hasn’t budged in 3 years. Either he gets it together and becomes a very good starter or he doesn’t and Reds fans have their heads explode over a prospect bust. We will see.
  8. Other Minor League Guy, 0.0 WAR – Rookie Davis probably has the inside track here, but once Tyler Mahle is ready, he’ll probably pass Davis, since he has better stuff. This is the position where you’ll likely see a guy coming up and down all year.

Overall:

You’ll probably see a pretty decent 1-2 combo for most of the year, though who is in that combo is likely to change. There is a ton of uncertainty here with both a very high ceiling and a very low floor. For instance, it is possible that you could get a 4 WAR season from Disco, 3 WAR from Homer, 3 WAR from Garrett, 3 WAR from Reed, and 3 WAR from Stephenson. That would give the Reds a fantastic rotation. It’s also possible that almost everyone busts and we see what we saw this year. The result is probably somewhere in the middle and an average-ish pitching rotation.

Bullpen/Bench

With Lorenzen and Iglesias, the Reds have a good back of the bullpen. Given that that the Reds are also going to spend a little money here, it’s reasonable to assume the bullpen will be greatly improved and something like average. The bench will also probably be fine as they have plenty of depth guys who should be non-embarrassing, which is pretty much all you ask from your bench.

Conclusion

.500. That’s what you can expect, and it shouldn’t be surprising. In 2016, the Reds were one game under .500 after the ASB. Next year will also be when we start to see how the rebuild is really going. Nick Senzel will continue to progress, there will be another high-end draft pick, and the Reds will get a sense for where they might need to spend money on the free agent market. Not everyone will pan out, but neither will everyone bust. It is a transitional year, but given the ceiling of some of these players, it could also be a pleasantly-surprising year.

84 thoughts on “Let’s Be Reasonable

  1. Some trades need to be made this winter to insert into that OBP starved lineup.
    Joey Votto ranked #1 in OBP in the NL this year. The Reds had no other player in the top-50 of OBP in the NL. That has to change. Pronto!! This is pitiful.

    The Cubs had 4 of the top 10 and 5 in the top 50. (#6, #8, #9, #10, #49).
    The Cards had 3 in the top 50. (#12, #24, #33).
    The Pirates had 4 in the top 50. (#21, #37, #45, #47).
    The lowly Brewers had 3 in the top 50. (#16, #19, #48). That is w/o Lucroy.

    The Reds had 3 just outside the top 50 though. BP was #51, Suarez, #53, and Cozart #60. Extremely small consolation there. The division is chock-full of OBP talent, and the Reds have only one. That has to change this off-season.
    The Reds should try to upgrade at least 3 positions this winter. RF, 2B, and SS and only SS is in good hands. Upgrade 2B a lot higher than Herrera. Winker won’t be up from AAA until after June 1, or later.
    Duvall should be at 3B, Suarez at 2B, Winker in LF, and a complete upgrade at RF would be the ideal way to go.
    Cozart and BP get tickets out of town to other organizations. So too should R. Stephenson, Herrera, and a few other prospects to be used as trade pieces for upgrades.
    The Re-Build has been less than impressive so far. Lackluster would be more the right word. Time to take some bold action this winter.

    • Slow your roll there cowboy.

      I agree with everything you’ve said about OBP. It’s not a coincidence that good teams have multiple players who get on base at an elite level.

      However, I think you’ve got a few things wrong about your roster construction. You aren’t going to fix OBP overnight, or even this offseason. OBP is a mindset, and can only be acquired by actively teaching patience in the farm system, or trading for players who were actively taught patience somewhere in their development. The Reds are in no position to acquire talent which costs actual money in ’16, so it all goes back to the development. Don’t expect much more from the team OBP until the likes of Senzel and Winker are stalwarts in the every day lineup.

      Also, let’s not forget that Herrera is supposed to be a damn good prospect. He’s much more highly regarded than Peraza was when he came over, and was considered to be the Met’s 2B of the future, enough for them to get rid of Daniel Murphy a year ago. Let’s not start trade talks until we see what we’ve got there.

      Honestly, Duvall shouldn’t be anywhere near the third base bag unless one of his teammates is up to bat, trying to drive him in. Suarez has shown growth at the position, and is more than capable of manning the hot corner until Lord Senzel is amongst us, at which case the Spinning Wheel of Middle Infielders should reveal which members of our current stockpile of 2B/SS are legit major leaguers, and Suarez can slot in somewhere else accordingly.

      No reason to trade young talent at this point. What’s the point of that? We’re firmly in the ‘throw things at the wall to see if it sticks’ territory throughout ’17. Whatever sticks gets a roster spot for ’18, and whatever doesn’t can be re-evaluated next off-season. But its a little early to be talking about trading Stephenson and Herrera.

      The re-build hasn’t paid off yet, and it’s not supposed to have paid off yet. The Reds never said they were expecting to be competitive in ’16. If the rebuild is a golf swing, we aren’t anywhere near driving the ball yet. We’re just at the end of the backswing.

      • I couldn’t agree more with your assessment Jordan! The love that the Reds are just stockpiling talent all over the middle infield and the starting rotation. A bunch of these guys will fail, so the Reds should absolutely be throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks.

        • A bunch might fail and become lights out back end guys like they did in KC as well.

      • Duvall played SS in college and is not a bad 3B. He used his defensive chops at 3B to become a pretty good LF. I know Herrera might one day be a good 2B, but Suarez can be now. The high regard you have in Herrera is why he would make a good trade chip in a very good package. There is a logjam at 2B and using Herrera and ??? to acquire a very good OBP player should be considered. Herrera isn’t projected at more than a .320 OBP, so why not upgrade a position where there isn’t a logjam? I am afraid you over-rate Herrera and I hope a few other ML teams will too. I’ll take Suarez over Herrera at 2B every day of the week.
        A team needs to get it’s pitching and offense in sync at some point to go into the playoffs. If the pitching is to kick in next year, why not get some offense so that it will show improvement too? Why wait until 2019 or 2020 as you suggest by claiming “Don’t expect much more from the team OBP until the likes of Senzel and Winker are stalwarts in the every day lineup.” With adding in Winker at some point, the offense is only a player or 2 away from being good.

        “The Reds are in no position to acquire talent which costs actual money in ’16, so it all goes back to the development.”
        This is a very incorrect assessment of the Reds. They are in prime position to acquire talent that is pre-arb or signed for a few seasons. If the Reds are a .500 team with what is listed above, then what would adding in a player or two do to the W/L record? Deal from your stockpile. There is no reason to stumble through the 2017 and 2018 seasons when you don’t have to. Time to thin the herd a little bit. In ranching and farming, and baseball too, thinning out is a good thing and usually promotes healthy growth. And it helps you to obtain things that you don’t have or are low on. Thin that herd of pitching and middle infielders. It won’t hurt the team, but will help it. Your “whatever sticks” philosophy is for the birds.

        • Thinning, at least in forestry, is done by culling the less-desirable specimens, and we don’t have the basis to identify them. Suarez is becoming a decent third baseman, after struggling mightily, as he did at short the year before, so moving him to second would conceivably weaken the team. Also, other teams would presumably know as much about Herrera (more than, really) as we do, so why would you expect a haul of good OBP guys for him? As for Duvall in left, he’s the first Red to field that position well in a long time, and was showing some signs of improved plate discipline late in the season (after watching Votto all year?). Jason may be right that we’ve seen his peak, but average age of decline tells you little about an individual player.

        • I’d wager that Duvall would be worse at 3B than Suarez. This is basically due to the reports on his defense there when he came from San Fran. That said, he impressed me in the OF. Maybe he can play 3B but I’m not willing to bet the farm on it. I’m also not sure about selling low on Stephenson. Lastly, I’d be very hesitant to move Suarez again. I think he’d be a decent 2B but he just started getting pretty good at 3B the last couple months of the season. I think he can end up being a plus defender there.

        • There is no “logjam”. This is something Reds fans need to get out of their heads now. What if both Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson don’t fix their respective problems, and what we saw out of both of them in Cincinnati last season is their major league persona? We no longer have plus pitching, in that instance.

          Same goes for middle infield. What if Jose Peraza never learns to take a walk? What if Dilson Hererra never works out the way we think he might? What if Alfredo Rodriguez has a 20 hit tool? We can’t afford to trade one of these guys away now, essentially banking on two of them working out. There’s a very real possibility that none of these prospects become serious major league contributors.

          We acquired the talent to see what we’ve got. We can’t see what we’ve got currently if we bring in a bunch of pre-arb players that will block them, just like BP and Cozart are doing now. We need to stop worrying about the W/L record, at least for now. ’16 and ’17 were always going to be ‘throw the young guys into the fire’ years. It’s really rare for prospects that aren’t classified as ‘cant miss’ to automatically be good as soon as they’re called up to the big leagues. So, they’ll need ’16 and ’17 to ramp up to their maximum capabilities. It’s not “stumbling through”, its dealing with the bad to eventually be good.

          Put it this way: we tried your approach with a solid core of players. We added quality players like Rolen, Latos and Choo to a very good core of BP, Jay Bruce, and Joey Votto in their prime. And we still didn’t win. What makes you think adding some pre-arb players to this current core will win? We need to give the new core the time it needs to work itself out.

        • Hogwash. You are just afraid to pull the trigger and to go for it. Sit on the porch and bark with the little dogs. The Reds should be running with the big dogs.

        • Lol, where did you get this entitlement? The Reds haven’t been a “big dog” since 1990, and even then we were a small market team with homegrown talent. We don’t have the money to be a big dog. We have to be smart with the money – and the players – that we do have.

          But, I guess we’ll just have to see what the guys being paid money will do. My money is on following my path, but who knows.

        • @WVREDLEGS – “Yap yap” … Yes, perhaps a little afraid to go for it if I were the GM in for the Reds right now. I’m not completely risk averse but what you’re proposing I think raises more questions than it answers. It could work and work brilliantly but it’s too big of a gamble for this big old dog who has been around the block a little and sometimes decides staying on the porch is best.

      • I agree with everything here except for the notion that you can develop OBP. Dan O’Brien tried to do that and in general it doesn’t work out that way. I agree that it is an organizational philosophy. It is more about drafting guys with plate-discipline skills and about rewarding those skills throughout the organization though. Rewarding guys and encouraging guys with good OBP chops builds that organization culture with the belief that not making outs means scoring runs.

        OBP is made of of three different factors, only one of which can really be coached in my opinion:
        1 – The ability to make solid, consistent contact (in general this is natural talent)
        2 – The ability to judge the strikezone (again natural talent)
        3 – The self-discipline to not swing at borderline/bad pitches (can be coached)

        • This is good stuff! This is more what I was talking about, rather than actually hoping guys you drafted without plate discipline somehow gain it throughout their development. Hopefully this is the direction the Reds are heading.

        • The contact thing is a funny one… there’s actually a negative correlation between oContact% and OBP/wRC+/SLG. Makes sense, I suppose, since hitting bad pitches probably leads to weak contact more often.

          Makes me think that your #2 and #3 probably make up 90% of that triumvirate.

          Regardless, I agree you can’t really develop OBP… you have to identify the players who have the skills (#2 and #3) and reward that behavior!

          • Yes, contact on pitches outside the zone or right at the margins (pitchers’ pitches) generally results in weak contact. I was meaning swinging and hitting pitches well inside the zone rather than missing them or just letting them go. Points 2 and 3 mostly lead to guys not swinging at too many pitches outside the zone. There may be a handful of bad-ball hitters out there but they are few and far between.

        • In other words, regarding our Reds, stop rewarding .220 power hitters because they can swat a solo HR in the 9th inning of a game already lost. Stop fawning over the long ball at the expense of OBP and more importantly than that, making pitchers work to get you out, each and every at bat.

          Be content finding doubles machines with .340 plus OBPs and hope one or two develop 30 HR power with a little strength training.

        • …and that .340 OBP can be a .275 average and 80 walks or a .330 average and 10 walks, makes no difference to me, so don’t bash on a Pereza if he can’t walk but manages a .320+ average. Now, that said, it’s likely a player like Peraza might not have as many pitcher per AB, which means not forcing pitcher to work hard to get you out, but balance a high BA, low OBP with one or two high walk rate players (Votto and one or two more) to help work counts.

  2. I’m with you on Duvall. What we saw early was unsustainable as the staffs around the league adjusted and his inability to master the zone was exposed. Thats basic conjecture from what I’ve gathered from many sources. The overall looks great….but we’re not seeing a cleanup lock for seasons to come. Realistically he’s going to walk into some home runs, but .230 20HR isn’t going to get it done without that Adam Dunn type obp.

    Im with your staff assessment as well. I think .500 looks like a top end. We could see some wild spin outs and losing streaks as well. I’m generally going to guage progress by what I see 2nd half.

    • This was Duvall’s first season playing OF everyday and first season playing into September as an everyday player. Between the two, he was clearly running on close to empty by Sept. Whether he can develop better stamina is a key factor, especially given his diabetes which he and Price both acknowledged was a factor impacting his stamina during hot humid weather.

      Even as his power and batting average waned, he managed to nudge his OBP over .300 for the “2nd half”. I believe it is reasonable to project him as a ~25HR, 25-30 double player with a low .300s OBP.

      Along with his above average OF defense, that’s a very useful piece until somebody comes along to do it better. Winker isn’t going to do that on OBP only. He’ll have to demonstrate that his wrist issue is truly history and that he can still hit with more power than he showed in 2016. That needs to start in AAA and not on the MLB squad.

      .

      • Do you think diabetes effects his plate discipline by effecting his vision? I’d be curious about that.

        You’re projection of him is about where I have him, actually. Im not low selling him, just trying to counterpoint those that might feel the Reds stumbled on a goldmine because they will season the baseball card season stats.

        I had him on my fantasy team in a deep stat league. I saw how it played out. My concern is the plate discipline. Though he did seem to creep back up in,September a bit. But I don’t have the stats on who he was facing in September.

        Yeah…20-25 HR is valuable, especially next season.

        • RE:Duvall

          I’m not a medical professional and am fortunate not have diabetes myself or in my circle of friends and family, so I can’t say about the visual distortion. That said, at the point where physical and psychological intersect, it is known that we all tend to make poorer decisions under greater physical stress/ duress.

          Per Fangraph, comparing Duvall’s “half season” (pre/ post ASB) splits, in the 2nd half his BB rate doubled over the 1st half from 4.4% to 8.8% while his K rate fell from 29.0% in the 1st half to 24.6% in the 2nd half. His OPB went from .288 in the 1st half to .306 in the 2nd half. His BABIP change was negligible .277/.274 but his BA fell from .249 to .231. This actually indicates a positive uptick in his plate discipline from 1st half to 2nd half.

          My theory is that his legs were chronically weaker in the 2nd half resulting from the playing OF 9 innings a day essentially every day for the first time in his life and that was a major factor in the power drop off.

      • Two more years of cost control on Duvall playing defense and bumping that obp over .300 would be solid for this team. Be nice to see him crack .500 slg% too. Im just curious what we’ll see, because so much of his value came early and he’ll most likely regress.

        He only cost a Mike Leake rental.

      • RE: Duvall

        ohiojimw: I’ve been studying Duvall a bit this afternoon and coming to the same stats and conclusion as you. What I like is the contract control. Only concern would be when he loses that and if a an arbitrator bought a little too highly into the power stats. He’s like a lot of batters….you just wish the obp would sneak up. Maybe in 2017 he sacrifices some power for some obp…that spread between the obp and slg is astounding!

        I’m in with your 25 hr projection. Maybe we’ll see a slight improvement in the straight avg as well. If he gains some selection, he might transfer some of that 40 hr raw power and maintain it in a hard hit ball rate.

        But, there’s ao much risk on this roster right now to really project .500 playing the NL Central

      • If everyone AAA prospect had to show the full package before being promoted there’d be a lot of wasted years in AAA while a guy tried to luck into a 25 HR season.

        Winker, right now, would be the 2nd best hitter on the Reds. He should be in the majors as soon as his service time shenanigans have passed in mid-April.

        • Winker’s original wrist injury was in mid 2014. Two years later he still isn’t hitting with the power he showed prior to the injury and in fact missed a couple of weeks in 2016 because of a flare up with the wrist.

          He needs to demonstrate at AAA that he still can hit with the kind of power expected from a corner OF in MLB.

          Here’s an excerpt from an article in the Enquirer I cam across when I was researching to nail down the time frame of the original wrist/ hand injury in an automobile wreck.

          http://www.cincinnati.com/story/sports/mlb/reds/2014/07/26/cincinnati-reds-jesse-winker/13222581/

          “….The 21-year-old is hitting .287/.399/.518 with 15 home runs and 57 RBI through 74 games with high-Class A Bakersfield (53 games) and Pensacola (21 games). He not only appeared in the Futures Game, but also Carolina-California League All-Star Game, where he won the home run derby “.

          Austin Kearns was never the same player after he suffered what became a chronic hand injury. Let us hope Winker is not travelling down a similar path.

        • Jim, there is no power requirement to play a corner outfield spot. He’s a guy who has the capability to hit .300 with a .400 OBP. Not that he’ll do that right away, but even Votto never posted an OBP above .390 at AAA.

          His power is irrelevant to overall production. And again, I’d stake my reputation that given a full season in the bigs he’d be 2nd in wRC+ to Votto on the team.

    • Why is it everyone forgets Duvall hit 33 bombs, had 102 RBI, 31 Doubles and 6 Triples for a gawd awful last place team? I’d say he did just fine in “the zone”.

      • I’m not sure who is forgetting, but it’s not a stretch to think that was a 28 year old peaking and speculate on what to expect.

      • He also made significantly more outs than a productive player should. He hit a lot of XBHs, sure, but what he did in the other 90% of his plate appearances matters…

        • That’s not to say he wasn’t productive. He was perfectly fine. I’d take 2.8 WAR any day of the week from my LFer.

        • 20 of his HR’s occurred in May-June when the Reds were 20-36. As the team became better, he became worse.

        • We really don’t know about Duvall. This was his first year as a full-time starter, right? It’s worth waiting to see what he is going forward, since even his relatively poor second half showed glimmers of improved plate discipline. And, Chuck: I expect that you are relaying an odd fact, not suggesting causation?

        • That’s just a cherry-picked stat, though, Chuck. Production is production. A player can’t be good when his team needs it and then slack off when his team doesn’t.

          He was fine. Sure, it mostly came in a 6-8 week span, but those weeks count, too.

  3. I don’t understand the continuing fascination with Cody Reed over Robert Stephenson. Both have issues, possibly major ones, which need to be worked out if they are going to be successful MLB rotation pitchers.

    However, in a similar MLB sample size this year, despite being pitch inefficient, RS was actually blown out of only a couple of games. While his stints were too short due largely to elevated pitch count, the games were typically still competitive when he left. Meanwhile while Reed was mercilessly pummeled with regularity. When he was not allowing HRs at a historic rate, he was walking people then subsequently being hit with incredible exit velocity resulting in HRs.

    I’ve not seen much said or written which indicates that the folks who know such things believe that Reed has significantly, if any, better stuff that Stephenson. In fact I think many still feel Stephenson has slightly better raw stuff. I’d bank my money on the guy not being pounded silly figuring out his command issue over the other guy figuring out his command issue and finding a way to throw strikes that don’t regularly end up in the outfield seats.

    This being said, thanks for then post to get us talking about the Reds and 2017. The state of the Reds “rebuild” is such that no matter the views put forward in such a post, there could be a reasonable contrarian viewpoint to anything except extolling Votto’s offensive prowess.

    • Comparing Reed with Stephenson is a little apple and orange comparison. Stephenson should be ready by now. Reed is still developing. Both have control issues…Reed compensated by putting the ball over the plate, Stephenson just goes ahead and walks them. Stephenson’s control should be further along. The question is whether Reed can find his control.

      • Disagree.
        Stephenson is all of 51 days older than Reed.
        RS DOB=2/24/1993;
        CR DOB=4/15/1993

        Next year will be the age 24 season for both. RS was drafted (1st Rd) and signed out of high school. CR attended Jr College and was drafted a year later (2nd Rd). Stephenson was in Rookie league in 2012; Reed in 2013.

        To a degree they are both being pushed.

        • More comparisons of Stephenson and Reed (MLB only)

          K/9 RS=7.5; CR=8.1; BB/9 RS=4.6; CR=3.6; H/9 RS=10; CR=12.7; WHIP RS=1.62; CR=1.80; HR/9 RS=2.2; CR=2.3

          Reed ends up with a worse WHIP despite walking fewer because he gives up more hits (net difference of +1.7/ 9 innings against Reed). If a hit is worth more to an offense than a walk, then shouldn’t the inverse also apply, that a hit is worse for a pitcher than a walk?

          RS looks much better on ERA (6.08 v/ 7.36). Reed looks better on FIP (6.06/6.50) because among other things FIP attempts compensate for “luck” and removes “sequencing” to me that’s like saying Murphy’s Law doesn’t apply. xFIP takes it a step further by assuming a league average HR/flyball rate which sweetens things even more for Reed.

      • It’s been said its mostly mechanical for Reed. Batters can see the ball coming out of his hand way too early in the delivery, leading to them knowing about exactly where the ball will be in the zone, leading to a major league baseball player capitalizing on the situation and creaming the baseball. If Reed can add a little deception to his delivery, I think he’ll be fine.

        Stephenson, on the other hand, has always worried me. This is a classic control problem, and the rumors that he’s not working on fixing the problem is worrying.

        • Reed was bad, he threw his slider to hard and it didn’t break and he didn’t command his fastball. I have read ppl talking about his delivery. He has the exact same arm action as Madison bumgarner. One scout wrote how deceptive it is, one how obvious it is. I don’t think it’s that. Didn’t throw strikes and couldn’t trust his changeup.

        • Stephenson also needs to learn to not try to fix things by throwing harder or by aiming the ball and throwing softer. Consistent release points. It’s easier said than done though and really easy for me to say behind a keyboard. The young man has his work cut out for him.

    • Reed was immensely unlucky. Jim Thome has the highest HR/FB% in MLB history (admittedly, the data to calculate this wasn’t tracked until like 2002 or something), and the AVERAGE batter Cody Reed faced last year was higher. Basically, the average hitter Reed faced was the most efficient HR hitter in MLB history. That won’t last.

      Take 5 of the HR Reed gave up and turn them into warning track outs and all of a sudden his numbers look fine for a first-stint guy.

      • I would say Reed probably experienced a vector of bad luck and bad pitching as it certainly didn’t get any better for him over time. Certainly bad pitching can elevate hitters’ HR/FB rate as well as luck.

        Human behavior research indicates that mistakes tend to begat more mistakes in short order.
        So whatever was luck and whatever was bad pitching, he wasn’t able to break the cycle which led to some seriously damaging sequencing.

        • If you threw 100 fastballs down the middle to an average MLB hitter they probably wouldn’t hit 25 home runs. It would be like HR Derby, but off the mound with Reed chucking it at 95 instead of the 70 you get in HRD.

          Reed was as unlucky as I’ve ever seen a pitcher be on fly balls.

          • You are the physics guy not me; but, if a batter is sitting on a ~95MPH “dead” fastball, i.e. little to no movement, in the areas indicated by Reed’s hotzone charts, isn’t that actually an easier pitch to hit further because of the incoming velocity?

            I’m not doubting that Reed was “unlucky” to a degree but he also at the least predisposed himself run into the bad luck with chronic lack of location command and having pitches stay on a single plane in two dimensions.

        • I tend to agree that HR/FB% is partly on the pitcher, although there is evidence that it’s due to luck. My issue with that is for the sample size to be large enough to say it’s due to luck, the bad pitchers are already weeded out. I’m sure some of Reed’s issues were luck related but there was a time where if I knew that 95 was coming and where it was going to be in the zone, I could hit it and hit it hard. I can still consistently hit 90 MPH pitching-machine pitches. MLB hitters are about 100x better than I ever was. Makes sense they can consistently hit 93-95MPH, straight fastballs, that they also have a real good idea about location on; very, very, very hard.

          • Maybe it would be interesting to have a HR derby where the pitches were made by a pitching machine with each hitter allowed to set the height, speed, and horizonal location πŸ™‚

        • I think we’re just disagreeing on the severity of the “luck” in question.

          Yes, of course, guys will hit pitchers harder if they know its coming and they know it’ll be in a good spot to hit. Reed did that to himself by missing his spots routinely.

          Regardless of that, for 27.9% of the balls hit in the air against him to leave the yard, an immense amount of luck is required. There were only 17 batters in MLB this year that eclipsed the 20% mark.

          If he were facing home run hitters every at-bat and if he were the worst pitcher in the majors, it makes sense, but keep in mind this figure counts the leadoff hitters and the pitchers and the utility infielders that he faced in his starts.

          For the average player he faced to be the best home run hitter ever is ludicrous.

          And I still don’t think most MLB hitters (Stanton, of course, could) could hit a HR 1 in 4 fly balls against a randomly location 95mph fastball in the zone. And certainly not the “average” hitter.

          To put this in further perspective, the worst qualified starter in terms of HR/FB% was Jaime Garcia at 20.2%. There were only 12 pitchers in all of MLB with an HR/FB% above 15%. So that represents roughly our bottom 10%. And Reed’s number is almost twice as bad as what it took to be in the bottom 10%.

          To further pull that string, if we use a responsible sample size (2010-2016), the worst pitcher in all of MLB was Jason Marquis at 16.5%. For the worst pitcher of the last half decade, only 1 in 6 balls left the yard. For Reed, greater than 1 in 4 left the yard.

          Unless we think Reed is the least talented starting pitcher in MLB by some 38%, we can only conclude he was incredibly unlucky.

          BONUS: A quick StatCast search showed Reed’s average exit velocity allowed was 90.5 mph. That’s not good, but was better than Blake Wood’s 90.9 mph. Recall Wood’s non-homer-given-up streak?

          Also, Wood’s FB rate was 27.5%. Reed’s? 26.9%

          So, Blake Wood gave up almost no homers even though he allowed more fly balls and harder average contact. Reed gave up tons of homers despite fewer fly balls and lower average contact.

          They represent two unsustainable sides of the same coin.

          (This ended up being a bit longer than anticipated! haha!)

          • I agree about our point of difference. It seems impossible that Reed could stay as bad (or unlucky) as he was in his stint this season. However is he likely to to significantly improve if he continues to throw the same pitches in the same locations? I think LW’s point that “bad” pitchers tending to be weeded out before they contribute significant data to the pool also is worth bearing in mind when trying to project how much Reed’s FB/HR rate might improve just based on better luck.

            During the 2016 season, I was monitoring the goings on in Louisville pretty closely on the nights Reed or Stephenson pitched (and Sampson too once I realized he was on that hot run). My memory recollection is that I was starting to be concerned that Reed was getting nicked for some “big” HRs before he was brought up. If I get the time, I’ll try and generate some game logs to see if that is accurate.

          • If I did it right, here’s the link to the game log summaries for Reed’s time in AAA.
            I made the split after his start on May 18 because in his first 6 starts (34.2IP) he had allowed only 1 HR total (very early on); but then beginning with his start on 24 May, he allowed at least 1 HR in each of his remaining starts at AAA (30.0IP).
            There is a pretty stark difference in the splits ERA jumps from 2.08 in the first one to 4.50 in the second one. Total HR 1/5, Hits 26/33, BB 8/15 BatAvg allowed .211/.280, SLG .268/.458, OPS against .539/.791

            Seems to me the cautions were all there in the stats…..

            https://1drv.ms/b/s!Avmo5s3MIH24jS_0ae288Un9vEGa

    • I am not convinced that Winker is the answer next year, but maybe you could provide your personal analysis instead of insults. Schebler and Duvall may turn out to be nothing more than fourth outfielder types or they may be All Stars, but Winker can’t be written off just because he didn’t hit for power last year

    • Jesse Winker has a higher OPS in the minors than Adam Duvall (.854 to .841) and he’s done it at a much younger age and with a much better plate approach. It continues to amaze me how much people want to give up on Winker after a power drop while utterly ignoring that Duvall has never, and likely will never, gotten on base AND is at his absolute peak right now.

      You want to talk about being overwhelmed? Duvall had a great May. That’s it. His May OPS was 1.004. In the other months: .708, .812, .744, .803, .673. And that’s the 28-year-old you can’t imagine not having a starting job? How about we at least give the 23-year-old who had a wrist injury but still managed to be a well above average hitter even though he was VERY young for the league a shot before we make a judgement. I’ll take the young guy in that bet.

      • It’s easy to hunt and pick parts of seasons or say “based on minor league stats”.

        Duvall just put up a seasonal .795 OPS in MLB warts and all; Winker put up .782 in AAA.

        If Winker is as good and will grow as suggested , and I hope he is and more, it shouldn’t take him long to prove it this year at AAA.

        • Jesse Winker has a chance to be a key cog in the Reds lineup for the next five years. There is almost zero chance that Adam Duvall will be.

          I see no point in giving Duvall big league at-bats at the expense of Winker.

        • I don’t see any harm in leaving Winker at AAA long enough to extend the “extra” year of control and even staving off super 2 status.

          If he isn’t slugging at a better rate by the end of that period of AAA time, then they’ve got a problem that’s not likely to fix itself at the MLB level.

          The old school side of me also says enough of entitlement. Five years in, we still have the Cozart controversy and are keeping our fingers crossed three years in that BHam will be adequate offensively. They are in a situation where they can afford to let guys really earn their way. That is what they should do.

          • Well, I certainly agree that it’s probably smart to leave Winker in AAA until June, just to get that extra year of control. But after that, I see no reason not to have him in the big leagues.

            I’m not worried about the power. Yet. The wrist problem saps your power. I think he’ll be fine.

          • Let’s hope Winker turns out to be more than fine πŸ™‚

            Looking at this in a vacuum, i.e. not terms of whether he should displace Duvall or Schebler but just in terms of what he brings to the table… Folks say he won’t be the OBP guy that Votto turned out to be. He’s not the power guy Jay Bruce was. He doesn’t run, throw, or play defense as well as Bruce did at this age and presumably that’s his ceiling in these facets. He didn’t make the International League Top 20 list.

            Maybe the issue is that the bar is too low for what makes a key cog moving forward?

        • So, can we assume that Winker with very little power could be say a Hal Morris type hitter? I think I could live with that in LF. It’s certainly not All-Star caliber but it can work. And if the power comes back as Doug expects it to (I had concerns so asked him for his thoughts), then we have a potential All Star.

          I like Duvall and I think he’s the starter in LF out of Spring but it would be a pleasant surprise if he can hit like he did this year or better.

          • Somewhere on down the main thread, I’ve linked an article which in retrospect speaks to the departure of Winker’s power post wrist injury which happened at mid season of 2014.
            That year at age 19, he actually won the California League (A+ level) All Star game HR Derby. For that season which was split about 2/3 at A+ and 1/3 at AA he hit 15HR and slugged .518. In the two seasons since, one each at AA and AAA, he has hit a combined total of 16 homers and slugged in the vicinity of .400

      • Great article. Jesse Winker has been highly ranked by all baseball prospect rankings for several years. That’s not an accident and as has been mentioned, the Reds lineup is deficient in players with high OBP. I don’t like diminishing players at the expense of another. Duvall was a bright spot. He did what he was supposed to do and can do. Hit home runs and play a decent LF. He is who is he. Just wish people would quit saying put him at 3b…its not happening…not realistic….for many reasons…players just don’t change positions….again, especially when Suarez is there after changing positions and Senzel ultimately will land there. Bryan Price and Dick Williams are not putting Duvall at 3b in 2017- this isn’t fantasy baseball. Stop the nonsense.

        • I don’t think Duvall is a good 3B. That’s why he ended up at 1B and eventually the OF. That said, a position change for him would be back to 3B. It is a position he’s played quite a bit of so I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as the move Suarez made.

    • You don’t know what you’re talking about, Art. Also, watch your tone or go comment somewhere else. We don’t need that kind of garbage here, especially when your opinions are backed up by nothing except conjecture.

      Regarding being “unproven,” well guys who put up a .390+ OBP at AAA are few and far between. Votto didn’t even do that.

  4. Barring injuries to the starting pitching we should be around 500 next year.I fully expect everybody not named BP or Cozart to improve on their OBP.The bullpen will be much better and if we could spend a little money for a quality guy or two to pair up with Iggy and Lorenzen it could become a strength.I said we would be at 500 or better in the second half and there is no reason we can’t do that next year.We also could catch lightning in a bottle with Mes coming back and one or two of our young starters making big improvements.

  5. It’s fun to speculate but it’s also pure conjecture to “forecast” next years roster. A lot could and probably will change between now and ST. As for Winkler, I hope you’re right but potential is french word meaning you haven’t done squat yet. First and foremost should be fixing the damn bullpen.

  6. As far as speculating about a winning percentage projection for 2017. Let’s keep in mind that they play the AL East in interleague. That’s not going to be a soft calendar.

  7. In terms of being reasonable, whether Jesse Winker, Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler or the reincarnation of Roberto Clemente was playing in the Reds outfield will not make much difference unless their starting and relief pitching gets a whole lot better.
    I think that splitting hairs over the difference between the above mentioned players OPS, OBP and slugging percentage is a distraction from making the Reds pitching staff MUCH better in 2017, to make 2018 a competitive season.
    Joey Votto had an incredible stretch of hitting from June 1 until the end of the season in 2016. Over that period, despite his offensive performance and having a lot of big offensive nights that led to victories, the Reds were probably barely at 0.500 ball. Because their pitching was lousy to at best mediocre.

    • You are entirely correct. The front office has said they’ll spend on the bullpen. The rotation will be an internal thing. Time for guys to graduate or not, as the case may be,

  8. I would have to assume that you mean Schebler won’t be batting cleanup. And, if Devin can hit like he did before injury, I don’t see any way he bats 8th. I’m fine on the rest of that part.

    For the starting rotation, I believe Bailey will get the #1 position, unfortunately. Personally, I haven’t been impressed with Bailey. He’s had one good season, one decent season ever since he become “more or less” a regular in 2009. Or, for instance, he’s pitched over 200 innings twice, but hasn’t been over 150 innings all his other seasons. There’s no way he deserved that contract. When you see the WAR, you can tell there are replacements for him. Reed is over-rated, so far.

    The bullpen, on every team, is pretty much a crapshoot. I do believe the Reds will try to improve it. But, I don’t believe any big names will be coming.

    The bench consists of bench players because they aren’t as good as the regulars. Some people love to talk about how the bench players should be batting 300 with great defense. If we had that, they wouldn’t be bench players; they would be starting. Of the tools of batting and defense, bench players normally are missing one tool, or are simply not outstanding at one of them, which is what keeps them on the bench. Also, I believe bench players, like the bullpen, are crapshoots. You try to plan for their success as a group, then hope and pray. For instance, Iribarren, I heard, won the his AAA league batting title. I would think that would make him in the lead for at least the “pinch hitter” off the bench.

    Overall, I still see a 500 team. I believe the only thing that kept this team from being 500 was the bullpen. I remember seeing a stat earlier this year that this bullpen’s ERA was 2 full runs OVER the next worse team in the league. If we just had an average bullpen, I can’t help thinking that would be at least 10 more wins for us, a 20 game change, 78-84 record, a lot closer to a 500 club.

    Priorities:
    1) Bullpen – again, it’s a crapshoot in my opinion. You get some players then hope and pray they work out
    2) At least one more hitter – I can’t tell whether an OBP type of a power type of hitter. We could have one of each already with a comeback of Devin or the emergence of Winker. But, there’s a question mark with both (Devin – injury, and Winker – rookie). Do we go with the question marks?
    3) Starting pitching – Homer needs to comeback. I don’t believe he will. People like to try to say people do come back from TJS. The league is also riddled with players who haven’t come back from it. The rest of the staff still needs improvement, seasoning, etc. Like Finnegan, I do believe he’s earned a spot for next season. But, he’s got to cut his walks down.

    • Bailey ranked in the Top 25 in NL in every single statistical category in the 3 years leading up to his contract. He got #2 starter money for proving he was a solid #2 starter (which he was). Then he got injured. Injuries happen. It’s not a big contract. Especially now.

      • It is a big contract. Yes, it is a #2 starter contract and not an “ace” contract. I think you can look at Leake’s deal and see that Bailey, coming off those 3 seasons, got market value or perhaps a little less than market value. Injuries, unfortunately happen and that’s what has made the contract bad. As pitchers tend to get catastrophically hurt more often than position players, I tend to frown on anything over 4 years or so on a pitcher. Bailey got hurt. It happens.

        • Agreed. I wish the market didn’t dictate such long pitcher contracts. Unfortunately, the only people it hurts are the pre-arb and arb guys who have to foot the bill for these expensive vets!

      • Coming off a season with a losing winning percentage? Tied for 34th in quality starts%? Not to mention the history he had. Only twice having won double-digit games, never over 14 games, one of them a losing record. Only twice having pitched 200+ innings, not having been over 150 in all other 6 seasons. History of being optioned, injured, a headcase, and opinionated about club moves which can cause a toxic environment. Never an AS. Never any CY votes. Mike Minor of the Braves, with similar numbers, he was paid $4M and $6M the next 2 seasons.

        Leake is the one who should have gotten that money. First, the only problem he’s has was the shoplifting. No history of being optioned, of injury, of being a headcase, of being opinionated, etc. Pitching motion not prone to injury. At the time had very similar if not better numbers than Homer. As well as, Leake was much more flexible, being able to pinch hit, pinch run, as well as possibly being able to play emergency field if needed.

        Bottom line, Homer was paid for the number of years he’s been in the league and for 2 specific days he was “on”. We had another pitcher who would have been a much better investment.

  9. The Reds could be a .500 ball club in 2017 depending on how much effort the front office expends to construct a good bullpen, and if change occurs at second and shortstop. Along with that, there’s a lot of potential and next season, as the final phase of the rebuild kicks in, we’ll see how the potential develops.

  10. The Reds and Fox Sports Ohio have agreed to a 15 year deal. no other terms available. Maybe the Reds can expand the payroll a few million $$$ now and not languish in last place most of the year again.
    Time for Dick Williams to go shopping for a couple of high OBP players to hit in front of Votto.

  11. Fan is short for fanatic. By its definition I don’t have to be reasonable. Wire to wire 2017, baby. Wire. To. Wire.

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