2017 Reds

The Best-Case Scenario

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One of my favorite things about spring training is that everything is potential. As Nick Kirby pointed out recently, you know some team will make a leap, but you don’t know which team. So why not the Reds?

In my own nerdy way, I always think it’s fun to do a “best-case scenario” look at the season. That is, what if everything goes like we want it to?

The Lineup

Billy Hamilton – .270/.340/.360, 5.0 WAR
This is the dream with Hamilton, right? An above-average on-base percentage to go along with his amazing speed and defense make him perfectly suited to leadoff.

Jesse Winker – .300/.360/.450, 3.5 WAR
In this scenario, Winker forces his way onto the team reasonably early in the season. Bryan Price has at least made it clear that this is a possibility. Winker would slot nicely between Votto and Hamilton and I’d be shocked if he didn’t beat everyone on the team except Votto in OBP.

Joey Votto – .330/.460/.570, 7.0 WAR
What’s scary is that this doesn’t even feel like an especially optimistic projection. I mean, it IS optimistic, but, well, let me put it this way: In his last 502 plate appearances last year (enough to qualify for the batting title), Votto hit .367/.466/.616. Them’s MVP numbers, ma.

Adam Duvall/Scott Schebler – .260/.310/.500, 3.5 WAR (combined)
My official opinion is and will continue to be that Winker is a better bet than either Duvall or Schebler. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t imagine one or both of them still having very good years.

Devin Mesoraco – .270/.350/.500, 4.5 WAR
I can’t quite bring myself to put Mes back to his previous levels — even in a best-case scenario piece — but this is close. The Reds have seemed optimistic about Mes in a way they weren’t about Homer, so I’m starting to have real hope that he’ll come back. If he does and he’s good, well. That’d be something.

Eugenio Suarez – .280/.340/.470, 5.0 WAR
I’m already on record more than once saying that I expect big things from Suarez. His defense was getting quite good by the end of last season and he hit well in the second half. Third is a loaded position right now, so he’s probably going to look less stellar when compared with others at third, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be an excellent player.

Dilson Herrera – .280/.340/.430 3.0 WAR
In this scenario, Zack Cozart is traded and Herrera gets the second base job while Peraza slides over to shortstop. Ignore Herrera’s major league stats, which amount to a couple of cups of coffee several years ago when he was even younger than he is now. Instead, look at his minor league numbers and you’ll find someone with good plate discipline and bit of pop to go with it.

Jose Peraza – .300/.330/.400 3.0 WAR
We’ve seen a decent bit of Peraza in Cincinnati already. If you want to see what I think of him, you should take a good look at what I wrote Monday. Peraza has the potential to be a lot of fun to watch.

The Rotation

Anthony DeSclafani – 3.10 ERA, 200 IP, 4.0 WAR

Brandon Finnegan – 3.50 ERA, 200 IP, 3.0 WAR
I’m going to write about Disco and Finnegan together. Basically, in a best-case scenario, both players continue to progress as we saw them progress last year.

Amir Garrett – 3.20 ERA, 170 IP, 3.5 WAR
As with Winker, I’m assuming that Garrett forces his way onto the team. I am a huge believer in Amir Garrett. I think he’s the most likely of the pitching prospects to have a substantial major league career. Here’s the key: you need to watch his change up as spring progresses. If it’s working, there’s not much that can get in his way.

Cody Reed – 3.50 ERA, 170 IP, 3.0 WAR
In this universe, Cody Reed doesn’t give up homers like a batting-practice pitcher facing Barry Bonds.

Homer Bailey – 3.00 ERA, 100 IP, 2.0 WAR
Homer comes back right on schedule, and pitches well. Doesn’t get more best-case than that.

Other Starters – 150 IP, 1.0 WAR
Even in a best-case scenario this team is gonna need a spot starter here and there.

The Bullpen

With Michael Lorenzen, Raisel Iglesias, Drew Storen and a demoted-to-the-pen Scott Feldman (remember, this is the best-case scenario), the Reds have a good bullpen that should take care of the many leads they are handed by the rotation.

Conclusion

This isn’t real. Of course it isn’t. The odds of this happening are very slim. However, for each player, the projection is simply at the upper-end of what they are capable of. This team, if it were to happen, would give the Cubs a run for their money and, you know, that would be pretty fun.

54 thoughts on “The Best-Case Scenario

  1. You are certainly optimistic- more so than I am. If your best case scenario was to happen then the Reds would be one of the best Reds teams of all-time. This scenario would result in 95-100 wins this season. I personally just don’t think that is possible. I am doubtful that Homer ever pitches consistently well again. Garrett probably won’t take the league by storm which a 3.20 ERA certainly would. If the Reds have most of their starters batting above .260 then they will score a lot of runs. If their pitchers are all below 3.50 ERA, then they will win a lot of games with those runs scored. I understand what you were doing in this column by giving the best case scenario. I also realize you don’t really expect all that to happen. This is a nice dream. The problem is that dreams end when we wake up.

    • I mean, it’s called the best-case scenario for a reason. I don’t believe this will happen. At all. It’s just that it’s February and spring training has just started, so it’s fun to think about.

      • Jason, I knew what you were doing and I have done the same thing many times. My optimism just never has come true. But I do appreciate your best case scenario even if we both know it ain’t happening.

  2. I love the optimism. It’s always good to take an opportunity to hope for the, instead of expecting the worst. One thing I noticed was no Robert Stephenson. If I was doing a “best case scenario”, I would probably include him too, considering his upside stuff.

  3. I’m probably drinking the Kool-Aid you’re serving, but the offensive projections don’t sound that far fetched. There’s enough starting pitching depth to adopt a ‘next man up’ approach until someone sticks, and a much improved bullpen will go a long ways toward righting the ship. Remember, the Reds only converted 28 of 53 saves. You can tack on another ~8 wins if they just convert saves at a league average rate.

    On the flip side, sorting through starting pitchers and the late arrivals of Winker/Herrera will prevent the team from firing on all cylinders. The whole season hinges on this process working quickly.

    • ….and sometimes it does. The Cubs arrived a year ahead of schedule in 2015.

  4. Fun thought exercise! I even feel like some of those numbers could be 50th percentile numbers, or maybe 75th percentile.

    Billy with a .340+ OBP would make me smile. I certainly think he’s capable.

  5. Thanks for some happy thoughts. Outside of Joey, those OBP’s would be a galaxy far, far, away from what we’ve come to see out of the Reds. It would be incredible, and then Marty could talk about all the runners left on base!

  6. Jason, you are just so wrong

    In the best case scenario, Scott Schebler is 275/345/500 and Winker repeats AAA until his late season call up to be on the playoff roster

    Robert Stephenson leads the majors in hit batters in his 180 innings of 3.65 era, and on this team is the 4th 20 game winner

    Bryan Price’s option is picked up for next year as he earns the nickname “Captain Hook Jr” and he is offered a new one year contract team option which he gladly accepts sharing that there is accountability for everyone, even the manager.

    Marty retires and moves with the Costanza’s to Del Boca Vista

    Dick Williams plows a bunch of scouting dollars into the African continent looking for multi tooled fast twitch athletes which proves to be a better value than all the advanced metrics of Money Ball

  7. Nice. All that is needed now is for Kate Upton to be the grand marshal at the Opening Day parade.
    No mention of Robert Stephenson. Maybe he is packaged with Cozart in that trade, maybe to Detroit for Justin Verlander. Kate Upton could then be a permanent fixture at GABP. Now we are talking best case scenarios.

    • How much of Verlander’s salary are you sending the Reds in that trade? I think as written, Detroit would take that in a minute.

      • You had to get the bean counters involved. Verlander is owed $28MM in ’17 (age 34 season), $28MM in ’18 (age 35), $28mm in ’19 (age 36), and a vesting option in 2020 (age 37) for $20MM. That is 4 years for $104MM. But Verlander showed he was back at an elite level last year. The Reds could get the Tigers to pay 40%-50% of that with a better trade package. Worth it if it brings back a World Series title or 2 in those 4 years. Top of the rotation pitchers aren’t cheap, and the Reds need that badly. The Rebuild would be complete. And instead of “tapping the accelerator” as Dick Williams suggests, they could stomp on it.

    • Best case ever WV…With the Red’s luck though, she would probably develop back issues (for some unknown reason) and be relegated to cheering from home.

  8. Jason – is there a way to extrapolate your players numbers into a team win number for the dream scenario?

  9. Great article-Just a note regarding the bullpen-Tony Cingrani is slated to be a big part of the bullpen, in addition to the 3 others that you mentioned for the backend, as he will be the only LHP as a late inning option.

    Also, I don’t believe we will see Jesse Winker until the 2nd half of this season at the earliest and possibly not until September, as I think the Reds want to make sure he’s truly ready to play full-time when he is called up.

    Of all the projections, I believe that Votto’s and, yes, Billy Hamilton stand the best chance at reaching those projections. I think there is at least a chance that Votto actually has the best season he will ever have this coming season. He seems more mentally determined than ever and, combined with still being near the height of his physical capabilities, could well lead to the best season he will ever have in 2017.

    I also see Votto’s RBI totals quite possibly at a career high because of the progress that I think Hamilton makes this year in becoming a very effective and efficient lead off hitter. Combined with Perazza in the 2 hole beginning to establish himself, Votto is going to have maybe the 2 fastest guys in the game on base at a good clip ahead of him.

    Also wondering if you or anyone else out there has a best-case scenario for the decisions made by Bryan Price? Will he actually become less rigid in his thinking and more flexible by beginning to incorporate more modern thinking, such as Ned Yost, Joe Maddon, and Terry Francona have all recently had success with?

    Great site-enjoy all the comments, as well.

  10. I really like your optimism Jason, and this is the right time of year to project it. I would suggest a few differences though. Winkler isn’t on the team until his super 2 date passes (late June)? Stevenson will fit somewhere in the mix, either starting or relieving. They’ve invested too much time and effort in this guy to give up this quickly on him. They’ll probably make two or three july 31 deadline moves as well. I think one or two of their recently signed pitchers will be flipped, and we may lose one of Duvall or Schebler if they are having good years. But, if they really are contenders by the trading deadline, maybe they do very little trading. Go reds!

  11. Absolute best case scenario? I would go higher on Votto. We’ve seen him hit something like .400/.500/.600 in the second half of the last two years, what if he could put the whole year together?

    • I guess it all depends on how much luck you want to give Votto. He’s proven he can BABIP around .360 or so, which given his HR and SO numbers means a .330 AVG or so is really his “true talent peak.”

      If we gets luckier over a period, or Ks less or HRs more, great! But expecting Votto to do anything higher than .330 over a full-season would really only be attributed to luck.

      So, I guess “best case” can involve luck, so your point is valid.

      • I think seasons are atraditional way of looking at chunks of PAs that don’t apply to masters like Votto. He has put together long stretches of supreme greatness at a time. If one of those stretches just so happens to start at PA 1 this spring and ends at PA 600 this fall, he could rip off a .370/.500/.600 “season” at 33 I guesstimate.

        I just hope it happens next year ;).

  12. Hope springs eternal for a baseball fan. A long season ahead with a lot of ups and downs, but I do think the Reds will be the surprise team of the NLC with or without a playoff berth.

  13. This was a lot of fun, and I agree that all of these are rosy, but individually possible scenarios. The one thing the jumped out at me, though, is how insane a similar “best case” scenario would be for the Cubs.

        • Makes me a little sick to see it in print, too, but what goes up must come down. Being lovable losers for 100 years plus doesn’t evaporate in one season. Or so we hope.

  14. Given Winker’s approach in AAA this year (which seemed to differ from the past) where he BB as much as he K, I really think he could do that .360 OBP fairly easily. It would likely come without much power, as we saw in AAA.

    I think Winker is the key to the Reds competing in the near-term. If he’s a solid, 2.5-3.0 WAR sort of OFer who hits .290/.370/.430, I think the Reds will be in good shape in 2018/2019.

    • Yeah, I believe we might have shorted Winker a bit here in his OBP. I would expect that his OBP would be about .390 given he was going to put up a .300 BA. Winker’s BB% in the minors was 14%, it was 13% last year in AAA. If he put up a 12% rate this season in the bigs with a BA of .300, he’d put up a .390 OBP. A .300 BA and a .360 OBP would have him at about 7% BB%.

  15. Tony cingrani finds his fastball command and dominates out of the pen and channels his inner Norm Charlton and runs over Yadier Molina..Mike leake and Matt carpenter get caught shoplifting at Macy’s and suspended 50 games…Carlos Martinez fails his drug test and gets 50 games and Adam Wainwright gets jealous of Bronson Arroyo and decides he wants to play the guitar and live on a boat far far away. That’s best case scenario.

    • You know, for all my contempt for the Cards sometimes, they are quickly being replaced by the Pirates as my most disliked team. I can’t stand the Pirates.

      • I can’t stand McCutchen. He’s acting like he hasn’t been the worst CF in the league for 3 years. He’s acting super hurt about being moved to RF.

        How about you stop putting up 0 WAR seasons, then complain.

        • so best case scenario….McCutcheon cut his hair….and now becomes Omar Moreno light with the bat.

        • Totally agree. He should be more embarrassed with the 0 wars . Shut up and do your job and do what’s best for the team.

  16. I like what I’ve seen from Amir Garrett as well! I noticed in his videos that he gets on top of the slider and it dives towards a righty’s back foot like its supposed to! By comparison…Reed’s slider seemed to flatten out high and get pounded deep into the night more often then not!

    I don’t know about any of those #s for the other guys and its silly to expect much from Mesoraco or Bailey at this point but I do think Peraza & Billy could average .335/.340 obp and cause a lot of havoc in front of Joey!!

  17. As long as we’re dreaming here…..the Reds brass sees the light and rapidly converts Michael Lorenzen into a starter and bats him 6th in the lineup! He becomes a clone of Kevin Brown with the heavy sinker and becomes the Reds ace!!

  18. Now we just need a writer brave enough to write a post: Worst Case Scenario.
    We combine the stats divide by 2 and probably arrive at the logical prediction.

  19. After the All-Star break last year, the Reds actually had a higher OPS than the Cubs, .759 to .756.

    The hitting “best case” isn’t all that far-fetched. The starting pitchers, though, . . .

    • That’s kind of an amazing stat. I’m not sure exactly how to look at it, other than to say “Huh. I never would have expected that.” Thanks for digging it up and posting it.

    • First 81 games last year:
      Record: 29-52
      Runs Scored: 342
      Runs Against: 482

      Last 81 Games:
      Record: 39-42
      Runs Scored: 374
      Runs Against: 372

      • Last 81 of 2015 + First 81 of 2016:

        Record: 55-107
        Runs Scored: 661
        Runs Against: 881

        2005 Kansas City Royals
        Record: 56-106
        Runs Scored: 701
        Runs Against: 935

  20. I believe this is possible from the hitters. The starting pitching is what needs to really happen for this team to be a contender. I liked what this team was doing at the end last year. Peraza and Schebler were coming around and I thought Suarez was figuring it out. If they can get Mez to give them half of this though. The bullpen can’t get worse than last year. They gave away a ton of wins. I haven’t been this excited before a season in a few years. I really like this team and I think the front office has done well. Criticized big time at first but I think I’m seeing the light. I think we could really fall in love with this team.

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