2017 Reds

The Cincinnati Reds’ Youth Movement, Revisited

You know when you have a puppy and at first it’s really energetic almost to the point of impracticality? Like all it wants to do is run, destroy your personal belongings, eat, eat your personal belongings, and occasionally sleep. That’s what this rebuilding Reds team has felt like. There have been spurts of productive potential, but mostly the team has just been butchering the game of baseball or sleep-walking through the season.

However, puppies, like the Reds, eventually mature into spry, house-trained dogs. The energy is still there, but it’s directed. Their legs match the size of their feet. That’s where the Reds seem to be at in their youth movement, or at least elder statesman Joey Votto thinks so.

“I’m excited about this next group. I like to see guys find themselves. I’ve enjoyed watching Billy (Hamilton), (Scott) Schebler and (Adam) Duvall improve and be All-Stars,” Votto told the Associated Press a few days ago. The article, headlined “Reds star Votto says he’s energized by team’s youth movement,” points to an anticipation for moving past the growing pains and letting the dogs eat.

A year ago, I wrote on the Reds’ youth movement, mainly focusing on, well, whether it even existed. I found a resounding ‘yes, it does,’ as the Reds had the youngest team in the league and the third-lowest average service time. Performing the same analysis at this stage in spring training, however, is foolish. Until the Reds (and the rest of the league) finalize their Opening Day rosters, it’s difficult to compare how young teams will end up being.

That said though, we do have a pretty good idea of the projected starters and rotation, which is the backbone of the roster anyway.

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Compared to the full 25-man roster from last year, the Reds have actually shaved two years off their age average from 28.36 and only added five days in terms of service time. Take those numbers as you may, but remember that Amir Garrett, Dilson Herrera, Jesse Winker, Michael Lorenzen, and Raisel Iglesias are not included in the above group.

What’s concerning about the degree of the Reds youth though is that their closest comparison according to last year’s graph would be the Arizona Diamondbacks…who finished one game better than the Reds. If the trends can be believed (and judging by the sketchiness of my data, they shouldn’t be), then Joey Votto’s optimism for this group of kids is unfounded. Yes, Brandon Phillips has cleared the logjam, but any hope for a dark horse run at the playoffs still seems to be a season off.

On a less negative note, welcome to rock bottom Reds fans. This roster finally represents the culmination of the youth movement we’ve been hearing about for two years. The structural issues have been addressed, and now its time for the rebuild to actually start. Whether the Reds will move at the Cubs’ pace (Nick Senzel mid-July call up?) or take their time with it, the fog has lifted.

Maybe that’s why Joey Votto is energized, because even though the Reds have technically taken a step backward by the numbers, their path to success is finally clear. One step back for two steps forward. Oh, and by the way: do you know what the average age of the Cubs’ starters and rotation was at this time last year? 28.6.

16 thoughts on “The Cincinnati Reds’ Youth Movement, Revisited

  1. There’s a lot to like in that list. With the exception of Cozart and Feldman, all look like potentially productive major leaguers for many years, and several have all-star potential. If they all mature and improve, or if a few become stars, this could become a very good team. If not, it’s just a young one. I suppose that’s why we watch! By the way Wesley, Hamilton’s service time looks off – switched with Schebler perhaps? but it won’t change the bottom line average much.

  2. Wesley: Am I misunderstanding you, or are you concluding that the Reds will be bad because another very young team (Arizona) was bad?

    • That’s pretty much it, but I think I was meaning it more as the only other team that even approached this level of youth last year was still pretty bad. It’s more of, the youth movement is finally here, now it just needs to ripen a bit

  3. Wesley, you said that the Cubs “starters and rotation ” was 28.6 at this time last year…What was the Cubs 25 man roster age on opening day last year? (if we are comparing to our reds).

    • 29.25 was their 25-man last year, I used the 28.6 number because I didn’t factor in the Reds 2017 25-man (mostly because it’s still a bit uncertain)

  4. The Reds have invested a lot in this youth movement. Not to play Devil’s Advocate, but what do they do if it turns out the Kids Aren’t Alright? What if Peraza, Herrera, Senzel, Reed, et al never live up to their potential? I know there’s a pretty good chance most of them will be at least servicable MLB players, but “servicable” won’t win a championship, which is what the goal is, right?

    • All the teams that have gone through this process have the same objective: gather as much top-tier young, controllable talent as possible. The Reds and Dick Williams have done that. You are correct in your point: whether or not the key players they identified develop as above-average players is the key to this exercise.

      • Exactly. Get a lot of talent, figure out how good that talent is, then sign a few key FAs (i.e – Jon Lester, Aroldis Chapman, re-sign Dexter Fowler) when the time is right and go for it. Sometimes you don’t make it, but that seems to be the blueprint everyone is following nowadays.

        There will be a very deep FA class next season. I just think the Reds won’t quite be ready to pull the trigger.

  5. Young dogs are full of energy because they are growing so fast and also have yet to be disciplined by life’s cruel and harsh realities.
    Once they youngsters settle down and get off the potty training papers we’ll know what we really have. Until then be prepared for having to clean up after them quite bit.

  6. They finally traded BP! Jocketty is gone and they don’t have a bench full of scrub ex-Cards that go from the Reds to forced retirement. Next step is to develop enough young pitching where they don’t need stopgaps like Arroyo. Or atleast not a pitching staff made up of 5-6 stopgaps….everyone probably has 1 or 2. They’ll prob be lucky to win 75 games but I’m excited about this season. Peraza is for real and Herrera had a .899 ops in 2015 (PCL but still). The pen should be pretty good and Hamilton is always fun to watch when he’s healthy! Baby Steps!!

  7. Plug in Dilson Herrera for Cozart and it is even better.

    A good rule of thumb is that 24-year-old baseball players are better than 34-year-old baseball players. (Votto at 33 or even 36 will be fine.) It is especially true now, given the emphasis on and/or prevalence of power pitchers.

  8. Its a shame Cozart isn’t 34 turning 35 instead of 31 turning 32 and wanting a big second contract. He profiles exactly what the Reds need as a back up infielder-elite defender, decent bat with some pop , and capable of playing for spells of time if Peraza or Herrera is injured. To the contract gurus…what does a shortstop at 32 with a catastrophic knee injury command on the open market this next offseason. Is he wanting 3 years and 30 million? I’ m growing increasingly concerned about this bench if Herrera and Winker are in AAA. This could be an awful offense. He might be a great guy to bring back in 2-3 years as a Juan Castro type late inning replacement and elite infield glove but better bat.

  9. They are even a bit younger than the 2008-2009 first couple of Dusty clubs. I still kinda wish they had a good vet starter to anchor the rotation.

  10. I keep forgetting how young Suarez is and even more so how very young Finnegan is

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