2017 Reds / Three Down / Three Up

Three Up, Three Down – May 9, 2017

The Reds have been on a tear over the last seven days, including sweeping the Giants and taking three of four from Pittsburgh. During this span the offense has been crushing the ball, even against Great American Ballpark’s ERA record holder in Johnny Cueto. This week isn’t a question of who’s Hot, it’s a question of who’s Hotter than the rest.

Three Up

Billy Hamilton

My theory is confirmed. All I need to do is put a player in my ‘Three Down’ list, and he’ll start obliterating baseballs. Billy Hamilton has had perhaps the best week of his career, with his slash line sitting at.355/.429/.710 before Monday’s game against the Yankees. Included in that week were three unforgettable triples, one in each of the games against the Giants, a Billy Bomb (his first home run of the year), and nine stolen bases, bolstering his major league lead in that category.

He’s been playing like a man on fire, which is exactly what you want out of the leadoff spot. He’s got some work to do to repair his overall statistics for the year, but I think we’re all hoping he was just slow out of the gate, and the real Billy Hamilton has stood up. He’s got a league average walk rate at 8.0%, and a somewhere between average and above-average strikeout rate at 18.1%. If he can keep those numbers up, he’ll be deadly in the leadoff spot.

Joey Votto

Out of all the Reds putting up big numbers over the past week, it should be no surprise that Joey Votto led all of the team with a 230 wRC+ over the past seven days. He’s walked 37% of the time, which is straight up bonkers. That’s resulted in him scoring 9 runs, second only behind Billy Hamilton’s 11 over the last week. He also drove in 7 runs of his own, and although the metrics don’t back it up, he’s been playing an admirably passionate defensive first base. Put the C on his chest, already.

Scott Feldman

This spot could have gone to just about everyone on the 25 man roster not listed below. Jose Peraza, although still with a below average wRC+ has really turned things around, and Duvall, Suarez, Cozart and Schebler all continue to be above average to great major league hitters.

But, on a team with the worst starting pitching in the league, it’s hard to ignore a complete game shutout. Scott Feldman did exactly that on Sunday afternoon, cruising through a defeated Giants lineup and beating our collective Favorite Player on a Different Team Johnny Cueto at Great American Ballpark. He didn’t look as dominant as most guys who throw complete game shutouts tend to look, but you can’t argue with the results. Between all of the starting pitching efforts throughout the Giants series, the bullpen is now likely at 100% full rest heading into a rough matchup against the even-hotter New York Yankees.

Honorable Mentions: Adam Duvall, Jose Peraza, Eugenio Suarez, Zack Cozart, Michael Lorenzen, Raisel Iglesias, Tim Adleman, Bronson Arroyo, Rookie Davis, Robert Stephenson, Austin Brice

Three Down

Cody Reed

One of the two young pitchers sent to Louisville in the last week, Reed is the only one of the duo who probably deserved to get demoted. In his only appearance this week, he went 2 innings, walked four batters, and gave up a home run.

He’s shown flashes of the ability to put it all together this season, especially in some of his early relief appearances, but there’s something not clicking completely in his mechanics. I think he’ll easily figure it out in Louisville, where he’s absolutely dominated in the past, and should be able to come back up with those fixed mechanics and get back on track. I’m not sure if he’ll be given an opportunity to start once he’s back, but he should be a valuable piece once he figures out his command.

Amir Garrett

By no fault of his own, Amir Garrett was the second young Reds pitcher demoted during the week. If I was Garrett, I’d be furious. He’s done nothing but compete for the team this season, and has put up some pretty good results, including a few straight up dominant innings.

The front office has said this is all about saving innings, which could be partly true. It’s most likely more about service time, which is a shrewd move by a front office that needs to be making shrewd moves. Current day Jordan hates this move, but it’s likely 2021 Jordan loves this move.

Reds Catchers

In a lineup of guys who are ‘on’, it’s been the Reds catchers that have been ‘off’. The trio of Devin Mesoraco, Tucker Barnhart and Stuart Turner have gone a combined 3-for-33 over the last week, with three walks and four strikeouts. Mesoraco did have a heartwarming home run over that span, but for the most part things have not been looking good offensively.

Defensively things have been a little better. Tucker leads the league in Defensive Runs Saved with 5, and Mesoraco already has 2 since his recent activation. The bad news here is that Stuart Turner has been a below average defensive catcher, and flat out bad on the offensive side of the ball. He certainly isn’t making the team’s decision to ride with three catchers look like a no brainer, at least for this season. It will be interesting to keep tabs on this situation, and if Turner can improve behind the plate as his rookie season moves along.

Dishonorable mentions: None. Maybe Blake Wood? This last week has been awesome!

Who’s on your Three Up and Three Down lists? Let me know in the comments!

25 thoughts on “Three Up, Three Down – May 9, 2017

  1. +2021 for future Jordan … I feel the exact same way. We’ll love this move in the coming years. Strong, hard-throwing lefties are rare in any universe.

    • I’m getting tired of this service time strategy being a dirty little not-so-secret. Say what you’re doing, and say why you’re doing it. And if this is such a big deal, why did the players union not demand to have the service time rules changed during the last round of collective bargaining?

      The better Amir pitches, the better his chances of getting a contract extension before he gets to the end of his arbitration years anyway.

      • Largely because the union is more concerned with veteran players than it is rookies. Rookies may get a signing bonus, but they only get the league minimum until arbitration hits. The longevity of a pitcher is pretty much the same if they are any good. So a part of a year (remember he’ll still get Super 2 status) doesn’t mean much. And while he’s in the minors, it doesn’t mean jack.

        • I agree. It costs the player money while he is in the minors; but if the team goes for the “extra” year of control, they are handing the player Super2 on a silver platter if he performs well enough to stay up continuously once the year has been “saved”.

          Assuming Garrett is on a standard “split contract”, if he is down for 15 games, he loses around $50K in MLB salary but that would be partially offset by his MiLB salary which as a player on option is $86K per season. Without doing the actual math, I’d eyeball that offset value at probably around $8-10K. If he reaches arb a year earlier, he will make the money up, plus much more, in a heartbeat.

          And because he is on the 40 man, even on option, he retains most if not all of his fringes and endorsement money siphoned through the Players’ Association.

          • It’s more about the extra year rather than the money at that point. Especially with a strong LHSP like Garrett.

      • I think the Reds should never again sign a player past their arbitration years. Sell them trade them high with one or two years remaining

        • You’d almost never have a winning team. The team would forever be filled with players younger than 28, with no veteran leadership or experience to back them up. Age is a necessary evil, even in baseball.

  2. Maybe Barrett Astin in your 3 down. He resembles JJ Hoover in stature, now he resembles JJ in performance.
    Yes, yes, yes. It is way past time for the Reds to place the captain’s “C” on Votto’s jersey. I’ve been banging that drum for 3 years now. The Reds have not had one since Barry Larkin retired. Not Griffey, not Dunn, not Harang, and not Bruce have had the “C”.

    • Astin has been pretty dang good, with the exception of last night’s performance. Outside of last night he’s only given up two hits and no runs. He had walked three guys (and added two more last night), so that remains an issue. But he definitely doesn’t have Hoover’s proven level of incompetence.

      • I’ll add that historically in the minors he hasn’t walked a lot of guys either. He’s generally a strike thrower. He doesn’t have overwhelming stuff so he does need to nibble. I think Hernandez’ strike zone didn’t help him last night. I also think that he needs some time to adjust to the MLB zone. He reminds me a lot of David Weathers if you want a good comp.

  3. Agree on a “C” for Votto. +1000. Disagree on Peraza. Except for the left center gap shot he’s not hitting the ball very hard – lots of bloops and soft liners – and he never, ever walks. I’d either send him to AAA to learn some plate discipline or put him in your Three Down to light a fire under him Jordan. I’m certain Herrera or even Gennett would be more productive at second right now, and I’m not convinced Peraza is a long term answer in the middle of the infield.

    • Small sample size, yadayada. I agree, I think Herrera is more likely to be better every day than Peraza, but I doubt Gennett gets a chance. A mixture of age, defense and his hit tool is why Peraza is in the lineup now. I’ve said before, and I still think its true, that Peraza would be the perfect bench bat/late inning defensive replacement. He’s got speed to change a game, and he’s good for a hit when you need one, generally.

      I’d love to see Herrera healthy and playing, but unfortunately he isn’t. I’m sure we’ll see him in Cincinnati at some point this season.

    • Peraza, actually, hits the ball decently hard somewhat often. The problem is his launch angle. Most of his hard hit balls are grounders, which slow down as soon as they make contact, so it doesn’t seem like they were hit very hard. He’s also, for some reason, his a crazy amount of hard grounders right at the 3rd baseman.

      He’s hit 17 balls at 97mph or greater (usually 97 is the breakpoint for “hard hit”). Zack Cozart has also only hit 17 balls at 97mph or greater. Duvall leads the team with 33. Votto has 28. Billy Hamilton has 5.

      He has the capacity to hit the ball hard, but his approach (zero stride swing) limits his power output. If he had that approach in 2 strike counts, while taking a real swing at pitches in earlier counts, he might be able to tap into some more 2B and HR power.

      • So, I had this idea last year for using Hamilton back when he couldn’t get on base, but I think it applies just as well for Peraza now. The guy is fast, a constant base stealing threat, and plays + defense all over the infield, but he has trouble getting on base. What if you started him on the bench, then the first guy out of 2B, 3B or SS, who gets on base with less than two outs, you pinch run with Peraza, and then leave him in the game at that position?

        • its a good way to burn through your bench quickly. I kind of like it though. Especially if you consider Lorenzen has the ability to bat and save a pinch hitter whenever he is in the game

          • Yep. Wouldn’t work with 3 or 4 bench guys, especially won’t work with 3 catchers. The bottom line is that these guys need as many ABs as they can get right now. If they don’t figure out how to get on base after a certain amount of time, the org has to cut bait.

            Hamilton is an obvious exception to this rule because he’s found other ways to be one of the most valuable players on the team. Peraza can’t say that, just because his other skills aren’t at the elite levels that Billy’s are.

  4. Glad to see Arroyo and Feldman on the up list. A lot of people were down on both guys from the start. I know they’ve each had their bumps, but they should be properly credited when they contribute. Sometimes people marry themselves to a negative notion and then don’t give credit where it’s due. (This is not directed toward anybody specifically, but it is a fairly common thing here and elsewhere.)

  5. why would you ever put someone in the 3 up? why not just have 6 down to get them going. except it is hard to put captain Votto in the 3 down this week.

    Catchers are worth lighting a fire under. As good as Peraza has been, hard to have him in the up category until he sees 3 pitches in an at bat. love his move down in the order. I was wondering about Alcantara early, but right now, he might deserve more time starting at second. Peraza and his 3 pitch per at bat approach is a good one for a pinch hitter.

    With his ability to hit, I do not understand his desire to hit the first pitch he sees. He will be a much better hitter when he sees more pitches. I think that is part of Billy’s success, and it sure is Schleblers and Cozarts and Suarez.

    I think it is get on board or grab some bench and watch.

    I think Duvall is also in that category seeing more pitches

    It will take me a long time to get that bases loaded first pitch pop out to second out of my head

    Rookie Davis should make your 3 down as he should be sent out

    • This is based on MON-SUN weeks, so Davis’s one outing last week was actually his best so far. If anything he was up a little bit…

      …before crashing back down to earth last night.

  6. Jordan, the Old Cossack has quickly jumped on board to looking forward to your 3 up / 3 down column each week. You’ve made a great contribution to the content on this site, even beyond this column. Did you come up with the idea for the post or were you asked to cover it?

    • Thanks for the kind words! The idea was mine, and the people here at RLN were great enough to let me do my thing on a weekly basis. I’m glad you’re enjoying it so far!

  7. I wouldn’t put Amir in the “Down” category. Yeah he was sent “down” but he did nothing wrong. Same can’t be said for Reed or our catching trio. I’d put Peraza in the Down. Bases juiced with nobody out last night and he pops up on the first pitch. Killer.

    • Learning how to be a ML player – give him time! Last week against SF he drilled a first pitch to the LCF wall and drove in 3. Gotta take the bad with the good with these young players.

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