2017 Reds

The Outfield View

Lately, a lot of noise has been made about the Reds outfielder excess. Clearly, someone has to go. The prevailing notion, so far as I’ve been able to see, is that it should be Billy Hamilton. I’d like to put out an alternative theory:

It doesn’t matter.

Billy Hamilton is 26. He’s likely to have 3-5 more useful seasons in him, during which he will likely be a 2-4 WAR player. Most of his value comes from defense and base running.

Adam Duvall is 28. He’s likely to have 3-5 more useful seasons in him, during which he will likely be a 2-4 WAR player. Most of his value comes from his power, but he’s no slouch defensively.

Scott Schebler is 26. He’s likely to have 3-5 more useful seasons in him, during which he will likely be a 2-4 WAR player. Most of his value comes from his power, but he has the range to be a marginal centerfielder.

Jesse Winker is 23. He’s unproven at the MLB level, but is a good bet to have 3-5 (at least) useful seasons during which he will likely be a 2-4 WAR player. Most of his value comes from his ability to get on base.

Do you see what I did there? I’m sure you do. Each of these players is likely to be of more or less equal value over the next few years. How they compile that value varies, but value is value. Hamilton is tough because he comes by his value in such a non-traditional way. And that may lower his trade value, in which case the Reds should maybe NOT trade him. Winker has the most team control, but as noted, is unproven.

The Reds also have a fair stable of OF prospects who’ll be coming along AND they’re going to need to find somewhere for Nick Senzel to play.

I think the Reds should let every team in the league know they have an outfielder available. ANY outfielder. Entertain offers and trade which ever player provides the best return. Since all of the available players are likely to be of roughly equal value to the team when they’re next ready to compete, it only makes sense to let the market dictate who gets traded.

59 thoughts on “The Outfield View

  1. While Winker is unproven, at age 23, he should provide longer than 3- 5 useful seasons. The others, ages 26 – 28, probably fit that range of usefulness.

    • I think Jason is building in some buffer time that would allow Winker some growing pains.

      • Even with growing pains I think Winker could provide more than 3-5 years of usefulness (2-4 WAR/year) since his value isn’t dictated by speed and power like the other three. I know Winker is unproven, but being able to take a walk and get on base isn’t really a skill that diminishes with age.

        • being able to take a walk and get on base isn’t really a skill that diminishes with age.

          That’s debatable. Reflexes slow with age. If your pitch recognition efficiency slows by even a few milliseconds, you may need to compensate by guessing. Plate discipline will suffer. Check out Albert Pujols stats over the past few years.

          https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/pujolal01.shtml

  2. Duvall and Schebler will likely be the most expensive, as well, given that arbitration rewards power above all else.

  3. I agree they shouldn’t be particular about which OF’er to trade, just trade whichever one brings back the most value.

    If players typically reach a peak around 27-28 and go into decline around age 30-31 it may change some of those numbers, though you’re still correct about the range (3-5) for all but Winker (hopefully). In general it seems most players who do not rely on speed (Hamilton) to generate most of their value can typically stay viable for a couple more years, just declined from their peak performance. Duvall, by the numbers, should have about 3 more good years left, Schebler 5, Hamilton maybe a little less due to his reliance on speed, but Winker should remain good through his time with the Reds. In fact he may still be in his peak years when he’s up for free agency.

    With that being noted, I still think Duvall is the major trade candidate as he’s already reached his peak, the other three haven’t, and he’s not likely to be as good as long as the others. But that’s really splitting hairs, and overall you’re right that there’s not a whole lot of difference in their value.

    • Duvall may have reached his peak, but we can’t really know that. He’s exceeded expectations since the Reds got him. I get the approximately equal WAR for the 4 players, but think the issue is a little more complex than that: If your team has a strong lineup but less-than-stellar defense, a player whose value comes primarilly from defense (particularly at a premium position) might make more sense than a slugger. And vice-versa.

  4. Jason,

    If this post was a long version of “Reds have no OF untouchables, should listen on everyone”….fine.

    If this was a serious suggestion, that all 4 are truly equal, this I would suggest that this is the kind of idea you would mock a commenter for, if they had posted it instead of you.

    A few difficulties with this notion:

    1) Years of control matter. Especially in the Reds MLB economic bracket. Would any other GM, especially small market ones, view these players as equal, through this prism:
    Hamilton – Control ends following 2019 season
    Duvall – Control ends following 2021 season
    Schebler – Control ends following 2022 season
    Winker – Control ends following 2023 (?) season

    2) Winker is still in the potential/how high could he go mode, Duvall/Schebler are late bloomers, and Hamilton’s career development is somewhat established. Far from equal.

    3) Hamilton’s further WAR accumulation is more limited as because there are only so many balls hit to CF and his on-base percentage (not great) determines the base running. Unless he stops facing LHP, or some other career-changing move that he or the team doesn’t seem interested in trying at the moment. Until then, the growth potential lies with the other 3, to varying degrees.

    There are several other points, but you get the idea.

    If Dick Williams views all 4 as being of equal value to the Reds in 2020, or whenever the team is truly good again, I hope he keeps it to himself. There will be no shortage of MLB GMs that would love to fleece him for that view.

    • My point is that, if one is trying to guess which of these guys will provide the most value over the next several seasons, one might as well throw darts.

      You are, of course, quite correct that control matters.

      Your points about Hamilton, I take serious issue with. By WAR, Hamilton has had had the best major league results so far. He has 2 seasons above 3 WAR, and oneof those was only 3/4 of a season.

      • His defense tends to be be consistently undervalued. I don’t think people realize just how much better he is than almost any other CF. In the NL, only Inciarte comes close. I’m not a giant proponent of WAR and part of it has to do with defensive metrics and positional adjustments. I also knock Hamilton’s offense quite frequently. That said, his defense is so outstanding that I believe the OBP difference between he and Winker is more than offset by the dropoff in defense the Reds would see with Schebler in CF (not Hamilton) and Winker in RF (not Schebler). It’s why I’d hesitate to trade him, even though he can’t hit.

        On another note, I think I’d ask more for Duvall than Schebler. The reason being that I have LH bats galore but I don’t have much in the way of good RH hitters, especially RH power.

  5. Mechanically….I just like Duvall’s short swing better then Schebler’s. You can almost see how Schebler’s hitting by the look on his face. He’s even admitted confidence is an issue on the radio. He’s just a streaky guy which kind of scares me. He prob has the best bat speed on the team and hits some absolute lasers but I prefer Duvall. Not to mention if you get rid of Duvall then you’re left with Winker, Schebler, and Scooter from the left side plus Billy/Tucker stink vs lefties. They need Duvall to be an enforcer vs lefties.

    My premium lineup would have Senzel at 3B, Suarez SS, Scooter/Herrera platooning 2B, Duvall, Winker, and Billy in the OF with Billy 9th. Maybe Suarez/Winker in a leadoff platoon with Senzel 2nd. They’d put some runs up!!

    • Interestingly enough… Duvall’s career OPS against LHP is .802. His career OPS against RHP is .803.

      I wasn’t expecting that when I went to look it up.

  6. I say keep all four of them. First, none of them are really going to bring any great return, probably a guy with 3-5 useful seasons left in him, who would likely be a 2-4 WAR player. You might as well keep the known unknown, as opposed to trading him for the unknown known.

    But all four can be useful to the Reds. Billy has trouble with lefties, and given his physique, I think he is much more productive with regular rest. And I think he has problems with true power pitchers. Duvall is very good against LH (1.014 OPS this year), but only decent for a left fielder versus RH (.823). Duvall is another one, due to diabetes, who could use some regular days off. Schebler has some good power off lefties, but he’s drawn a Peraza-like 1 BB against LHs in 87 ABs this year. (Winker is essentially the back-up quarterback, and hence flawless.) Mix and match the 4 of them, pick spots, DH one of them at AL teams, and give everybody about 425 ABs.

    And get about 3.4 WAR out of all 4 of them.

    In about 2019, Jose Siri and Taylor Trammell will be knocking on the door.

    • Yes, keep them all unless you’re overwhelmed with an offer. Hamilton is who he is (not saying that as a negative, but I doubt we see much improvement at this point). Make him a supersub #4 outfielder, getting three starts per week, and available as a defensive or more importantly baserunning sub at the end of the game (when it matters).

      Our bench/backup outfielders have been pretty bad the last few years. It would be nice to have someone useful in case of injury.

      Also, remember how Dusty used Hamilton his time up with the Reds. That added tremendous value IMO.

    • See my above reply about OPS. Can’t just look at 60% of a season. Duvall seems to be even against both LHP and RHP for his career.

    • I think if you can convert an excess, in this case corner OF’ers, into an asset at another position where there is a deficit you should do it. If the assumption is true, that we have three corner OF’ers that should be good for the next 3-5 years and put up 2-4 WAR seasons then it would be somewhat negligent to hold onto all three. Since WAR is a counting stat and playing time is not infinite, one of those three OF’ers is not going to get the same amount of opportunities, and will not add up the WAR as a result.

      If you can add a player at another position (say catcher, centerfielder, or shortstop) where there is not someone lined up to produce for the next 3-5 years, and you can convert one of your OF’ers into a player that will, that’s more valuable to the organization than to have the good player sit because of a lack of playing time.

  7. Senzel needs to find a spot to play? Not going to be at 3rd Base?

    If they are all going to provide the same value, then Winker should be traded to provide the greatest return.

    It is interesting that during a rebuild, the Reds are going out of their way to not play a top 100 hitting prospect. The opposite strategy of the Astros and Cubs rebuild.

    • The Astros and Cubs promote guys to the majors who have a few dozen at-bats above A-Ball? That’s news to me.

      • I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but the Reds do seem to be rather slow with promoting their younger players.

        Boston plucked Benintendi from AA after 63 games this year and skipped AAA completely. Mookie Betts and Xander Boegarts went from AA-AA-MLB in the same season.

        Houston gave Bregman 18 AAA games and Correa had 24 AAA games and 29 AA games before getting called up. Altuve played 24 AA games, skipped AAA and went straight to the big leagues.

        Addison Russell (14 AAA games), Kyle Schwarber (17 AAA games), and Ian Happ (26 AAA games) all were rushed pretty quickly through the system by Chicago.

        Obviously, not all players are equal and every team has their own philosophy, but it seems pretty clear that the Reds generally favor relying on “established” players instead of swiftly promoting their own deserving younger players. Senzel has a 137 wRC+ in AA through 96 PA. I see no reason he can’t get bumped up to AAA in August to finish out the season in Louisville and challenge for a roster spot next spring.

    • Winker is a prospect, not a known quantity. Do you realloy believe he provides a greater return than, say, Duvall?

  8. My quibble with this line of thinking is that none of Duvall/Schebler/Hamilton have ever put up a 4 win season. Duvall, by Fangraphs, hasn’t put up a 3 win season. Fangraphs projects Schebler won’t even reach 2 wins this year, and projects Duvall to fall just shy of 3 wins again this year. A 4 win player is a hot month from being an All-Star. Not necessarily a popularity contest/team token, but legit All-Star. A 2.5 win player is a bad month from being a bench player.

    What is more likely than 3-5 years of 2-4 wins for those three is 3 years of 1-3 wins, whereas Jesse Winker has the potential to actually put up 4-5 win seasons. I don’t see the same potential in either of the other three.

    Also, just from an organizational standpoint, the Reds need Winker to be better than Duvall/Schebler. If he’s only going to be a 1-3 win player, the rebuild is going to be a massive failure.

    • Winker can probably hit & get on base but lets not get carried away? Duvall is among the NL leaders (or leads?) in extra basehits and leads the league in outfield assists too! WInker hit 2 hrs in Lville. If Duvall was at Lville….he’d be Aaron Judge.
      I hope I’m dead wrong but I see Winker and I see the modern day Nick Markakis. He has .355 obp and .740 ops. He can get on base and hit a few doubles now and then.

        • He also had a huge hole in his swing and didn’t make a ton of contact. That’s one reason for not hitting over 30. 20 happened as did 17 and 19 HR. I’ll add that there weren’t many people who didn’t project Judge to have 30+ HR power. Winker’s power doesn’t project anywhere near that. I like WInker and think he’ll be a nice MLB ballplayer but I don’t see him really being a 20 HR guy. I think 13-18 HR a year is probably where he’ll be and with his plate discipline and probable BB%, that might be enough power.

      • Nick Markakis’s first 4 seasons: 2.5 WAR, 4.2 WAR, 7.4 WAR, 2.9 WAR. So even if that’s all he can be, there is 4-5 win potential for Winker.

        Duvall is 28, he never walked and is actually walking less often than last year (5.6%BB rate this year vs. 6.7% last year), and most of his value is coming with a career high .321 BABIP. I also don’t think you can discount that Duvall has taken off in a “live ball” era. There seems to be some evidence the seams have been lowered since the mid point of 2015. How valuable is Duvall with a “pre-2015” baseball?

        • Fortunately, they’re using 2017 baseballs. Everybody is. Not just Duvall.

        • He had 2 very strong years, one of them outstanding. I’d be thrilled if Winker is Markakis. I don’t think he’s the defender that Markakis is though.

      • That’s still a ways away from 4 WAR in one full season; part of accumulating WAR is playing a full 162 game season.

  9. Right now I would keep Duvall’s RH power in the lineup. He is hitting for better average this year and the XBH’s are near tops in the league. That is in addition to his HR’s, RBI’s and defense.
    Schebler this year seems to be mirroring Duvall’s 2016 season. Early power but fades in the second half. Hopefully just not as much.
    Both Schebler and Duvall have improved their hitting nicely this year from last year. At the ML level at that. That should account for something.
    Winker might be the best of the group. He just hasn’t been given the chance. That should come this second half.
    Which brings us to Billy Hamilton. Speed, defense, sporadic hitting, and speed. Yes, he is still just 26, but has 3 1/2 “full” seasons under his belt. However, Billy hasn’t had but one full season due to his fragility. He had less than 120 games in 2015 and 2016. However, he did see hitting improvement in 2016 over 2015, but has regressed some this year.
    I think the 4-man OF rotation was a good thing to implement, with 25 year old Phillip Ervin as the 5th OF being the best route to take for the rest of 2017, 2018, and 2019.
    Unless a big blockbuster trade comes along and shuffles up the deck some.

  10. This may be a crazy idea but if Scooter and Dilson don’t pan out at 2nd, could any of these guys play at second?

  11. I too agree with your overall assessment, I would trade whichever Of brought back the most. The thing is that depends on a number of things that don’t really involve the individual players per se. Is a team looking for a left handed hitter or a right handed hitter? Are they looking for a corner outfielder or a centerfielder? What is in the farm system of the trading partner? Is it possible to put together a three team deal? Add to that the fact that Winker is still technically a prospect so get a good return for the future is probably pretty nil, teams that we would be partnering with are looking for production now not in the future. But again, you are right trade which ever one you can, none should be untouchable.

    • Dead horse alert….but it just makes too much sense! Billy is a PERFECT fit for the Rockies. CarGo is about done and Dahl is always hurt. Ian Desmond is always hurt too. Billy could run all over the place and save 2-3 runs a homestand atleast and his doubles/triples/inside park HRs would skyrocket! Plus they’ve actually developed a bunch of decent young pitchers unlike the Reds.

  12. This team needs to figure out starting pitching before anything else. Tired of prospects. Need proven talent at the major league level. IF it takes trading one of our current OF’ers, than go for it. At least Winker knows how to take a walk. Unlike others on this team who were slotted leadoff by the Manager yesterday.

    • Your comment is right on. Without an established starting pitching rotation, the Reds are whistling in the wind. Offense has improved but that alone is not gong to get them to the contending gate. If a few of the pitching prospects do not develop soon then a trade of prospects plus an extra outfielder(s) and perhaps cash must be made for an established starter. How long can the Reds wait for Bailey, DeSclafani, Finnegan, etc. to be solid dependable pitchers? And without a leadoff man who can get on base, whether that’s Winker or not, the Reds are not going to be a solid team. Hackers batting in first position will not get it done.

  13. Good info Jason.Power plays in GABP and we probably have 3 guys that will hit 30+ homers with 2 more close to 20.Our problem is the other 3 guys have no power in Tucker,Peraza and Billy with two of them no where close to league average at getting on base.As mentioned Billy’s WAR comes from his defense and base running so of the 4 guys he will more then likely fade faster.Winker is unproven but he has got on base at all levels and no reason that it won’t continue.We need guys that get on base so I would shop Billy hard but for the right offer anybody is available.I agree with SLIOTAR in that the growth potential is there with everybody other then Billy but all 4 are useful and by mixing and matching could pay off for the Reds.Not sure but Billy is due a raise so that may factor in as well.How much more I don’t know.

  14. Wow. Maybe the market just opened up a wee bit for Cozart. Over at mlbtr

    “Carlos Correa Out Six To Eight Weeks With Torn Thumb Ligament .”

    • Nah. They are up by 37 games in their division. They are building for the playoffs, and CC will be back by mid-September.

      Maybe, I suppose, but do we really want to watch Peraza more than we have to?

      • Maybe Houston will decide not to take any chances. They still have a bitter taste from the 2015 playoffs and missing out last year altogether.
        They do have rookie Alex Bregman that could play SS, but he is at 3B at the time being.
        Maybe Houston kicks the tires, maybe they don’t. But it sure would be nice to dip into their talent pool in the minors.

  15. If I owned the Reds, which I don’t, I would extend the right field wall by about 6 feet, the entire length of the moon deck. It would cost some money to do it, but I think the park gives up too many cheap home runs, giving a bit of jackpot-luck factor to many games.

    I know that both teams play on the same field, but my theory is that a team with young pitching with fragile confidence is more punished by the el-cheapo homer than a team with veteran pitchers. Chris Welsh says it is an unforgiving ball park, but this staff now and in the future needs more forgiveness.

  16. Agree 100%, What are we looking for? 1. Top end starting pitcher with 2-4 years of control. 2. A very close to Major league ready short stop.

    I wish we would sign Suarez to an extension asap, even if it is one extra year.

  17. Here’s an idea I’ve kicked around and have always wondered if anyone can provide actual numbers on it.

    Start Duvall, Winker, Schebler as your primary OFs, and use Billy as a late-inning replacement (6th inning or later). Hit Winker at the top of the lineup. You sacrifice some defense for offense early in the game, and then you sub Billy in when the game is close. Preferably as a pinch runner when someone gets on base in the 6th, 7th, or 8th in a close game. That way you are maximizing the offense and making sure the defense doesn’t hurt you too badly in a close game. I think Billy could be very valuable late in the game as a sub. Somewhat of a defensive (and base-running) closer. Let other people get Billy on base, basically. He is also injury prone and this could help him.

    If the Reds really look bad next year or the year after, then you think about a trade, but for the time being I like the idea.

  18. Billy Hamilton – Pinch Running Super Sub:

    Billy can play ss, lf, rf, and 2b( wild guess).
    Billy can score a little less than 50% of the time.
    If he pinch runs after the 7th inning a 100 times he’ll probably score at least 15 runs more a year than who he is replacing assuming he doesn’t come up to bat again very often.
    Focus on having him start in larger parks to maximize his defense and giving rest to the other outfielders.

  19. I can go along with trading any of the four who would bring back “the most”; but, my idea of “the most” is probably more narrowly focused than many others. I think they are at a point they need to be looking to fill very explicit needs to make the MLB team better and not just continuing to try and stockpile “talent” for some ambiguous future contending team.

  20. Or – OR, Do nothing, let Winker rot on the bench or in AAA, and attribute it to “Sorting.” They are already doing this with splendid results. Why change?

  21. Keep Duvall. My preference on trading any, or all, of the other three; in order would be: (1) Hamilton (2) Schebler (3) Winker. We need the right handed bat of Duvall.

  22. WAR/salary= value

    2018
    Hamilton ~ 5 million
    Schebler/Winker/Duvall- 1.7 million combined

    2019
    Hamilton 9 million
    Schebler/Winker 1.2 million combined.
    Duvall- not sure….but way less and RH bat.

    Take the 65-75 million it will cost for Hamilton and Cozart the next 3 years and sign Lance Lynn to a FA deal.

  23. From a dollar and cents persective just keep Winker down until it resolves itself and have the problem with winker and 2 others for a six year period. Ideally you let one go to free agency or trade to get a new home grown outfielder on the field. Starting pitching should be doing this every year, with your fifth starter being a rookie. The truth is you have to push good talent out the door at some point, preferably in small numbers so you don’t have your whole rotation facing free agency. But what team would every have that problem?(sarc)

  24. From an offensive standpoint Winker doesn’t have to play an inning for me to say he will hit for a higher average get on base more often and hit for more power then Billy.

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