2017 Reds

WAR: What is it good for?

As Reds fans, we have our blinders on a little bit. We’re following this team every single day, game to game, inning to inning, pitch to pitch, and it’s pretty easy to get lost in the weeds. Occasionally, it’s good to take a step and try to see the bigger picture.

I mean, we all know the Reds are 20 games under .500 and 13 games out of first place in the National League Central division. That’s the bottom line. But let’s break it down further, and then look at where individual Reds stand in relation to others around the league at each individual position.

As a team, the Reds’ offense has accumulated the fifth-highest WAR total in all of baseball (17.9 fWAR). Cincinnati ranks behind only the Dodgers and Nationals among National League teams, just ahead of the Cubs and Cardinals. In terms of runs scored, the Reds were fifth before Sunday’s game, when they dropped to sixth. In the overall picture (click the link above and play with each of the categories), the Reds’ offense looks to be slightly above average.

Do you want to know where Cincinnati’s starting pitchers stand? Too bad, I’m going to tell you anyway. Reds starters rank dead last in MLB in fWAR with the grand total of 0.1. I’m not going to discuss any other categories; the results are similarly grim.

Reds relievers are 25th out of 30 teams in fWAR, with a cumulative total of 1.4. The bullpen looks a little better if you look at some of the analytics, but it’s difficult to make the case that the bullpen, overall, has been anything better than average.

Now, on to the individuals. Here’s a look at Reds hitters with an fWAR above 0.0 (click that chart to embiggen it).

CATCHER
Tucker Barnhart is 13th in the majors (9th in the NL) with 1.5 WAR. Devin Mesoraco is 35th overall (17 in the NL) with 0.5 WAR. Barnhart’s WAR is driven largely by his exceptional defense; it’s vice-versa for Mes.

Reds catchers rank 7th in the NL in combined WAR. Ultimately, the Barnhart/Mesoraco combination is not bad, not bad at all.

FIRST BASE
This is fun. Joey Votto is second among all MLB first basemen in WAR, with 4.8 (only Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt’s 5.3). Votto is far ahead of the #3 guy, Toronto’s Justin Smoak, who has 3.7 WAR. Interestingly, Votto’s defense has improved dramatically over last year, though every first baseman’s WAR is driven by their offense.

Nothing more to say here. Votto is great.

SECOND BASE
Scooter Gennett is 16th in the majors (7th in the NL) among 2Bs with 1.5 WAR. Jose Peraza is 40th (25th in the NL) with 0.2.

Just ahead of Scooter: our old friend Brandon Phillips, with 1.6 WAR.

Reds 2Bs are 12th (of 15 teams) in the NL as a group. Not good

THIRD BASE
Eugenio Suarez ranks 7th among all 3Bs in baseball in WAR with 3.0. Strangely, he only ranks 6th in the National League; the NL has a great crop of 3Bs currently. Regardless, Suarez is an exciting young player.

SHORTSTOP
We’re in the middle of August, and I can’t believe that I’m still able to type these words: Zack Cozart is the third-best shortstop in baseball — 2nd in the NL — according to fWAR. Cozart has accumulated 4.0 WAR. It’s just astounding; only LA’s Corey Seager ranks ahead of him. Who is this Zack Cozart, and where has he been the last few years?

For what it’s worth, Peraza would rank 34th among MLB shortstops.

LEFT FIELD
Adam Duvall ranks 11th in the majors among left fielders with 2.2 WAR. He’s 6th in the NL. That’s pretty much what we know about Duvall: he’s a slightly above-average left fielder who can hit a bunch of home runs.

It’s interesting to note that FanGraphs’ analytics say that Duvall’s defense has declined over last year.

CENTER FIELD
Billy Hamilton is 26th among all big league CFs and 12th in the NL with 1.4 WAR. According to FanGraphs’ metrics, Hamilton is the best defensive center fielder in all of baseball. That should give you an idea of just how poorly Hamilton has performed at the plate this season.

RIGHT FIELD
Scott Schebler, after ranking more highly earlier in the season, has collapsed to #31 on the MLB charts among right fielders; he’s 13th in the NL. Jesse Winker, Patrick Kivlehan, and Phillip Ervin are tied for 46th with 0.0 WAR.

Reds RFs, cumulatively, are 10th in the National League. Not good.

STARTING PITCHER
This is ugly. Scott Feldman is ranked in a tie for 41st among only National League starters with 1.3 fWAR. Next is Luis Castillo, at 59th (0.7 WAR), followed by Sal Romano (0.3) at 71st. Among starters with at least 30 innings pitched, Amir Garrett is next-to-last, with -0.9 WAR.

Yes, there are limitations with comparing pitchers based solely on WAR; this is just a surface examination of the league’s pitchers. But I don’t have the heart to dig into any more numbers. Cincinnati’s starting rotation has been almost bad beyond words.

RELIEF PITCHER
Raisel Iglesias ranks 8th among National League relievers with 1.3 WAR. Next highest is, surprisingly, Blake Wood, whose 0.6 places him in a tie for 26th in the NL. (If Wood is the second-best Reds reliever, you start to see why this bullpen may not be as good as we have given it credit.) Michael Lorenzen is tied for 34th with 0.5.

Other Reds relievers among the top 100 in the NL are Wandy Peralta and Asher Wojciechowski, tied for 57th with 0.3 WAR. On the other end, based solely on his performance as a reliever, Robert Stephenson ranks 235th in the NL, with -0.4 WAR.

I don’t know what any of this tells us; it is what it is. What I learned is that the Reds need to be focusing on pitching, pitching, pitching this off-season.

What do you think?

45 thoughts on “WAR: What is it good for?

  1. The time for sorting is quickly passing. Now this winter will be time for upgrades, baby. By using Chad’s fWAR numbers, upgrades should be coming at RF, SS, 2B the rotation and bullpen.
    Dick Williams should be very busy this winter. The question is, will he be?
    Internal options abound for 2B and the bullpen. RF might be Winker. SS not so much.
    Starting pitching has to be obtained. Just no way around that debacle.

  2. Your post causes me to agree that Reds pitching is an abomination; but also that the Reds need to upgrade 5 positions to be contenders. C, 3B, 1B,and LF are OK. The rest are not, unlesss Cozart is re-signed. We can get an acceptable 2B from Gennett/Persia/Herrera but the Front Office has some major work ahead of them intrading and identifying pitching, SS, CF & RF.

    • Senzel should be ready to go in April. He has to play somewhere. Suarez isn’t sitting. That leaves Scooter and he can mash righties. I think Suarez has to go back to SS. WInker/Kivlehan could platoon RF and Billy is Billy in CF. They could pick up a better offensive CF but it seems more then likely that he’ll be back. Just bat him 9th.

  3. Cozart and Gennett’s bat is a big reason the Reds offense is, “slightly above average”. Without their contributions we would see quite a drop in the Reds offensive rankings.
    This team has quite a few hurdles to overcome if they are to be contenders. I am not optimistic they can field a contending team in the next few years.

  4. Is it really that hard to believe that a starting rotation which lost its top 4 starters in 2015 and top 3 in 2016 is that terrible?
    2015:
    Leake – traded
    Cueto – traded
    Lorenzen – moved to BP
    Iglesias – moved to BP
    2016:
    Straily – traded
    DeSclafani – injured
    Finnegan – injured

    The Reds went from the historically worst bullpen last year to the historically worst starting rotation with an okay bullpen this year. Remove Iglesias and both are a disaster. The Reds just need more pitching period.

  5. IMO, “War what is it good for” as the title of a post is now in the same category as Milton….should be seen around once in a while, never to be fully shelved or banned.

  6. According to MLB.com’s Pipeline, the Reds fell out of the Top 10 at mid-season in terms of league farm system rankings.

    That would tend to suggest they are unlikely to trade what prospects they do have for MLB-established players to upgrade the SP and select positions.

    So…..it’s either pull out the checkbook, spend some of that newly-obtained TV/media money, or wait until 2019/2020 when the next wave of Reds prospects are ready and Duvall/Suarez/Peraza/Schebler are still cost-controlled.

    Should make for some lively Q and A’s at RedsFest and the Winter Caravan Tour.

  7. I don’t know what the limitations are on comparing pitchers based solely on WAR but I’m surprised Peralta is ranked that low. He’s been a very pleasant surprise to me in the bullpen.

    • Hard for anyone in the pen to generate WAR. It is essentially a very complicated counting stat and Peralta just hasn’t gotten enough innings to really move the needle over the proverbial “replacement pitcher”.

  8. They need to get out there and get a Michael Fulmer type. Trade what you have to trade! Beat the bushes and try to find someone that is on the cusp of being decent. Edison Volquez and Disco had done next to nothing in the majors but had what the Reds were looking for. Possibly someone that’s a reliever now but has the stuff (and desire) to start. Peralta and Lorenzen from within for example. Dead last in pitching again is getting old. We know what they need to do but what will they do? I’m guessing sign some guy like Chris Tillman who was good 4-5 years ago and pray.

    • Or a Kendall Graveman or Sean manaea would help as well. Don’t have the resources for a trade for an ace. Just have to hope Castillo is the guy and Disco gets healthy

    • Agree 100%. Time to accelerate the rebuild by cashing in some of our redundant prospect assets in the 5-20 range for starting pitching. Iglesias plus two players in that group will net you a cost controlled #3 SP.

  9. I’m sorry, but Duvall and Votto have played about as good defensively as you’re gonna see at their positions this year, yet they’re negative? Mesoraco is positive? C’mon. These defensive metrics shouldn’t be taken as gospel.

    I get the Reds may not want to re-sign Cozy, but where are you gonna find 4 WAR on offense who is a big positive on defense…..even accounting for some regression? I think we need to extend him and get him playing 2B/SS/3B. For goodness sakes, Brandon Phillips is now a third baseman—anything’s possible!!!

  10. If the Reds trade for a top of rotation starter, at least for them, and get a #1 or #2 starter, the rest will fall into place with the rotation. But they have to get the right pitcher.
    The Toronto Blue Jays are in a very awkward position in the AL East. They are also kind of in an awkward position with SP Marcus Stroman. A rotation with Stroman leading the way really accelerates things, makes for a fine rotation, and it also strengthens the bullpen.
    A rotation of Stroman, DeSclafani, Castillo, Bailey, and Mahle, along with a little better offense, has this team in a contenders role in 2018.
    There would be no “mortgaging the future” to get Stroman. Two top-10 prospects along with 2 more in the top-20 could entice Toronto. The Reds also have the luxury to place into the package Peraza and/or Schebler depending on the outcomes of the Cozart and Winker situations.
    A very attractive package could be offered to Toronto either way Toronto would want its return. Either in high end prospects like OF Jose Siri, 1B Gavin LaValley, Vladimir Gutierrez, Tony Santillan. and OF Phillip Ervin. Or maybe MLB ready players like Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler. Or a combination of both. And there will also be available the change of scenery candidates in R Stephenson, Reed, Garrett (no options for 2018), Romano, and Rookie Davis. The Reds could still hold onto Senzel, Greene, Mahle, and Trammell and get it done. If that is the case, the Reds might have to part with the likes of Siri, LaValley and Santillan.
    But it would all depend on what Toronto is going to do this winter. And what they’d want in return also, of course. It doesn’t even have to be Toronto to find a legit good SP. However, Stroman is tailor-made for GABP and the Reds top of the rotation.
    That will add some fWAR to the Reds WARchest.

    • By strengthening the bullpen, I omitted that it would move Finnegan and 1 or 2 of Stephenson, Reed, Garrett, Romano, and Davis to the bullpen as well. Thus, hopefully, a better and strengthened bullpen. Sorry mates.

    • Stroman is a groundball pitcher too. We can’t get by with Arroyo flyball types any longer. Not with GABP in the era of the North Korean radioactive ball:) How fast could Billy round the bases in a HazMat suit?

    • Siri’s 4/1 K/BB ratio makes him anything but a sure thing just like Aquino. Even though he’s a minor leaguer, he might be a good sell high candidate before the upper minors takes the shine off. But yes, this mode of thinking is exactly what the Reds need to do.

      • Siri has had himself one fine season so far. His 2B/HR/SB is quite the package. But with Trammell, Friedl, and now Fairchild in the pipeline just behind Siri, it is well worth the gamble. Like you say, sell high. I really like LaValley but he is blocked by Votto. LaValley is having a strong season too. Sell high. Ervin is having a nice rebound year. Sell high. Santillan would be the stud of the group though. That is what could sell Toronto on this.

        Everything about Toronto’s offense/position players is screaming REBUILD.

      • Toronto’s offense/position players on fangraphs. Not a good outlook for 2018 and beyond with Josh Donaldson becoming a free agent. A long in the tooth Russell Martin and Kendrys Morales and an oft-injured Troy Tulowitzkie are about all they have. Smoak signed through next year. Their other big position players are Kevin Pillar and Devon Travis. Not exactly studs to build around. And not that young either. And not a lot down on the farm either.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0&type=8&season=2017&month=0&season1=2017&ind=0&team=14&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0

    • I wouldn’t trade 4 prospects for Stroman. Reds cant be trading any prospects need to collect more.

      • You need a proven guy….most prospects end up as suspects. We’ve seen enough of that this year. Stroman is only 26 and has a 3.00 era in the AL East! Thats incredible with the way HRs are flying out

        • I guarantee they want a lot more for him than you think. Senzel they will ask for. Funny everybody thinks Peraza blows but trade wise he is awesome. It’s like other teams have never watched baseball before. It’s the big time boys .It isn’t fantasy baseball.

    • I don’t see a Peraza, Schebler, Ervin, Siri package, or something similar getting Storen from the Jays. The initial ask is going to be something like: Senzel, Trammel, Mahle, Long. There may be a deal to be done in the middle of what you’re talking and that ask but that’s probably a reasonalable ask and Toronto may not settle for much less.

  11. This article got me curious about each player’s contribution to the team’s total WAR. Below are the top 6 for the Reds listed by their MLB ranking.

    3 – Votto (25%)
    9 – Cozart (21%)
    28 – Suarez (15%)
    72 – Duvall (11%)
    146/147 – Gennett/Barnhart (8%)

      • Yes but at this point you have to trust what you have to work with in the system and should not risk any of the future by giving a bad contract to an aging, injury prone middle infielder.

        • I sure does depend on the contract. Aging and susceptibility to injury are not condusive to long term, high dollar contracts, but…

          Cozart battle siginificant injury issues requiring down time and has still put up 4.0 WAR in just 3/4 of a season. If his playing time would be properly managed (Price has proven in 2 consecutive seasons that he is NOT capable of managing Cozart’s playing time), I can see Cozart putting up 3-4 WAR per season for the next 3 seasons. A 3-year contract would be a gamble, but not pursuing a 3-year contract with the resources currently available would also be a gamble.

  12. No longer have to worry about Alcantara’s WAR, He’s cleared waivers and was sent to AA

    • Geez!!! The Reds kept him on the major league roster for 75% of the season and when they finally decided DFA him, they dump him all the way to AA?

      • Two very good organizations bailed on him before the Reds got a chance to claim him. He was worth a flyer, but his lack of major league readiness was very evident, very early. He could still pan, but he needs additional development before he’s even close to consideration of a 40-man roster spot again. There are minor league contract in his forseeable future.

  13. How is Vottos BA higher than his BABIP? He has more Strikeouts than home runs.

  14. WAR is very good as a barometer for the status of the rebuild, particularly when put objectively into the context of the players who are supposed to be the core for the future of the rebuild.

    1.) The two players who were the bridge from 2013 to the next great Reds team- Homer Bailey and Devon Mesoraco – have a combined 0.4 WAR this year. The Reds are paying them $60 million in 2017 and 2018 combined. That has crippled this rebuild.

    2.) The combined WAR of key pitchers who are critical components to the current phase of the rebuild- Brandon Finnegan, Michael Lorenzen and Anthony Desclafani- combined WAR 0.6

    3.) The combined WAR of the young gun pitchers who coming into this season were the next phase of the rebuild…..Stephenson, Reed, Garrett- the future starting rotation . WAR -1.7

    3.) The shortstop of the future Jose Peraza WAR 0.2

    4.) The starting CF and RF- Billy Hamilton and Scott Schebler- WAR 2.0. Billy Hamilton has regressed in his 4th year.

    The future of the rebuild for CF/ RF/ SS /catcher/3 young starters/2 established starters/Lorenzen and the core #1 starter….a total of 11 players crucial to the rebuild……is 1.5 WAR combined.

    11 players=1.5 WAR combined. Payroll for those 11 players in 2018 will be $50 million+.

    5.) Raisel Iglesias and Adam Duvall and Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez are the only 4 players who have met expectations as players part of the rebuild. Cozart wasnt supposed to be part of the future. Luis Castillo and Scooter Gennett are the only surprise additions from what was expected in March.

    There simply isn’t enough to expect a step forward in 2018.The roster is actually very restricted. Bailey and Mesoraco are costing 34 million and on the 25 man roster no matter what . Garrett and Herrera have to be on the 25 man roster no matter what. The outfield corps might not be as good as everyone thought, especially with a regressing and more costly CF who can’t hit, when the standard for CF is 3-4 WAR.
    This rebuild is in a ditch.

    • Good if not depressing assessment. ?, why does Garrett have to be on the 25 man roster? Not that I think he shouldn’t be necessarily, but he’s still has options right.

      • My understanding is both Garrett and Herrera are out of options next year. that’s 2 supposed to be core players who will exhaust their minor league time without being healthy enough or productive enough to”earn” a 25 man roster slot.

        • If Herrera ends up not being healthy, he may be on the roster but on the DL. He also may be on the 60-day DL which means he doesn’t take up even a 40-man roster spot. If Herrera is healthy, the guy can hit and could be a nice RH complement to Gennett at 2B. He and Gennett can also play 3B in a pinch.

          Not sure what to do with Garrett other than hope he gets healthy over the break and can be effective in some capacity for this team next year.

  15. This tells us, especially for bullpen purposes, the calculation or constitution of WAR is flawed and needs improvement. Wood has not been the second best reliever in the Reds bullpen when you take into account importance of the moment. (i.e. LEVERAGE). Lorenzen and Peralta have been far better. Cingrani was better until after the all star break and return from DL. The young kid (hernandez?) didn’t pitch much so his WAR couldn’t be high but he was obviously much better than Wood, too.

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