Recently, one Chaddington Q. Dotson tweeted the following tweet:
Which player do you prefer?
A: .249/.297/.495, 31 HR in 139 games. 29 years old.
B: .234/.316/.481, 26 HR in 123 games. 26 years old.
— Chad Dotson (@dotsonc) September 10, 2017
If you’re a Reds fan, you probably know who those players are. Player A is Adam Duvall; Player B is Scott Schebler. While I would point out to old Quince – as we sometimes call Chad – that this is Duvall’s age-28 season (he only just turned 29 and Schebler will turn 27 in a month), it’s a worthwhile comparison. They are, largely, the same player. Except not quite.
As noted, there is the age difference, meaning that Duvall’s decline is closer than Schebler’s, at least in theory. Also, Schebler was hurt for a good chunk of the year and playing hurt pulled his numbers down. Duvall has no such excuse. Oh, and last, Schebler seems to have figured out how to draw a walk, as his 8.1% walk rate is just below league average.
Now, I was hard on Adam Duvall a lot on these hallowed electronical pages, but I have since been converted. I think he is a useful player. That isn’t the question. The question is: who should play?
And this is the question because Jesse Winker HAS to play. It’s time. And none of the three can really play an effective center field (though Schebler can fill in when need be). Winker’s OBP makes him a perfect top-of-the-order hitter and the Reds have seemed willing to actually let him hit there. So he plays. Then the question: Schebler or Duvall?
I gotta take Schebler. It’s not that I’d necessarily bet on him to be any better than Duvall next year. It’s that, odds are, there’s a slightly better chance he will be better next year. So you take the odds. You can certainly make an argument for playing all three, and I might even make that argument with you, but the Reds are probably going to be looking to make some trades this winter and Schebler and Duvall are two of their best and most trade-able assets. Because the Reds don’t need both of them. For a fourth outfielder, they’ll likely do just fine with Phillip Ervin, who can probably handle center if Billy Hamilton gets hurt again.
But it’s a very tough call. I keep talking myself in circles here. I don’t really know what I think the Reds should do. I suppose with the outfield we should lay it out like this:
- Winker plays
- The Reds need a legit backup CF because Hamilton is fragile
- Duvall or Schebler plays
- Neither Winker, Duvall, or Schebler is a legit backup CF
- Ervin probably is
Thus, the Reds have the following options:
- Keep five outfielders.
- Trade Hamilton
- Trade Schebler
- Trade Duvall
And again, I probably go with option 4. Duvall (I think) has the most trade value and is probably still the most likely to decline, but I can also see the case for option 2.
The good thing, however, is that the Reds have at least four and possibly five (depending on how you feel about Ervin) outfielders with real major league value. This is a good problem to have and there probably isn’t a wrong answer. What do you think?
Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.