This week’s respondents are Chad Dotson, Wes Jenkins, Jason Linden and Steve Mancuso. Plus, making a return to the pages of Redleg Nation is our guest, Nick Doran, who wrote a terrific weekly column during the 2015 season.

Our Daily Reds Obsession: Which Reds player are you most excited to watch in 2018?

Nick: Joey Votto. Seeing the master at work will never get old. The smartest, most cerebral hitter of our generation. He isn’t flashy. He isn’t an elite athlete — but no man alive knows more about hitting than Joey Votto. Not only is he the best hitter in the National League, he is the most unique hitter in the league as well. This is the player you’ll tell your grandkids about. He’s a future Hall of Famer and squarely in the conversation about the best players the Reds have ever had.

Chad: I know that I’m supposed to say Billy Hamilton here, but in an effort not to become a caricature of myself, I’m going to say Nick Senzel. This, of course, presumes that Senzel — who hasn’t yet played a game at a level higher than Double-A — does well enough early in the season to earn a promotion to Cincinnati. It also presumes that his issues with vertigo don’t cause him further problems that might delay his much-anticipated debut. I’d be willing to bet, however, that Senzel will be wearing a Reds uniform at some point before he turns 23 at the end of June. In his first two seasons in the Cincinnati system, Senzel has mashed the ball with great regularity, to the tune of .315/.393/.514. I can’t wait to see that bat in the Reds lineup every single day. Where will he play defensively? Well, you’ll have to wait for the next edition of the Daily Reds Obsession to find out my answer to that.

Wes: I cannot wait for Nick Senzel to be called up and hit three absolutely seismic doubles in his Major League debut. The Reds’ marketing team can rebrand the Bash Brothers for Senzel and Joey Votto except make it doubles themed, so maybe the (Almost) Bash Brothers or Two + Two = Four Brothers or the This is What Happens When You Ban PEDs Brothers. I don’t know — they’re the ones getting paid to do this, but I’m excited to see what they come up with.

Jason: Luis Castillo. It’s tempting to put Votto or Suarez here but with how bad the pitching has been lately, I have to go with Castillo. I think he’s something special. If his stats were extrapolated to a full season, he would be one of the top-20 pitchers in the league. Of course, things can always go wrong, especially with pitchers, but I am the most excited to watch Castillo morph into the first genuine front-line starter the Reds have had for a full season since things fell to pieces.

Steve: Christian Yelich. No? How about Jesse Winker. He hit .298 with a walk-rate of 11%. His isolated power was .231. That’s a wRC+ of 135. Those are exciting numbers for a first season. I’m looking forward to seeing if Winker can keep that pace up over an entire season. I love the way he looks confident at the plate. Winker’s approach is similar to Joey Votto’s. He swung at the second-fewest pitches out of the strike zone among Reds hitters — by far. He gives the Reds another player, along with Votto, Suarez and Barnhart, to grind out at bats. Winker doesn’t mind hitting with two strikes. It’s imperative that Winker get regular – as in everyday – playing time to develop. Anything short of that is a big mistake by the Reds.

Join the conversation! 33 Comments

  1. Senzel

  2. saw Senzel play in Dayton and Pensacola a few times. he can hit, but to quote Dusty Baker he is ” base clogger”. he runs…the bases…. like….this. can we really have a line up full of all base cloggers?

    we already have one of the slowest teams in baseball if you take away billy Hamilton.

    I like Peraza at second. re-sign cozart until Hunter Greene becomes our new starting shortstop of the future.

    • I don’t think your eye test matches up with scouting reports which all say he is faster than average. And you shouldn’t care even if he was slow. Getting on base in the first place is much more important.

      • Yeah, your eye test seems disconnected with reality.

        Senzel had 14 SB with a 70% success rate. That’s not great, but it’s also not base clogging. Senzel also had 40-2B in less than a full season which would have lead either the Southern League or the Florida State League over a full season. That’s certainly a long way from base clogging. His 3-3B would rank in the top 40 for either league over a full season. Triples are especially counter-indicative of base clogging.

        His actual performance matches all scouting reports regarding his speed, except one scout’s eye test of course.

        • Just saying a lineup consisting of winker, votto,senzel,cozart,Suarez is scary slow. Hard to score runs with absolutely no speed in the lineup.

          • I just don’t know where you’re getting that conclusion from. Where have you seen this play out in real life?

            The lineup you described above sounds like a bunch of guys that can hit the ball and knock in guys who are on base. It’s not like they’re on crutches trying to hobble home.

    • Love your enthusiasm combined with your distinct outlook.

    • And Hunter Green is not going play Shortstop.

  3. Senzel unless yelich here
    Deslafini. I mean one can dream

  4. Robert Stephenson. I’ve invested a lot of mental energy researching slow to blossom players like David Cone and how they had control issues early on but went on to have very successful careers. I know there’s a lot of doubters, but I’m trusting my gut on this one. That’s not to say I’m expecting a breakout year, but rather a solid rotation piece. Of course that’s predicated on him winning a job.

    • I am with you Sultan. I think that Robert Stephenson is going to be the big surprise on this team with 15 wins, matching Disco and Homer

  5. Has to be one the SP’s. Without some of them stepping forward we are under 70 wins again no matter the starting OF or batter order. I am going to go with Bob Steve. Only because I feel I know what some of the others will be in ’18. And he ended last year with a few flashes.

  6. Oh my … oh my…
    What a loaded (as in loads of options) question!

    I think I’m in the same boat as Steve. If Yelich shows up on the Reds 25-man roster, I’m all over Yelich as the addition that flips the Reds into a lineup fully committed to not making outs and moving the line along. If Yelich fails to appear on the Reds 25-man roster, then I’m all over Winker playing every day and leading off. Winker represents a move to a lineup fully committed to not making outs and moving the line along.

    The starting pitching will be the make or break aspect of the 2018 season, so everyone taking the bump will get a whole lot of attention.

  7. Votto. No matter what the score is or how far out of 1st place the Reds are, I will always stop to watch Joey Votto at the plate. His plate appearances are works of art. I only wish he could play forever.

  8. I would be excited if we get a new third base coach

  9. Luis Castillo. He could be a No. 1. Next year’s starters in the NLDS: Castillo, Disco and Bailey. Hey, I can dream…

  10. Luis Castillo … he reminds me a lot of Mario Soto. (Granted I was 8-12 years old roughly when Soto pitched for the Reds).

    I’m guilty of taking Joey for granted.

    • Great call. Soto had the heat and the great circle change.

      What he did not have was a breaking pitch that Castillo has. But if Soto was on this team in playing age, he would be my pick. The guy had a competitors heart the size of a T-Rex

  11. Castillo, followed closely by Romano. I think Sal grew up from thrower to pitcher this past year. Looking forward to a full year with him in the rotation. And I think he will earn it in the spring.

  12. Its a toss up between Bob or Winker.I just hope Bob gets 25 starts and Winker 550 at bats in the lead off spot.If either one happens we will be a better team.

  13. Luis Castillo, to see if he develops into the Reds ace of the starting pitching staff. On the offensive side it would be Jesse Winker with hopes that the 2018 starting manager does not derail the player who should be the Reds leadoff man.

  14. Zack Cozart, to see if he can repeat his exceptional 2017 performance. If he’s not signed by the Reds, then Scooter Gennett, for about the same reason. If he’s traded then Brandon Finnegan.

  15. Votto is the best and watching that guy hit never gets old, but I’ve really become a big BobSteve fan. I feel like he’s fighting like hell to improve himself. I love that in a kid.

  16. IF (!) the Reds are intent on signing a veteran innings eater to stablize the starting rotation (I think it would be a horrendous plan), the pitcher they should be targeting just hit the FA market today when the Braves declined his R.A. Dickey’s club option.

    I would much prefer to see the Reds commit to running their existing prospects and veterans to the mound, providing every prospect ample opportunity to prove his readiness to compete at the MLB level rather than filling one of the starting slots with an veteran innings eater, but R.A. Dickey is the only verteran starter on the FA market they should even consider for that role.

    • I hope they don’t go that route. Instead, I hope they would consider trading Hamilton or Gennett for a starting pitcher with an equal amount of service time left (at least two years). Probably not a one-for-one swap — others would need to be involved. This pitcher would join the young corps and provide additional insurance against having to rely on Bailey, DeSclafani and Finnegan all returning to perfect health and effectiveness — pretty unlikely.

    • Tucker Barnhart is probably not liking this idea very much 😉

  17. Agree with sticking with the young pitchers. Actually, I wish the Reds could trade for another young pitcher. Brent Honeywell (Rays-AAA).
    Most excited about watching Senzel in 2018. (Hopefully on Opening Day!)

  18. Votto. But that’s a little unfair. Every at bat is must see TV. But in the category excluding all-time Reds greats, I’ll say Winker. How Price uses him and how he performs will play a big part in the Reds’ success not just in 2018 but for years to come. And for the same reason I’ll say Senzel for 2019. There was a lot of hype when Billy Hamilton finally arrived in Cincinnati, but I haven’t had this much enthusiasm for a pair of prospects since Votto and Bruce arrived about a hundred years ago.

  19. I will be the odd man out here but my answer is Peraza. I still think there is a tremendous upside still there and hope this is the season it clicks. Maybe this is his Scooter season.

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