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: How should the Reds handle playing time in the outfield in 2018?
Nick: Billy Hamilton’s glove and legs compensate for his wet noodle of a bat, so he is the everyday center fielder for one more year. Jesse Winker has a real chance to develop into a plus hitter and needs to start every day even if he struggles for extended periods, so he is the left fielder. Streaky, inconsistent veterans Scott Schebler and Adam Duvall platoon in right field. Giving Duvall regular rest might fend off his penchant for second-half swoons. If one of them gets hot just ride him for awhile.
Chad: The ideal solution would be to acquire Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger, and permit the trio of Trout-Bellinger-Jesse Winker to lead the Reds to the promised land. If we presume, however, that the Reds intend to enter 2017 with the same crop of outfielders — Winker, Billy Hamilton, Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler — the solution is so obvious that I can’t believe we’re discussing it.
Wes: Oof. Jesse Winker needs to play, that’s the foundation I’ll start from. From my perspective, he should push Scott Schebler to a bench role, but Adam Duvall didn’t exactly finish the season hot and Billy Hamilton is more a liability than an asset. However, Duvall made an All-Star team and hits dingers without the batting average black hole that Schebler has, and Hamilton fits a very specific centerfield stereotype that the Reds gravitate to. So Schebler is the odd man out, and to be honest, he doesn’t make a great bench bat, so maybe cutting ties is for the best?
Jason: Winker plays every day unless he shows he can’t hack it. Every day. Duvall and Schebler are still reasonable question marks and should battle for playing time unless one of them is traded. If I had to pick, I’d take Schebler over Duvall. Assuming the Reds still have Hamilton, there will be days when Schebler starts in center. But Winker plays every day as long as he hits like he did in 2017.
Steve: I’ll consider the offseason a failure if the Reds start 2018 with a clumsy, 4-player outfield rotation of the same guys as 2017. Instead, they should trade Adam Duvall to force Bryan Price to play Jesse Winker in left field and trade for a new centerfielder. They should play Scott Schebler in right field. Schebler hit 30 home runs in 531 PA. He hit LHP (wRC+ 98) almost as well as he hit RHP (wRC+ 101). Schebler hurt his shoulder diving for a ball on June 3 but continued to play through it. He finally went on the DL on August 1. From June 6 to July 30, his wRC+ was 78. Before the injury it was 115 and after he returned from the DL, it was 106. Among Reds with at least 200 at bats, Schebler had the third highest xwOBA on the team, after Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez. Schebler also showed potential for plate discipline and average-to-plus defense at times. He turned 27 three weeks ago and is under team control through 2022.