This week’s respondents are Chad Dotson, Matt Habel, Steve Mancuso, Clay Marshall and Tom Mitsoff.
Our Daily Reds Obsession: Which Reds position player will we be talking about at the end of 2018 as being the biggest disappointment?
Chad: Adam Duvall, I guess? Duvall did have 31 home runs and 99 RBI last year (after posting 33 homers and 103 RBI in 2016), but after a disastrous second half (.212/.277/.385), he ended the season as pretty much a league-average hitter, with an OPS+ of 100. Duvall now has over 1400 plate appearances in his big league career, and his OBP over that span is .296. His defense is still good — for the second straight year, Duvall is a finalist for the Gold Glove Award in left field — but if his defense recedes any or his hitting falls off any more, we’re talking about a below-average contributor.
Remember, Duvall will turn 30 during the 2018 season. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if he were to decline. I think he’ll be the biggest disappointment among position players in 2018.
Matt: Billy Hamilton has been a “what-if” story for years now and at this point I do not see him as the team’s future centerfielder. His defense and base-running are great to watch but will not hold their value for much longer. He cannot produce at the plate consistently and at this point it doesn’t appear that is going to change. With Price back as the manager for 2018, I fear Billy will keep the bases unclogged at the top of the lineup. As he enters his second year of arbitration, projected to earn $5MM, I see him becoming an increasingly more expensive liability to the team.
Steve: Jose Peraza. You can manipulate end points and parse small samples of Peraza’s record, looking for improvement. Yes, he’s only 23. But no matter how you torture the numbers, either in his minor league or major league careers, you can’t find power or an ability to draw a walk. Those are two keys to being a successful offensive producer. He may hit for average and steal a base here or there (Peraza’s SB success rate was break-even in 2017, no net value). But by the end of 2018, it’s going to be clear that the Todd Frazier trade was a bust, at least in terms of the headliner return. If Scooter Gennett isn’t traded, and Reds fans head into 2018 assuming he’ll repeat his 2017 season, Gennett is the answer to this question. But I don’t see Gennett playing the full season in a Reds uniform.
Clay: If either are still with the team at the end of 2018 (which presumably means that they were playing too poorly to trade them), I’m guessing the answer will be either Scooter Gennett or Zack Cozart, who seem like locks to regress from their stratospheric 2017 outputs. I hope that won’t happen, and I’ll certainly root for them both to prove me wrong, but their numbers — especially Gennett’s — seem like outliers when compared to their career stats, and it seems unrealistic to expect them to maintain them in 2018. There will also be higher expectations for both going into 2018 — especially if the Reds fork out big money to re-sign Cozart — which always makes disappointment a likelier outcome.
Tom: I have been one of the big Adam Duvall supporters in his two years as a starter, but the second half of 2017 left me with serious concerns. After the All-Star break, he batted only .212 with 11 homers and 38 runs batted in. On September 15, Mark Sheldon tweeted: “This season, Adam Duvall has 96 RBIs. But he leads MLB with 292 runners left on base, 40 more than second places’ Albert Pujols.” I could not find the season-ending statistic, but it’s hard to believe that gap of 40 could be closed in two and a half weeks. Duvall has shown that he wears down at the end of seasons, and should not be an everyday player moving forward. He should play maybe four or five days per week, but I think Bryan Price is going to put him out there every day if he is still on the team come spring training. While saying that, let me say that I love his outfield defense. He should win the Gold Glove, and I hope he does.