2018 Reds / 2018 Spring Training

Cincinnati Reds Preview — 2018 (and beyond): Shortstop

[In the days leading up to Opening Day, we’ll be previewing The State Of The Reds at every single position on the field. Today, we begin with a look at perhaps the most important defensive position: shortstop]

Coming out of the 2017 season, and throughout most of this past offseason, the Shortstop position was seen as a weakness in the Cincinnati Reds lineup. Zack Cozart, donkey owner and everyday Reds shortstop since the 2012 season signed with the Los Angeles Angels early on, leaving only Jose Peraza as a legitimate everyday option at short. Peraza, although still very young for a Major League player, disappointed in 2017 and was dethroned from his starting role at second base by Cincinnati Legend (TM) Scooter Gennett.

And that was it for a while. No backups, no major league ready prospects, just Peraza and his 62 wRC+. The Reds, no doubt sensing that surely Peraza couldn’t be penciled in 162 times at shortstop over the summer, made a splash in the Free Agent pool by signing…Phil Gosselin. Oh! And Cliff Pennington.

You’re not the only one who thinks a stable of shortstops consisting of Jose Peraza, Phil Gosselin and Cliff Pennington might underwhelm Redleg Nation in 2018. Although Peraza still certainly has the talent and upside to be a potential starting-caliber player, he’s far from a sure thing. Pennington and Gosselin are fine backup players, but where’s the excitement? Where’s the enthusiasm? Where’s the prototypical stud shortstop, here to save the day and look awesome while doing it? Where’s the Carlos Correa, the Francisco Lindor, or the Manny Machado?

Enter: Nick Senzel.

The Reds fanbase was taken by storm early in spring training when it was announced that Senzel, Cincinnati’s consensus top prospect, had been working for months at learning the skills necessary to play shortstop, and would be focusing the bulk of his efforts on playing there throughout spring camp. To say that this announcement lit a spark in the fanbase is an understatement – and rightfully so! The thought that Senzel could plug into the everyday lineup next to Eugenio Suarez at third changed everything. It made the future infield look better. It made the rebuild look better. Hell, it made Senzel himself look better.

It’s unlikely Senzel will be breaking with the Major League team at the start of the season. His bat certainly profiles to be very good already, but for a guy who’s never played shortstop professionally, and has also never taken an at-bat at the Triple-A level, it probably makes sense to give him some marination in Louisville. Add to all of this the service time implications, and Nick Senzel, Louisville shortstop is probably a lock until June.

But who plays shortstop until the prodigal son is ready to stake his claim? Let’s dive in.

Opening Day starter: Jose Peraza

When the Reds traded for Jose Peraza, they were obviously in love with his upside. The skill with the bat has always been obvious, his penchant for not striking out is a plus, his speed is an asset, and his defense, while not outstanding, is solid.

Some of these skills made cameo appearances in Peraza’s 2017 season, most notably in the second half. But the young man just couldn’t seem to put it all together. Plaguing him most was a seeming inability to take a walk in the first half of the season, taking his base only 5 times(!!) in 336 plate appearances.

For those scoring at home, that’s not good. It was borderline infuriating at times, and remains so in the eyes of many. He tripled this number in the second half in only 182 plate appearances as he took more of a backup role to Gennett and Cozart. That’s a second half BB% of 8.2%, just above league average and very good for a player with the kind of speed and baserunning ability Peraza has.

Defensively Peraza ranked 11th of all second basemen in Fangraphs Defensive Runs Above Average metric, putting him squarely in the Good, Not Great club. If he continues to walk at an 8% clip and we continue to see improved offense all around, the Reds can absolutely live with this level of defense. It’s not, however, enough to carry a 62 wRC+ for an entire 162 game summer.

As I’ve mentioned before, Peraza is still young. Plenty of world class shortstops weren’t offensive juggernauts at 23 years old. Many of them weren’t even in the big leagues at that point in their careers. It’s unfortunate for him that the club is hoping he develops into his full potential while also playing every day against major league pitching, but in a rebuild, them’s the breaks. We’ll see if he’s a little more up to the challenge in 2018.

The Backups: Phil Gosselin and Cliff Pennington

Phil Gosselin has spent parts of five seasons in the Major Leagues, spending time with Atlanta, Arizona, Pittsburgh and Texas. He owns a career 84 wRC+, featuring a 136 wRC+ 2015 season in which he had 118 plate appearances split between the Braves and the Diamondbacks. He’s been a career backup, never surpassing 240 plate appearances in a single season. The defensive metrics are nearly split on Gosselin, with Fangraphs tagging him with a -0.3 career Defensive Runs Above Average.

Gosselin will likely be battling against Cliff Pennington for a single backup shortstop spot on the Opening Day roster. Pennington has spent parts of 10 seasons in the major leagues, playing for Oakland, Arizona (with Phil Gosselin!), Toronto, and the Los Angeles Angels. Pennington sports a career 79 wRC+, but looks to be much better than Gosselin defensively with 40.6 career Defensive Runs Above Average.

Both players have been hitting the ball well in Spring Training so far, with Gosselin looking particularly good. Neither player is on the team’s 40-man roster, but will need to be added obviously in order to make the big league club. If I had to guess, I’d think Gosselin makes the Opening Day roster.

The Once and Future Shortstop: Nick Senzel

Part of the reason moving Senzel to shortstop was such an impactful move for the Reds is the fact that there’s really no one ready to usurp the position. Outside of Blake Trahan, who isn’t ready for the big leagues just yet, there’s no one who could legitimately play shortstop every day at the AA or AAA levels. Alex Blandino, probably the only other guy you could force onto this list, really works best as a 3B or 2B in an every day role.

So, Senzel makes a whole lot of sense as a shortstop. He’s played shortstop before, most notably in college at the University of Tennessee while filling in for an injured teammate. By all accounts he handled the position well, but was ultimately moved back to third base, and was drafted as a third baseman.

We all know the rest of the story so far. Senzel has cruised past every level of the minors he’s visited, culminating in a .340/.413/.560 slash line over 57 AA games in 2017. He walks a lot, strikes out slightly less than the average hitter, hits the ball to all areas of the field, and is a deceptively sneaky runner, much like Todd Frazier was during his early years with the Reds. He has a fantastic feel for the game, which really shows on the base paths.

Defensively, at least at third base, the story stays the same. After pinpointing his defense as the worst (but still pretty good) part of his game, Senzel only went out and balled enough to be named MLB Pipeline’s top defensive third baseman in the minor leagues. He’s only taken a few live-game ground balls during Spring Training, most notably picking up an error which ended Amir Garrett’s streak of consecutive batters retired in a game last Friday. Shortstop is one of the hardest defensive positions to play in the game, so we shouldn’t expect this transition to be an easy one. But if I’ve got to pick one third baseman to make the transition, I’d be choosing Senzel.

The Reds rebuild could potentially hinge a lot on whether or not the ‘Nick Senzel: Shortstop’ experiment goes well. If he’s playing shortstop in two seasons, he’s most likely the best player on the team in 2020, and maybe one of the top players in the MLB. The offensive numbers will almost assuredly stay on the same trajectory his minor league numbers have been at for the past few years. With that bat at shortstop, you suddenly have the makings of a potential MVP caliber player.

If Senzel can’t play shortstop, things get a little more tricky. All of a sudden, you’re sacrificing two of Eugenio Suarez, Dilson Herrera, Shed Long, and Alex Blandino so that Senzel can play either Third or Second. You’re either banking on Jose Peraza to turn into an everyday shortstop, or you’re spending money to go out and get an everyday shortstop. You’re taking a bat, which will still be very good, and placing it at a position where the offense won’t be as valuable. It’s not exactly a doomsday scenario; after all, this was the scenario we were looking at only a few weeks ago! But I think we can all agree that the very best option for our favorite baseball team is that Nick Senzel is the starting shortstop for our Reds in 2020.

38 thoughts on “Cincinnati Reds Preview — 2018 (and beyond): Shortstop

  1. Jordan,

    Nice write-up.

    I would disagree on Senzel in 2020 deciding the fate of the Reds’ rebuild and being one of the best players in MLB then.

    That is far too much weight on Senzel and the team. Mike Trout can’t get any playoff wins with the Angels, cranking out 7-10 WAR a season, not to mention Votto.

    As of last month, Senzel was projected at 8 WAR total over his first 6 MLB seasons.

    This Spring, numerous comments on RLN are bringing up the need for offensive upgrades throughout the lineup. Hopefully, by 2020, Dick Williams has “sorted” that out, to help Senzel, WInker and an aging Votto.

  2. I’m expecting big things from Peraza this year. He seemed like he was “getting it” last season just as Price decided to make him a backup (Exhibit Q of why I think Price is a poor manager), not just in taking walks, but in his whole approach to hitting. He seemed to be driving more from his legs and actually picking up on what the pitcher was throwing, as opposed to the first half where he would swing at anything thrown within a mile of the plate.

    I know Peraza made a poor first impression in the first half last season (because, let’s face it, he was really really bad), but people seem to be completely ignoring his second half where he looked like he was actually, you know, developing when he was given a chance to play.

    It would not shock me to see Peraza continuing to walk at about an 8% rate. If he can couple that with actually hitting like he did in the minors, then the Reds might have an important piece of their future infield on their hands (although I still think it should be Peraza: 2B, Suarez:SS, Senzel: 3B, but what do I know).

    • This whole 2nd half resurgence talk last year for Peraza is really deceiving, yet people keep acting like it’s true. Peraza had a nice August, PERIOD. His July, and his Sept/Oct were crap. Combined OPB in from July until the end of the season, MINUS August, was sub .300. Sub .300 for the softest hitter in the game, plus his terrible defense. If we are stuck with Peraza at SS, then this team will be horrible. Peraza could not get on base in the minors either, but people seem to gloss over that.

      • Peraza only had a below-average OBP in one of his minor league seasons, in which it was around ~.315. That was the only season his OBP was under .333. He was routinely sitting at around .350 from while playing at each level well under the age median. I’d say he got on base well enough in the minors.

        • Jordan, you are right, Peraza’s OBP was decent. I was looking at the MLB totals. Having said that, light hitters are rarely going to improve at the MLB level. Compare these numbers for a moment:

          .280/BA .351/OBP .377/Slg .728/OPS
          .299/BA .341/OBP .386/Slg .726/OPS

          Billy Hamilton
          Jose Peraza

          Both numbers are for 6 years of Minor League Play. Consider that Hamilton did this while learning how to hit left handed, and learned how to play a new positions his final year. Hamilton is clearly the better athlete too, so I’m not convinced that you are going to see much out of Peraza in the form of an offensive player. At least BHam is a defensive whiz, and can change the game with his speed. This isn’t to suggest that Hamilton is anything spectacular. To the contrary, it’s to show that Peraza is a big bust, and people are hoping, rather than using actual numbers to show that chances are slim that Peraza will be anything above a utility player.

        • Peraza is going to have to hit .290 with his 4% BB rate to boost him up to MLB league average OBP Peraza’s BB% rate improvement in August screams Billy Hamilton August 2016. Peraza’s 4% BB rate is in line with his Minor League 5% walk rate. I’ll believe he’s become more selective at the plate after he’s shown it over a full season somewhere. Until then he bats at the bottom with Billy, if either of them are still in the lineup.

      • You talk about July, but here’s the thing: If you split July up by pre-All Star Break and post-All Star Break, you’ll notice something interesting:

        Peraza, July, pre-All Star Break: 0 walks

        Peraza, July, post-All Star Break: 5(!) walks, equaling his entire first half in 2 weeks of playing in July.

        Also, in September Peraza became a bench player because Price for whatever reason decided playing 27-year old Scooter and 32-year old Cozart was more important than seeing if 23-year old Peraza could continue to show/develop his newfound batter’s eye for the final month.

        Peraza only got 53 ABs for all of September, but as long as you want to deal with small sample size, here’s a bit of trivia for you: In every single game that Peraza started in September (12 starts), he got at least 1 hit (except for September 13th against St. Louis). Fully 20% of all of his ABs in September came as a pinch hitter, and he only got a single hit in that role. Can you blame him, a 23 year old kid coming off the bench to face a reliever he’s seeing for the first time throwing in the upper 90’s?

        If you want to say Peraza’s September is crap, fine. But know that you’re talking about a month where he was being horribly managed by Price and as such has a very skewed sample size.

        I don’t know what Peraza did during the All Star break, watched lots of videos, worked with a hitting coach, stole 1% of Votto’s powers like those aliens from Space Jam, or what, but he clearly something clicked for him during that time, as evidenced by the fact he suddenly figured out how to take 13 walks in just 112 at-bats in post-All Star Break July and August. (By the way, 13 walks in 112 ABs translates into an 11.6 BB% for those keeping score at home).

        Would he have kept it up with regular playing time in September? Who knows, but Bryan Price for one didn’t care to find out. I was tearing my hair out at Peraza’s benching, because I could see the difference in his approach post-All Star Break. It’s a real shame that his own manager couldn’t see it and/or didn’t care. But hey, that’s sorting, Cincinnati Reds style, isn’t it?

        • You can bash Price all you want, but NO MANAGER in the game would have sat Cozart or Gennett, so that Peraza could play. You really expected Price to sit the 3rd best SS in the game so that Peraza could play? Really? Scooter, unlike Peraza, EARNED his playing time. You act like Scooter is old. He’s 27 years old, and had an absolutely amazing season, yet you think Price should have sat him so that Peraza who LOST his job, and rightly so, should somehow get it back, because he’s younger? There are a lot of reasons to bash Price, but this is bordering on absolute ridiculousness. Let’s be clear, Cozart and Gennett were not the problem with this team last year; in fact, one could argue they were, along with Votto the only reason this team was offensively relevant. Peraza, equals SOFTEST HITTER in the game, coupled with sub par base running and defense.

          • And what did the Reds gain by playing Scooter and Cozart? By this point, they are what they are. Peraza, on the other hand, is 24 years old and is still developing as a player and a hitter. Neither Cozart or Scooter are going to be part of the next great Reds team, but there is still a chance Peraza might. It would be foolhardy to write a player off after a single season in MLB at age 23.

            So congratulations to Price, he played 2 veterans for…. For what, exactly? To still finish with a dismal, losing record? This is the time to play young players and see what they can do, not a time to play veterans who aren’t going to be here in 2019 and beyond (this year is Scooter’s Age 28 season, usually considered the “peak” of an MLB player). The ONLY justification I saw for Price doing what he did was to build up Cozart/Scooter’s trade value, but Cozart left for free and Scooter is still here (and there’s a very good possibility they missed their chance to sell high on him).

            Your line of thinking, to play the players who are betterright now, instead of sorting for the future, is exactly why the Reds have been mired in the “Rebuild” for so long. Hey, while we’re at it, let’s bring in another Tim Adleman and Scott Feldman. I mean, they’re both better than any of the other young pitchers we have right now, right?

        • You couldn’t be more wrong on this topic. You don’t sit two of your best players so you can give a kid who stunk in the 1st half, another chance. This isn’t single A. The idea that you expected Price to sit one of the best players in the entire game last season, in Cozart, is downright laughable. Yeah, good luck resigning Cozart, or any other decent free agent. It appears the Reds were ultimately close in resigning Cozart, but it unfortunately didn’t happen. But it was an option, that you would have clearly given away. As for Scooter. Gee, what did we find out about that kid? We found out that given the AB’s, he would have been a .300/30 guy. Yeah, that’s a guy to just kick to to the curb. You would have shut down any option of trading him this past off season by sitting him. It’s not Price’s fault Cozart wasn’t re-signed, or Scooter dealt. Price did his part, and he was absolutely spot on with how he handled Cozart and Scooter all season long. Price isn’t some great manager, and I’d be fine with him being replaced, but in this case your criticism is an absolute joke without any merit. Give me an example where two players with similar seasons of Cozart and Scooter were EVER sat down in September so a young scrub player could play instead. GEEZ!

          • You don’t sit two of your best players so you can give a kid who stunk in the 1st half, another chance.

            Who was already showing a marked improvement in the second half. Or, as some people call it, “developing”, as young players are wont to do.

            It appears the Reds were ultimately close in resigning Cozart, but it unfortunately didn’t happen.

            First of all, that’s not true, and second of all, I’m glad they didn’t. Cozart is 32, a middle infielder, has had injury issues, and just had a career year, driving up his price. It has “disaster” written all over it for the future (which is something you seem incapable of considering.)

            As for Scooter. Gee, what did we find out about that kid? We found out that given the AB’s, he would have been a .300/30 guy.

            I think by this point you’ve shown you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about. Scooter was given 440, 375 , 498, and 461 ABs, respectively, over the previous 4 seasons with the Brewers, so clearly it was not an issue with him “not being given the ABs”. Another thing to consider is that Scooter had an unsustainably high BABIP last season (.339) which would indicate that he was getting extremely lucky and is so due for a heavy regression this season. Again, that requires looking to the future, and not just the way things are right now. (Detecting a trend here?)

            Price did his part, and he was absolutely spot on with how he handled Cozart and Scooter all season long.

            No, he didn’t. Price has failed, time and again, to give young players the playing time they need. The team and Price should not care about what a player can do right now, they should care about helping them develop to see what they can be.

            Give me an example where two players with similar seasons of Cozart and Scooter were EVER sat down in September so a young scrub player could play instead.

            Sure. Just watch any baseball team out of contention in September. Or perhaps you’ve never heard of something called “September Callups”? Well, let me explain it to you: It’s where teams, who are not very good right now, “call up” young players from the minor leagues to give them a taste of playing in MLB and to continue their development after the minor league season has ended. Why do teams do this? Well, because teams understand that while some of the players they have right now might be pretty good, next year they’ll be another season older and soon it will be time to move on from them. So they play young guys, letting them play and develop to give a chance to see what they can be.

            The Reds have invested in Peraza, and being that he’s 24 and still developing, they need to see what they have in him. Even if Cozart had stayed, it would be foolish to pin any future hopes on him given his age/injury history/previous stats. Scooter is in his “prime” years right now, so he is most likely as good as he will ever be. Peraza is 24, has put up a respectable OBP in the minors, and in the second half of last season showed signs of making real progress in figuring out how to take a walk before Price inexplicably benched him, thus halting his progress on that front. It was the wrong move on Price’s part, as Price is ostensibly supposed to oversee and manage the “Rebuild”, and that means playing your young players. Even if they are not good right now, it doesn’t matter as long as they are playing and developing, because what Price should have his eyes on are seeing what they can be.

            I’m not sure why this is so hard for you to understand.

  3. I can’t agree that having Senzel as the shortstop in 2020 is the best option until we figure out if he can actually play shortstop adequately at the major league level. Nobody wants Senzel to be a star more than me, but never presume that switching positions at the major league level is an easy task.

    I am old enough to remember when Johnny Bench was moved from catcher to third base in 1982, with the idea of giving his knees a needed break later in his career. He was adequate defensively at third on a horrible team. On a good team, his defense and his diminishing bat would not have played well as a third baseman.

    Presuming he can hit in the bigs as well as everyone is predicting, I say put him at second if he is better there than at shortstop. Give him every chance to be the shining star this team needs.

    • I don’t think anyone is presuming anything (I think that’s why Jordan said “if he’s playing shortstop in two years.”). But there’s no question that Senzel at SS in 2020 is the best case scenario. Because for that to happen, he has to hit in the big leagues and he has to be able to field the position.

      And if Senzel can handle the position — even as an average defensive shortstop — there’s no one in the system that can come even close to his potential. So yeah, it’s the best option, to me at least.

      • I still believe the best case scenario for the Reds is that whoever is better defensive SS between Suarez and Senzel is at SS with the other one at 3B. Eugenio Suarez 641 G at SS as a professional. Nick Senzel 0 G at SS as a professional. Nearly every scouting report on Suarez had him slated to be a solid but unspectacular SS. There’s no reason to doubt he still can’t now that he’s settled in at the Major League level and over his young player jitters that plagued him there as a 22 and 23 year old.

  4. Just mentioning: Caalten Dahl was hurt for most of 2017, after a pretty decent year at AA in 2016. I don’t know where he will end up this year, or the future.

    I really don’t understand the reason why Pennington or Gosselin are being considered for roster spots. Why? Why do we want some +30 year old career bench player with the Reds during “rebuilding”. This practice by Jocketty is one significant reason why we are in this position: His regime as GM never did anything to develop minor league players at the ML level.

    • You want bench guys like this because they aren’t likely to get many ABs behind Peraza. You want the young, developing guys to get as many ABs as possible, which is why they’re still in the minors.

      • I agree with you for the most part and in most cases. I’m not sure if that is the case for a guy like Blandino or even a guy like Dixon. Those guys sort of project as MLB utility guys and not really “every-day” players. They could come up to the Majors and play the role that they are likely going to play throughout their careers. Now, Blandino is very questionable defensively at SS and Dixon can’t really play SS at all. Perhaps that means they wouldn’t be a good fit for a team that needs a SS if Peraza goes down or simply shows he just isn’t an MLB starter.

  5. Good article, Your thoughts on Peraza’a potential and his flaws are spot on.

    The FO deserves big time credit for being willing to slide Senzel over to SS and Senzel deserves big time credit for accepting the recommendations and for working at it.

    It is a rebuild changer if it works out and he is our SS for the second half of 2018 and on. Imagine a avg ss defense with a .900 ops (like his minor league #’s, 4+ war)

    • Add Senzel to the 2018 zips projections at 4 war and you can see the potential:

      Senzel 4 war
      Suarez 4 war
      Votto 5 war
      Gennett 1 war
      Barnhart 3 war
      Winker/Duvall 2 war
      Hamilton 2 war
      Schebler 2 war

      That is a playoff worthy 8.

  6. Plenty of people have talked about Peraza’s 2nd half last year. He did get his obp up to .333 but still only 1 hr in 164 atbats (.638 ops). I also don’t see him as a good defensive shortstop. He could turn into that, but Senzel is pretty athletic and could be just as good in time. Personally, I’d give Peraza til mid-May….and if he’s hitting .260 with no power and not walking then I’d go with Senzel. At some point Peraza is what he is…same as Billy. Running 2 punchless guys out there daily while playing in a launching pad is too big of a deficit to overcome. We’re still going to give up HRs. If we’re building for 2019 or 2023 or whatever….they should’ve moved Scooter already and made room for the young guys. Senzel and Winker need a lot of atbats with the Reds this year. Winker’s 125 last year was ridiculous considering we were eliminated by Easter.

    • Peraza is 24 years old and has just completed his first season in MLB. To compare him to 28 year old Hamilton who is starting his 6th season in MLB and say that Peraza “is what he is” is pretty weak.

  7. This is going to sound strange but, I don’t know what I’m going to do if Peraza turns out to be good. I’ve spent so much time and energy on not liking him that I’m afraid he’s gonna make me eat those words one day. I won’t be eating very much though bcuz I still don’t like the no or little power aspect of his game. I would very much rather have Senzel and Gennett in the lineup everyday than Peraza. So, in a way, I’m kinda hoping Peraza fails and Senzel succeeds. And in a very messed up way that kinda makes me look like somewhat of a bad reds fan bcuz it’s like I’m rooting for one of my favorite team’s plyrs to fail (but at the same time I’m rooting for another reds player to succeed). I’m kinda caught between a rock and a hard place though. I don’t wanna seem like a bad reds fan (and I’m not bcuz I’ve been loyal to this team for the last 28 yrs of my life). But, if Peraza winds up succeeding offensively and defensively, I’ve got no choice but to stand my ground bcuz I’m not gonna give anyone the satisfaction of being able to tell me, “I told you so!”. Oh, there will be articles pointing out just how well Peraza’s doing (if indeed he does well). I know there will be. And those will be the, “I told you so’s”, without actually having to say it. So, this is probably going to make me look like a bad reds fan. But I’m not a bad reds fan. I just want the best players possible at each position and I believe there is someone better than Peraza (and his name is Senzel). Peraza projects to be just an average ML hitter. Senzel I believe can hit for power and average (at least more power than Peraza). So, I really hope Jose is just a placeholder for Nick until he arrives. Also, ppl keep talking about how Peraza made bit to the big leagues at such a young age and how other current superstars or even some HOF’rs didn’t even make it to the bigs when they were his age. Here’s my thoughts about this…I will always believe that the only reason Peraza made it to the big leagues as early as he did (with the reds) is bcuz Cincinnati was (1) Rebuilding and had traded away a lot of veterans therefore had no choice and also to see what they had and (2) Bcuz Cozart was often injured and the Reds realized that Peraza was the only capable backup at the positio. Not really saying that Peraza didn’t earn his way to the bigs but it was more out of necessity and wanting to see what they had. I will always believe this.

    • Suggested way out of your problem: Root for Peraza to be good enough at SS that he can be a credible backup there and at 2B and OF. Then still cheer for Senzel to be good enough to win the SS job. It stinks to carry utility middle infielders who can’t play SS.

      • Steve, Didn’t think of that. I just figured if he was good enough to stay at SS then the Reds might wanna keep him there.

    • The Reds put me in that position every stinking year. I wanted Arroyo to give up 8 runs in the 1st inning every game. Same with Adleman. If they’re not good enough to help get you in the playoffs then lets someone with actual potential. Losing the battle to win the war….doesn’t make you a bad fan in my book.

      • Indy RM, I think the difference may be that I don’t care for Peraza. But I hope he’s just good enough to be a backup.

    • Instead of words, Sandman, consider crow. It’s probably easier to cook (internal temp of 165F). I know what you mean, but I keep going back to Cozart, of whom many of the same things were said. There isn’t a magic age at which it becomes impossible to learn. If Senzel can become a good shortstop and hit the way most people feel he will, great, but it would still be good for the Reds if Peraza became a good player.

      • I agree. Peraza and Senzel both being very good MLB players is a great outcome for the Reds. I would only partially agree about the knocks on Cozart though. Cozart was always an exceptional defensive SS. Peraza is sub-par at the moment. That said, looking at Peraza, I really don’t think the defense will be his problem. I think he can play there but he’s going to take more lumps to get there. What I think will eventually happen is Peraza will be a utility player and that’s not a bad thing. I’m hoping that I’m wrong though and that both he and Senzel become excellent MLB players.

        • LWBlogger: Yeah, I was referring only to the narrative that Cozart couldn’t hit and never would. It was clear early that he was a fine defender, though that skill often seems under-valued here.

      • Greenmtred, I’m not gonna eat crow but thanks for the suggestion. Peraza isn’t the last great hope for Cincinnati. Why’s everybody counting so much on Peraza. I hope Senzel takes the SS job and that Peraza is just good enough to be his backup.

        • Wouldn’t want you to eat crow, Sandman. I don’t get the sense that anybody is counting on Peraza (well, maybe Mrs. Peraza if there is one), as much as hoping that he can cut it at short. It’s not a bad thing to have several qualified candidates for a position.

    • I’m hoping that Peraza is good enough that people end up telling ME “I told you so!” … Peraza’s development would be a good thing for the Reds, even if it would mean my reputation as a talent evaluator takes a hit. I mean, nobody is paying me to evaluate baseball talent so no real loss.

  8. It seems to me that Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts are the examples we want to look at for what we hope Senzel can be as a shortstop. Both have been average to below-average defensively at short (-4 and -4.5 UZR over 2016 and ’17 seasons), but still have been worth 4-5 WAR per season.

      • I don’t think that should be the goal but I do think it’s an outcome we could live with. “Below Average Defensively” at SS means that the player is still good enough to man the position. At SS, with a bat that is well above average, you have a really good player on your hands even if the player only plays adequate (below average) defense there.

  9. Where’s the prototypical stud shortstop, here to save the day and look awesome while doing it? Where’s the Carlos Correa, the Francisco Lindor, or the Manny Machado?

    Almost nowhere, especially Cincinnati. Concepcion was stereo- (not proto-)typical, all-field no-hit SS until he picked up his contact rate in the middle of his career. Larkin was, well, he was special, as the first 30-30 club SS. He was arguably the actual prototype for future SSs. However, he’s in the HOF and rare for that reason.

    Senzel may work out there, especially given that middle infielders and outfielders are making fewer plays than in years past (a side effect of everyone whiffing constantly), shifting is more common, and defense is less necessary than in a high contact era. If he doesn’t work, though, Peraza is likely still a decent option based on his better eye and corresponding numbers the latter half of last year. Cozart will be missed, but I think we’ll be okay, especially long term. Another good read, thanks!

  10. I hope: 1) Suarez gets signed to an extension and avoids the Bailey/Mesoraco injury curse so Senzel remains blocked at 3B by an outstanding all around player; 2) Senzel and Peraza are able to play SS and 2B in whichever combination works best. 3) We ride the “Killer Z’s” (Tm) to World Series glory.

    I do worry about our infield defense. I think Cozart was much better defensively than most fans realize–on both routine and difficult plays–and replacing him with an OK defensive SS will be painful to watch.

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