The season is now over. It was not great. It was really, really not great. Mostly because of pitching. I wrote about that here.
But there is one aspect of the team fans should feel good about. Because of injuries and slumps, it wasn’t so apparent at the end of the season, but the offense is likely ready. Don’t Believe me? Let’s go through the lineup and look at a reasonable guess for wRC+ to tell us how much better (or worse) than average the Reds are at each postion
Barnhart has been right at a 90 wRC+ for the last to years, so that feels like a fair guess for next year. Casali has hit better than expected this year, and given sample size, it seems like a 90 wRC+ is a reasonable guess for him, too. That’s 10% below league average for all hitters, but it’s actually 6% above the typical catcher. Not bad.
First Base – Joey Votto
This was a strange year for Votto. I don’t believe that the power has actually vanished. I think it was just a weird year. The analytics agree with me, so that helps. I’m betting a rebound to at least a 145 wRC+ next year. That’s 45% better than league average and 40% better than the typical 1B.
Second Base – Scooter Gennett
Scooter is going to be here next season. That seems obvious. He’s also going to hit 20-25 percent better than league average (I like ketchup with my crow, fyi). I’m going with a 120 wRC+ only because his BABIP was a little inflated this year. That’s 27% better than the typical second baseman.
Shortstop – Jose Peraza
Peraza came into his own this year and put up numbers that were almost exactly league average. He really showed off some nice power growth. File this under things I was right about (how do many of you like your crow?). Let’s figure on league average again next year. That’s 6% better than your typical shortstop this year, but more like 10-12% above historic norms (it was a good year for shortstops).
Third Base – Eugenio Suarez
Even with the slump to end the season, Geno is gonna get some MVP consideration. He’s also made it possible for me to predict a 135 wRC+ next year. Which is 33% better than the typical 3B is what has been the best three-year run for 3Bs in major league history.
Left Field – Scott Schebler
Schebs figures to scheble to something like a 105 wRC+. Which is almost exactly average for a LF historically and a tick above average lately.
Center Field – Nick Senzel
Listen Reds. Find a place for him to play period. You’re gonna keep Scooter. Okay, cool. Senzel gets center then. I asked Dan Szymborski to run a ZiPS projection for Senzel next year. ZiPS has him at .271/.333/.429. Which is almost exactly league average (maybe a tick above). Projections tend to heavily regress players with no major league time. I’m going to conservatively suggest a 120 wRC+. That’s good for 20-25% above normal for a centerfielder.
Right Field – Jesse Winker
In not quite a full season of PAs, Winker has been good for a 130 wRC+. It seems reasonable to expect that to continue. And is 24% better than league average
Okay, let’s quickly look at each position relative to league average.
Pos: % above or below league average, % above or below positional average.
C: -10%, 6%
1B: 45%, 40%
2B: 20%, 27%
SS: 0%, 6%
3B: 35%, 33%
LF: 5%, 0%
CF: 20%, 20%
RF: 30%, 24%
Presuming everyone stays healthy, the every day lineup should generate a wRC+ of about 118 next year (18% above league average). That’s a fantastic number even if it isn’t quite at the level of the great eight (they typically hung north of a 120 wRC, with a 130!!! mark in 1976).
The Reds can hit. If they’re holding on to Scooter and find a place for Senzel, they can be above average for the position at every position. They don’t need to add a bat. Just a pitcher and a pitcher.
Oh, and also, they need to add another pitcher.
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.