Stuff has been happening this offseason. Big stuff. And we can all agree, I think, that the Reds are a better team than they were last season. The question is, how much better. Most of the improvements have come to the pitching and pitching is hard to value correctly. It’s not a simple matter of picking your favorite version of WAR and doing the math.

I have frequently had an argument with our new “leader” Doug “Often Wrong” Gray about which pitching stats to use. And it was that arguing which spurred the process I’m about to layout for you. It seems to me that, in the offseason, we need to use both version of WAR. Baseball-Reference, has a pitching WAR which very much reflects what actually happened. FanGraphs has a pitching WAR which reflects that which is most likely to happen going forward. If we combine them, we can, perhaps, make a guess as to what kind of improvement we can really expect to see in the rotation.

So, according to Baseball-Reference, Reds starting pitchers had the following values last season (presented in order of innings pitched):

Castillo: 1.6 WAR
Romano: -0.4 WAR
Harvey: 1.3 WAR
DeSclafani: 0.3 WAR
Mahle: 0.0 WAR
Bailey: -1.5 WAR
Finnegan: -0.6 WAR

Now, Stephenson, Lorenzen, and Reed all started and relieved for the Reds last year. Their performances were such that we can probably call their starts, roughly, replacement level overall. With Reed and Lorenzen adding some positive value and Stephenson taking it right back.

In total, that gives us 0.7 WAR from the rotation. “Yikes,” is the correct word here, even if that’s not really a surprise.

But ERA (which is, essentially, the basis of bWAR) is a terrible predictor of itself, so let’s slide on over to fWAR and look at the 2019 rotation’s 2018 numbers.

Alex Wood: 2.6 WAR
Tanner Roark: 1.9 WAR
Luis Castillo: 1.9 WAR
Anthony DeSclafani: 0.6 WAR

Those are the spots that are more or less spoken for right now. If those guys – as a group – duplicate what they did last year in terms of their peripheral numbers (the basis of fWAR), we should expect a 6-win improvement.

There are some real growth candidates in the rotation. What we saw from Castillo, Disco, and and Mahle, for instance, probably represents the floor of what those guys are capable of (I’d discuss Romano, but he seems consigned to the bullpen). Reed certainly seemed to right the ship last year as well, making him an interesting candidate. So now, let’s branch into fantasy land and say this happens:

Castillo: 3.0 WAR
Wood: 2.6 WAR
Roark: 1.9 WAR
DeSclafani: 1.5 WAR
Mahle/Reed/Etc: 2.0 WAR

IF that happens, the Reds will have improved by 10 games, and their pitching rotation will be above average.

That’s still not a .500 team.

So now it’s time to look at the lineup. Billy Hamilton has been replaced. fWAR has him at 1.3 and bWAR has him at 0.3 last year. Most of his playing time will go to Puig who was good for 2.7 bWAR or 1.8 fWAR. (The WAR differences here are entirely a result of how the different sites measure defense, and as far as I know, they are both equally bad at it.) We can probably call that a 1.0 WAR improvement.

Even the conservative projections that are out think Votto will be better next year. Let’s call that another 1.0 WAR. Everyone else is, I think, a fair bet to hold steady. We could fuss around with OF value if you want but that’s gonna get into some deep weeds and I’m not ready for that post yet.

The remaining conundrum is Senzel vs. Gennett. And here’s the rub: Gennett had a .358 BABIP last season. That’s not sustainable. Yes, some players sustain that level over multiple seasons. They have names like Trout and Votto. Gennett’s true-talent BABIP (as far as I can estimate) is probably around .325 or .330 since he made his adjustment (I have to regress him hard until we have more data). He is, frankly, unlikely to be as good as Senzel next year (who is a good defender and who the currently available projections have as a 110 wRC+ hitter). However, Senzel is also unlikely to be as good as Gennett was last year – barring some luck. So, here we are. Gennett should probably not be a starting player on the 2019 Reds. Yell at me in the comments if you want, I guess.

Okay, let me boil this all down: I don’t have to squint, really, to see this as a .500 team. I think Castillo, Mahle, Winker, Disco, Votto, and Schebler are likely to improve or to improve the team by playing more. I think there are no obvious candidates for regression beyond Gennett, and that can mostly be avoided by swapping him for Senzel.

I think – in short – that they are still a player or two away. Another pitcher would really, really, really make a difference, but only a top-30 or so pitcher.

Could this team, as currently constructed, make the playoffs? Sure. Young talent makes giant leaps fairly frequently. Is it likely to? No. But if the goal is to get to 85 wins and be in the wildcard hunt, they’re close.

112 Responses

  1. Kevin

    I like your optimism! First offseason where I am excited about Reds baseball in quite sometime. Enjoy your vacation.

  2. Shamrock

    Hey, as long as we’ve got Marge & Bowden runnin’ things and are still in the thick of it, I totally know Cincinnati won’t hesitate to swap for a few big pieces that’ll put us over the hump at or around the July trade deadline.

  3. scotly50

    Bench the Reds best player over the last two years?

    I think the Reds still need a big bat in the middle of the line-up, along with a top tier starter. Maybe Kemp will re-capture his glory days, who knows, and fill that void.

    I would include Winker in trade talks. He can hit and get on base, but very bad on the bases and in the field. Throw him in on Bauer or Kluber, or even Mudbum.

    • Jason Linden

      I’m sure Votto will play every day. No worries about benching the best player.

      • Bill

        He might get benched a few games. He probably should get a day off occasionally.

      • Michael Smith

        @jason Suarez thinks he is the second best.

      • Jason Linden

        @Micheal Last year he was. But two years? Still Votto. If Geno has a better year this year, we’ll pass the crown.

    • Jay

      I have this strange feeling the both Puig and Kemp if they are still here by the start of the season are going to just rake and power the Reds to some wins.

      I also predict the Reds will attempt to extend both Puig and Wood by before the end of 2019 season.

      Also If we can find a way to keep Gennett and have Senzel play Center Field I’m all for it. Our daily lineup would be sick.

      • Jay

        Oh unless the Reds go get a real Center Fielder in the Trade Market or as a Free Agent.

        Then I try to move Gennett if that happens first.

  4. DocProc

    Must add a Kluber or a Thor to seriously compete. But it’s good to know we might be only one ace away.
    And I sincerely hope Senzel and Gennett is a both/and, not an either/or.

    • Jason Linden

      I really… I just don’t think Scooter makes sense. He’s not likely to be the best player at any position on the field. And it’s his last year, so it doesn’t make sense to make room for him. I get why people want to keep him, but from a team perspective, I don’t think it makes sense.

  5. Tampa Red

    Aaaaand, there it is. The annual “Gennett is a candidate for regression” post. I mean, eventually y’all are gonna be right. That Gennett’s performance will eventually decline is, of course, inevitable. But betting on that to happen in his 29 year old, free agent season is, in my opinion, a bad bet.

    I’ve seen all of the statistical models that show Gennett is sure to decline in 2019. I don’t have anything against them in concept, but I wonder how come no one ever talks about how accurate those very same models were in predicting Gennett’s 2018 season?

    For that matter, how accurate were those models in predicting Votto’s 2018 season? IMO, an aging 36 year old 1B with limited mobility seems a far likelier candidate for regression than Scooter Gennett. I know that’s heresy around here, but anyone that watched Joey run the bases or field his position in 2018 should probably believe their own eyes.

    I don’t know man, I just am very convinced that the Reds are a better team with both Gennett and Senzel in the lineup on a regular basis. How that happens is up to David Bell. I have my own thoughts on that but he’s a smart guy with more information than I have. He’ll figure it out.

    Love your work Jason, particularly on the podcast. I just disagree with you on this. Happy New Year!

    • Bill

      I am not convinced he will have a huge regression, but also am not convinced Votto is more likely to regress. Votto’s skill set would be more likely to age well. Votto has that elite eye so even if he loses bat speed he will still get on base. With Scooter once the bat speed goes he is in trouble. His hitting philosophy is swing at everything he thinks he can hit. Votto only swings at the pitch he wants

      • Reaganspad

        I agree Bill. Scooter’s strike zone is mid ankle to the whites of his left eye with no discretion on the outside part of the plate.

        His zone is worse than Peraza’s with the one difference Peraza is showing signs of improving his strike zone

      • Tampa Red

        Fair points, but big league baseball is about the big 162. If you take the best month out of ANY players final season stats, we’ll they’re going to look a whole lot different.

    • Hotto4Votto

      Did I think Gennett would replicate his 2017 season last year? No. I was wrong. I can admit that. I don’t think I paid enough attention to his change in plate approach, with the launch angle aspect being relatively a new approach, I didn’t put as much stock into it as I should have.

      That said, several people on here gave me a lot of grief when I said Gennett would regress to the mean after a hot start, that his .390 BABIP in June was unsustainable. People couldn’t wrap their heads around how I couldn’t believe this was a new MVP level Gennett. I had said I expected his BABIP to drop, at least, to the .350’s. Turns out I was correct on that, even though it was a pretty easy call. But some people can’t handle that because as soon as someone gives a projection for regression the Gennett fanatics come out of the wood work to tell you how wrong you are. (Look at this thread for an example.)

      But, let’s be clear. When the majority of the talk of regression comes into play with trading/keeping Gennett, it’s not about 2017 to 2018 replication, nor is it regression to the mean during the year when something is clearly unsustainable. It’s largely about what Gennett’s going to do in his 30’s to mid-30’s. The reason it’s about that, is because that’s the crux of the conversation to trade him or extend him. Which is the entire reason this conversation started in the first place. So you can continue to come on here and talk about how everyone continues to be wrong about Gennett regressing, but the fact is we won’t know for a few more years. And it’s not about inevitably being right, because the projection for decline has always been post-prime Gennett, which correlates to post-Reds control of Gennett.

      • Tampa Red

        Ok but Jason was clearly talking about 2019, as was I. Of course he’s going to decline into his 30’s. You’re arguing over a claim that no one made.

        I’m most definitely not a “Gennett fanatic,” whatever that is. I’m a Reds fanatic who’s tired of 90+ loss seasons, who also think the 2019 Reds are a better team with both Gennett and Senzel on the roster and playing on a regular basis.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Yes, Jason’s comment above was directly a reference to Senzel vs. Gennett in 2019. But what do you think was meant by the Gennett not being a starting player in 2019 for the Reds? To me, it means that he’s traded to open up room for Senzel to play every day. Gennett doesn’t the defensive flexibility to be a utility player and is too good to use as a bench bat/PH only. That wouldn’t be a good allocation of resource, IMO. So, isn’t that what your comments about having both on the team in 2019 in reference to? A trade?

        And there have certainly been people on here who think Gennett’s going to continue to produce at similar levels after a 3-4 year extension. That may not be what you’re saying, but I’ve had those conversations on here, and they’ve been frustrating.

        We’re on the same team being Reds fanatics. It’s why we both post on this blog. I just felt like the past two days you made pretty generalized comments about people being wrong about Gennett regressing. I don’t think it’s as simple as people not predicting, what was to that point, a replication of an outlier season. Most of my conversations about Gennett and regression have come firmly planted in the trade/extend him discussions. In that scenario, which is the one play out on here over and over, I don’t think those calling for regression are wrong, and it’s not about inevitably being right, because the prediction has always been further down the line.

      • Tampa Red

        The board layout is a bit odd to me. This is a reply to Hotto, although it probably isn’t going to appear that way.

        Per usual, you make good points. I just have an honest disagreement with you and Jason. To me, it makes perfect sense to have both Gennett and Senzel on the roster in 2019. There is going to be room for both to get plenty of AB’s, and that makes the Reds a better team.

        Now, if you could guarantee me that none of the current projected regulars has to spend time on the DL, or miss a 5-6 games for a nagging injury, or goes into a prolonged slump, or needs a day off, or struggles against LHP’s, or gets hit in the hand by a 98 MPH fastball and has to miss a month, then sure, by all means trade Gennett for Gray or whatever rent-a-mediocre-pitcher is out there.

        But since it’s a stone cold lock that most if not all of the above scenarios will play out multiple times over the big 162, it makes no sense, TO ME, to trade one of your best hitters in a year when you’re trying to break the 90+ loss streak and become relevant again.

        And just to further clarify my position on Gennett, I don’t think any player in the entire organization is untouchable. Certainly not Gennett. I just haven’t seen a potential Gennett trade scenario that makes the Reds a better team in 2019.

        As for post 2019? Well I have my thoughts on that too. But since that wasn’t the topic of Jason’s post I’ll save those for another time.

      • Hotto4Votto

        That’s fair. Reasonable minds can disagree, and on the whole I find that you and I can have respectable conversations. I appreciate that. The Gennett situation has become polarizing around Reds blogs, reminds me of how the fan base was divided on Phillips a few years ago. So, there’s probably a little sensitivity around a lot of this conversation because both sides have been going back and forth for a while now. But, no I can’t guarantee that no one will hit the DL (no one can), and there is a lot of good sense in keeping both next season.

        So, I don’t disagree with the fact that the Reds would be better with both, at least on offense. I do think, at this particular juncture, that Senzel’s best path to regular playing time is in CF. I have no idea how he’ll be as a defender in CF, but I do believe he’d be a better defender at 2B. But it doesn’t make sense to move Gennett off 2B, so it is what it is at this point. (And yes he could be a super utility guy, I just have reservations about how well he’d do adjusting to new positions and facing ML pitching at the same time. I think it’s a tough ask for a rookie).

        For me, trading Gennett has always been about recouping value for a good player while he still has value. To me, it makes sense to pursue trade avenues because we have a viable, ready back up in Senzel and Gennett’s not controlled beyond this season. I don’t think we need to trade him, and I don’t think we should trade him for something that doesn’t bring back some value. I think Gray could be a solid mid-rotation pitcher and to me that’s value. But I could see why other’s would disagree with this particular scenario and have reason to think so.

        But enough about Gennett. If he’s on the team I’ll be rooting for him to continue to produce and will hope Senzel takes to CF like a fish to water.

      • Tampa Red

        Yeah man, definitely good discussing this with you. Sometimes that can be difficult in this format.

        Here’s what I want for the Reds in 2019: go for it. Make the team as good as you make it without mortgaging the future and just go for it. Play April, May, June and into July and see what happens. I don’t think anyone thought the Brewers would have the kind of 2018 season that they had, until they did.

        Trading Gennett for Gray doesn’t really help that cause. The Reds already have 2-3 Sonny Gray’s. Keeping Gennett at 2B for his FA year and using Senzel in a Zobrist/Happ role does. Yes, I agree it’s a lot to ask of a rookie, but Senzel isn’t a top-5 prospect in all of baseball for no good reason. I say challenge him, see what happens.

        Now if you’re talking trading Gennett as part of a package for a Kluber/Thor type pitcher, then by all means do that. Sign me up.

        The Reds have maneuvered themselves into a great position, with no long-term commitments to guys like Puig, Kemp and Gennett, who also happen to be good to very good players. It’s a nice little team with the potential to surprise. So once again, just go for it. Why not?

      • greenmtred

        I agree that having Scooter and Senzel in the lineup probably makes the Reds stronger in 2019. The issue is extending Scooter into years when he reasonably could be expected to regress. Another factor is where Senzel plays. If the Reds try him in the outfield and he succeeds there–centerfield, preferably–then Scooter isn’t blocking the team’s best prospect.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Tampa Red.

        I think you have summed up these offseason moves about as good as anyone that I have read.

        The Reds have put themselves in a position to compete in 2019. All the while, they have not given up much of the future that they can’t replenish after 2019 if some of these guys walk and then you get additional draft pick compensation. Or if bad performance, injuries or just bad luck shows your most likely not to complete come the trade deadline then trade a few players for so low level higher upside guys.

        Something that I don’t know but am curious about is this the plan the Reds front office came into this offseason or did it happen organically and they have found themselves in this place.

        If they have gone this far I don’t see how they can’t try to bring in that top of the rotation pitcher via free-agency.

      • PhP

        Agree with Tampa Red about it being more valuable to keep them both for 2019.

        Agree with Hotto4votto that I wouldn’t look to extend him beyond this year

        Sometimes you just have to let a player walk. Wish they could have moved him either after 2017 or deadline last year but they failed to do so. And if in July we’re still a last place team (which I don’t think we’ll be) we can move him and all our other players with expiring contracts.

    • Matt Hendley

      Thank you, tired of hearing the same scooter regression trype

      • Ghettotrout1

        I’m with the scooter lovers I don’t think an extension is a great idea from a team perspective simply because I feel like we have plenty of options but IMO if you are looking only at 2019 I for sure think scooter makes this team better being here than not.

    • Preach

      And if he is still on this team, how DON’T you start him and play him til he regresses?

      Even other teams thinks he is flukey, or he would have already been traded.

      For better or for worse: ride Scooter ride.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Good point Preach.
        If others aren’t going to give us what is going to be of at least equal value to what Scooter brings to the Reds.
        Then they should Ride the Scooter as long as they can.

    • Jay

      Could you imagine if he got even better.. I don’t know if it is possible but it would sure blow these anti Gennett people out of the water for sure.

  6. Bill

    I am not convinced he will have a huge regression, but also am not convinced Votto is more likely to regress. Votto’s skill set would be more likely to age well. Votto has that elite eye so even if he loses bat speed he will still get on base. With Scooter once the bat speed goes he is in trouble. His hitting philosophy is swing at everything he thinks he can hit. Votto only swings at the pitch he wants

    • ToBeDetermined

      Bill, you said ” but also am not convinced Votto is more likely to regress. Votto’s skill set would be more likely to age well. Votto has that elite eye so even if he loses bat speed he will still get on base.”

      That could very well be. If I was to compare Votto to anyone it would probably be Ted Williams. I haven’t looked at it but I wonder how Ted Williams regressed later in his career ?

      That could be a comparable basis for your argument.

      Maybe some could comment on Williams for me? thanks

      • greenmtred

        Without looking it up (heck, anyone can base a comment on facts), I recall the Splinter hitting very well as a late-career player. Maybe .388 one of those years? I probably should look it up.

      • greenmtred

        Bingo!! .388 in his age 38 season. His next to last year was bad–don’t recall whether injury was responsible–but he finished strongly as a 41-year-old. Still had some power, too.

  7. Jason Linden

    Just to clarify my thoughts on Scooter: I don’t think he’s gonna have a HUGE regression. I think he’ll probably do roughly what he did last year, except his BABIP will return to earth. That’d make him about a 3 WAR player. I think Senzel is almost certainly a 3-4 WAR player. In that circumstance, I’m playing Senzel.

    • Bill

      That is why I was for trading him last year. He might be a little better than Senzel this year, Gennett with the better offense and Senzel closing the gap some with defense. Going forward I think Senzel passes Gennett if he stays healthy.

      Now that the Reds appear to be going for it, trading Gennett doesn’t make much sense unless he is part of a package the brings back a #1 starter

    • greenmtred

      I’m excited to see Senzel playing for the Reds, and I certainly hope that our high expectations prove warrented, but I remind myself that he’s still a prospect, not a proven MLB player. He’d be far from the first to disappoint. We’re also making assumptions about Puig and Kemp that may not prove accurate. I’m pleased that the Reds are doing something in the off-season–something that doesn’t involve trading the farm system–and I’m excited to see the upcoming season with its potential to be other than the same old same old, but significant improvement is far from assured.

      • RedsinWashst

        He is the best prospect since Bruce. Defensive player of the year at 2nd and 3rd base in the entire minor leagues. Hit over 300 everywhere he has played. He is as close to can’t miss that the Reds have had in a while.

      • greenmtred

        Oh, I agree. He’s very likely to be very good, but it’s not a sure thing. He also might be very good, but not until 2020 or 2021.

      • jon

        The senzel is going to rake in the big leagues is way over optimistic.He’s been hurt more than not.I’m not ready to put him in CF and call him the reds savior. Not yet.

    • Andy

      Not fair to assume 3-4 war from Senzel year 1. Fangraphs projecting 1.3. The vertigo issue has kept him out last couple years. Scooter regressing to 3 this year makes sense, and Senzel will likely pass him in next 2-3 years, but my bet is it’s not this year. Platoon them until someone gets hurt, then keep Senzel in the lineup filling in wherever. Reds are trying to win this year, and Gennett makes them better.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Andy.

        Agreed, assuming a 3-4 war in year 1 from Senzel is definitely hoping. As a Chad Dodson likes to say. “Hope is not a strategy”.

        The jump for hitters from AAA to Major leagues is the biggest jump that there is.

        Additionally, I think that Senzel did not perform well at the beginning of each of his stops, before eventually taking over.

      • LWBlogger2

        I have Senzel at 500 PA and producing about 2 WAR

    • Ghettotrout1

      Jason in all due respect Senzel as much as you and most have been ready to crown him he hasn’t played a fully healthy season in the minors in the last two seasons right? Fluky or not the injuries happened and if you think he is going to play 162 in his first year up isn’t that naive. Also weren’t scooters mlb offensive numbers better than any single season of senzels milb Numbers? I’m not saying Senzel will flop I’m just saying let’s pump the brakes on this guy a little. I mean am I nuts here?

    • Keeper of the gate

      I am trying to understand how it is possible to compare Senzel to Gennett. Senzel hasn’t even played in the majors yet. Gennett has been in the majors several years now. Senzel has handled AAA pitching fairly well, but was injured the last two years and had vertigo issues. I have now watched Gennett have one decent year and one great year while playing most every game against Major league pitching. To me Senzel is unknown and all projection. Gennett is a known commodity. I am old school in a lot of ways, but trying to follow the new stat factors.

  8. Alex

    As the team currently stands I think they might have a chance at fourth place. 72-75 wins.

    • Colorado Red

      Yes, I agree.
      If we can pick up Dallas or Kluber, Then I think we are in the low to mid 80’s. We catch a break, maybe compete for a WC.
      (everything would have to go our way)

    • PhP

      I’ll start by saying I usually lean towards “too optimistic”. But I’m not sure when comparing our roster to anyone else’s in the division that you can say we’re significantly worse. I think our 1-8 is equal to everyone else’s. I think the bullpen is above average to very good. And now I think the rotation is only slightly below average to average.

      Why do you think they’ll only improve by 7-10 wins? Do you think they are that worse than the rest of the division in all areas or only starting pitching? I’m honestly surprised people think they are this bad still and am wondering where in the roster they could improve because I just don’t see it.

      • greenmtred

        Well, there’s the much-discussed question about centerfield, for one thing, and the related issue of outfield defense, which might be good enough and might not. Infield defense is an issue, as well. Puig and Kemp–one or both–could certainly prove to be helpful additions, but neither is without baggage and questions. There is no sure-thing starter, and the rotation will still depend, in part, on unproven young guys. Scooter’s shoulder, Schebler’s injury history, further trades and roster moves, etc. Still, I feel more hopeful than I have for a few years, if only because they’ve made significant moves.

  9. Michael Smith

    @Jason I was placing Suarez solidly in second behind Votto. Until proven otherwise he is my #1.

    In general its nice to be able to debate who should play when we actually have good players as options.

  10. Optimist

    I just got a twitter feed full of comment from the “leader” about what the cost of an “ace” is – I was thinking more like your “top 30”, and I think Doug was in the top 5 camp. This may be wish casting, but a top-30 SP is much more likely than a top 5. All that aside, is Keuchel the only FA this year in the top 30? Are we really looking at next year’s crop for the final piece needed for the playoffs, aside from a fluke this year? Sounds like it.

  11. Tom Diesman

    I believe the Reds are right about a .500 team as currently constructed, and about a mid eighty win team with the addition of a Kluber type arm to the rotation. I ran a similar exercise that posted in another thread, that I’ll include below, that was based on replacing Reds numbers from 18 with the numbers from the newly acquired players. It uses ERA and RA for pitchers and RC and RS for hitters, and then the Pythagrean formula to predict the difference it would have made in the Reds W-L record.

    ======

    I’ve been messing around with some numbers using the 2018 Reds numbers and replacing them with the 2018 numbers of the players we have acquired (Roark/Wood/Puig/Kemp). The Reds were 67-95 last season with 696 RS and 819 RA. Replacing Harvey/some of Romano/Bailey/Finnegan/Stephens SP innings with Roark/Wood nets the Reds with 59 less RA or about 6 Wins. Replacing Hamilton/Duval OF PA with Puig/Kemp nets the Reds with an additional 53 RS or about 5 wins. The result is 749 RS vs 760 RA or a Pythagorean projected record of 80-82.

    Just for kicks, since everyone is all hot on obtaining Kluber, I ran the numbers if we can get him for prospects only not affecting the MLB number. Replacing Harvey/Lorenzen/Reed/Mahle/Romano/Bailey/Finnegan/Stephens SP innings with Kluber/Roark/Wood nets the Reds with 99 less RA or about 10 Wins. The result is 749 RS vs 720 RA or a Pythagorean projected record of 84-78.

    I ran these to simply demonstrate how much these transactions can move the needle. We know there are many other factors at play that can and will affect these estimated win totals.

  12. Daytonian

    I like our pitching pickups and the addition of Puig and the substraction of BH from our everyday lineup. Kemp’s power, especially of the bendh, shoudl help–unless he is flipped for another payer (which I hope will happen, as the reds have a glut of corner outfielders).

    This makes the Reds markedly better than last year’s team.

    But even with the emergence of Senzel, this should only put the Reds in a 75-82 wins range. A great improvement, but not yet good enough.

    Room for more optimism? Let’s wait and see if the Reds add another major piece, especially a top starter.

  13. WVRedlegs

    At closing time with thick beer goggles on, the Reds are not a sexy 85 win team.
    You couldn’t have been more wrong this time last year when you proclaimed the Reds were an 85 win team.
    As currently constructed, 77 wins would be an achievement. The Reds are 1 key injury from being a 70 win team with such a weak bench and weak AAA talent.
    We can squint until the cows come hpme but 85 wins is unrealistic. The Reds front office picked a.bunch of low hanging fruit and have called that their heavy lifting for the off-season. They have essentially kicked the heavy lifting can down the road by 1 year as they will find themselves in a bigger roster crisis this time next year. As far as I can tell, the Reds front office has used band aids to cover up a gaping wound.

    • greenmtred

      Maybe a non-sexy 85 win team? Guesses about win totals for the upcoming season are fun, but things happen–injuries, outlier performances–so, I agree, the Reds might be better, but play-off contention is a stretch. Almost everything would have to go right.

  14. CFD3000

    There’s no doubt in my mind that the Reds should win more games than they lose in 2019. There’s no position where they will be noticeably worse than 2018, and several where they are likely to be better (Votto, Winker, and the addition of Senzel). But with just two changes they should be at least 14 games better. First, swap out the worst pitcher in the league (Bailey) for a much better pitcher – take your pick, Wood or Roark. If the Reds are a .500 team in those 20 starts, that’s an easy pickup of 9 wins (10-10 vs. 1-19). Next, swap,the worst hitter in the league (Hamilton) for an above average hitter (Puig, Kemp, and/or Senzel). That’s got to be good for at least 3 or 4 wins. And both of those are in my opinion at least a little and maybe a lot conservative. But those two changes alone account for at least 12 or 13 more wins. Add in a better year from a healthy Votto and Winker, and the addition of Wood or Roark and two of Puig, Kemp and Senzel and that’s clearly a winning team. It’s not just WAR and ERA, it’s literally replacing the worst pitcher and hitter with above average new players. Add just a little luck and this is a wildcard contender. Add an ace and the division is in reach. Worst to first? It’s not that far from possible…

    • Jay

      Excitement can help a team win. Players work harder and do their best more often when surrounded by a winning attitude. Will it get you in the playoffs…?? Doubtful. but it sure can motivate a team and have them maybe win 2 to 5 more games that a team that is struggling to produce will give ya.

      For the first time in probably 5 years that is electricity in the air both by the fans and even some of the current players are very excited to do their best. No to mention we don’t have the ho hum attitude of Price anymore that should win us at least 3 games right there.

      Don’t underestimate the importance of coming to work happy and excited to be on this team. It will help I promise.

    • PhP

      Finally another optimist. I agree 100% they should at least be an 82-85 win team. I think people are undervaluing how many more wins they’ll get just by replacing Bailey and Romano with Roark and Wood. Should easily be a 10-12 win improvement just on that alone, not even considering the improvement in the outfield.

  15. Gary

    I believe we need another front of the rotation starter. Give up Trammell, Kemp (with about 11.0 mil), and throw in Ramano to Cleveland.
    Have Puig mostly in center or Schebler and have Senzel when he comes up rotate around the infield and outfield giving guys a day off during the week. We will of course have guys hitting the dl during the year so Senzel will obtain plenty of games started. In essence we will have the equivalent of nine starting position players.

    • Matthew

      Cleveland won’t take Kemp (he is owed around $21MM this coming season). The only reason Cleveland was ever thinking about trading Kluber or Bauer was to shed payroll. Taking Kemp for any reason would not make sense.

  16. JB WV

    I like what the FO has done so far, but would hate to see them trade any of the top 5 prospects at this point. Even though last year was a disappointment in regards to the young starting arms, I have confidence in Castillo and Mahle to make great strides this year. Castillo has ace stuff, and Mahle is a thinking man’s pitcher with more juice than Mike Leake had when he began. If the Reds don’t add another pitcher I’m cool with that. If they do without giving up a Senzel, Trammel, Greene, India, I’m cool with that, as long as they get an impact starter. Love Scooter but his defense needs to be replaced especially if Puig is going to man center- that’s a weak middle defense. A trade I’d love to see is Barnhart and another piece moved for Realamalto (spelling?). Then you have a lineup that can compete with anyone, weakest bat being Peraza who is turning out to be not weak at all. Castillo, Wood, Roarke, Disco, Mahle. Realamalto, Votto, Senzel, Suarez, Peraza, Winker, Puig, Schebler, Kemp gets moved for a ham sandwich and 21mil off the books. Dig it.

    • Colorado Red

      The fish still looking for a top prospect to get Realmuto.
      Everyone is waiting for them to drop there price.
      Astros, Rox, Reds, Etc.
      Add him, and Sign Dallas, and we can make a run.

  17. Steve Schoenbaechler

    “IF that happens, the Reds will have improved by 10 games, and their pitching rotation will be above average.”

    So, if that happens, they go to 77 wins. 81 is 500. Close enough for horseshoes, if you ask me.

    In order, what the Reds need to “just contend” (not seriously, just content) for the division title:

    – one more top-tier starting pitcher, along the lines of Kluber, Dallas, etc.

    I really don’t see anything else to be considered a contender. I believe we have good enough players where defense in CF will be serviceable (most anyone we get for CF will never be able to replace Hamilton’s defense. But, Hamilton’s offense, we could probably call up the AAA or even AA CF for the job). The offense will definitely be better.

    However, after that, I would like to see the Reds:

    – improve the farm system – scouting, development, instruction, etc.
    – determine who to extend/trade/let go

  18. old-school

    People are forgetting there was and is no plan to make the Reds a 95 win championship team in 2019.
    Adding Kluber by trading away long prospect capital-a package centered around Senzel and 2 other top 10 prospects plus an OF-and then overcommitting 5 years and $100 million to Keuchel is not a path I want. You don’t go all in now and blow up 2020+

    They’ve done a nice job improving 2019 and generating legitimate enthusiasm and and hope for the short AND long term. Ill buy a ticket and a hot dog and go watch Puig in RF and Suarez at hit and Alex Wood pitch and Luis Castillo pitch and Winker get on base and Lorenzen flex his repertoire and Garrett vs Rizzo, and Iglesias and of course Joey Votto. They aren’t starting 3-18 this year. There’s no starter making 25 million who will go 1-14 in 2019. They might hit a June tailwind like last year and be 3-5 games over at the All Star break. Who knows?

    Furthermore , the Reds are in a situation not seen in a long time. Payroll flexibility , a top farm system and zero contract albatrosses. The Cubs owe Jason Heyward $105 million and Yu Darvish $100 million. The aging Cardinals are desperate with a window rapidly closing of players not controlled much longer and haven’t made the playoffs in 3 seasons. The Pirates aren’t that good. The Brewers are good but their SP is a few injuries away from being meh. I also heard their pitching coach left.

  19. JB WV

    One thing being ignored considering improvement is positive momentum during the year. Losing compounds losing, and the same is true for winning. Those statistical wins could multiply into 10 more real wins, putting the Reds near the top of the playoff race. You can’t tell me that guys don’t get more excited to go to the ballpark when they’re winning, riding that wave. New, eager, smart young management should be factored in, as opposed to the ho hum, old school Riggleman approach.

    • Hotto4Votto

      I don’t think anyone has forgot #positivemomentum

    • ToBeDetermined

      I don’t know what HotoVotto is talking about.

      I think you make an excellent point JBWV. These new ways of measuring an individuals players worth and how much that player should be paid are obviously very valuable.

      However, just taking all the Players WAR and adding them all up and saying this is how many wins a team is going to have doesn’t appear particularly useful. (Maybe I’m wrong)

      Take for example Hal King, in 1973 played in 35 games and had 49 ABs his WAR was 1.0. However, I would argue that it was King and his sub 200 battering average and 4 home runs that were the most valuable.

      Per Wikipedia on Hal King:
      On July 1, 1973, while the Reds trailed their National League Western Division rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers by 11 games in the standings, King hit a ninth inning, pinch-hit, walk-off home run against Don Sutton. King’s home run was cited by Reds’ manager Sparky Anderson, as a turning point in the season. Starting with the win on King’s home run, the Reds gained momentum and went on to post a 60–26 record for the remainder of the season to overtake the Dodgers and win the division championship. King hit three pinch-hit home runs to either tie or win games for the Reds that season.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Just a joking reference to a statement made by the Reds FO about keeping the positive momentum going during last season. Maybe it was too soon.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Hotto4Votto

        Oh, OK. I forgot about that.
        Your a humorous guy. I laughed at something else you said earlier.

      • greenmtred

        He’s probably referring to the sport we all had with the Reds invoking the phrase during their one bright stretch last year. I thought there actually was positive momentum then, but it evidently will only carry you so far in the absence of sufficient talent.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Green
        ” I thought there actually was positive momentum then, but it evidently will only carry you so far in the absence of sufficient talent.”

        don’t feel bad. With this many losing seasons. It’s like we are walking in the desert — thirsty, hot, uncomfortable. Then we see a palm tree and a pool of water. We get excited. But, then we find it to be a mirage.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Jay, thanks I just read what you wrote.
        We’re on the same page

  20. scottya

    I’ve been evaluating things from the projections side of things as well as the past season results = era for pitching and wrc+ for offense. 750 to 785 runs scored and 720-730 runs given up. That is 83 wins to 88 wins. This is from a projected 4.19 staff era (tweaking the fangraphs/marcels data) and 99 to 104 WRC+ (fangraphs/marcels/last year results).

    Fangraphs projects an overall staff era of 4.31, with 337 starter innings pitched (29%) by Lorenzen, Reed, Mahle, Romano, Stephenson, Sims, Mella and Lopez. Also with a projected ERA as a starter for those(will be lower if/when they are projected as bullpen pitchers). Last years team had 23% from starters 6-10. I’m figuring on 20% as this is not a rebuild/sorting season. This number is a educated guess and will be based on injuries this year.

    1. Wood 3.72 (3.45+3.99)
    2. Castillo 3.99 (3.97+4.01)
    3. Desclafani 4.33 (4.35+4.31)
    4. Reed 4.35 (4.35+4.35)
    5. Roark 4.36 (4.56+4.15)
    Rest of starter innings Mahle, Lorenzen, etc 4.62 at 20%

    This yields a 4.24 era for starter innings.

    Bullpen:
    I used fangraph’s 4.17 projection and subtracted Peralta, Finnegan, Reyes and others and come up with a 4.12 bullpen era. Last year the bullpen era was 4.14.

    Using 59% starter innings and 41% bullpen innings that will yield a 4.19 era. Phillies had a 4.15 era last year and gave up 728 runs. The Rockies gave up 745 runs with a 4.33 era last year.

    Fangraphs WRC+ projection for 19?/ 18′ production. 72.4% of Plate appearances used.
    1.Winker – LF WRC+ 120/128
    2. Puig – RF WRC+ 125/123 (strange how hitters fangraphs WRC+ projections don’t increase at GABP and pitchers go up + *.30 in era.)
    3. Votto – 1b 136/131
    4. Suarez – 3B 117/135
    5. Gennett – 2B 96/125
    6. Senzel – 2b 110/AAA
    7. Barnhart – C 86/89
    8. Peraza – SS 92/97

    Bench: 22% of PA’s at an equal weighting used
    Schebler WRC+ 99/109
    Kemp WRC+ 106/122
    Farmer WRC+ 79/76
    Blandino WRC+ 82/70
    Phil Ervin WRC+ 87/94
    Connor Joe WRC+ 82/AAA

    Pitchers where 7.6% of plate appearances last year and resulted in a net -1.50 to overall WRC+
    That yields a 98.6 WRC+ current fangraphs projection and last year’s actual performance results yields a 104.1WRC+, this is what happens when you remove Billy Hamilton, Adam, Duvall, Brandon Dixon etc. from last years offense and replace them with Puig, Kemp, Senzel + more of Winker, Schebler, Suarez. 104.1!!!!

    That’s a projected 750 runs to 785 runs scored range.

    This team is right on the cusp of wild card contention. We must add one more top end starter.

    My Reds Christmas wish list:
    1. Yasmani Grandal for 4 years 60 million, Mets, Angels, others have moved on and it’s the Reds, White sox and dodgers per rumors at this moment.
    2. Sign Dallas Keuchal 5 yrs 90 million (15 mill in 19?)
    3. Trade Tucker Barnhart + prospects for Odubel Herrera (103 wrc+) – CF
    4. Trade Scooter Gennett for Sonny Gray + 6 million cash back to the Reds. Use Roark or Desclafani and Gray as #5 starter 2-3 innings each.
    5. Sign Derek Dietrich (102 wrc+) to backup Nick Senzel at 2B and Votto at 1B.

    And this is a 89 to 94 win team in 19′

    • Tom Mitsoff

      I like number one in particular, because it would make Barnhart expendable in package to Cleveland for three years of Kluber. Barnhart, Schebler and Iglesias would each fill a major need for the Indians. I would not trade all three, but I would make these offers:

      1) three years of Kluber for three years of Barnhart and three years of Iglesias
      2) three years of Kluber and a relief pitcher with major league experience for three years of Barnhart, four years of Schebler, Cleveland’s choice of Robert Stephenson or Sal Romano, and a prospect other than Senzel, Trammell, Greene or India

      Being able to include Barnhart makes it possible to get Kluber without having to give up one of the top-tier prospects, I suspect.

      • scottya

        Getting Kluber would be huge. I’m figuring the Indians are looking for a huge return, we’ll see. I agree a trade built around Iglesias and Barnhart would be the right move. I’d trade Iglesias, Barnhart and India for Kluber.

      • LWBlogger2

        I just don’t see Cleveland moving him without getting back one of Trammell, Green, India, or Senzel. It’s a strong offer and I think they listen, but I don’t think it gets it done.

        The Reds would need to find someone to take Iglesias’ innings. I’m hoping that he’s used in more multi-inning and high-leverage situations than he was last year. I liked that he was involved in more multi-inning saves but I mean more appearances that aren’t save situations at all; or aren’t 3-run save situations or him getting put in just because a save situation has presented itself.

    • LWBlogger2

      Did a ton of good research work it would seem. Would love to see how plausible the moves you have in your Christmas wish list would be. Not sure I’m with you on all of them but they do make sense. The drawback is that some moves are dependent on prior moves working. It’s a nice hypothetical though.

  21. Brian

    I understand that war and analytics go a long way to help projecting, but teams overachieve all the time. There’s no reason why Castillo can’t reach his Carlos Martinez type potential, votto turn back to 2015-2017 votto, we get 500 abs from Winker and senzel, puig has a career year (which playing 81 games in GABP in a contract year seems likely), Suarez continues to show steady growth, wood and roark go back to 2017 form, and the new pitching coach gets the most out of all our young guys. Heck, David bell might coach us into a few wins. My point is, however unlikely this all is, I find it semi ridiculous how many people seem to know what our win total is going to be right now. Baseball is unpredictable, the numbers help us try, but nobody saw scooter becoming a 4 war player all of a sudden, or the A’s winning 97 games last year with their ace being Edwin Jackson. Until I see otherwise… we’re winning 95 games this year :).

    Also, you guys are sleeping on kemp. I think if we play him mostly at home and/or against lefties for 300 ABs, he’ll be incredibly valuable. Arguably the most valuable bench bat in the NL. That’s not nothing.

    • Old-school

      So what you are saying is the Reds could be 3 over at Memorial day and hit a June tailwind and the second half becomes a smaller sample size and be buyers at the deadline. I think the next move should be a shut down lefty in the bullpen.

      • Brian

        Exactly!!
        Or maybe that becomes Amir garret. He looked great till June, and crazier things have happened than a former top prospect who dominated the minors before failing as a starter becoming a shutdown reliever. My point is when you improve your floor anything is possible. There were too many games last year with Hamilton, a struggling Barnhart, Duvall, mason williams, Pennington, and gosselyn. It’s hard to catch fire if you have 4-5 easy outs in your lineup. Also, it’s hard to go on a winning streak if you’re starting bailey, rinnegano, and romano 60 percent of your starts. We’ve already added 6 people to the 25. That’s about 25% a new roster. Essentially we’ve raised our floor to where now we’re finally capable of going on a few 6-7 game win streaks over the course of the year. That was never gonna happen the last 3 years with our pitching even under the best of circumstance.

        If you play .500 ball all year except for 2 different 6-game win streaks, then you’re a 94 win team.

  22. redsfan06

    Love your enthusiasm, Brian, but your math needs a little work. (2) 6-game win streaks = 12. 162-12=150. Playing .500 ball for 150 games = 75 wins + 12 – 87. That total seems more like the ceiling for this team with somewhere around 77 wins being the floor. Of course, the FO has promised there is more to come, so those figures could be rising further.

    • Brian

      Hahaha you’re totally right. Who needs math when you have enthusiasm amirite? I took an 81-81 team and just added 12-13 wins to the total. I guess it doesn’t work like that. My point remains the same though. We’ve upgraded our roster big time already, the youngins will hopefully improve, and we’ve brought in bell. Idk if he’ll end up being great, but playing with price and rifleman is like running against other runners with ankle weights. Now that we took off the weights, let’s see how fast we really are.

      Also, it may be irrelevant but david bell hit a walk off double at the safeco field against the A’s in the 12th inning in the first week in safeco history back in 99. That may not mean much to you guys but it happened to be the first baseball game I ever went to. I was 6. I consider my favorite team hiring the player that hit a walk-off double in my first game I ever saw a good omen.

      • Brian

        Also, weird to know that iPhone autocorrects riggleman to rifleman

  23. RedDawg2012

    After reading about how high the asking price seems to be for Kluber (in prospects) and Kuechel ($), I almost think the best option might be to sign a lower level FA starter (Miley, Gonzalez, etc.) and focus on upgrading CF this offseason through a trade with the Braves for Ender Inciarte. He would be a huge help to the outfield defense. Inciarte has been the reason Billy wasn’t winning Gold Gloves in CF. And he’s a much better hitter. He’s also cheap and has 4 years of team control.

    This would also give Derek Johnson a season to see what he can do with the likes of Stephenson, Reed, Romano, Finnegan, etc. Then once you know what you really have next offseason, spend an exorbitant amount of money (or prospects) on a free agent starting pitcher if necessary.

    • Matt Hendley

      Not the worst idea…..on this thread, but what would be the cost for him and whay would the braves part with him

    • Big Ed

      With a very good centerfield prospect at every level, and with 4 left-handed hitters already in their lineup, why on earth would the Reds trade for Inciarte?

      Great defensive CF, but bad fit here.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Big Ed

        Agreed. I want to see a significantly better bat in CF.
        Since GABP is so small I don’t think they need a gold glover out their.

        Then again maybe I’ll be crying come June.

      • TR

        GABP is among the smaller ML parks but in actuality there are five other stadiums with less fair territory outfield space: Boston, Wrigley Field, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Houston. The trades with the Nats and Dodgers plus the new manager and coaches have caused a lot of optimism for 2019, which is good, but I’m not convinced yet without having an ace starting pitcher to lead the renewal of the Reds out of last place in the NLC.

      • ToBeDetermined

        TR
        Agreed. In order to truly complete for a playoff spot. The Reds need to have an Ace. [The NL Central has been and continues to be a very competitive division.] The true Ace most likely will NOT come from Roark nor Wood. They are veterans who should be valuable. But, I wouldn’t expect more from them than the back of their baseball card show.

        Maybe the Ace comes from one of the Younger Guys on the staff. But, I should wouldn’t want to count on that.

        What gives me hope that they can get the Ace pitcher is apparently they still have $ to spend. And if they can’t entice an (the) Ace they want then they still may go the trade route. (But, I’d rather buy one rather than have to trade for one).

  24. Jacob Bingham

    If your optimism rings true and the players can get this team to a .500 record, what do you think the coaching additions can do?

    Coaching changes are not quantifiable but Derek Johnson led an extremely average rotation to within a game of the World Series.

    Do you think the coaching changes can add some additional wins to your .500 record optimism?

  25. scottya

    And Robbie Ray’s name finally appears. He’ll do just fine in the #1 spot for the Reds. List of top end starters that are available/ ranked by my preference and my wild guess as to what it’d take.

    1. Robbie Ray – 1 top 100 prospect, 1 near top 100 + 1 top 15 reds? (j india, S. Long, V. Gutierrez)
    2. Dallas Keuchal
    3. Trevor Bauer – 1 top 100 prospect, 1 near top 100 + 1 top 15 reds??
    4. Marcus Stroman 1 top 100 prospect, 1 top 10 reds + 1 other??
    5. Rich Hill – 1 mlb player and 1 top 15 (Tucker and V. Gutierrez)
    6. Sonny Gray – Scooter + cash back or 1 top 15 reds + 1 other??
    7. Rich Hill
    ??
    CF’s that would fit well:
    1. Kike Hernadez
    2. Odubel Herrera
    3. Ender Enciarte
    4. Kevin Kiermier

    PS, Reds FO please go ahead and sign Yasmani Grandal. 3.5ish war over 500 pa’s for 15 million AV!! And a career 117 WRC+ as a catcher.

    • Jay

      Wasn’t Grandal drafted by the Reds or I am wrong on that. I wonder if that would help him come home. It’s funny you mentioned this in your message cause I was just wondering to myself would the Reds take a shot at him?

      • ToBeDetermined

        Yes, 1st round 2010.
        Doubt it would make much of a difference in bringing him here since the Reds traded him before

  26. RedFuture

    I have to focus on the pitching staff and how it will be constituted barring more moves. I know FO has said that there is more to come, but at the same time I hate to give up on the young guys we have. At least one of them will blossom next year but can’t predict whom it will be. The Reds already have 5 young pitchers that are fresh out of options and have to remain on the roster or be made available to all: Stephenson, Reed, Garrett, Wisler and Bowman. Adding another starter from outside the organization will make that tough to accomplish. Here is how the pitching staff stacks up now:
    SP: Wood, Roark, Castillo, Desclafani & Lorenzen
    RP: Iglesias, Hughes, Hernandez, Garrett, Reed, Stephenson, Wisler and Bowman

    Pitchers with options:
    AAA: SP: Mahle, Romano, Sims, Mella, Lopez
    AAA: RP: Herget, Stephens, Peralta, Reyes

    Note that I have Lorenzen as the 5th starter for 3 reasons: 1) I believe in him as an SP. 2) Mahle has options. 3) More opportunities for Michael to PH.

    This roster still exposes Finnegan to loss while we all hope that he regains the promise that he had before injuring his shoulders. A lot of people have given up on Stephenson (and Reed to a lesser extent), I just can’t see letting them go easily. A lot of MLB pitchers with their type of talent have blossomed at similar points in their careers.

    So my take-away is that if the Reds do make another trade for a pitcher, they will package one or more of these out-of-options pitchers. That being said the acquiring team will have to contend with the same limited roster space, therefore spring training will have to shake out first before anything happens.

    • gusnwally

      Redfuture, I agree with a lot of what you say. I want to keep our young pitchers also. I think DJ will get the best of Mahle and Romano. Tyler a SP and Big Sal a solid RP. Here’s hoping I am right.

      • Reaganspad

        Mahle should start at AAA as he needs another pitch, Hard to create at the show. Send him down to refine, there will be rotation spots for him next year to fill

    • BK

      Per Roster Resource Bowman and Reed have options remaining.

  27. jreis

    I See 2019 as a kind of “break” from the rebuild. like a fan appreciation year from the owners. it will be entertaining. we will score a lot of runs and our pitching at least for one year will be decent. Although interestingly this could be a historically bad year from a defensive and base running perspective.

    2020 I think will be the start of a great stretch finally for our reds. we are going to be young, fast ,athletic and I Think an excellent defensive team. I like an outfield of Siri, Trammel, and Friedl and an infield of India, Senzel, Suarez and Greene or Peraza at short, with the national leagues best bench of Votto, Gennet and Winker.

    just happy after 5 years of misery to FINALLY have something to look foreward to!

    • Reaganspad

      Votto will not be coming off the bench in 2020 to do anything other that start every inning

  28. Matthew

    One very simple but also overlooked question is this. Does anybody think that the Reds are going to have another 3-18 start to the season two years in a row?

    • Matt Hendley

      Would be surprised if that lightning struck twice.