Since I announced that it was gonna be time for me to step back from Redleg Nation, I’ve been thinking about how to leave things. Nobody wants to blow the series finale, afterall. Eventually, I decided to frame it around an admission, which isn’t really an admission:
I don’t know anything.
All of the analysis I’ve ever done on this site has been written with that in mind. Sometimes, my diction was probably more forceful than it should have been, but I was really writing about what seemed to me the most likely to happen (or what maybe could happen, depending on the goal of piece). And how I determined that is pretty simple. Numbers. Yes the advanced numbers. Or advanced-ish. And relying on those numbers meant I was right (Suarez, Duvall, Scooter, Phillips) more often than I was wrong (Votto this year, Scooter last year, Peraza maybe).
But I’ve also always had some general rules of thumb that go basically like this:
- Make sure I know what “average” is because it changes every year.
- Don’t take numbers seriously until 200 PA have happened. (I’m looking at all of you who want to sign every player with a hot start and bench every player with a cold start.)
- Don’t take numbers entirely seriously until you have about 400 PAs (sample size matters so much)
- A full season of PAs should be taken with a grain of salt if it is substantially different from what the player has done in the past.
- Young players often get better. Old players always get worse (eventually).
- Young players are 26 and under. Old players are 33 and over. From 27-32 assume what you see is what you get (unless it varies wildly from past performance).
- There’s lots of stuff we don’t know.
- Relief pitchers should never be trusted.
So with all that said, here’s what I imagine for the guys who will be on the Reds next year:
Eugenio Suarez will keep doing what he’s been doing, but the power might drop if MLB messes with the ball again. He’s the best current candidate on the team for a crazy good year.
Jesse Winker will hit righties very well. Phillip Ervin will hit lefties very well.
Joey Votto will be an above average hitter still. Yes, he’s declining. But except from the time from the start of the season until May 24 this year, he’s been a very good hitter, just not prime-Votto.
Aristides Aquino will hit well, but not as well as a Winker-Ervin platoon. If I were to guess, I’d say a wRC+ of 120 or so.
Nick Senzel will take a big step forward.
Tucker Barnhart will hit like he has throughout his career and his defense will continue to be good now that he’s been shown how to frame pitches.
Freddy Galvis will hit some homers, but otherwise be an unimpressive hitter.
Derek Dietrich will hit better than Freddy Galvis, but he still can’t play short.
Josh VanMeter, if he gets enough playing time, will be about a league-average hitter.
If the Reds want to compete, they need to add 4-6 position player WAR from OUTSIDE the organization. That means whatever talent they acquire has to be that much better than the talent it replaces.
Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray will be about as good as they were this year.
Trevor Bauer will be better, but he won’t be like he was in 2018.
Tyler Mahle will be much better than many people think he is as part of his effort to be even more underappreciated than Mike Leake was.
Anthony DeSclafani will be somewhere between fine and good.
No one knows what the bullpen will be like even if they add pitchers and anyone who tells you they do know what it will be like is lying or misinformed.
If the Reds go out and spend the money they have and make the trades they can make (yes, they will have to give up their top prospects), then they can absolutely compete for the Central next year. It’s important to remember that the Reds had a much better run differential than would normally be the case for a team with their record. They’ve underperformed. Probably thanks to bad luck. It’ll probably get better next year.
It’s been great talking baseball here for the last ten years. Everybody make sure to tease Doug plenty for me. Bye, all.