Defense. They say it’s a pitchers best friend. And sometimes that is true. Though sometimes it really isn’t. Daren Willman, one of the data architects at MLBAM has released another fun tool over at Baseball Savant. Monday saw the unveiling of Outs Above Average for infielders when a specific pitcher was on the mound. This would be more useful if we could also get a look at how the pitchers benefited with regards to outfielders, too – but for some reason that data isn’t available. Still, some data is better than no data.

The top two pitchers in baseball that had the biggest boost thanks to their defense were both St. Louis Cardinals. Dakota Hudson, amazingly, sits atop at +16 OAA. In second place is teammate Miles Mikolas at just +8, which puts into perspective just how much help Hudson got.

When it comes to the Cincinnati Reds pitchers, some were helped out a bit more than others. Sonny Gray was actually one of the most beneficial pitchers from his infield defense in all of baseball. He’s tied at +6 OAA with three other pitchers, tied for 8th best in baseball. In the rotation it was only Luis Castillo who saw a positive relationship from the infield defense, coming in at +2. Several members of the bullpen saw plenty of help, too, though. Amir Garrett came in at +3, while Robert Stephenson was at +2, and several others were at +1.

On the flip side of things, two guys were a bit unlucky when it came to the infield defense. Tyler Mahle was at -2 for the season. Trevor Bauer was at a -5 on the entire season, but in his time with the Reds he was at -3.

Here’s how the Reds pitchers for 2020 saw the infield defense help them, or hurt them, in the 2019 season.

Pitcher OOA
Sonny Gray 6
Pedro Strop* 4
Amir Garrett 3
Luis Castillo 2
Robert Stephenson 2
Michael Lorenzen 1
Lucas Sims 1
Sal Romano 1
Matt Bowman 1
R.J. Alaniz 1
Anthony DeSclafani 0
Joel Kuhnel 0
Raisel Iglesias 0
Tyler Mahle -2
Trevor Bauer* -5

Near the top of the list is a rather interesting one: Pedro Strop. He didn’t pitch for the Reds last season. Strop was with the Cubs and even as a reliever, he saw a lot of benefit from his infield defense despite significantly fewer opportunities than a starting pitcher would get. Now, Strop is a big ground ball guy, like Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo, so that does give him a few extra opportunities than your typical reliever would get – but there’s a big number there for him. It will be interesting to see how that number changes, if it does, moving from Chicago to Cincinnati.

The Reds infield in 2020 is going to be quite a bit different than it was in 2019. Freddy Galvis is taking over at shortstop from Jose Iglesias, though both were among the best at the position last season. Second base is going to be Mike Moustakas instead of the 5-headed monster of Jose Peraza, Derek Dietrich, Freddy Galvis, Kyle Farmer, and Scooter Gennett – all of whom saw at least 140 innings at the position. The corners of Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez look to remain the same.

24 Responses

  1. Hotto4Votto

    Off topic: Does the Dodgers trade for Betts, and the subsequent trade of Pederson make it more or less likely that they’ll try and trade Seager for a Reds OF?

    Here’s my thoughts. The Dodgers traded two of their top 4 OF’ers yesterday and got one back. Betts is only controlled one year (like Pederson) but lost 5 years of control of Verdugo. The Dodgers also have flexibility with some of their OF as Bellinger can slide to 1B, and Taylor and Hernandez can play multiple spots. Pollock is always going to carry injury concerns at this point.

    Do they now target a guy like Winker or Senzel as a headliner in a trade for Seager? They could slide Lux in at SS and also upgrade the OF. They’d also cut salary which may be a concern after bringing in both Betts and Price.

    I don’t think all the moves make it probable there’s a trade, but may make it more likely that there could be one.

    • Scott C

      I am not sure that it makes it more probable or less probable. I could see them wanting Senzel to play OF but not Winker. Although Winker could possibly slide into 1B. Both being at league minimum would lower their salary output. But then again in Seager is still a relatively cheap option for them and would still be their best option at short if they are going all out for a Series title.

    • CI3J

      Something else I thought of: If the Red Sox are really throwing in the towel and looking to retool, might they be willing to part with Xander Bogaerts? Maybe Senzel, India, and another piece would get that deal done given what it took to get Mookie.

      I have to think there’s a SS deal to be made for the Reds out there SOMEWHERE.

      • Colorado Red

        Might work out. Look at baseball trade values look it was close.
        Might have to add Aquino to even it out.
        Good idea.

      • gusnwally

        Xander isnt going anywhere. you can forget that.

  2. Justin

    Agreed. And if salary is driving it, we may not need to include Senzel. They may want Winker headlining a deal to replace Pederson at a fraction of the price with way more control.

    • Tom

      Man, I struggle to see Winker as an every day OF in Dodger Stadium but maybe they’d still want him.

  3. Bdh

    Dodgers going for it all this season and idk if they’ll be as good as expected.

    Their lineup is stacked but they are gambling now on health and age not hurting them. Turner is getting up there in age so it wouldn’t shock me to see him regress and Pollock’s health is going to be an issue since they just traded two starting outfielders to land Mookie.

    On paper I think their pitching is worse than it was last year. They added Nelson, Wood, and Price but lost Ryu, Maeda, Hill, and what looks like Stripling.

    Then after this season they’ll lose Mookie, Turner, Hernandez, and a few others while also going into contract years with Seager, Kershaw, Janson to name a few. Makes perfect sense for them to swing for the fences this year because they might take a step back after this year and the padres and diamondbacks will be right there with them.

    • Hanawi

      They still have a top 5 farm system with multiple high-end guys ready or close to ready (May, Gonsolin, Gray, Lux, etc.). They’ve basically rebuilt a huge chunk of their roster without trading any of the their top MLB or minor league guys. Testament to the depth of their team.

      They could also just re-sign Betts since they have the money to do so.

    • David

      I think that is right. Going for it all, so I doubt that they want to trade their starting SS, Cory Seager. They probably have a personnel plan post – season, and they could sign some of the guys that are turning free agent after this season. They have the money.

  4. B-town fan

    Doug, I just happened to flip the TV channel to MLB last night and saw the Betts trade. Ken Rosenthal mentioned that the Dodgers hadn’t given up any of their top prospects like “Gavin Lux and Jeter Downs” in the trade. Those are the only two that he mentioned, it kind of surprised me. I guess my question, is Jeter Downs really that good of a prospect? I know that the Reds essentially traded Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray and Trammel for Bauer and Framer, so I don’t want to get into that part of it. But is Downs really that highly rated of a prospect? The Dodgers farm system is considered to be stacked. Did he improve that much since he left the Reds.

    • B-town fan

      Sorry meant to put that post on the Minor Leagues site. But still pertains.

    • Hanawi

      He is a power hitting shortstop with speed. Seems to be a consensus top 100 prospect. Outplayed India at the same levels even though he is younger.

  5. David

    Getting back on topic, I wonder what the Reds’ infield will look like come July 1?

    I have a feeling that Moustakas will not be a 2nd base all year, and may slide over to 1st if Joey continues to regress and does not have much offensive output.

    Senzel or Van Meter (or a platoon of both) could end up being at 2nd base. We also don’t know how fast Senzel will actually heal and be ready. It might be May before he is ready to play full time.

    Stephenson (the younger) could also appear at Catcher, should he do well at AAA ball.
    We also don’t know how long Eugenio will be out with his shoulder. May be sooner, may be later.
    If Galvis does not hit, will the Reds look elsewhere for another SS? Iglesias had a career year last year hitting, even though his output was not that remarkable, a lot of his hitting was very timely and productive.

    • Sliotar

      Lindor for Senzel + at trade deadline.

      IMO, made the most sense over the winter, makes the most sense now…likely will make a lot more sense in July, when the full capabilities of the NL Death Star (Dodgers) is unleashed in the Spring.

      If the goal still is to win the World Series, as Dick Williams stated during this winter.

      Besides, if the Reds are contending in 2021, who is playing SS then? A year older Galvis? Yikes.

      Lindor covers that scenario.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        Galvis will be a free agent after this season, barring an extension. The 2021 shortstop may not currently be on the roster or in the organization.

  6. AirborneJayJay

    Whoa. Big Sal Romano DFA’d to make room for Strop. A little bit of a surprise. How does Schebler still get a pass? IDK.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      He has a 30-home run season in his past, and four remaining years of team control. Some potential trade value if he shows he is healthy in spring training.

  7. Hanawi

    Reds must really think his shoulder wasn’t close to healthy last year.

  8. DaveCT

    Wherever Romano ends up, I hope it is the AL where the dude does not have to hit.

    As a Romano fan over the years, I cannot say he didn’t have his opportunities. His AA breakout was impressive. JJ Cooper used to call his sinker any variety of heavy metal, so perhaps he can still harness it. I have often wondered if this guy’s sheer size hindered him. He’s just a massive fellow.

    Fun fact: Romano is not only from the same town in CT as Dibble but also Carl Pavano and Chris Denorfia (now manager of the Rox AA team in Hartford. Southington, CT is a great baseball town, and softball by the way, too.

    Good luck, Sal. Keep plugging away.

  9. DaveCT

    Yankees just lost Paxton to back surgery for 3-4 months. Wonder if they’ll make a run at Mahle or Sims?

  10. Steve Schoenbaechler

    At least based on how I understand all of this, I can’t quite accept OAA at face value.

    For instance, a pitcher can be known to keep a hitter off-balance. Sometimes, off-balance so much that the “hot line drive” you were hoping to get from the hitter, where you would need a good infield to field it, ends up being a weakly hit ball to 2nd or SS, no problem to field and throw for the out.

    A pitcher like this could have one of the worst defenses in the league, that would be fine. He wouldn’t need the best, just an infield good enough to field that weakly hit grounders.

    Or, a pitcher who gives up a lot of line drives, it very possibly wouldn’t make that much of a difference if he had a good defense or not, those line drives are going to find space at some point in time.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      I recall some of the Reds teams when Phillips was here. We were known to have a great defense back then. How good of a team were we?

      Then, I remember the Cards one year winning the WS with one of the worst defenses in the league. Why? They had one of the best pitching staffs in the league, a staff who could keep the other hitters off balance masterfully.

      I’d rather have good pitching than good defense.