The Reds outfielders have a combined 79 wRC+ in 2014. That is dead last in all of baseball this season.
It gets even worse. The Reds outfield also has a .650 OPS. That is the 22nd worst of any MLB OF since 1914 (last year data is available). The 1968 Chicago White Sox outfield holds the record with a .598 OPS. Also an interesting note, the 2014 Seattle Mariners outfield actually has the 18th worst OPS at .645.
And it gets even worse. The 2014 Cincinnati Reds outfield has the worst OPS in team history since 1914, and it’s not even close.
That is just the tip of the iceberg too. The Reds outfield’s AVG (.235), OBP (.290), and SLG (.359) in 2014 are all the worst in team history.
So what exactly has gone so wrong for the Reds outfield? In 2013, the Reds outfield had a 116 wRC+ (5th in the MLB) and .779 OPS (5th in the MLB). That is despite the Reds left-fielders posting an 86 wRC+ (26th in the MLB) and .674 OPS (25th in the MLB).
For starters, the Reds lost Shin-Soo Choo, and his second best in the MLB .423 OBP. Choo hit 285/.423/.462, and his 151 wRC+ was the fourth highest among all MLB outfielders.
The Reds have had an extremely disappointing season from Jay Bruce (.216/.286/.370, 80 wRC+). Bruce posted a 118 wRC+ in 2013. The knee injury Bruce suffered early in the season certainly has had an impact on his 2014 season.
Billy Hamilton has had a pretty good season by most measures. Hamilton has posted a 3.3 WAR, mostly due to his exceptional defense in CF. Hamilton’s bat however has been below average. Hamilton is hitting .259/.296/.366 with an 83 wRC+. This is not to say Hamilton’s 2014 season has been a failure, because he has actually been the Reds third most valuable position player using WAR. The overall offensive production just isn’t there yet, especially out of a leadoff hitter.
Left-field has once against been an absolute disaster for the Reds. The Reds LF spot has a combined 78 wRC+, which is dead last in the MLB. The most surprising thing about that number is the guy who has played the most in LF for the Reds, Ryan Ludwick, actually hasn’t been all that bad. Ludwick has posted a just below average 94 wRC+. Ludwick has made 84 starts in LF this season (Heisey has 30, Schumaker has 26).
Then there is the bench. Chris Heisey hasn’t been too terrible offensively, posting an 84 wRC+ (better than Bruce and Hamilton). Heisey’s 9 Defensive Runs Saved have helped him post a respectable 1.4 WAR. What has really sunk the Reds outfield offensive numbers has been Skip Schumaker. Skip has made 46 starts in the outfield (also 15 more at 2B), and has been very bad. Schumaker has a 66 wRC+, and has hit .235/.287/.308. Schumaker’s 66 wRC+ is the sixth worst of any OF in the MLB with 250+ PA.
Overall, it has been a pretty painful year for the Reds. The lack of offensive production from the Reds outfield is certainly a good place to start looking for reasons why.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference’s Play Index and Fangraphs (include games played through 9/12/14). For more information on the wRC+ statistic, visit Fangraphs website.