Hi kids, it’s been a heckuva season. Or something. I suppose, given the timing, I could squeeze one or maybe two more columns out of this year, but there’s not much left to say. So after this, I’m calling it for the season. Today, I thought it would be fun to look forward and see what’s ahead for our beloved Redlegs.
The Reds ran into a lot of problems this year, but the biggest one was OBP. Maybe you’re one of the handful who don’t think it’s a problem, but, well, it is. The Reds need to get on base. Let’s look at the 2014 and Career OBPs for the Reds’ anticipated starters next year:
Devin Mesoraco .365/.316
Joey Votto .390/.417
Brandon Phillips .301/.319
Zack Cozart .272/.283
Todd Frazier .338/.325
Billy Hamilton .298/.303
Jay Bruce .284/.324
When looking at these numbers, it’s important to remember that we aren’t in 1998 anymore. League average OBP among non-Pitchers was .319 this year. Going down the line, we have to believe and hope that Mesoraco repeats this season next year and that Votto is on the field a lot more than he was. Bruce also needs to bounce back. If those three things happen, a lot of the problem gets solved there.
Frazier and Cozart likely are who they are. In one instance that’s good. In the other, not so much.
That leaves Phillips, Hamilton, and the gaping hole that is left field. I know everyone wanted BP to bounce back from a rough 2013, but it hasn’t happened. His game has declined for four years straight now. I don’t think he’s coming back. He’s 34 next year and he plays second. Count on a continued fade.
Hamilton is an enigma. He needs to boost his OBP if he wants to be a viable leadoff option. For now, his defense merits a starting spot, but he needs to work hard on skills that will endure when his speed starts to go. We have to hope he improves with experience.
And then there’s left. The Reds, we know, aren’t going to break the bank this year, but they have to find someone to give them quality play in left. It’s the one open spot and one of the places where they need a serious improvement. They have to find someone who can get on base regularly and plug them in. If they do that, and other guys stay healthy, then it could be better next year.