Welcome to Wild Speculation about the Future of the Baseball Men of Cincinnati.

Today, in my infinite wisdom, I have decide to predict and discuss what I think is the most likely starting lineup for the Reds on Opening Day in 2018 and after the All-Star break that year. Let’s take a look and then, later in the comments, you can tell me how terrible I am.

Opening Day:

  1. Billy Hamilton, CF
  2. Jesse Winker, LF
  3. Joey Votto, 1B
  4. Scott Schebler, RF
  5. Eugenio Suarez, 3B
  6. Dilson Herrera, 2B
  7. Jose Peraza, SS
  8. Tucker Barnhart, C
  9. Anthony DeSclafani, P

There isn’t much controversial here, but a few things might raise an eyebrow. I’m betting on Jesse Winker and predicting that Schebler beats out Adam Duvall for playing time in the long term. It’s become a running joke both here and on Twitter) that I seem to have it out for Duvall, but I don’t. Really, I hope he proves me wrong, but I haven’t seen anything in his numbers to make me think he’ll avoid serious regression and most of the analysis to the contrary seems to arbitrarily decide that his decrease in power in the 2nd half was temporary while his increase in walk rate was deliberate and permanent. This is sketchy reasoning (go look at how differently he was pitched in the 2nd half). The Reds need OBP and I think Winker can provide it.

At the bottom of the order, I’m betting against players with injury issues. I’d like to slot Homer Bailey as the pitcher, but the certainty of Tommy John recovery isn’t what many think it is. The truth is that most pitchers who get it never return to form and many never return to truly regular playing time. And as for catcher, I have to assume Devin Mesoraco is done until he proves otherwise.

Post All-Star Break:

  1. Billy Hamilton, CF
  2. Jesse Winker, LF
  3. Joey Votto, 1B
  4. Nick Senzel, 3B
  5. Eugenio Suarez, RF
  6. Dilson Herrera, 2B
  7. Jose Peraza, SS
  8. Chris Okey, C
  9. Amir Garrett, SP

Now this is a little gutsier. Allow me to explain my reasoning:

Senzel, I assume, will be held back briefly at the beginning of 2018 for service time issues. Thought, if the Reds are ready to compete, they may put him in the lineup sooner. But once he comes up, they have to find somewhere for Suarez to play. And I do think Suarez will have to play because he’ll be one of the most well-rounded offensive players the Reds have. I think the most likely scenario involves some sort of odd rotation with various outfielders and infielders wherein Schebler loses the most playing time, though still playing with some regularity. There’s also a good chance Peraza or Herrera play poorly enough to get benched.

I think, simply, that Amir Garrett is the best shot the Reds have at a true number 1 starter and I think this will be clear by the All-Star Break next year.

I’m probably being a little ridiculous at catcher, but if Mesoraco can’t help, it’s hard to imagine the Reds making do with Barnhart for too much longer, so I can at least imagine Okey (who was drafted out of college, so is somewhat advanced) getting a shot by then. But really, in this instance his name represents the uncertainty at catcher, which is a position I can see being in a state of flux for several years still.

26 Responses

  1. cfd3000

    This is one of the great off season pleasures of baseball Jason – wild but entertaining speculation. I’ll go ahead and bite. I am not sold on Duvall either and hope that he has a hot streak at some point and the Reds “sell high” on him. But I am optimistic about Schebler. I’m predicting that by the break in 2018 either Peraza or Herrara has in fact struggled mightily and loses a spot to Suarez. So put Schebler back in right, slide Suarez to second and move Herrera to the bench. As for the catcher on that team? I predict Okey will be on the DL with a minor injury and the back up catcher will be keeping his spot warm. You remember Corky Miller, right? If the 3-9 spots on the field are set (Votto, Suarez, Peraza, Senzel, Winker, Hamilton, Schebler) then that will be a solid lineup no matter who is catching.

  2. Jordan Barhorst

    I believe you’re thinking this prospective lineup is for 2017. It’s for 2018. Phillips and Cozart, unless the craziest transactions in modern Reds baseball happens, will be off the books.

  3. ScottyA

    I can see Peraza struggling. He has to bat over 300 to be productive enough to be a regular I believe. He may be able to do it, but that is expecting a lot from a guy who hasn’t done that the last 2 years in the minors.

    It’s wait and see on Duvall, Is his defense as good as the metrics suggest? If so, he’s a 2.5 to 4 win player in left. If Winker comes on there is only one spot between He, Duvall and Schebler, I’m happy with Duvall and Schebler’s athleticism, power and production thus far. Duvall could be the odd man out based on his age and “projections” of decline.

    I say we keep Duvall either way and use him as a utility man (RF, LF 3B, 1B) if he loses the job to Winker. Way more productive than Peraza as a utility player I believe.

    I can’t see Suarez in right field, maybe second, but I think that Herrera will take the 2b job and do well. So we have a trade chip or two for sure after 2017. 2017 winter meetings will be interesting.

    Others to consider: 1. Shed Long and Aristides Aquino possible arrivals.

    2018 – Opening Day
    1. Billy Hamilton – CF
    2. Scott Schebler – RF
    3. Joey Votto – 1B
    4. Adam Duvall – LF
    5. Nick Senzel – 3B
    6. Dilson Herrera – 2B
    7. Tucker Barnhart – C
    8. Zack Vincej – SS
    9. Amir Garrett – #1

    We have traded Eugenio, Winker and Peraza for an unnamed #2 starter with 3 to 4 years of control.

    2018 – Post All Star Break
    1. Billy Hamilton – CF
    2. Scott Schebler – RF
    3. Joey Votto – 1B
    4. Adam Duvall – LF – Aristides Aquino takes over in 2019
    5. Nick Senzel – 3B
    6. Dilson Herrera – 2B
    7. Chris Okey – C
    8. Zack Vincej – SS
    9. Amir Garrett – #1

    • ScottyA

      I think this lineup would be close to 20 war, so our pitching must be close to 20 war to be top 10 team (playoff type team).

    • scottya

      He is very young and has time for improvement. It will be interesting to see how his defense is in a full season at SS, although it looks like he won’t get a chance to show it till mid late season with Cozart at SS. The negative defensive war at short (very small sample size) concerns me as does his eye at the plate and lack of pop.

      If he can be a 2+ war player that is good enough, I’m just not sure he can.

  4. Yippee

    This is pretty reasonable, and if it played out like that, the Reds would be in pretty good shape. A couple of questions:

    1 – What is the progression of Chad Wallach so far? Does he have a chance at all of becoming an everyday player at the MLB level?

    2 – Could Duvall’s 2nd half slump be due to the rigors of playing a full MLB season for the first time? Maybe just running out of steam by the 2nd half?

    • Jason Linden

      The minor league season is nearly as long as the major league season and considerably more grueling (fewer days off, bus trips). He’s been doing that for several years. If he ran out of steam last year, it’s reasonable to assume he always will.

      The more likely explanation, I think, is that he was pitched MUCH differently. In short, pitchers stopped throwing him strikes.

      • ohiojimw

        Except that 2016 was Duvall’s 1st season playing OF which does take more out of the legs than 3B or 1B. This doesn’t mean he can or will be able condition himself to bear up any better in 2017, just that it is reasonable to allow that fatigue may have been an issue in 2016.

        Also seem’s to me you’ve put yourself a bit into a corner because in the main post you doubted that Duvall would continue to take walks yet here you stated his power dipped because they quit throwing him strikes. So, if they quit throwing him strikes in the 2nd half of 2016 and he took walks, why wouldn’t he take walks in 2017 if pitched the same?

        Age is clearly on Winker’s side in a two headed comparison with Duvall. However over the next 3 years or so I suspect the production difference between the two is likely to come down to whether a team wants a generally equal OPS based mainly on OBP versus based mainly on slugging %. That can vary based on a given team’s overall talent pool.

      • Jason Linden

        Oh no, not at all. Sorry if I was unclear. I think Duvall was pitched differently (fewer strikes) adjusted some (walked more), but still swung too much with the end result being a power decrease that was not compensated for by the slightly increased OBP.

      • ohiojimw

        In the so called “2nd half” of 2016 (post ASB) Duvall homered at a 25 per season rate and doubled at 27 per season rate. He also seemed to have a snakebittten .274 BABIP for the same period. Thus, his OBP was .306 depsite the spike in his BB rate. If he catches a bit of a break on BABIP to push his OBP up to .320 or so and continues to hit with even his “2nd half” power, his output will not be something to be easily dismissed or replaced.

      • Jason Linden

        Lot of “ifs” in your analysis there. Duvall hasn’t tended toward an especially high BABIP ever, even in the minors.

      • ohiojimw

        The 25HR/27DBL seasonal rate for Duvall is from the second half only. No carry over from his start. In the 2nd half he, got his BB rate to just better than “average” on the Fangraphs scale and nudged his K rate under 25% (still FG “poor”).

        I agree that the missing data on his BABIP is whether he was hitting into tough luck versus rolling over grounders and popping out a lot.

  5. PDunc

    1.Billy Hamilton, CF
    2.Jesse Winker, LF
    3.Joey Votto, 1B
    4.Nick Senzel, 3B
    5.Scott Schebler, RF
    6.Dilson Herrera, 2B
    7.Jose Peraza, SS
    8.Tucker Barnhart – C
    9. SP

    Bench/Util: Duvall (1B, 3B, LF, RF)
    Bench/Util: Suarez (3B, SS, 2B)
    Bench/Util: ????? (LF, RF, CF) I believe a backup CF will be important to save wear-n-tear on Hamilton and keep him healthy for a whole season.
    Bench/C: ?????? Agree that the catcher position is a real question mark going forward.

  6. sandman

    Really not sure about our offense with the likes of Hamilton, Winker, Schebler & Barnhart/Okey. Hamilton, at best, is a .260 hitter. That’s not bad but it’s not exactly lighting the world on fire either. As for the others: I just haven’t seen enough of them to know what they’re truly capable of. More specifically, Winker, Schebler & Okey. Barnhart looks like he could be around a .260-ish hitter as well. Now, that being said, I very well admit that Winker & Schebler could prove me wrong and light the world on fire. Still not sure what Okey can do. Also, our offense still does have Votto & a couple of others that could seemingly get a lot of hits…namely Suarez & Peraza. I think Peraza could hit over .300 consistently while Suarez could be a consistent .280-ish hitter. Herrera I’m on the fence about. On the one hand he seems like he’d be capable of hitting .280 to maybe even .300 or better but on the other hand I just haven’t seen enough of him either. Now, these are just my initial gut feelings and I could very well be wrong. But, as of now, I’m kinda afraid that any good teams we have in the future with this current group are going to be dominant pitching, good defense but little offense. I see a lot of potential W’s but low scoring, small victory margins which is gonna keep a lot of Reds fans sitting on the edge of their seats while pulling their hair out and biting their nails. That’s not fun to do on a daily basis even if we win a majority of our games. Now, I realize that a win is a win is a win, I just don’t wanna bite my nails EVERY, or even a majority, of the games. But, again, I hope that offense proves we wrong and rakes. I see the potential of that lineup to possibly score a lot of runs.

  7. wizeman

    wildcards might be Aquino and TJ Freidl

    • 2020WorldSeriesChamps

      Agreed. Depending on how quickly these two develop and progress through the system, it could make the Duvall vs. Schebler argument irrelevant

  8. big5ed

    This shocked me, but the Reds actually had a higher OPS (and SLG) than the Cubs after the All-Star game last year.

    And ESPN (for what it’s worth) just rated the Reds as the 6th best minor league system.

    With some luck on the mound, or maybe a lot of luck on the mound, this team may compete sooner than most think.

    • ohiojimw

      In August they were at 11-7 for the month thru the 20th then closed out at 2-8. More of the same in Sept. 7-5 thru the 13th, then 5-11 to the end of the month.

      Streakiness like that often point right at a lack of pitching consistency.

  9. 2020WorldSeriesChamps

    A couple comments: 1) I think the front office is going to take longer than us here at RedlegNation are hoping to bring Senzel up to the big league. I think he will be a September call-up in 2018 at the earliest. 2) I think Amir Garrett will be the Opening Day starter in 2018. I fully expect him to be as advertised once he gets to the show, and I think Disco might be a trade candidate sooner rather than later to land a big time, young RF.

  10. Broseph

    Only question I have for the 2018 post-break lineup is why not Suarez in left and Winker in right so they’re throwing from the line side?

    Besides Price being reluctant to try anything new and Suarez not even being considered for OF, I think the easier move for him is LF, a la Duvall, and Winker in RF.

    I generally think infielders that move to outfield play the same side of second base. Again, Suarez to OF might be a 5% chance, but just my opinion on where he should go.

  11. Tom Mitsoff

    Interesting that the players the Reds are outrighting are now being claimed (Jenkins – San Diego; Selsky – Boston; Graterol – half the world). It may say something about the depth of talent now on the 40-man roster.

  12. Gaffer

    So, the Reds thought it might be good to sign a pitcher and flip him in July. They looked at the Cubs and saw they got Arrieta for Scott Feldman a few years ago. So, they sign . . . Scott Feldman!

  13. James Abernathy

    2018 can’t get here soon enough. What kind of draft pick do you think the Reds will get after 2017?

  14. Playtowin

    “The Dodgers find a second baseman: Los Angeles’ monthslong search for help at the keystone finally ended with the addition of Logan Forsythe, whom they acquired from the Rays on Monday. The Dodgers gave up high-end pitching prospect Jose De Leon in a one-for-one swap, which came after they attempted to send the right-hander to the Twins for Brian Dozier.” Brandon Phillips remains a Red…unwanted by anyone.