Welcome to the first edition of Three Up, Three Down, a new weekly column here at Redleg Nation that will detail which Reds are hot, and which Reds are not. Each week we’ll review the previous week’s’ worth of games, and highlight the three best and the three worst player performances.

We’ve only got one game in the books so far in the 2017 season, but we have quite a bit of Spring Training games to work with. So, who’s up, and who’s down?

Three Up:

Amir Garrett warming up before the game

1. Rookie Davis and Amir Garrett

So, my first entry in this series, and I’m already breaking the rules. But Davis and Garrett are in the same boat – unexpectedly (especially in Rookie’s case) making the Opening Day rotation. This has to be a huge boost to the morale for these two young pitching prospects, and is likely a huge disappointment for two other young pitching prospects. And yes, you’ve guess it, we’ll get to those two later.

Both Davis and Garrett earned their way into the starting rotation. It’s a move I question whether the previous front office was capable of making, and a relatively forward-thinking approach to building a starting staff. It shows us that the Reds aren’t focused on winning games in 2017 – and depending who you ask, that might be fine – but it also shows the team is focused on winning games in 2018 and beyond. They’re throwing spaghetti at the wall. Let’s hope it sticks.

2) Jose Peraza

Okay, so maybe Jose Peraza won’t get on base at a .400 clip, but the kid can hit the baseball, that’s for sure. Would I like to see more walks? Sure. Do I think his high batting average can be maintained? Probably not. Would I be surprised if BOTH of those things happened? I don’t think I would be.

Peraza is in a key spot in the Reds lineup, a two-hole in which the Reds have really struggled to get premium production in the past few years. In actuality, Joey Votto is probably best suited for this spot, but if Peraza can continue to hit, he might be pretty dang good in between Votto and Billy Hamilton.

3) Scooter Gennett

A nice story here, for sure. Hometown kid comes home, cracks a home run in his first at bat of the spring wearing the uniform of his favorite childhood baseball team. Dat Dude SG struck again in his second AB in the first game of the season, putting a ball in the seats to opposite field in an effort to get the club back in the game. He only succeeded in making the 3-4 loss look a little better in the papers than a 1-4 loss, but at this point, I’ll take it.

I don’t expect Scooter to bring a ton of value to the Reds in 2017. He should, however, provide a pretty good left handed bat off the bench and a semi-reliable glove at second base, two factors that might see him get in the game a little earlier than a standard defensive replacement or pinch hitter might be, as was the case on Opening Day.


Three down

1. Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson

Don’t let his parading around town in the back of a pickup truck fool you – Robert Stephenson is no longer the Reds top prospect. Not only was he not made a starter on the Opening Day roster, but he was relegated to the bullpen, a spot in which GM Dick Williams has said will give Stephenson the potential to prove he can get through a major league lineup one time, rather than trying to prove he can do it three times. It seems clear that Williams doesn’t think Stephenson currently has the skill to make it in the majors as a starter, but sees the potential and isn’t quite ready to give up on the young righty. Moving Stephenson to the bullpen for now is a strategy I personally agree with, and one we’ve seen the St. Louis Cardinals perfect over the years.

2) Scott Feldman

Man, that was tough to watch. Scott Feldman’s opening day start was far from dominant, giving up 3 runs on 7 hits and two walks before basically being booed off the field. It wasn’t all bad, and there were times in the game Feldman looked competent, but man, there’s nothing to get you on the wrong side of the Reds fanbase like giving up two homers on Opening Day.

3) Joey Votto

Votto was 0-4 on the day. He’s awful.

I kid, of course.

Who’s on your Three Up, Three Down list? Leave a comment below, or tweet at me either at @JordanBarhorst or @redlegnation. We’d love to hear from you throughout the week to help build next week’s Three Up, Three Down. But don’t let the cynicism get to you just yet. Because baseball is back, and it’s a beautiful thing.

31 Responses

  1. bhrubin1

    So, a stand-up triple, a sac-fly that plated the only run that Gennett didn’t, a bad luck line drive, a pretty good bunt (again bad luck), and typical stellar defense qualifies BHam to be listed as one of the 3 worst performances on the team? What does he have to do to impress you?

  2. Jordan Barhorst

    Oh, I completely agree. With only one game in the books, you could probably make the argument for any player to be on either of these lists. Spring Training stats don’t matter much to me, whether they be positive or negative. Guys go out there to work on specific parts of their game, pitchers included. Just makes for a much different game, so the stats don’t really compute.

    You can definitely see who’s looking comfortable and who isn’t, however, and I agree, Duvall looks like he could potentially turn the corner from his horrible second half last year. Still not sold on Duvall as a cog in the machine, but the jury is still out, and I’m absolutely willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, mostly due to his defense.

    Billy Hamilton will be okay. Spring stats, yada yada, etc. He looks so much more comfortable at the plate, and I think that triple was probably a triple for quite a few players in the lineup. He stung that thing into the gap with a pretty good swing. Don’t sleep on Billy.

  3. PDunc

    I really don’t like Peraza hitting #2 behind Hamilton. I wouldn’t argue with Peraza leading off but I think Peraza’s lack of patience at the plate negates somewhat Billy’s ability to steal bases.
    According to fangraphs the average lead off hitter had a 273/339/424 slash line. In his time in Cincinnati last year, Peraza’s 281/333/375 isn’t far off that.

    • Jordan Barhorst

      Billy’s OBP woes have, for the better part of a year now, been overstated. He had a .321 OBP last season, which is almost exactly average according to Fangraphs. Obviously you want more than ‘average’ in the leadoff spot, but who else on this Reds team not named Joey Votto or Tucker Barnhart has proven they can sustain an above average on-base percentage?

      Just for fun, the sabermetric lineup, in my opinion, probably looks something like this:

      CF Billy Hamilton
      1B Joey Votto
      LF Adam Duvall
      3B Eugenio Suarez
      RF Scott Schebler
      C Tucker Barnhart
      SS Zack Cozart
      Pitcher’s Spot
      2B Jose Peraza

      You can flip flop Peraza/Hamilton between the 1 and 9 spots depending on who’s having the better stretch.

      • VaRedsFan

        Billy’s OBP by month:
        Apr. .283
        May .294
        Jun. .319
        Jul. .290
        Aug. .360
        Sept .545 (3 games)

        Obviously, trended in the right direction, after reportedly working with Votto.

  4. PDunc

    An interesting note from looking at the boxscore.

    The Reds had 37 plate appearances and saw 117 pitches, for 3.16 pitches per PA. The Phillies had 40 plate appearances and saw 172 pitches, for 4.3 pitches per PA.

    Whether this is a result of Feldman not throwing many strikes, or the Reds lineup not being patient (probably a little of both) I thought it was an interesting comparison.

  5. Ethan L

    One of my downs would be Schebler’s mishandling of the ball hit to him in right. If he knocks that down, he could prevent the fourth run from scoring. Thus, Scooter’s homer would have tied things. That to me is a glaring mistake.

    • VaRedsFan

      I honestly think he should have caught it…no run scores…even Bruce made that type of play numerous times, and Bruce was not good.

  6. citizen54

    If you go off stats, Davis and Garrett haven’t performed well above AA. I’m not sure what the rush was to promote them to starters. We already have a starting staff filled with back of the rotation guys. We need to see if Stephenson and Reed can reach their potential as front end guys, not to see if Davis and Garrett can fill the back end of a rotation. And it seems somewhat short-sighted to deem Stephenson a bullpen arm after a handful of starts. If you are correct that Price views Stephenson as bullpen piece, it is because Price is trying to win as many games as possible now in order to save his job, not to help the team in the long run.

    • citizen54

      Then why not send him down to the AAA so he can work on his command? Better for his development than working one inning every couple of days.

      • Jordan Barhorst

        Command against AAA pitchers is different than command against big leaguers. Robert needs to learn to not only hit the zone with consistency, but has to also be able to place the ball in places big league hitters either can’t reach, or are likely to swing and miss. Can’t learn how to do that in Louisville.

      • citizen54

        I’m not sure if he is ever going to pan out to be anything but how is throwing 15-20 live pitches every three to four days in the big leagues better for his development than throwing 100 pitches in AAA, especially when you know in Price’s mind there a lot of better options as relievers ahead of him? He’s just going to rot at the end of the bullpen. And If he can’t throw strikes in AAA then how is he going to learn command in the big leagues?

      • citizen54

        He is definitely flawed right now but that doesn’t mean he can’t get any better. And who is to say more time at AAA won’t aid in his development? Some pitchers take time to develop. We aren’t planning on winning this year and it’s not like he would be blocking another phenom’s development by going back to AAA. My fear is he goes to the pen is successful and stays there forever.

      • citizen54

        Ya since his stuff is so good, if I am the GM, I am giving as much time as it takes. I’m not ready to wrote him off as a failed starter after 8 starts in the big leagues.

      • citizen54

        You might have just caught him on a bad day. Last year Brooks Baseball had him at 94 and this year he’s at 95.6 although I’m not sure if the higher velocity this year is just due to the move to Statcast. If so, then knock a mile off his fastball.

    • VaRedsFan

      Why do Davis and Amir have to fill the back end of the rotation? RS and CR had a chance to earn their rightful spot this spring, and did not cash in on their opportunity. There will be plenty of innings for them to throw with Arroyo and Feldman soaking up starts.

      • citizen54

        If you are going by their performances in spring then Reed and Stephenson should be in the rotation ahead of Garrett and and Davis. Reed had one bad start which skewed his stats. Unfortunately, for him it was the his most recent one. Stephenson also had a good spring aside from his first start.

  7. VaRedsFan

    Cossack…Billy did have a pair of 2 hit games in his last couple of spring games, and drove a run along with his triple yesterday

  8. kmartin

    Pete Rose had 60+ RBIs eight times. Pete was not a power hitter in terms of home runs but he was a doubles machine. I am shocked by how few doubles Billy Hamilton hits.

    • Carl Sayre

      That is why this slow start in the spring bothers me about Hamilton! He was hitting doubles last year but he was hitting line shots even if they were just out of the infield! I had hoped that what I saw last year before the injury shut him down was him maturing enough to level his swing out instead of that big old looping hole that was a pop out waiting to happen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • kmartin

        In 2015 and 2016 Hamilton was in the lower echelon of hitters in terms of average exit velocity. He seems to hit very few line drives into the gap.

    • Jordan Barhorst

      RBI is such an imperfect statistic. Pete Rose was on one of the best teams in the history of baseball. Billy Hamilton is on one of the worst teams in today’s game. Their RBI numbers can’t be compared.

      • VaRedsFan

        Finally a voice of reason. People are trying to turn Billy into a gap-hitting slugger. Just 2 short years ago the same people were crying that he didn’t hit the ball on the ground enough. He has improved his avg/obb the last 2 years, isn’t that what we wanted? Until Rickey Henderson comes walking through our door, this is what we have.

  9. Brian Rutherford

    Long time lurker here and I love the idea of this new weekly column. Great conversation and debate. I honestly get most of my information from you guys as I don’t get to watch many games these days. I love to see the youngsters get their chance to pitch. The organization needs to get evaluations on all of these guys as they progress into the next winning club. Thanks for all of the great content.

    • Jordan Barhorst

      Hey Brian, thanks for the comment! Hopefully we’ll turn you from a long time lurker into a full time commenter 🙂

  10. sandman

    I was just a little worried about Feldman being a bust. I know it’s just one start but it wasn’t a good one. Frankly, I don’t know why Reds fans booed him off the field, they had to know that he was just gonna be a temporary fix for the rotation. After all, didn’t the Reds only give him a 1-yr contract? So if he busts it wouldn’t be that detrimental to the club. Were the fans expecting another Strailey? Hard to strike gold twice in a row sometimes. This appears to be one of those times. Instead, me may have found fool’s gold twice in a row (think A. Simon). All I’m saying is that Feldman is obviously not a part of this team’s future so we shouldn’t expect much from him. Yes, it would be nice if he does well so as not to thrust another kid into the rotation before he’s possibly ready (I guess). But his performance should be expected.

    • Jordan Barhorst

      I think the booing fans were probably more upset that this guy is who they chose to start Opening Day. Remember, not everyone reads news on the Reds daily, weekly, or even at all. So to show up at the park on Opening Day, expecting your best pitcher to take the mound, and getting THAT – I can see why there were boos. I definitely don’t condone it, but I can understand the thought process.

      • sandman

        Jordan, you raise a good point. Although, I have to question the strength of the loyalty of those fans who don’t keep up to date with the Reds. I suppose it could be that some are probably too busy with their business and/or personal life that they simply can’t keep up to date on their Reds. But I would have to believe that those Reds fans who can’t or don’t keep up to date with the Reds are a small minority. I’d be willing to say that a vast majority of those in attendance knew everything they needed to know about the club before that game.

      • Jordan Barhorst

        While I’d usually agree with you, Opening Day in Cincinnati is a different beast entirely. The stadium was packed – how many of those people were there because their company had tickets to the game? I personally know four people I can think of, all four at different companies, who had no real interest in going to the game.

        And yet I, someone who really wanted to go to the game, was priced out and forced to watch the game at Holy Grail 🙂