As Reds fans, we have our blinders on a little bit. We’re following this team every single day, game to game, inning to inning, pitch to pitch, and it’s pretty easy to get lost in the weeds. Occasionally, it’s good to take a step and try to see the bigger picture.

I mean, we all know the Reds are 20 games under .500 and 13 games out of first place in the National League Central division. That’s the bottom line. But let’s break it down further, and then look at where individual Reds stand in relation to others around the league at each individual position.

As a team, the Reds’ offense has accumulated the fifth-highest WAR total in all of baseball (17.9 fWAR). Cincinnati ranks behind only the Dodgers and Nationals among National League teams, just ahead of the Cubs and Cardinals. In terms of runs scored, the Reds were fifth before Sunday’s game, when they dropped to sixth. In the overall picture (click the link above and play with each of the categories), the Reds’ offense looks to be slightly above average.

Do you want to know where Cincinnati’s starting pitchers stand? Too bad, I’m going to tell you anyway. Reds starters rank dead last in MLB in fWAR with the grand total of 0.1. I’m not going to discuss any other categories; the results are similarly grim.

Reds relievers are 25th out of 30 teams in fWAR, with a cumulative total of 1.4. The bullpen looks a little better if you look at some of the analytics, but it’s difficult to make the case that the bullpen, overall, has been anything better than average.

Now, on to the individuals. Here’s a look at Reds hitters with an fWAR above 0.0 (click that chart to embiggen it).

CATCHER
Tucker Barnhart is 13th in the majors (9th in the NL) with 1.5 WAR. Devin Mesoraco is 35th overall (17 in the NL) with 0.5 WAR. Barnhart’s WAR is driven largely by his exceptional defense; it’s vice-versa for Mes.

Reds catchers rank 7th in the NL in combined WAR. Ultimately, the Barnhart/Mesoraco combination is not bad, not bad at all.

FIRST BASE
This is fun. Joey Votto is second among all MLB first basemen in WAR, with 4.8 (only Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt’s 5.3). Votto is far ahead of the #3 guy, Toronto’s Justin Smoak, who has 3.7 WAR. Interestingly, Votto’s defense has improved dramatically over last year, though every first baseman’s WAR is driven by their offense.

Nothing more to say here. Votto is great.

SECOND BASE
Scooter Gennett is 16th in the majors (7th in the NL) among 2Bs with 1.5 WAR. Jose Peraza is 40th (25th in the NL) with 0.2.

Just ahead of Scooter: our old friend Brandon Phillips, with 1.6 WAR.

Reds 2Bs are 12th (of 15 teams) in the NL as a group. Not good

THIRD BASE
Eugenio Suarez ranks 7th among all 3Bs in baseball in WAR with 3.0. Strangely, he only ranks 6th in the National League; the NL has a great crop of 3Bs currently. Regardless, Suarez is an exciting young player.

SHORTSTOP
We’re in the middle of August, and I can’t believe that I’m still able to type these words: Zack Cozart is the third-best shortstop in baseball — 2nd in the NL — according to fWAR. Cozart has accumulated 4.0 WAR. It’s just astounding; only LA’s Corey Seager ranks ahead of him. Who is this Zack Cozart, and where has he been the last few years?

For what it’s worth, Peraza would rank 34th among MLB shortstops.

LEFT FIELD
Adam Duvall ranks 11th in the majors among left fielders with 2.2 WAR. He’s 6th in the NL. That’s pretty much what we know about Duvall: he’s a slightly above-average left fielder who can hit a bunch of home runs.

It’s interesting to note that FanGraphs’ analytics say that Duvall’s defense has declined over last year.

CENTER FIELD
Billy Hamilton is 26th among all big league CFs and 12th in the NL with 1.4 WAR. According to FanGraphs’ metrics, Hamilton is the best defensive center fielder in all of baseball. That should give you an idea of just how poorly Hamilton has performed at the plate this season.

RIGHT FIELD
Scott Schebler, after ranking more highly earlier in the season, has collapsed to #31 on the MLB charts among right fielders; he’s 13th in the NL. Jesse Winker, Patrick Kivlehan, and Phillip Ervin are tied for 46th with 0.0 WAR.

Reds RFs, cumulatively, are 10th in the National League. Not good.

STARTING PITCHER
This is ugly. Scott Feldman is ranked in a tie for 41st among only National League starters with 1.3 fWAR. Next is Luis Castillo, at 59th (0.7 WAR), followed by Sal Romano (0.3) at 71st. Among starters with at least 30 innings pitched, Amir Garrett is next-to-last, with -0.9 WAR.

Yes, there are limitations with comparing pitchers based solely on WAR; this is just a surface examination of the league’s pitchers. But I don’t have the heart to dig into any more numbers. Cincinnati’s starting rotation has been almost bad beyond words.

RELIEF PITCHER
Raisel Iglesias ranks 8th among National League relievers with 1.3 WAR. Next highest is, surprisingly, Blake Wood, whose 0.6 places him in a tie for 26th in the NL. (If Wood is the second-best Reds reliever, you start to see why this bullpen may not be as good as we have given it credit.) Michael Lorenzen is tied for 34th with 0.5.

Other Reds relievers among the top 100 in the NL are Wandy Peralta and Asher Wojciechowski, tied for 57th with 0.3 WAR. On the other end, based solely on his performance as a reliever, Robert Stephenson ranks 235th in the NL, with -0.4 WAR.

I don’t know what any of this tells us; it is what it is. What I learned is that the Reds need to be focusing on pitching, pitching, pitching this off-season.

What do you think?

28 Responses

  1. SrRedsFan

    Your post causes me to agree that Reds pitching is an abomination; but also that the Reds need to upgrade 5 positions to be contenders. C, 3B, 1B,and LF are OK. The rest are not, unlesss Cozart is re-signed. We can get an acceptable 2B from Gennett/Persia/Herrera but the Front Office has some major work ahead of them intrading and identifying pitching, SS, CF & RF.

    • IndyRedMan

      Senzel should be ready to go in April. He has to play somewhere. Suarez isn’t sitting. That leaves Scooter and he can mash righties. I think Suarez has to go back to SS. WInker/Kivlehan could platoon RF and Billy is Billy in CF. They could pick up a better offensive CF but it seems more then likely that he’ll be back. Just bat him 9th.

  2. Scotly50

    Cozart and Gennett’s bat is a big reason the Reds offense is, “slightly above average”. Without their contributions we would see quite a drop in the Reds offensive rankings.
    This team has quite a few hurdles to overcome if they are to be contenders. I am not optimistic they can field a contending team in the next few years.

  3. Sliotar

    IMO, “War what is it good for” as the title of a post is now in the same category as Milton….should be seen around once in a while, never to be fully shelved or banned.

  4. Sliotar

    According to MLB.com’s Pipeline, the Reds fell out of the Top 10 at mid-season in terms of league farm system rankings.

    That would tend to suggest they are unlikely to trade what prospects they do have for MLB-established players to upgrade the SP and select positions.

    So…..it’s either pull out the checkbook, spend some of that newly-obtained TV/media money, or wait until 2019/2020 when the next wave of Reds prospects are ready and Duvall/Suarez/Peraza/Schebler are still cost-controlled.

    Should make for some lively Q and A’s at RedsFest and the Winter Caravan Tour.

  5. jazzmanbbfan

    I don’t know what the limitations are on comparing pitchers based solely on WAR but I’m surprised Peralta is ranked that low. He’s been a very pleasant surprise to me in the bullpen.

  6. IndyRedMan

    They need to get out there and get a Michael Fulmer type. Trade what you have to trade! Beat the bushes and try to find someone that is on the cusp of being decent. Edison Volquez and Disco had done next to nothing in the majors but had what the Reds were looking for. Possibly someone that’s a reliever now but has the stuff (and desire) to start. Peralta and Lorenzen from within for example. Dead last in pitching again is getting old. We know what they need to do but what will they do? I’m guessing sign some guy like Chris Tillman who was good 4-5 years ago and pray.

    • Kap

      Or a Kendall Graveman or Sean manaea would help as well. Don’t have the resources for a trade for an ace. Just have to hope Castillo is the guy and Disco gets healthy

    • sultanofswaff

      Agree 100%. Time to accelerate the rebuild by cashing in some of our redundant prospect assets in the 5-20 range for starting pitching. Iglesias plus two players in that group will net you a cost controlled #3 SP.

  7. zachholden

    Great article made better by “embiggen”. A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.

  8. sultanofswaff

    I’m sorry, but Duvall and Votto have played about as good defensively as you’re gonna see at their positions this year, yet they’re negative? Mesoraco is positive? C’mon. These defensive metrics shouldn’t be taken as gospel.

    I get the Reds may not want to re-sign Cozy, but where are you gonna find 4 WAR on offense who is a big positive on defense…..even accounting for some regression? I think we need to extend him and get him playing 2B/SS/3B. For goodness sakes, Brandon Phillips is now a third baseman—anything’s possible!!!

  9. IndyRedMan

    Stroman is a groundball pitcher too. We can’t get by with Arroyo flyball types any longer. Not with GABP in the era of the North Korean radioactive ball:) How fast could Billy round the bases in a HazMat suit?

  10. sultanofswaff

    Siri’s 4/1 K/BB ratio makes him anything but a sure thing just like Aquino. Even though he’s a minor leaguer, he might be a good sell high candidate before the upper minors takes the shine off. But yes, this mode of thinking is exactly what the Reds need to do.

  11. Derek Bryant

    I wouldn’t trade 4 prospects for Stroman. Reds cant be trading any prospects need to collect more.

    • Indy Red Man

      You need a proven guy….most prospects end up as suspects. We’ve seen enough of that this year. Stroman is only 26 and has a 3.00 era in the AL East! Thats incredible with the way HRs are flying out

      • Jack

        I guarantee they want a lot more for him than you think. Senzel they will ask for. Funny everybody thinks Peraza blows but trade wise he is awesome. It’s like other teams have never watched baseball before. It’s the big time boys .It isn’t fantasy baseball.

  12. Matthew Habel

    This article got me curious about each player’s contribution to the team’s total WAR. Below are the top 6 for the Reds listed by their MLB ranking.

    3 – Votto (25%)
    9 – Cozart (21%)
    28 – Suarez (15%)
    72 – Duvall (11%)
    146/147 – Gennett/Barnhart (8%)

    • Matthew Habel

      Yes but at this point you have to trust what you have to work with in the system and should not risk any of the future by giving a bad contract to an aging, injury prone middle infielder.

  13. Nate

    No longer have to worry about Alcantara’s WAR, He’s cleared waivers and was sent to AA

    • Jack

      Can’t believe nobody wanted him. But the Reds will take his sorry behind.

  14. benkten

    How is Vottos BA higher than his BABIP? He has more Strikeouts than home runs.

  15. Still a Red

    Good if not depressing assessment. ?, why does Garrett have to be on the 25 man roster? Not that I think he shouldn’t be necessarily, but he’s still has options right.

  16. da bear

    This tells us, especially for bullpen purposes, the calculation or constitution of WAR is flawed and needs improvement. Wood has not been the second best reliever in the Reds bullpen when you take into account importance of the moment. (i.e. LEVERAGE). Lorenzen and Peralta have been far better. Cingrani was better until after the all star break and return from DL. The young kid (hernandez?) didn’t pitch much so his WAR couldn’t be high but he was obviously much better than Wood, too.

  17. Dave

    Nice adjectivery, using embiggen. 🙂