This week’s respondents are Chad Dotson, Matt Habel, Steve Mancuso, Clay Marshall and Tom Mitsoff.

Our Daily Reds Obsession: Which Reds position player will we be talking about at the end of 2018 as being the biggest positive surprise? 

Chad: Jesse Winker. Winker has done enough to earn a starting spot in the big leagues in 2018, and I see no reason why he shouldn’t receive regular playing time. There will be ups and downs — there always are for young players — but the 24-year old Winker is poised to make a run at the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2018. In 137 plate appearances this season, Winker’s first taste of big league pitching, all he did was hit .298/.375/.529 with 7 home runs.

We’re talking about a guy with a career minor league on-base percentage of .398. He may never be a star, but I see Winker as a safe bet to be an above-average hitter in the major leagues for a long, long time. I’ll take that.

Matt: Scott Schebler had a good 2017 despite his shoulder injury that really affected his performance in the second half. With a first half wRC+ of 117, he was on pace for significant improvement over his 2016 campaign. I think the drop in performance has rightfully put his future with the club in question, but in my opinion he should be given the benefit of the doubt. At 27 years old, if he can come back in 2018 and maintain that first half level of offense for a full season and maybe even improve a bit, I think he definitely becomes a core piece for the team.

Steve: Jesse Winker and Scott Schebler are solid answers, but it’s hard to figure what the Reds will do with outfield playing time. If either of them get 600 plate appearances, they’ll be a big positive bat. I’m going to say Joey Votto. Votto had perhaps his best all around season in 2017. He drastically reduced his strikeouts and further reduced his already low number of pitches swung at that were out of the strike zone. He hit with power and for average. He led the league in on-base percentage. At age 33, every one of his offensive metrics was better than his own career average and he started all 162 games. I don’t expect Votto to slow down in 2018 and at the end of the season we’ll be talking about what a great year he had – continuing to surprise us in his mid-30s.

Clay: Although it’s hard to say such a thing of someone who conked 30 home runs, I think Scott Schebler still has untapped potential. His 2017 numbers were marred by a shoulder injury, but once he recovered, I found myself wishing that Adam Duvall — whose second consecutive second-half swoon was dizzying — would ride the bench for the rest of the season so that Schebler, Jesse Winker and a platoon of Billy Hamilton and Phillip Ervin could see things through. If Hamilton is traded, Schebler likely becomes the Reds’ centerfielder, and although he won’t make as many highlight reel-worthy plays, I’m guessing his defense will be better than anyone expects.

Tom: The biggest offensive surprise in 2018 will be Jose Peraza. In his rookie year, 2016, Peraza batted .324 with a .352 on-base percentage in 72 games. This year, he began the season as the everyday second baseman, and experienced what many young players do after the league has seen them a few times – pitchers learned how to get him out. He had a bad first half by comparison: .254 with little power and only five walks in 323 at-bats. Peraza worked with hitting coach Don Long on his stance and approach at the plate, and improved to .268 with 15 walks after the All-Star break. I would like to pick Jesse Winker for this, but I just don’t know if Dick Williams is going to create a place for him to play by trading one of the incumbent outfielders.

20 Responses

  1. Ethan L

    Winker…if Price let’s him play.

    • David

      And really, that’s a big “if”. Price is kind of stubborn like that.

      • Ethan L

        We need to move someone or else I feel that Winker will appear on milk cartons in mid April.

  2. David

    Either the biggest surprise or the biggest bust: Devin Mesoraco.

    We know what he is capable of doing when physically sound. If he can avoid injuries, etc. he may put up 30 hr. Which is why it is now ok to trade Duvall, who is a great guy, but may get the Reds something else they need more.
    Winker can take over left field.

    Offensive surprise for 2018
    1) Devin Mesoraco
    2) Phil Ervin
    3) Jose Peraza
    4) Dilson Herrera

    Winker and Schebler doing well for 2018 would not constitute a “surprise” to me.

    I don’t really think Peraza will show much improvement, and I have my doubts as to how much Herrera can even play or hit, after shoulder surgery.

  3. Reaganspad

    I agree with the old Cossack

    I see donkeys

  4. cfd3000

    2017 was a pretty good year for the Reds offense, and yet we don’t know who will play every day anywhere except 1B and 3B, and there’s even a small chance that Suarez slides to SS. I find that distressing. For that reason there ARE a lot of IF’s. So I’ll answer by saying the entire offense will surprise the league. Barnhart/Mes, Votto, Gennett/Senzel, Cozart/Peraza (or the new guy), Suarez, Winker/Duvall, Hamilton/Ervin (or the new guy), and Schebler will be a monster offense, especially if it doesn’t include Peraza and/or Hamilton. I’m hoping to be surprised by the makeup of the starting eight – Peraza, Hamilton, Duvall out and Winker, Senzel and a new SS and CF in. Votto will drive in 120 for those guys, and five guys could score 90+ runs each. Not a prediction but at least a possibility.

  5. TR

    Winker, if the GM tells Price to make him a regular.

  6. scottya

    If Scooter is traded and Peraza plays SS. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Dilson Herrera. His career minor league ops is over 800 and it’s sink or swim for him this season with the Reds. He gets healthy and ops over 800 with slightly plus defense resulting in a 3 win season.

  7. Sandman

    This is unrelated to this article. A little while back (like, maybe, a couple of weeks ago…perhaps) I believe it was Mr. Dotson told me to go read the Sports Illustrated article about the Houston Astros and how they are doing things in their front office. Side Note: one thing the article didn’t answer for me (if I read the right one…which I believe I did) was why SI predicted that the Astros would win the WS this year. What did this particular writer see in what the Astros were doing that made him/her confidant enough to make that claim/prediction. No matter which way you slice it that kind of prediction takes supreme confidence and big cahones (lol).

    But the biggest question I have is for Chad or any of the Redlegnation writers who might have the most information about what the Reds are attempting (whoever’s most equipped to answer the question as best they can…I guess). Here it is: Are the Reds doing anything close to what the Astros are doing? I believe I remember hearing something from last year after the stupid Cubs won the WS about how the Reds were kinda following the Cubs model. (Or at the very least it was suggested that the reds should follow the cubs model…but I think it was the first one). So are the Reds following the Cubs model, Astros model or their own model. I realize they can’t follow the Cubs and/or Astros model exactly bcuz I think one or both of those teams may be in larger markets. I could be wrong I suppose. But…what are the reds doing?

    There was one thing I got from the article though that I didn’t expect…and that’s how fragile pitchers are. Pitching seems to be the most fragile position in baseball. That would make sense bcuz I believe I read something awhile back that said that the human arm wasn’t designed to twist and contort like they have to on some pitches…or something to that effect. Anyways, I digress.

    • IndyRedMan

      Houston has almost all homegrown talent except for Verlander. That’s the model that everyone wants….draft great young potential that actually pan out in the major leagues. Prob is most teams don’t lose 100 games multiple times in a row and then watch nearly all their top kids become stars like Altuve, Correa, Springer, etc.

      The Cubs aren’t even close to that! Rizzo was already there and Bryant is the only other young star at this point. Their other youngsters could develop, but not like Houston’s monsters! Plus their pitching is all getting old….Arrieta is prob gone.

  8. JB WV

    I won’t say Winker because it won’t be a surprise. His plate approach is ML caliber and he seems fully healthy now, so I expect him to do well (playing time considered). Peraza will move to short and become a pain for opposing pitchers hitting seventh or eighth, hitting the ball with authority and continuing to improve his plate discipline.

  9. Sandman

    I do want to say one more thing though that I meant to include in my previous comment. I didn’t want the Astros to win the WS. I’m not entirely sure why but I think it had something to do with how they were built.

    It took me a couple of weeks to get around to reading the article bcuz I wasn’t sure if I wanted to. See, ever since I got on Twitter a little while ago and I started to follow relegation the very first thing I remember about RLN is how every one of the writers was railing against the “old” way of doing things in baseball and how every one of them was praising Sabermetrics and/or Analytics and how it was the way of the future. Change, progress, etc.

    For some reason this didn’t sit right with me. I had never even heard of sabermetrics/analytics before following RLN, so when I get on here and I read all this stuff, it was like a giant slap in the face. For some reason, I identified with the old way of doing things in baseball. Tradition! The old ways produced champions but I suppose that could be chalked up as it having to produce a champion bcuz, otherwise, what would be the point?

    As much as I hate to admit this, I have come around on SOME things in Sabermetrics/Analytics but not all. Not sure if I’ll ever come fully around about this. Guess I still wanna hold onto the old ways. I think the biggest reason for this was seeing how Roberts managed some of his SP’s for the LAD in the WS. There was at least 2 instances that I noticed where he pulled his SP after only 4 innings even though they were still effective and doing good. In both instances the cameras showed the pitchers in the dugout after being pulled and they…were…not…happy, AT ALL! Downright ticked! And I agree with the pitchers there. Why on earth would you pull your starter after only 4 innings if he was still doing good or even great? After the first incident I noticed, the announcer specifically said, “managing by analytics!”, with a hint of, “this could be a problem” and/or “this isn’t right” in his voice as he said it. I can understand if your starter is struggling through 4 innings and you pull him. But not if he’s doing well. That’s playing to the situation, playing matchup and I care nothing for it. What does it matter the matchup if your SP is mowing people down anyway? It almost seems as if the mgr doesn’t trust his starter in that situation even if the starter’s still effective.

    But that’s just my opinion. I know some of you will likely disagree. To each his own I guess. Sayonara for now.

    • Ethan L

      I totally agree with your take on yanking starters too early. I don’t know if those are analytical moves. I’ve heard here on RLN that it takes 800 ABs for batting average (one indicator of offense) to stabilize. I think “matchups” are silly and the above reason is one supporting argument. Also, the lefty/lefty thing is so annoying and overrated IMO. I call what Dave Roberts did micromanaging. It’s making a move for the sake of making a move.

    • Sandman

      WVRedlegs, I agree with what you said. But sometimes I like to figure things out for myself but some of the formulas are situation specific and others are just too complicated for me so I’m forced to just accept them at face value.

    • Sandman

      JREIS, it’s my understanding that as part of this current rebuild the reds were gonna sink some money into creating or upgrading their analytics department. More so than ever before. So, even if Analytics has been around since the mid ’90s, it would appear that the Reds cared little about it until now. That would explain the handful of winning seasons from 1990 on. Another thing I heard at the start of this rebuild is that this rebuild was the start of a new direction that would virtually eliminate the need for future rebuilds. I don’t suppose it’s possible for a team (let alone a small market team) to completely eliminate having to rebuild. But the talk was about sustaining competitive play once this new direction takes hold (if it takes hold). I suppose we’ll just have to trust it even if it doesn’t ever seem like it’s going to end.

  10. IndyRedMan

    Scooter…yes! Throw him in the mix w/Winker and Suarez. I don’t see it w/Peraza? Todays game is home run derby and obp….which isn’t his game? I’ll be hugely disappointed (but not surprised) if they carry Billy and Jose in the lineup again?

  11. Redleggingfordayz

    I second this thought actually. Winker is my close second place.

  12. IndyRedMan

    I guess it just really depends on what your expectations are? I’m guessing Senzel will have a little bit of a learning curve. For all the hype around Andrew Benintendi…his ops was .776. I’ll guess .800 for Senzel. Suarez was .828….how about .875? Geno’s eye is great but his swing is still long. I’m going to say .828 might be around the limit for now? Winker…maybe .850? Scooter was at .874 and most RLN members want him traded or think it was a fluke? Would a .850 campaign surprise people? Not me. I think he can pull that off if Price would limit his atbats vs lefties. Winker would seem to have the highest ceiling with the surprising power he showed, but he barely faced any lefties? Is he going fulltime? This is a tough riddle to solve?

  13. bouwills

    Adam Duvall, just because everyone else expects him to be traded or benched. He surprised positively in 2016, he surprised positively in 2017. Guess what?