Last week’s news that the four-man outfield rotation was over, or at the very least on hold, probably did not come as a surprise to anyone, given how poor the overall performance has been. It makes sense to give three guys consistent reps to try to find their rhythm. The surprise still came, however, as the odd-man out was announced to be Jesse Winker. For many, this was a huge hit to any optimism that remained for the Reds to turn the ship around and shoot for contention next year.

Heading into the season, it seemed that the outfield situation would work itself out for the better and the team could focus its attention on the middle infield situation. That has not been the case, as poor play all around has thrust the outfield into an area of some concern. This is a continuation of a trend that has gone on for five years now.

Reds Outfield Production Percentiles 


Life comes at you fast, and that could not be more accurate for the Reds outfield. Aside from 2016, which was still not even in the 25th percentile for wRC+, the past five years have been a barren wasteland of offensive production, starting with a monumental drop off from 2013 to 2014. Comparing the Reds outfielder’s wRC+ to every other team for every season in major league history, the Reds 2014 and 2015 season ranked in the 1st percentile. As bad as 2018 has been, it is coming in slightly better in the 2nd percentile.

Blaming Billy Hamilton would be a natural reaction to this as his offense has been very poor since he came into the league, when he was almost immediately placed atop the Reds lineup. And despite his strong defensive play, it does not do enough to make the WAR percentiles much less abysmal. The addition of All-Star Adam Duvall (TM), whose slugging and defense gave the unit a nice boost, helped the 2016 campaign, but that proved to be short-lived as the past year and change have brought Adam back down to reality. Scott Schebler has shown glimpses of becoming a key contributor but has struggled with inconsistency, injury-related or not, and has been unable to breakthrough. Jesse Winker looked like the real deal for roughly the first 80 games of his big-league career, but has since stumbled onto his first rough patch, which led to this and subsequently this.

This brings us to the five-year rolling average, which has reached rock bottom in 2018.

Reds Outfield Production Percentiles – 5 Year Rolling Average


As of this writing, the Reds possess the 4th-worst 5-year rolling average for outfield wRC+ in the history of major league baseball. For those history buffs out there, the 1978-1982 and 1977-1981 Blue Jays take honors for first and second, followed by the 1994-1998 Royals. Those are the only stretches that are worse than the 2014-2018 Reds.

The current group is not entirely to blame for this. Jay Bruce’s two worst professional seasons were 2014 and 2015. Add in players like Skip Schumaker, Ryan Ludwick, and Marlon Byrd and these numbers make sense, as startling as they are.

But while exchanging veterans for youth, some marginal improvements and a flash-in-the-pan season have changed the perspective on the group as a whole, the reality is that the outfield has been historically bad recently and remains a major issue going forward.

17 Responses

  1. Scott Carter

    Oh for a rebirth of Vada Pinson, Frank Robinson and Eric Davis

  2. seanuc

    Great article. Really valuable to take what we all know with our eyes and place it into statistical, historical context.

  3. GreatRedLegsFan

    Remember: A team can be as bad as its FO allows to. Neither the White House nor the United Nations will shake things up. Greetings to Mr Castellini from a die hard fan.

  4. cfd3000

    This does beg the question. What does it take to open Reds management’s eyes enough to see that Hamilton and Duvall are not part of the future of this team? And if they’re not, why keep running them out there? One of the most telling stats at present is Votto hitting something like .400 with runners in scoring position (not sure of the exact figure today) but he has barely half the RBI’s that Gennett and Suarez have. That’s because 7, 8, 9, 1 and 2 have been an offensive black hole in the lineup. Yes, this team will go as its starting pitching goes. But why not also try to improve the offense? And there’s more than 2% to be gained when this outfield is not just bad but historically, abysmally bad. Frustrating.

  5. Tom Mitsoff

    Great article and analysis, Matt!

  6. big5ed

    Winker wouldn’t have been very good in Cincinnati at 21.

    The real problem with the Reds and outfielders is a 50-year Zero/Egg/Nada in developing hitters from Latin America. Maybe Jose Siri or Andy Sugilio break that, but both have some work to do on plate discipline.

  7. big5ed


    The Reds’ problems are a bad bunch of outfielders, and young and therefore erratic starting pitching. The young starting pitching can correct itself, at least in part, but they need to ditch 2-3 of the 4 outfield incumbents (Duvall and Hamilton for sure) between now and spring training.

    I would be trying Senzel in centerfield right now in Louisville, or at least try Gennett in left when Senzel is promoted in about 2 weeks. In 2019, they are likely going to need at least one of Dilson Herrera, Senzel, Shed Long or Gennett playing in the outfield. I don’t understand why they are all still playing 2B or 3B.

    2020 brings Taylor Trammel and maybe others.

  8. big5ed

    I am a believer in moving positions. The 2B-to-OF shift worked for Tim Raines, Pete Rose, and Craig Biggio, to name 3 hall of famers. Joe Madden doesn’t have any problem moving Cubs around. Votto moved positions. Hamilton moved positions (still couldn’t hit). Adam Duvall had never played outfield in even the minors until he got to Cincinnati.

    Anybody who is athletic enough to play second base in the major leagues, and/or who is young like Senzel, Herrera or Shed Long, can learn to play outfield in pretty short order. (I will concede that Scooter is likely to have limitations anywhere, including 2B.)

    As for development, they do have Taylor Trammell and maybe 2-3 others on the way by 2020. I agree that it is inexcusable not to have had developed a plausible offensive outfielder between Jay Bruce and Winker, on whom the jury remains out.

    • Jack

      Nah it’s easier Steve to move him to the outfield and then everybody will complain how bad he is and why didn’t the,Front Office trade him!

  9. David

    I appreciate the work that went into this article. You would like to think that the statisticians that are working for the Reds would have a similar or better report on the desk of Dick Williams and Nick Krall. And they might indeed have such an analysis.
    But I doubt they will do anything about it.

    The reasons are obvious, and were discussed yesterday by several commenters, citing the tendencies of family owned businesses. They are risk averse to the extreme, to maintain the notion of “family invincibility” in the office. We are family and we are right.

    I feel bad to the players, and especially the fans. They deserve better than this.

    The Reds hit rock bottom in 1982, with (drum roll) the Williams Brothers as majority owners of the Reds, after a 1981 strike interrupted season where the Reds had the best overall record in baseball, and stayed home for the playoffs. Go figger that one. A year or two later, Marge Schott took on the majority share. You may knock Marge, but the Reds drafted well the next few years (1982 – 1986; Barry Larkin, Eric Davis, Kal Daniels, Joe Oliver, Chris Sabo, Paul O’Neill, etc.) and built a core of very good players. The team got better from 1985-1988; they signed an older outfielder named Dave Parker, who had an MVP season in 1985, but did not get recognition playing for a 2nd place team. The 1989 season was a train wreck of injuries. The 1990 season saw the Reds win their last World Championship.
    It could happen. But probably not for this version of the Reds.

  10. james garrett

    My thoughts exactly Indy.We keep hearing that our next outfield is a couple years away in the minors why not bring some up in Sept or even earlier and lets see.Who knows maybe one of them can actually hit big league pitching right now.I assume that is what gets guys promoted is their hitting because their other skills such as speed and defense they bring with them.

  11. james garrett

    Great article.Winker just needs to play every day and at the end of the year we shall see.No reason not to assume he does what he has done in the past.He has always been a starter at all levels and if given a legitimate shot he will be fine.Scott needs to play every day as well because we know about Duvall and Billy who have 3 years and 5 years of data that tells us what we need to know about them.I would call up one of these guys that are two years away just to see if he can hit big league pitching right now.Who knows he may do it.

  12. eric3287

    Eugenio Suarez hit .173/.229/.357 in May as a 24 year old just TWO YEARS AGO, while committing 23 errors. Too bad the Reds didn’t turn over 3B to Ivan DeJesus, Jr.

  13. Mike Adams

    Hey, Matt it is very interesting to compare average game attendance for these years.

    Seasons 2013 through 2017 are from Baseball Almanac, 2018 is from Baseball

    2013 31,151

    2014 30,576

    2015 29,870

    2016 23,384

    2017 22,677

    2018 17,848

  14. Jeffery Stroupe

    If i were Adam Duvall or Billy Hamilton i would be ashamed to even get in batters box. Yeah we can vote for Scooter for All Star team. Laddy friggen dah. Bullcrap. get rid of the deadbeats and move on

  15. Jack

    Winker needs to play everyday. He might be a bust or not. Sitting the bench is not working. 2021!