As I think is well-known, I was not a believer when it came to Scooter Gennett at the beginning of the season. I was wrong about that. There’s enough sample now that I buy it. He can hit. Really hit. So, as I proceed with this, know that I am not impugning his offensive skills. He’s clear, at this moment, one of the top-50 hitters in baseball.

First, let’s take a look at the polls I ran this week:

I understand the desire to have Scooter on the team next year. I probably still fall in the “trade him” camp, but I wouldn’t complain if he was starting in the outfield on Opening Day next year. However, it makes no sense to do anything other than start Nick Senzel at second base next year.

Defensive statistics are problematic and deeply flawed (remember it is general accepted that you need THREE SEASON of defensive statistics to properly judge a player’s abilities, so half a season is equivalent to roughly 100 PAs). I wish the various stat keepers would revise them. I’m sure that will happen eventually. But some things are clear, at least. For instance, left field, right field, and first base are the least important positions defensively. Second base and third base are pretty important, and shortstop is the most important. Being realistic, there are five real candidates for playing time at those three positions next year. And in terms of their defensive ability, the various candidates probably rate like this (I’ve seen Blandino and Senzel a fair bit at Louisville).

  1. Jose Peraza – Good/Very Good at short. Excellent elsewhere.
  2. Eugenio Suarez – Excellent at third. Adequate at short.
  3. Nick Senzel – Very Good/Excellent at third and second. Probably adequate at short.
  4. Alex Blandino – Good at second and third. Adequate at short.
  5. Scooter Gennett – Terrible in the infield.

Of course defense is only part of it. There’s also offense. And on that level, the players probably rank like this:

  1. Eugenio Suarez
  2. (tie) Scooter Gennett and Nick Senzel
  3. Alex Blandino
  4. Jose Peraza

I know people are going to want to argue about Senzel. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t overrating him, so I went and looked at scouting reports. He is rated as one of the five best hitters in the minors and projects to be – more or less immediately one of the best hitters in the majors. You know those phenoms it feels like only other teams ever have? That’s Nick Senzel He has a plus-plus hit tool with an elite plate approach and above average power. Think Jesse Winker with substantially more power.

The Reds control Nick Senzel for (at least) six years and – because of his defense – he’s probably better than Scooter Gennett overall right now (or, he will be once his finger is fixed). So I don’t know what the handful who thought he should be traded were thinking.

The problem is that – defensively – a Senzel-Gennett middle infield is probably bad news. I understand people thinking the solution is to get Peraza’s bat out of the lineup, but I don’t agree. Defense matters not just because it prevents runs, but it also eases the stress load on pitchers – and the Reds have a lot of young pitchers.

However, I do think you could get by with something like a Senzel-Blandino infield or (if you want to be really creative Senzel – Herrera), but I don’t think you can get by with Senzel-Gennett.

This means the best solution for maximizing value is to make sure Senzel is starting in the outfield and Gennett is either traded for a piece that immediately fills an area of need for the Reds OR he is shifted to the outfield where his lack of defensive value is less problematic and where the Reds are much shallower as an organization.

After that, I think you can arrange the infield however you want. If you want the best possible defense, you probably go Suarez-Peraza-Senzel with any other combination giving you something sold, but unspectacular.

This is all just my opinion, of course, but the only approach I don’t understand is the one where Gennett is a second baseman. Nick Senzel’s don’t come along very often. And yes, I know I’ve beat this horse before but betting on players to keep producing at current levels as they enter the decline phase is usually a bad bet. Bet on the highly-regarded prospect with excellent plate discipline and you’re going to win a lot more often than not.

34 Responses

  1. Kyle

    I have a hard time believing more of these players in today’s game can’t play SS. I completely understand the value of defense and the need to be competent to excellent to field a winning team, especially with young pitchers. With that being said, I still believe it is more about getting the best bats in the lineup someway somehow.

    With the increased information and understanding of hitter tendencies and defensive shifts, defensive range has become far less important than even 2 years ago. Players are now expected to cover less ground than ever before. I understand some circumstances require the infielders to play with a more traditional positioning, but that’s much less common. I’m not going over the top here and saying throw someone out at SS who can’t truly field the position well, but I see no reason someone who is an elite infielder, such as Senzel or Suarez (won’t happen, I know), can’t field the SS position.

    • Redsfan1975

      I think it actually comes down to Winker vs Scooter. An OF defense of Winker, Scooter and Schebler would be pretty brutal. Do you keep more expensive, proven Scooter and put Winker in trade package for a pitcher or CF or do you keep cheaper, more upside Winker and trade Scooter. I think if you keep Scooter a trade package of Winker, Herrera or Long and maybe Stephenson gets us the ace we need. Not sure what Scooter’s trade value is to other teams.

      • Jim Walker

        That’s a possibility too if the situation takes long enough to develop or the NL puts in the DH..

        I’ve said previously that I see Winker as a Votto or Alonso Yonder type who somebody decided was passable as an OF.

      • Tom

        If Winker is a back up LF / RF / 1B, that would be a lot of playing time going forward the next few years. The other option is that he trains his tail off and builds the physical capacity to play a more athletic OF. With the physical training available today, he not trapped at his current capacity.

    • Jason Linden

      With Suarez, at least, we have some information. He came up as a SS and was, by all accounts, below average there. The Reds, at least, don’t seem to be seriously interested in Senzel at SS.

      As for shifts, I haven’t seen evidence that they reduce the importance of range, but it’s an interesting thought. What does reduce the importance of defense, however, are all the strikeouts.

      If you want the best bats in the lineup period, Scooter still plays the OF. Because then you can play Gennett-Schebler-Winker in the OF and Senzel-Herrera at short and second.

  2. Streamer88

    Scooter is a tough one. If we put him in LF and leave him there, he probably won’t be the worst fielding LF in MLB, but simultaneously his .900 OPS goes from elite at 2B down to very good in the corner OF world. However, it makes Duvall his perfect platoon partner, and otherwise a very good bench bat. It further supports trading BHam, or, if Castellini persists, keeping BHam and instead trade Schebler and/or Winker.

    Your logic is sound and valid all around! Also, don’t look now but India has SS in his blood, look out Peraza!

  3. I-71_Exile

    Scooter’s shoulder may still be bothering him which is likely preventing him from throwing overhand properly. Until that is fixed or heals on its own, the outfield is simply not an option. He is DH, 2B, or 1B.

  4. Jason Linden

    I generally agree with Steve, but want to note, that Herrera doesn’t have an arm that’s accurate enough to play third daily. He’s a good second baseman but not as good at third.

    Also the key with Suarez is that he came up at short, so he had practice. He wasn’t learning on the fly like he was at third.

    • Jason Linden

      He has the range. Probably not the arm. He’s a plus defender at second, though.

  5. bouwills

    I’m not sure you can eliminate Hererra or Nay from these discussions. If I were in charge of the Reds I would let the trade market dictate the current course of action. Determine what you want for Scooter & don’t accept less. I wouldn’t accept less than a ML ready sp prospect with the ceiling of a Mahle or Castillo. Otherwise, Scooter is the 2nd baseman for the Reds. You gotta find a spot on the 40 man roster for Hererra, & some 2018 playing time, if for no other reason than to display his talent & try to market him in the offseason. Let 2019 begin with Senzel being Senzel. If he’s good enough, he’ll push his way onto the 25 man roster & into the lineup. Peraza has indeed earned the opportunity to play ss for the Reds the remainder of 2018. Let his 2nd half performance decide whether or not he’s the Reds 2019 ss. Suarez, + his contract appears to have the 3rd base job locked down (don’t look now but 11 errors is league high). The Reds find themselves in a bit of a “sweet spot” this July, with momentum on the field, a hand full of trading chips, & a bunch of teams that covet some of those trading chips. I only hope the Reds GM(s)? perform as well behind the scene as the Reds players are performing on the field.

    • roger garrett

      The Braves have the answer and its not a crystal ball its bring them up and see if they can hit major league pitching

      • bouwills

        I’m hoping the Braves become the Reds trading partner for Iglesias. So much young sp talent. If the Braves get Iglesias, that means the Nats & Phils don’t. Ante up or stay home.

  6. Streamer88

    I vote for keeping Scooter and hiring a manager who can manage the depth we’re building.

    However, those who want to trade him can not be happy with rumors of his shoulder injury. The timing is akin to Chapman’s domestic issue.

  7. Seat101

    .

    Let’s go to first principles… Defensively the biggest problem in the infield is second base. Do you think Scooter makes Peraza a better shortstop or Votto a better first baseman? Of course not. Scooter Gennett needs to be NOT our second baseman. With his bum shoulder he can’t play the outfield. Either we turn them into a starting pitcher or we trade him.

    After that, you can try your darndest to convince me that Jose Peraza is not the shortstop of the future for the Cincinnati Reds.

    The pitching staff, the outfield, and second base Need to be settled before we start tinkering with the short, first, or third

    • George

      101;

      Thank you for mentioning “the bum shoulder”. No one else seems to want to address it. Can you see our right-fielder throwing side-armed or underhand to get a runner at home plate.

      Centerfield is the starting point, Billy H needs to go, then.trade Scooter, yes his bat will be missed but three 500 at-bat outfielders would settle things down.
      I agree, fix second base and centerfield before the end of 2018 then worry about shortstop.
      Discussing shortstop is like worrying about running out of gas while your rear tires are going flat.

      • George

        Just a thought, Reds fan base is very loyal but can also be a myopic group. Any body not named Cozart or Concepcion just doesn’t measure up, It is like the Reds front office (Bob C.) with the fixation on Billy H.
        I have often remarked that the worse thing that happened to Red’s fans and reality was 1975 and 1976.

      • Jason Linden

        If we’re going to arbitrarily eliminate numbers, if you take Peraza’s first three games of the season away, he has a 94 wRC+. So, an average bat from a good defensive shortstop. That makes for a good player.

  8. scottya

    Some have suggested moving Senzel to RF, I’m really not sure if I agree or disagree. However, If we extended scooter and kept him at 2b and moved Senzel to RF and moved Schebler to CF temporarily that would solve a lot of problems. Others have suggested moving Scooter to the OF and keep Senzel at 2b. I’m not completely sold on either.

    If we could somehow swing a trade (Harvey, Iglesias + others) with the Nationals for Victor Robles, Schebler could be traded or moved to left.

    What an offensive lineup in 19′:

    1. Schebler – CF
    2. Senzel – RF
    3. Votto – 1B
    4. Suarez – 3B
    5. Scooter – 2B
    6. Barnhart – C
    7. Winker – LF
    8. Pitcher
    9. Peraza – SS

    Here is my trade suggestion: Harvey, Iglesias, Herrera, Siri for Robles and Difo.

    • Jason Linden

      Why not move Scooter though? it’s a better team with Scooter in the OF and Senzel at second.

      • scottya

        Moving Scooter creates a similar outfield conundrum. If Scooter plays left, that makes Winker expendable and of course Duvall. That might be the best route. I’m just not sure Scooter can defend any better than Winker does. I’m also not sure that Scooter over the next 4 years will hit better than Winker.

        One thing is for sure, if the Reds are going to try Scooter in the OF, NOW IS THE TIME!

    • bouwills

      Reds have already moved Senzel from 3rd to possibly ss , then to 2nd. Stop ! Please. Despite the exceptional pitching from Hunter Greene lately, I am firmly in the camp of moving Greene to ss before we move Nick Senzel to outfield, ss, sp or catcher.

  9. Jason Linden

    Yeah. You hit the nail on the head. Right now, it’s a decision of do you want Peraza or Hamilton? I’d take Peraza. He’s young and still improving. His numbers are pretty good this year with the bat and SS matters more than CF as far as we currently understand things.

  10. KDJ

    I remember the announcers for the Braves talking about Dale Murphy when he was a star outfielder. He came up as a catcher, but could not make an accurate throw to second. They moved him to OF, and he was quite capable there. It is worth a try to keep Scooter’s bat and have Senzel at second. I’m still not sold on Peraza, though.

  11. Andy

    What if Senzel can be centerpiece of deal that brings back Syndergaard?

  12. Jeff Reed

    Scooter is a perfect DH. Trade him to an AL team for a young pitcher and/or centerfielder. Move Lorenzen to the outfield. He will replace Scooter’s offense from the right side. Senzel and Herrera can cover second base.

  13. scottya

    You make some good points. The overall defense should be factored in to the equation.

  14. jay johnson

    Dylan Floro to the dodgers for some scraps.Why?
    Guy was pitching well.If your going to dump him why not put him in a bundle for something that might be useful at some point.
    Was his 500k too expensive ?
    We are a small market.

    • Jason Linden

      He’s a mid-level relief pitcher with limited track record. A Dodger fan who’s a buddy is kinda pissed about the trade, so that might be a good sign.

  15. bouwills

    Nats hold player only meeting after falling below .500. Either trade for Iglesias & Harvey (in exchange for Robles, Kieboom, Garcia, & Crowe) or just write this season off. Nats choice.

    • Waltyt

      We wouldn’t even get just Robles for Iglesias + Harvey, let alone the rest of that list.

  16. Show triple slash

    Jason, Steve, Jim, anyone else: Thoughts on Suárez’ ability to move to LF, opening up 3B for Senzel, and possibly 2B for Dilson Herrera?

    • Show Triple Slash

      I remember Alonso’s LF adventure in Wrigley very well. I suspect Geno would not have the same issues – not even close. Then we get to how the dominos fall; of course someone else gets pushed out, or to a lesser/bench role, and it seems that likely would fall most on Winker, and Duvall. It seems to me what you POTENTIALLY get is 1) equivalent defense and bat at 3B with Senzel, 2) equivalent defense (vs. Duvall) or improved defense (vs. Winker) and improved bat in LF with Suarez, and 3) improved defense but, for now at least, somewhat lesser but still more than adequate bat at 2B with Dilson Herrera (assuming Scooter is traded or retained solely for 2019).

      I also wonder about the risk involved with putting Senzel in the OF vis-a-vis his vertigo, every time I see an outfielder bump up against the wall, or extend themselves running to make a diving catch (vs. quicker reaction plays/less extending oneself at 3B).

      What sparked my interest was a comment I believe I recall made by Dick Williams at the time Geno signed his extension, that Geno was robust enough to play other positions, not necessarily SS.

  17. Waltyt

    Geno is a 2.9 WAR, not 1.7, and has played 13 fewer games.

  18. Seadog

    Senzel–wish in one hand st*t in the other. See which one fills up first. Think about it people. Scooter has produced. He will produce. Senzel is just the wish….Kind of like Austin Kearns 98/ David Espinosa 00/ Drew Stubbs 06.

    Think about what you are saying….