The season is now over. It was not great. It was really, really not great. Mostly because of pitching. I wrote about that here.

But there is one aspect of the team fans should feel good about. Because of injuries and slumps, it wasn’t so apparent at the end of the season, but the offense is likely ready. Don’t Believe me? Let’s go through the lineup and look at a reasonable guess for wRC+ to tell us how much better (or worse) than average the Reds are at each postion

Catcher – Tucker Barnhart/Curt Casali

Barnhart has been right at a 90 wRC+ for the last to years, so that feels like a fair guess for next year. Casali has hit better than expected this year, and given sample size, it seems like a 90 wRC+ is a reasonable guess for him, too. That’s 10% below league average for all hitters, but it’s actually 6% above the typical catcher. Not bad.

First Base – Joey Votto

This was a strange year for Votto. I don’t believe that the power has actually vanished. I think it was just a weird year. The analytics agree with me, so that helps. I’m betting a rebound to at least a 145 wRC+ next year. That’s 45% better than league average and 40% better than the typical 1B.

Second Base – Scooter Gennett

Scooter is going to be here next season. That seems obvious. He’s also going to hit 20-25 percent better than league average (I like ketchup with my crow, fyi). I’m going with a 120 wRC+ only because his BABIP was a little inflated this year. That’s 27% better than the typical second baseman.

Shortstop – Jose Peraza

Peraza came into his own this year and put up numbers that were almost exactly league average. He really showed off some nice power growth. File this under things I was right about (how do many of you like your crow?). Let’s figure on league average again next year. That’s 6% better than your typical shortstop this year, but more like 10-12% above historic norms (it was a good year for shortstops).

Third Base – Eugenio Suarez

Even with the slump to end the season, Geno is gonna get some MVP consideration. He’s also made it possible for me to predict a 135 wRC+ next year. Which is 33% better than the typical 3B is what has been the best three-year run for 3Bs in major league history.

Left Field – Scott Schebler

Schebs figures to scheble to something like a 105 wRC+. Which is almost exactly average for a LF historically and a tick above average lately.

Center Field – Nick Senzel

Listen Reds. Find a place for him to play period. You’re gonna keep Scooter. Okay, cool. Senzel gets center then. I asked Dan Szymborski to run a ZiPS projection for Senzel next year. ZiPS has him at .271/.333/.429. Which is almost exactly league average (maybe a tick above). Projections tend to heavily regress players with no major league time. I’m going to conservatively suggest a 120 wRC+. That’s good for 20-25% above normal for a centerfielder.

Right Field – Jesse Winker

In not quite a full season of PAs, Winker has been good for a 130 wRC+. It seems reasonable to expect that to continue. And is 24% better than league average

Okay, let’s quickly look at each position relative to league average.

Pos: % above or below league average, % above or below positional average.

C: -10%, 6%
1B: 45%, 40%
2B: 20%, 27%
SS: 0%, 6%
3B: 35%, 33%
LF: 5%, 0%
CF: 20%, 20%
RF: 30%, 24%

Presuming everyone stays healthy, the every day lineup should generate a wRC+ of about 118 next year (18% above league average). That’s a fantastic number even if it isn’t quite at the level of the great eight (they typically hung north of a 120 wRC, with a 130!!! mark in 1976).

The Reds can hit. If they’re holding on to Scooter and find a place for Senzel, they can be above average for the position at every position. They don’t need to add a bat. Just a pitcher and a pitcher.

Oh, and also, they need to add another pitcher.

26 Responses

  1. cfd3000

    Well to be fair, replacing Hamilton with Senzel IS adding a bat Jason. But I agree – not only is the Good Eight (TM pending) going to be better than average across the board, they will be plenty good enough to contend for the playoffs. And as icing on the cake, they should have a fairly strong bench as well. Ervin, Blandino, Herrera, and probably Billy Hamilton is a pretty strong set of reserve bats, especially if BHam is used efficiently as a specialty pinch runner. Add in the Lorenzen Option and the offense looks good.

    And on the other side of the ball, I believe the Reds are two starting pitchers from competitiveness. One to upgrade from Homer 1-19 Bailey to a simple 10-10 team record (that’s the easier one) and one ace to anchor the staff (not as easy, of course). But if that happens AND the team stays mostly healthy, 2019 could be a lot of fun.

    I’m going to be optimistic this offseason, and you’re going to hear from me over and over that there are two low hanging fruit upgrades that will be a big, easy jump – replace Bailey with just a .500 starter, and swap BHam out and Senzel in. The Bailey flip alone is an 9 wins / 18 games over .500 improvement. Think about that.

    • Ghettotrout1

      I know this won’t happen but I would non tender Hamilton they don’t need to waste 6 million or so on someone who has a worse career line than Drew Stubbs.

    • eric3287

      I know ripping on Homer is fun and easy, and I’ve done it a fair bit myself, but I am just going to run through a couple of game logs here:
      8 IP 2R
      6 IP 1R
      6 IP 1R
      6.2 IP 2R
      6 IP 3R
      7 IP 3R

      Needless to say, the Reds lost all of those 6 games. “Quality start” is over rated, but 5 of those 6 games are MORE than quality starts (either fewer than 3 runs or more than 7 innings). That’s a 2.70 ERA over 6 games, all losses (not just personal losses, but team losses). An average of 6-2/3 IP/start. The problem isn’t solely Homer. I’m not sure what else you expect from a SP in this day and age. And the Reds still went 0-6.

      • Eric

        And yet, here we are, with the Reds having won exactly one game that he started in 2018. Can you make a case (remember: this is coming from a guy who likes Homer Bailey and really wanted him to do well!) that he went to the hill and overpowered opposing hitters? Because we can talk all we want about three-or-fewer, or defense-this-that-or-the-other, and it still shows up the way it does in the W/L column.

        The Reds, to quote Ulysses Everett McGill, are “in a tight spot” with this guy’s contract. I wish that there were a good answer that allows Bailey to go out on top. Doesn’t look promising.

      • Jason Linden

        Homer gives up a lot of homers now (xFIP normalizes HR rate, as you know) and doesn’t strike guys out like he used to. His FIP was 4.51. His ceiling is mediocre and there is one year left on his contract. Time to move on.

  2. bouwills

    Actually, the 2018 Reds scored 57 less runs than the 2017 Reds. Of course the AVG runs per ML team is down this year by 32 runs (753 in 2017 to 721 in 2018). The Reds hit the AVG in 2017 (753) but were 25 runs under average this year with 696. The 2018 Reds had were 9th in OBP (13th last year), but fell from 10th in OPS (2017) to 15th this year. Some of that has to do with falling from 17th in xbh last year to 26th in xbh this year. Reds offense can hang their hat on tying for 1st place with Atlanta in that all-important sacrifice hits category (The Riggleman Effect), but even with Senzel & a healthy Winker this team will be only slightly above average offensively & slightly below average defensively.

    • Scottya

      The injuries to Suarez, Winker, Senzel, and Schebler and all the resulting AB’s that Mason Williams, Phillip Ervin, Cliff Pennington, Tony Cruz, Rosell Herrera and Phil Gosselin had should be factored in to the discussion.

      Also and even more importantly; IF Billy Hamilton is a role player next season his 550+ pa’s will go to Senzel and Schebler etc.

    • BigRedMike

      Pitching improvement is needed, obviously.

      The Reds were 8th in NL in wRC+ in 2018. There is very little evidence that Hamilton will not be the starting CF in 2019.

      Also, the starting OF listed has an issue with injuries, in addition to the the awful hitting Hamilton will provide.

      The combined production of Gennett/Votto will likely be the same, with improvement coming from Votto and expected regression from Gennett.

      Production from SS and C is not that important, unless you have a superior hitting SS, which Peraza is not.

      The Reds will need significant improvement from the OF in order to get out of last place in the NL Central. The other 4 teams will be attempting to improve their rosters as well.

      • bouwills

        Man, if Scooter can regress as much in 2019 as he did in 2018, he’ll win the triple crown & the NL MVP.

    • roger garrett

      Yep and if the pitching improves they might not be average on offense.Closer games mean our guys get pitched to more carefully.No more stat padding down by 5 in the 8th.I will take it and welcome it anyway if we win a few more and start heading in the right direction.Losing 13-12 one day and 2-1 the next day is still 2 losses and its getting old.

  3. eric3287

    I hope this kind of overly optimistic thinking hasn’t made its way into the large offices at GABP, but I fear this kind of article is what Bob C would pump directly into his veins. Five NL teams made the playoffs; they were all in the top 7 in the NL in runs scored. The two teams in the top 7 not to make the playoffs were the Cardinals and Nationals, both over .500 teams. The Reds were 8th, but not really a close 8th. They finished 58 runs behind the Brewers (55 I guess). In other words, the Brewers were closer to the 1st place Dodgers than the 8th place Reds.

    Speaking of the Dodgers, they led the NL in non-pitcher wRC+ this year at 118, 11 points ahead of the Nationals and Cubs. Going back to 2010, there have been two NL teams to finish with non-pitcher wRC+ of 118 or better; this year’s Dodgers team and the 2011 Cardinals. The idea that the Reds are going to field essentially the best hitting team of the decade next year is…dubious to put it nicely. Going back to 2000, the Reds best non-pitcher wRC+ was 112 in 2010. Going back to 1990, the Reds best non-pitcher wRC+ was 113 in 1994. Going back to 1960, 3 Reds teams have finished with a
    NP wRC+ over 118 (1975, 121; 1965, 122; 1976, 130). I do not believe the 2019 Reds will be the 4th best offensive team in the past 60 years.

    My bigger issue with this kind of thinking is that a team as bad as the Reds have been can’t stand to just “sit pat.” You have to look at improving literally every position on the roster., There should not be a single roster spot “safe” going into 2019, whether that be because of trades or internal promotions or what. Maybe Votto is safe because he isn’t going anywhere. But outside of him, none of the other 24 players on the 25 man roster should be guaranteed a roster spot going into 2019.

    • BigRedMike

      Yep. The overall position by position analysis is a good view, yet, there can still be improvement. The Reds offense is fine, not sure how it projects to be one of the best in the NL next year.

      In addition, that is a pretty awful team defensively.

  4. Kap

    This is going to sound weird, but I think I would be cool with trading Schebler in order to get some pitching. Riddle me this, batman….

    What’s a worse defensive alignment? Scooter at second and Senzel at left OR scooter in left and Senzel at second?

    I’m nearly positive, as everyone else is as well, that Scooter will be resigned. In my opinion, and the stats may or may not agree, Scooter was horrible at defense and Senzel was one of the better defenders in the minors. Why change that? Would Scooter’s defense be worse in left as opposed to second? To me, there’s more value to Senzel playing second than Scooter.

    So, finding a trade partner who lacks offense but has pitching may be a way to go.

    • Scottya

      The FO should definitely consider all trades, however Schebler’s trade value is probably not very high.

      I’d be fine with a team friendly deal for Scooter, short term and one that saves on salary for 19′. Something like 3 years 25 million – He probably would not take it. So 19′ would be a one year deal for Senzel as a Kris Bryant type utility player and then Senzel would be at 2b in 20′

      • eric3287

        If I may interject, I see this a lot and it is sort of a pet peeve of mine because it’s not very accurate. Kris Bryant is not now and has never been a “utility player.” In his rookie season, Bryant made 136 starts at 3B, 4 in LF, 1 in CF, 5 in RF, and 1 at 1B. Now, he did make 48 starts in the OF in 2016, 8 in 2017, and 18 this year. For his entire career, he has spent 3991 innings at 3B, fully 82% of his total major league innings. Kris Bryant is a 3B who can fill in at other positions when he is the next best option. What I see floated around a lot is for Senzel to do something like make 1 start a week at 2B, 3B, LF, RF, and maybe 1 or 2 starts a month at SS or CF. Kind of like Ben Zobrist, who has played 52% of his innings at 2B, but really starts where ever needed.

      • Scottya

        Bryant played approximately 70% 3b and 30% Of and 1B this season; including playing 3b and LF in the game last night.

        If we keep Gennett; Senzel will play most of his games in the outfield and some much smaller % of games at 2b and to a lesser extent 3b.

  5. Scottya

    I Agree with your assessment of the offense, not difficult to see with the past two years offense and the addition of Winker and Senzel.

    The bullpen looks poised to be + also, we need to sign one more above average bullpen piece this off-season to assure this.

    I want to suggest a different tact to the starting pitching PROBLEM.

    What if we are able to have 5 starting pitchers that are right around league average FIP/Sierra/ERA? 4.20 would be the number i believe.

    So:

    1. Luis Castillo Sierra 3.85 in 18′
    2. Anthony Desclafani 3.96
    3. Trevor Cahill 4.06 (2 years 20 million)
    4. Brett Anderson 4.13 (lance lynn at 4.26 is another option here) (2 years 20 million
    5. Hyun Jin Ryu 3.61 (career sierra, this years is much lower). (2 years 20 million)

    that would be a payroll of 134 million with no other changes (keeping billy as a pinchrunner/defensive replacement).

    or we could sign two of the three and trade for Marcus Stroman (4.04 sierra), Sonny Gray (4.28 sierra).

    Use the trade deadline to get a #1 for 1 or 2 seasons and we don’t have to sell the farm.

  6. Dewey Roberts

    Hey, Jason, I am kind of thinking that the Reds need some starting pitchers. Would you agree or disagree?

  7. Kenny G.

    I believe there is zero chance of Hamilton being on the bench. He will be the starting CF for next season. What they’ll likely do is trade Schebler and plug in Senzel in right field, which dovetails perfectly with them having Senzel play corner OF spots in AFL. So no upgrade in the OF, or a modest one at best.

  8. lost11found

    I am of similar mind that the offense is in a position to compete, maybe at the lower edge of top tier. I would welcome an opportunity to improve that as well. However, the SP has more questions than answers right now, and the FA dollars and prospects available in the organization should be spent there first. If you can shore up the rotation through FA (I’d target Kuechel as my first choice), even overpaying there slightly, then you would have some prospects left over to improve the lineup.

    Think Big. Call the Angels up and see what they want for Trout. 2019 is almost done for them already with the ohtani injury, pujols decline, and new manager. That way you’d have a year to negotiate an extension with him. Everyone not named Senzel on the table (even Winker or Greene). OF of Senzel, trout, and Schebler (Ervin, Mason Williams, and Billy off the bench in some combo). IF of Suarez, Peraza, Gennet, and Votto (Blandino, Dixon, and Herrera as the bench).

    The most interesting quote and topic from the summer podcasts to me was Anderson’s thought on the BRM that they should have turned over 20-25% each off-season. For the 2018 Reds that’s roughly two pitchers (FA signings and/or trade), two position players (Senzel and a trade), and maybe one other addition (bench, utility, or Bullpen).

  9. Mike Adams

    The Reds need starting pitching first, then a bat and then better defense.

    I don’t understand the foregone conclusion most have that Senzel will be an automatic upgrade with his bat. If he is over his equilibrium problem, he will still have to adjust to MLB pitching. And as MLB pitching adjusts to pitching against him, he will have to continually adjust himself.

    He should provide better defense.

    I don’t think injuries can excuse any of the Reds’ problems. One also can’t assume that they will all disappear next year (old ones or new ones). The teams in the playoffs had injuries too but they somehow overcame them.

    I think the only way the existing Reds pitchers become good enough would be to develop much better control all across the board, or where needed, develop another pitch with control.

  10. lost11found

    I’m not sure I buy the idea that pitcher X won’t sign here because of the the bad defense. I’d bet that most SP think X dollars over Y years, especially since even the best ones really only get one bite at the FA apple in this era. They might take a few dollars less to play on a contender, but even that is unpredictable (Dodgers and Nationals struggles this year for example). If the reds outbid the field, they can land the top FA’s.

  11. Hanawi

    This is a much better way of looking at it and lines up much more with the results on the field of scoring runs. The Reds should be looking to upgrade at SS, CF and either RF or LF (depending on where you want to play Winker), while having Senzel man 2B.

  12. Corky Miller

    What about Will Myers? The Padres are loaded with OF talent. They are trying Myers at 3rd to fill a void there, and is reportedly on the trade block. He played CF before – though he may not be Billy Hamilton.

    He had 11 homers and 13 SBs in 80 games. He’d be a legit 25/25 guy in GABP.

    What about Will Myers, Eric Lauer (22yr old LHP starter from Ohio), and another pitching prospect for Suarez? Suarez fills a spot for them that they have been trying to fill for years.

    Also, opens up 3rd for Senzel to play his natural position.

  13. davy13

    It is hard to argue against the numbers. The final season analytic totals for the team indicate good offensive team. However, there is a big caveat emptor with this team’s offense. It is majorly streaky. So the numbers balance out well in the end because of really hot offensive streaks, but there significant periods in the season that the bats went real cold; for example, at the beginning season which resulted in the deplorable start and Price’s firing, and the end of the season. There was also a slump after the All-star break.

    My point is that I do not trust this team’s offense as the numbers suggest I should. It is not a consistent hitting offense. It is below league average in slugging and just league average in OPS. That is telling especially when the team plays in a hitter-friendly park at home. While SP is the biggest need, the offense should not be taken for granted.

  14. BurgRed

    Reds outfield is below average at best. Watching the playoffs I’m thinking it’s going to take more than pitching to play in October!