Since I announced that it was gonna be time for me to step back from Redleg Nation, I’ve been thinking about how to leave things. Nobody wants to blow the series finale, afterall. Eventually, I decided to frame it around an admission, which isn’t really an admission:
I don’t know anything.
All of the analysis I’ve ever done on this site has been written with that in mind. Sometimes, my diction was probably more forceful than it should have been, but I was really writing about what seemed to me the most likely to happen (or what maybe could happen, depending on the goal of piece). And how I determined that is pretty simple. Numbers. Yes the advanced numbers. Or advanced-ish. And relying on those numbers meant I was right (Suarez, Duvall, Scooter, Phillips) more often than I was wrong (Votto this year, Scooter last year, Peraza maybe).
But I’ve also always had some general rules of thumb that go basically like this:
- Make sure I know what “average” is because it changes every year.
- Don’t take numbers seriously until 200 PA have happened. (I’m looking at all of you who want to sign every player with a hot start and bench every player with a cold start.)
- Don’t take numbers entirely seriously until you have about 400 PAs (sample size matters so much)
- A full season of PAs should be taken with a grain of salt if it is substantially different from what the player has done in the past.
- Young players often get better. Old players always get worse (eventually).
- Young players are 26 and under. Old players are 33 and over. From 27-32 assume what you see is what you get (unless it varies wildly from past performance).
- There’s lots of stuff we don’t know.
- Relief pitchers should never be trusted.
So with all that said, here’s what I imagine for the guys who will be on the Reds next year:
Eugenio Suarez will keep doing what he’s been doing, but the power might drop if MLB messes with the ball again. He’s the best current candidate on the team for a crazy good year.
Jesse Winker will hit righties very well. Phillip Ervin will hit lefties very well.
Joey Votto will be an above average hitter still. Yes, he’s declining. But except from the time from the start of the season until May 24 this year, he’s been a very good hitter, just not prime-Votto.
Aristides Aquino will hit well, but not as well as a Winker-Ervin platoon. If I were to guess, I’d say a wRC+ of 120 or so.
Nick Senzel will take a big step forward.
Tucker Barnhart will hit like he has throughout his career and his defense will continue to be good now that he’s been shown how to frame pitches.
Freddy Galvis will hit some homers, but otherwise be an unimpressive hitter.
Derek Dietrich will hit better than Freddy Galvis, but he still can’t play short.
Josh VanMeter, if he gets enough playing time, will be about a league-average hitter.
If the Reds want to compete, they need to add 4-6 position player WAR from OUTSIDE the organization. That means whatever talent they acquire has to be that much better than the talent it replaces.
Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray will be about as good as they were this year.
Trevor Bauer will be better, but he won’t be like he was in 2018.
Tyler Mahle will be much better than many people think he is as part of his effort to be even more underappreciated than Mike Leake was.
Anthony DeSclafani will be somewhere between fine and good.
No one knows what the bullpen will be like even if they add pitchers and anyone who tells you they do know what it will be like is lying or misinformed.
If the Reds go out and spend the money they have and make the trades they can make (yes, they will have to give up their top prospects), then they can absolutely compete for the Central next year. It’s important to remember that the Reds had a much better run differential than would normally be the case for a team with their record. They’ve underperformed. Probably thanks to bad luck. It’ll probably get better next year.
It’s been great talking baseball here for the last ten years. Everybody make sure to tease Doug plenty for me. Bye, all.
Jason, will you be writing about the Reds somewhere else?
“Joey Votto will be an above average hitter still. Yes, he’s declining. But except from the time from the start of the season until May 24 this year, he’s been a very good hitter, just not prime-Votto.”
Free advise to the other writers on the site. Statements like this reveal that we can’t take you seriously on a given player. It’s a ‘how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?’ type of statement. Apart from nearly one-third of the season, JV was a very good hitter. I like Joey, and he will retire as one of the best reds hitters of all time, but we can be honest here with one another I think.
The hazard in statistics is that they will always describe the past better than they will predict the future.
Despite my contrariness, Thanks for all the writing you’ve done over the year Jason, especially for your eyewitness views of the Bats, and the reporting you’ve done there. It’s been very informative and enlightening.
Oh… and one last thing……#viewermail!
Fwiw, will miss your articles here.
Also would be nice to get a little info on what seems to have been a huge transition here at RLN.
Rarely see Chad write anything, Steve seems to have moved on to his new “advanced” site, and Jason moving on to who knows where.
Not sure if it was interpersonal issues or other, but too bad the folks who have been here for years no longer appear to be working together.
Best of luck to you Jason, hope you still opine from time to time like the rest of us plain old posters!
I feel 100% the same. I don’t really think it’s a “bad blood” thing. I enjoy the newer writers but the old-timers bring me back. It’s tough seeing them go, especially since I’m not on Twitter anymore and have never had a FB account.
What part of the statement about Votto is wrong? Terrible start, well above average from that point on. You are correct stats will only tell you what happened and are not predictors of the future except they do tend to tell you who the player was and is likely to be until father time wins. If you are trying to say father time is winning I think you bet is reasonable.
Ehh, not wrong, it conveyed a sense that votto is better than what he is now. The statement was trying to minimize the terrible start he had. Especially when viewed next to his comments on the Podcast (nothing to see here, move along). A third of the season isn’t a small portion and the portion where he’s been ‘good’ has seen some games missed due to injury. My statement about simple honesty is one more of ‘don’t try to pull the wool over my eyes’ and was not meant to say he was factually incorrect.
I think in the next couple years or so votto will have one last great season where everything goes right for him, but what we’ve seen the last two seasons (diminished pop, more K’s) is what we should probably expect.
Thanks for your writing here. I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts and occasional missed projections (right along side you there). I hope your right about aquino (120 wrc+).
I think the catching position is the most cost (payroll and or prospect cost) efficient way to begin the upgrade for 2020.
Tucker Barnhart Career WRC+ 88 vs RHP
1. Robinson Chirinos – Career WRC+ 130 vs LHP 96 vs RHP
2. Yasmani Grandal – Career WRC+ 119 vs RHP & 114 vs LHP (would be high cost to payroll, but worth it if short term)
Chirinos and Barnhart would be a good tandem, with chirinos getting by far the most of the ab’s.
Grandal and Casali would be a top in the league tandem with Casali only getting occasional stars.
We will miss you Jason. If this was your last article it was a very fine article. I hope that many will realize that jumping on and off bandwagons is not a pleasant thing. Yes it can stir up some controversy, but lets all please look at the bigger picture, before we rip a player or hail him as the next Babe Ruth.
I’m sorry, why do we forgive Joey for being TERRIBLE for 1/3 of the season!!???
If I was terrible at my job from January through April, I would be fired.
His awful start (and Puigs) SANK this team.
I am checking to see if you have been one of the best in the world at your job. If you have you would survive a below average couple of months.
Excellent reply Mr. Smith!!!
This couldn’t be further from the truth, ask our sales department.
Plus, he wasn’t “best in the world” this year, he was just good.
Who was the alternative at 1B RP?
Thanks Jason and good luck! Your Votto love fest matches my own, and you will forever be a kindred spirit of mine because of this. I look forward to many more Coffee and Votto tweets in the future.
Also, when you do write something occasionally for The Hardball Times, please link to in on Twitter so we can read it.
Long live the oxford comma!
Also thank you for every thing you have done over the years including dealing with all the Virginia Cavaliers talk.
Jason, as you ride off into the Reds sunset….all the best. Now if I may:
Tucker Barnhart will hit like he has throughout his career. If he hits anything like he has the September, we’re all in trouble. Bell slotting him 5th is mind numbing. I think we can do better at Catcher and Manager.
Thank you. I’ve enjoyed your thoughts, your optimism, your enthusiasm, your insights, and your words of caution on this forum. I’ve enjoyed your interactions with one Chadwick Dotson on the RLN Radio podcasts. And I recently read Anna Karenina almost entirely because of you. I sincerely hope we haven’t heard the last on RLN from you Mr. Linden, but either way you’ve made my experience here a better one. Thank you!
– Chris DeBlois
Thank you Jason for your work on RLN. I a free wit about 75 % of the things you said which is by far the highest percentage of any writer. Lol
Man 2020 seems like a mess right now.
Suarez will be our 3rd baseman and Votto will be are 1st baseman. Are rotation is basically set but other than that ,question marks everywhere else. My problem is it is hard to imagine Senzel and Winker being fully healthy next year and they are supposed to be the core of our rebuild. Can vanmeter Aquino and Ervin lead the team if these 2 are injured. So far they have held their own but haven’t been able to push the reds over the edge into competitiveness. Hard to imagine 1 or 2 free agent signings would make a huge difference in our overall record unless our young players step up.
Agree with **
Has it really been 10 years? Jeez.
When I look at the American League Wildcard standings, I see Oakland and Tampa Bay at the top. Both teams have less less money, and are similar markets, yet somehow they seem to be competitive, more often than the Reds, maybe that is a model the Reds need to take a look at.
Your friend and mine…
Step 1 – Give Cleveland whatever they want for Lindor
Step 2 – Sign Gerrit Cole
Step 3 – Sign Yasmani Grandal
Step 4 – Print World Series tickets
Step one might doom the chances of a WS. A team composed of Lindor, Cole, Grandal and the Dayton Dragons might languish at the bottom of the division.
Cossack, I too will miss reading Jason’s contributions. My concern about Grandal is the one you mention: age. Particularly at catcher. If there’s a real chance that 2020 is the year, then it’s probably a risk worth taking (not my money, anyway), but I have lots of doubts that there will be anything more than marginal improvement. Then we get to 2021. Grandal is an expensive 32 year-old catcher, Bauer is gone and Joey is 56. On the other hand, they need to do something bold and effective. I also always enjoy reading your comments. You’re one of the last of the old guard.
I am not sold on Grandal as being the fix for catcher spot. His bat will play (maybe), but his defense is ….(trying to be nice)….err…. a problem. He was exposed in last years WS by Boston. People don’t run very much nowadays, and not much reason to in regular season, but a few well-timed SB in the playoffs can make a big difference. Teams might take that risk when the reward is highest.
If they shore up 2B, and only have weaker production from SS and C, which are usually defense first positions, they might be able to roll with that.
I have a huge problem with your strategy, and I say that with all due respect knowing that I agree with you like 90% of the time usually…. but Grandal is entering the age where catchers are converted to other positions.. whatever advantage you seek by positional scarcity is nullified by the fact he will not be catching and/or be available for less games as a result of the toil of catching. We need to improve what we got more than anything else.. there is huge potential there and that is why the Reds invested in coaches to work with these guys… we aren’t about to cut bait with anyone under contract who hasn’t shown progression or has minor league options we can utilize like O’Grady and Blandino.. does Peraza still have one left I think so.. so yes there is opportunity to improve the team thru free agency but I don’t like a crazy deal on a 31 year old paying top market price it’s just nuts. Look at the steals we made on Suarez, Gray, Castillo.. heck even Bauer was a result of flipping a washed up Homer Bailey and maybe he is dicey but he has more upside than Bailey I think we all agree on that. Point is, the one space I know available is for a good solid left set up man.. although I think Garrett is that and more, but one more guy like that and we are golden in the pitching dept. and can focus on improving the offense without selling out for the short term like you are ambitiously suggesting.
Dang it Jason. I’ve always enjoyed your writing, even when I don’t agree with you; which doesn’t happen too often. I’m not on social media anymore so won’t see you pop up on a Twitter feed either.
Keep doing you and best of luck in whatever you endeavor to do. My email address is tied to every comment so feel free to reach out anytime.