If you’ve watched any of the 2019 Major League Baseball playoffs this year you’ve probably seen a former Cincinnati Reds player making a significant contribution in a game. The Reds haven’t been to the playoffs since 2013. It’s been a rather painful stretch of baseball for Cincinnati ever since.
As I was sitting around watching the games on Monday I thought it would be interesting to see just what a team of former Cincinnati Reds that are in the playoffs this year would look like. There aren’t enough of them to make a full team. There’s certainly enough guys to make for a heck of a large part of an interesting team, though.
You’re going to be shocked to learn that there are only two former Reds pitchers in the playoffs given how well they’ve churned out pitchers in the entire history of the franchise. Both guys are relievers, too.
Aroldis Chapman | Reliever
A trade that still angers many Reds fans, Aroldis Chapman was traded after a domestic violence accusation that also saw him go to his garage and fire a gun out of the window. The organization rushed to move him to avoid the firestorm publicity that inevitably followed. Things didn’t go well for anyone who came back in the deal to the Reds. Eric Jagielo’s knee never recovered to allow him to hit like he had before the trade. Caleb Cotham’s arm gave out on him and he retired (and is now on the coaching staff with the Reds). Rookie Davis never fulfilled his promise as a solid back end of the rotation pitcher, though unlike everyone else he’s still playing – just not with the Reds. And then there was utility man Tony Renda, who played in five games this year with the Red Sox in Triple-A.
In the Yankees sweep over the Twins he pitched in two of the wins. He picked up a save last night. He didn’t allow a run in 2.2 innings with two walks and four strikeouts.
Tanner Rainey | Reliever
The reliever was one side of the famous “Tanner for Tanner” trade in the last offseason. The Reds sent him to the Washington Nationals for Tanner Roark. During the regular season in 2019 Rainey posted a 3.91 ERA in 48.1 innings. But he was the three-true outcomes of pitchers. He walked 38 batters, struck out 74 batters, and gave up six home runs. In the postseason this year he’s allowed two runs in 1.1 innings over his two appearances.
Yasmani Grandal | Catcher
The Reds were the team that drafted Yasmani Grandal out of Miami. But he was coming up at the same time as Devin Mesoraco. And it was Mesoraco that was ahead of him on the depth chart. The Reds chose to keep Mesoraco and to include Grandal in the trade for Mat Latos. While opinions are still split to this day on that trade and if it was good or bad (I’m on the side that says it was good), it’s clear that in the long run Grandal would have been the catcher to keep – though that may be more so because of the fact that Mesoraco couldn’t remain healthy. The Brewers only made it one game in the playoffs, losing the wild card game. But Grandal went 1-3 with a walk, home run, and two runs batted in.
Edwin Encarnacion | 1B/DH
After hitting .262/.345/.449 for the Reds over 514 games to start his career, Cincinnati traded Edwin Encarnacion along with two prospect pitchers to Toronto for Scott Rolen in July of 2009. It would be another two years before he truly broke out, but from 2012-2019 he’s averaged 37 home runs a season and has hit 343 home runs since he left Cincinnati. In the Yankees sweep of the Twins he hit .308/.357/.462.
Didi Gregorius | Shortstop
In December of 2012 the Reds were looking to acquire a difference maker to add to their lineup. They worked the winter meetings and worked out a 3-team deal that would bring Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati. The Reds traded Didi Gregorius and Drew Stubbs away in the deal, with Stubbs going to Cleveland and Gregorius to Arizona. Trevor Bauer, for funsies, was also in this trade – going from Arizona to Cleveland.
The Reds at the time had Zack Cozart in the Major Leagues as a rookie, and Gregorius on the verge of the big leagues as a Top 100 prospect and chose to make the deal to keep Cozart. It took a few years for Gregorius to get things together on the offensive side of things, but he hit 20, 25, and 27 home runs for the Yankees from 2016-2018. He hit another 16 this past season in just 82 games played. After driving in two runs on Monday night he now leads the playoffs with six. He’s also hitting .400/.600/.700 and make web gems at shortstop.
Justin Turner | Third Base
The Reds selected Justin Turner with their 7th round pick in the 2006 draft. In December of 2008 he was traded along with Ryan Freel (and another minor leaguer) to Baltimore for catcher Ramon Hernandez. He bounced around a little bit from there. It was in 2014 when he first started to break out, hitting .340/.404/.493 in 288 at-bats for the Dodgers. He’s hit .302/.381/.506 with 112 homers in 754 games since the start of that season with Los Angeles – one of the more interesting late-20’s break outs in recent memory. He’s hitting .333 with two doubles, two home runs, a steal, and he’s driven in five runs in the Dodgers four games during the playoffs.
Adam Duvall | Outfielder
The Reds traded for Adam Duvall on July 30th of 2015, giving up Mike Leake for Duvall and pitcher Keury Mella at the deadline. Duvall made an All-Star team with Cincinnati, but never could repeat that first half and was eventually traded at the deadline in 2018 for Lucas Sims (among others). For a large part of 2019, Duvall was in Triple-A hitting bombs. Eventually he was called up to Atlanta where he hit .267/.315/.567 in 41 games down the stretch. While he’s played in four games for the Braves in the playoffs, and he’s made himself apparent in them all – he’s only have eight plate appearances. But he’s hit .429/.500/.857 with a home run. And he also threw a runner out at the plate against the Cardinals in the first round.
Billy Hamilton | Outfielder
The speedster was non-tendered after the 2018 season and became a free agent. His incredibly defense and baserunning abilities didn’t quite outweigh his struggles as the plate for much of his career in Cincinnati. The Royals signed him in the offseason. After posting a career worst 46 OPS+ (.533 OPS) he was placed on waivers by Kansas City. The Braves picked him up in mid-August. Their plan was to use him as a pinch runner and defensive replacement down the stretch. He played in 26 games during the regular season with Atlanta and had 41 at-bats, hitting .268/.375/.317. He’s drawn a walk, stolen a base, and scored two runs. His walk was his only plate appearance.
Jake Cave | Outfielder
The Reds selected Jake Cave in the Rule 5 draft back in December of 2015. He had a solid, but unspectacular spring training in 2016, hitting .255/.349/.364 with eight walks and 12 strikeouts. The Reds decided that he didn’t warrant a spot on theroster and he was returned to the New York Yankees. Two seasons later the Yankees traded him to the Twins during spring training. He would spend parts of 2018 and 2019 with Minnesota in the Majors. He’s hit .262/.329/.466 in 163 games over the last two seasons at the Major League level. Cave picked up his first hit of the series last night and is now 1-4 for Minnesota this postseason.