The 2019 season is behind us and we’re taking a look back at how it played out for the major players on the Cincinnati Reds. Today we’re going to look at Josh VanMeter’s rookie season.

The Preseason Projection

Josh VanMeter was so far off of the radar that despite hitting .310/.370/.600 in the final 44 games of 2018 in Triple-A with Louisville that he didn’t even get an invitation to big league spring training in 2019. Here’s what Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections had before the season for VanMeter:

462 26 5 11 46 120 .236 .305 .385 0.2

The 2019 Season

When the season began for Josh VanMeter he was in Triple-A Louisville. As noted above, he closed out 2018 at that level and did so in a big way. It was just a teaser for what was to come. He was tearing up the International League with the Louisville Bats and hit .348/.429/.669 in 49 games in the minors this season. That performance led to him getting called up and making his Major League debut in early May, and he came up to stay in July.

After killing the baseball in Triple-A and getting the call up on May 5th, Josh VanMeter only started seven games over the next six weeks for the Reds. He did play in 28 games, but did a lot of pinch hitting along the way. He got on base, showing a .347 on-base percentage in that span. But he hit just .220 and slugged just .268 in those 49 plate appearances. He was optioned back to the minors in mid-June. He returned for two days in the first week of July, but after the All-Star break he was recalled for good.

VanMeter caught fire when he came back up, hitting .438/.526/.875 in the first two weeks he was back. But he went into a slump over the next week, going just 1-14 (.071).  He came out of it and from August 9th through the 26th hit .300/.354/.467 in 17 games. From August 27th through the end of the year, though, he slumped and slumped hard – hitting just .143 in 88 plate appearances. A lot of that came down to the fact that his BABIP was just .143 in that span – but it dragged down his overall line on the season in a big way.

What happened?

For a guy who wasn’t even invited to spring training, the 2019 season was a good one for Josh VanMeter. Six weeks into the year he was making his Major League debut. Inconsistent playing time early, and a big slump late negated a strong middle portion of the year for the rookie. But he showed he was capable of playing in the big leagues, posting a .735 OPS with a little bit of pop, baserunning ability, solid plate discipline, and some position flexibility.

He showed big splits both against different handed pitchers as well as home and road splits. The lefty was limited against left-handed pitchers in the Majors – which is a bit strange given that he absolutely crushed them in Triple-A. He was only give 24 at-bats against lefties, going 3-24 against them. He posted a .768 OPS against right-handed pitchers while facing them 232 times. At home he hit .291/.391/.436, while on the road he hit just .186/.265/.381. The big different there is likely just random variance in his luck. At home his BABIP was .358, while on the road it was just .202.

Season Stats

228 13 1 8 29 56 .237 .327 .408 0.2

What’s to come?

Had this article been written a month ago, the answer would have been a little bit different. But the main position for Josh VanMeter to play was second base. With Mike Moustakas being signed to play second for the next four seasons, that spot isn’t likely going to be available anytime soon. VanMeter can play first, right field, and left field, too – so there could be opportunities for him to get some action while moving around the field, but it appears that in the short term if he’s going to break into the lineup as an every day player, he’s going to need to do so as an outfielder.

17 Responses

  1. Colorado Red

    maybe part of the Lindor trade? (if that happens).
    Senzel, Galvis, India and VanMeter?

    • Redleg4life

      No way! I saw him personally at triple A. He is versatile defensively. If anything I would trade Winker and have vanmeter and Ervin take his place.

      • Doug Gray

        The last thing the Reds need is to sign an abusive sociopath. Hard pass.

      • Colorado Red

        winkers OPS+ is 121, better then Mouse, and many others. Pass on trading him.

  2. CFD3000

    I like VanMeter’s approach. OBP alone is valuable, but part of a higher OBP is the ability to avoid making outs on unhittable pitches. That leads to higher AVG and slugging and unless you’re Vladimir Guerrero is a recipe for more productive offense. I like the Moustakas signing but I said for many months that I wanted JVM as the full time second baseman of the future.

    I think JVM will be a valuable bench piece and depth asset. I suspect he’ll play a fair amount of 2B, 1B, or LF when injuries inevitably hit. But it’s possible he has more value to the Reds in a trade than on the roster. There’s a solid major league every day hitter in there, but what to do now with JVM?

  3. RedNat

    I never want to see JVM in the outfield again. Remember the game ( I think it was against the brewers ) that he singlehandly blew with a series of errors in left?
    He would be a good bench guy and a back up first baseman to Votto.

    • jazzmanbbfan

      Ervin had a game like that in 2018 but he seemed to be better in 2019. People can have a bad/awful day but that doesn’t mean they are universally bad. JVM seems to be athletic enough that he can at least be an adequate OF in my opinion.

  4. Hotto4Votto

    JVM was not good in the OF. I hope he commits to becoming a passable defender in the OF in the offseason because he was borderline unplayable out there. I honestly expect him to open up in AAA for depth. I see Farmer being on the roster, and as a RH utility guy he’ll make for a fine back up for Moustakas when he sits against the occasional lefty.

    The Reds should carry 5 bench pieces with the addition of a 26th spot. But with Casali, Farmer, and Ervin I expect three of those spots are spoken for. I’m predicting the addition of another OF’er to the roster as well. The Reds will need someone capable of backing up SS as well. Jankowksi would appear to have a leg up being as he can play a good defensive CF. And if not any of those guys, the Reds would have to make a decision on Rule 5 selection Payton.

    Lots of time between now and finalizing rosters. But at this point, JVM looks to have a tough task ahead of him to make the roster out of ST.

  5. Dawson

    I like JVM. I wish Bell would have given him more of a chance as the fulltime 2B the last month of last season. Wish we could know a little better of what we have in him, especially after the numbers he put up in AAA. OBP was still good at MLB level, which is a pretty good sign in my opinion.

    JVM being pushed out was the most disappointing thing about the Moose signing for me, though I am happy with it. JVM will be a good utility player to have on the big league roster if he makes it. He should fill in pretty well if we lose someone to injury.

    • Redleg4life

      Injuries are inevitable. They just are. Therefore we will need a good left handed bat to play when someone eventually gets hurt. I like him a lot he showed solid power and the ability to play the utility role. I would be more hesitant to trade him then Ervin. Ervin can’t hit right handers. Vanmeter can hit righties and lefties.

  6. Bdh

    Doug, can Starin Castro still play shortstop? Im not buying that the Indians are going to move Lindor and I’m thinking of some other names out there that could work in the middle infield with a solid bat. Castro would be a solid addition to the lineup if he can still handle shortstop.

    Other than him I would like to see Iglesias back on the team. Somebody has to be added that can play short because Galvis is all there is as of now correct?

    • jazzmanbbfan

      Other than 3 games last year, the last time he played much there was 2015 and based on what I saw on Baseball-Reference, he was not a good shortstop. At this point I’m guessing he would have us wishing for Jose Peraza again, if that’s possible, lol.

  7. Indy Red Man

    You may be right, but that would be a shame imo. He can hit. He can run. He’ll draw a walk and he has upside. Daniel Murphy at age 24 had a .741 ops. JVMs was .735. Unlikely he’ll end up like Murphy, but he hit lefties better at Lville then Winker ever did. I see a kid with a selective approach and 20/20/.360 obp potential and they don’t grow on trees. The Reds are already stuck with Votto, Moose, Suarez, and Winker on the bases. If the Reds don’t emphasize speed or obp then how can the offense improve? Launch nonstop homers? Unlikely

    JVM’s exit velocity 90.0 mph (avg 88.7)
    launch angle 16.5 degrees (avg 12.7)

  8. Indy Red Man

    The Reds also shift a ton so Suarez is already getting some action at SS. They could occasionally move Suarez to SS and get JVM in the game at 2B or 3B.

  9. Roger Garrett

    Yep.Just like so many others that were never given a chance.Of course he will hang around cause they don’t know what he can do or can’t do so they fear he may find it some where else.Peraza was given 5 years and JVM around 5 months but hey its what the Reds do.Dude should have played every game once Scooter left but that would have been too easy for him to play his natural and best position.Had to let Galvis and Peraza play there cause well I don’t know why cause now one is gone and the other is at short stop.