The Seattle Mariners have claimed outfielder Phillip Ervin from the Cincinnati Reds. Ervin, a 2013 1st round draft pick of the Reds, was designated for assignment on Friday. Ervin is joining several other now former Reds in the Seattle organization, who in recent years have picked up infielder Shed Long Jr. as well as outfield prospect Taylor Trammell.

From 2017-2019 Phillip Ervin was an average Major League hitter for the Cincinnati Reds. He played in 200 games and picked up 571 plate appearances in that time, hitting .262/.326/.438 with 23 doubles, 8 triples, 17 home runs, 14 steals, 42 walks, and he struck out 138 times. His OPS+ over that span was 98 (100 is league average).  Ervin also saw action at all three outfield spots, and in 2018 he even recorded an out on the mound.

The 2020 season treated him like the 2020 decade has been treating the rest of us: Without empathy and with intent to try and break our soul. Phillip Ervin went 3-35 in 19 games. He walked six times and he struck out eight times. That means when he put the ball in play this year for the Reds he had three hits in 27 chances. That’s a BABIP of .111. That kind of thing can and will happen in small sample sizes, but it’s got to be demoralizing, too.

When we dive into the stats for 2020 to compare them to the past – well, there are some things to note. His exit velocity was higher in 2020 than it was in 2019 and 2017, and half a MPH lower than it was in 2018. That said, every season of his career has been between 84.9 and 85.9 MPH, so the difference isn’t noteworthy. His launch angle in 2020 was right in the middle of where it was in 2017 and 2018. But his “expected” numbers based on Statcast data tell a very different story. His expected batting average (xBA) was just .122. His expected slugging percentage (xSLG) was just .155. Statcast doesn’t think he was unlucky based on the quality of contact he was making – but we do need to also understand how small the sample size is here and that it’s not all that useful to look at with regards to projecting forward his performance.

Phillip Ervin’s hard hit percentage according to Statcast was just 18.5% this season. It’s been 31.1% and 34.6% in the last two seasons. His hard hit % according to Fangraphs was 33.3% – not far off from his career rate of 34.6%. Why the numbers are so different between the two sites, I’m not entirely sure. What is interesting, though, is that the line drive rate from Fangraphs had Ervin at just 11.1%, which is less than half of his career rate of 23.8%. Ervin did make contact more frequently, and he walked more frequently in 2020 (again, small sample size alert here) than he has in the past.

For Seattle, they probably just landed themselves a solid bench outfielder who can cover all three spots and likely be a useful bat off of the bench. What’s happened in 2020 for Phillip Ervin so far at the plate has been a disaster. But in the grand scheme of things he had a weeks worth of plate appearances for a starter and he simply struggled in them. His track record is much better than what he showed in that time frame. The Reds couldn’t option him to the minors since he was out of options. And they felt they couldn’t wait any longer for things to start balancing out, either, and that left them with the choice to put him on waivers. In a longer season, Ervin may still be a Red. But like most things in 2020 – it’s not normal.

64 Responses

  1. Matt WI

    Better luck in different pastures, Mr. Ervin. May the Pacific NW treat you well.

    • JayTheRed

      I hope they give him a better opportunity than the Reds did. I feel like he was not used to his full potential here.

  2. jim walker

    I have to believe the Reds thought Ervin was the OF they would be dealing at the deadline instead of Stuart Fairchild. Now they are both out of the org, Which leaves ??? besides Aquino as RH hitting OF depth, even if Senzel is back.

    I am curious as to why the Reds painted themselves into a corner of sorts in devaluing Ervin by DFAing him virtually on the eve of the trade deadline. What was the urgency of the moves which required his roster spot Friday versus 4PM Monday?

    • DaveCT

      Ervin is 28 and out of options. They were cutting ties, same as Reed.

    • Charles Lackey

      Let’s face it. Over the last several years trades and F.A. signings have not panned out too well for the Reds. REDS scouts must not be around anymore and probably the Front Office manage and make ALL the moves for this REDS team?

  3. seadog

    So basically the Reds get zero return out of a 2013 first round pick. I happens to most MLB teams, but man It hurts. Wish him the best. Maybe in the future we see Long/Trammel/Ervin starting at the same time for Seattle. I hope they do. I hope they succeed. Give me a reason to follow Seattle…

  4. Charlie Waffles

    Just another 1st round draft pick bust for the Reds in 2011-2014.
    2011-#1 Robert Stephenson RHP.
    2012-#1 Nick Travieso RHP, 1s-Jeff Gelalich OF. (**1s-Jesse Winker OF.)
    2013-#1 Phillip Ervin OF. (*1s-Michael Lorenzen.)
    2014-#1 Nick Howard RHP, 1s-Alex Blandino.

    Eight 1st round draft picks in those 4 years and all the Reds have to show for it is a very good LF/DH and 2 mediocre RH relievers. Pitiful.
    And don’t get me started on the 2nd round picks from those years.
    ’11-Gabriel Rosa OF; ’12-Tanner Rahier SS; ’13-Kevin Franklin 3B; ’14-Taylor Sparks 3B. None of which are still with the organization. Double pitiful.
    Those 4 draft years really did set the organization back. It is one big reason the team has been so bad from 2017 through 2020. In between Leake (2009) and Grandal (2010) and Ty Stephenson (2015) very little was developed from what was drafted from the top rounds.
    Good luck to Ervin in Seattle. He will need it.

    • Doug Gray

      This is wrong.

      By the time you begin to reach the picks in the 1st round of the MLB draft the likely outcome is a bench player/reliever. The Reds took Ervin late in the 1st round. Same for Stephenson.

      People tend to think that being a 1st rounder means you should become a starting caliber player. And yes, that’s what we *want* them to be. But the reality is that most of them never become that. Ervin and Stephenson wound up becoming exactly what the history of the draft tells us we should have expected them to become based on their draft position.

      • Charlie Waffles

        Wellllll, lets look at the tape on the Cardinals for those same 4 years. They usually draft low in the first round.
        2011- Kolten Wong 2B, starter for STL, #22
        2012- James Ramsey OF, hasn’t played anywhere since 2018, #23.
        2012- 1/s-Stephen Piscotty OF, starter for OAK, #36.
        2012- 1/s-Patrick Wisdom 3B, played with the Rangers 2019, #52.
        2012- 1/s-Steve Bean C, hasn’t played anywhere since 2017, #59.
        2013- Marco Gonzalez LHP, starter for SEA, #19.
        2013- 1/s-Rob Kaminsky LHP, reliever for STL, #28.
        2014- Luke Weaver RHP, starter for ARZ, #27
        2014- 1/s-Jack Flaherty RHP, starter for STL, #34.

        The Cardinals had 9 picks and the Reds had 8 in the first round and 1st round supplemental. Cardinals drafted a starting INF, a starting OF, 3 starting pitchers and a reliever that have done well at times at the ML level. Not all have remained in STL because of trades. And this does not include the players brought in with those trades. So, saying I am wrong is completely wrong.

      • Doug Gray

        You were very, very wrong inferring that Stephenson, along with Ervin were busts. They aren’t.

        But I’ll just also point out that you seemed to stop reading my reply given that you replied with basically the rest of my reply to you – citing the Cardinals picks (which I did), then saying they did a good job (which I also did).

    • matt

      That is a pathetic track record, it is why the Reds are always 4th or 5th in their division. They don’t have the player development, scouting or front office to compete with the Cubs, Brewers or Cardinals. At the very least they can battle Pittsburgh for 4th place and blow another first round pick.

      • Doug Gray

        2011-2014 1st round picks:
        Brewers: Dylan Covey (didn’t sign), Jed Bradley, Taylor Jungmann, Mitch Haniger, Victor Roach, Clint Coulter, Jake Gatewood, Kodi Medeiros
        Cardinals: Kolten Wong, Steve Bean, Patrick Wisdom, Stephen Piscotty, James Ramsey, Michael Wacha, Rob Kaminsky, Marco Gonzalez, Jack Flaherty, Luke Weaver
        Cubs: Javier Baez, Paul Blackburn, Pierce Johnson, Albert Almora, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber.

        The Cubs clearly kicked everyone’s butt in the draft within the division. They also drafted 9th, 6th, 2nd, and 4th. They SHOULD have kicked everyone’s butt in the draft within the division at that time. The Cardinals did well.

        The Reds drafted inside the top 15 once in that stretch. They drafted Nick Travieso 14th. He blew out his shoulder four years later.

        Where the Reds need to look good is from 2016-2019 when they drafted 2nd, 2nd, 5th, and 7th. So far they’ve only gotten Nick Senzel to the Majors from that group.

      • DaveCT

        First off, after the playoff run ten years or so back, the team drafted lower in the draft and didn’t have opportunities to draft elite players. Earlier, when the did have better picks, these became Bruce, Frazier, Cozart, later vis trade Phillips, Mesoraco, Grandal, Alonso, Hamilton etc. Recently, they’ve also drafted, signed and developed Iggy, Garrett, Lorenzen, RStephenson, Mahle, Antone, as well as Senzel, Garcia, TStephenson, Winker, Greene, and India. Minor league systems go up and down in ranking.

      • Hanawi

        Honestly, the most important guy that needs to turn out is Greene. They passed on some pretty elite talent to take him (Gore, Adell, Wright, Hiura, McKay, Haseley). Only a couple of guys in the top 10 look iffy right now.

      • DaveCT

        Greene has a lot in his favor. Superior athlete. Highly motivated. Great, great kid, wants to learn, and gives back to the community. Plus he throws 100 in his sleep.

    • Charles Lackey

      Reds fans know Tyler Stephenson should be with the Reds NOW. As much I dislike texting this BARNHART or CASALI should go or BOTH. Neither catcher is hitting their weight Nd Reds HAVE NO HITTERS except for Winker. Seems like team has no energy and really don’t seem to want to win. RIGHT NOW THIS REDS TEAM IS PATHETIC.

      • JayTheRed

        Senzel is a pretty good hitter. Votto now that he is remotivated is doing a pretty decent job too. I know I know it’s only been a few games but I’ll take it. Galvis has been what we expected. I am not willing to give up on Suarez any time soon. Winker has been great. The biggest issue I have seen is we players with some on base skills… Akiyama has not done that to this point and I hope that can change. Castellanos also has done a very nice job. Biggest issue I have seen is about 70 percent of the lineup seems to be dead at different parts of the season. I honestly have been pretty embarrassed by the batting averages too It’s hard spending 2 to 3 hours watching a game hoping something good is going to happen and way too often it has not this season.

    • seadog

      Doug, you have to admit Ervin is a bust! But, you refuse. Maybe he becomes something down the road. Right now he is a bust. As far as Stephenson. Jury still out. MLB is not the NFL. 1st rd picks are not just “plugged” in. Still, the track record for the Reds is abysmal

      • Doug Gray

        I don’t have to admit anything that I don’t believe. The average 27th overall draft pick provides less value in their career than the same value provided by 1 season of a league average player. That’s a verifiable fact. People don’t want to hear that, or accept that – but they can feel free to look it up and find it out for themselves. I’ll stay on the side where reality says a guy like Ervin, or Stephenson, is exactly what you should expect to get from a 27th overall pick.

      • Old-school

        Stephenson was 18 years old and threw 95 mph and had a great off speed pitch-thats worth a # 27 pick. Problem with Ervin is he came from a small time college program. Thats a lot of development needed for someone already 21/22 years old . Cards SS Dejung was a 4th round pick from a small D1 program. That’s value.

        I wouldn’t spend first round picks on small school college players who are age 21+

  5. RojoBenjy

    Reds passed on Aaron Judge for Ervin

    • Doug Gray

      You can make these kinds of arguments for every team, almost every year, of almost every draft. It serves very little purpose.

      The Angels drafted another player before they drafted Mike Trout, who was drafted after more than 2/3rd of the teams in baseball had already drafted. He’s arguably the best player that’s ever lived. And he played in a time in which everyone had a chance to see him without much issue (unlike, say, 1973 when there weren’t video cameras at every high school game in the country for anyone remotely considered to be a Top 3-4 round draft pick, national draft coverage from multiple news outlets, a Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, national baseball tournaments, travel ball, etc).

      Turns out this stuff isn’t easy and everyone gets it wrong. Almost all of the time.

      • Mark Moore

        Always a woulda-shoulda-coulda situation out there somewhere. Ryan Wagner was a “can’t miss” back in the day, right?

        Sometimes the change of scenery helps, sometimes it doesn’t.

      • RojoBenjy

        No argument from me on that. I just find it interesting to look back.

        At the time I remember some scouts thought Ervin had the best bat speed in the draft.

      • doofus

        However the Reds seem to have a track record for, let us call it, talent mis-evaluation. They also chose one of the pitchers called Nick Travieso or Howard, instead of Corey Seager in 2012 or something.

        I do not care about other teams. I only care about the Reds.

        An argument can also be said that there are teams that do not foul up the majority of their drafts.

      • Doug Gray

        Find me those teams, doofus. I’m genuinely curious as to 1, which team doesn’t do it regularly, and 2, what one constitutes not fouling things up.

        The Reds drafted big leaguers with the best of them. The Reds issues for a long time have been that they haven’t drafted a super star since 2002.

      • Colorado Red

        Best player that ever lived. FAT CHANCE.
        You ever hear of Babe Ruth?
        How many guys have 2 20 win seasons, and 700 HRs?
        How many guys hit more HRs, then entire teams.
        No Doug, the Babe is the best ever.

      • Doug Gray

        Mike Trout is better than Babe Ruth. I stand firmly on this one for a plethora of reasons, but mainly because Ruth’s numbers don’t exactly hold up given that he basically only played against other white guys born east of the Mississippi River.

    • Charles Lackey

      Passed on Judge for Ervin? Shows you what Scouts the Reds have, if any.

      • Doug Gray

        Aaron Judge was drafted 32nd overall. Nearly every team in baseball passed on him for someone else.

      • Randy in Chatt

        Albert Pujols was passed by every team in mlb……..12 times

      • Randy in Chatt

        Albert Pujols was passed by every team in mlb……..12+ times

      • Michael E

        …and Judge is becoming injury-prone. He may never have a better year than his rookie year.

      • Don

        Mike Piazza was a 62nd round as a favor to a family fried of Lasorda.

        Drafting 17 to 22 year old human beings is at best a guess.

      • Colorado Red

        And Pete Rose (Doug’s favorite) was also signed as a favor,

    • Greenfield Red

      Gotta disagree on the Babe Ruth thing Doug. If he was an 18 year old high schooler today he would not even be considered for drafting in the final round or the draft or signed as an undrafted free agent by any team.

      Can you imagine any high end pitcher of today being put on the field in the 1920s? Nobody would be able to catch up to a 100mph fastball. Location and movement would not matter. Just throw strikes and Ruth, Gehrig, Cobb, Hornsby… all of them strike out on 3 pitches every time. However, they would all scoff at the fact these guys only last 10 years and with the medical knowledge of 100 years ago, probably only last 3 or 4 years when compared to the 20 plus year careers of that era.

      However, all we can do is compare a guy to his peers, and he was the best by far of anyone from his era. In my opinion, he is the GOAT baseball player… and I hate the Yankees.

      • greenmtred

        They’d struggle at first, though several pitchers of that era were thought to have thrown 100 (W. Johnson, S.J. Wood). Timing fast pitches is about athleticism, and the 20s and 30s weren’t long enough ago to allow for the assumption that humans have evolved and become better coordinated or have developed better eyesight. Those guys would very likely have adjusted to faster pitches and learned to hit them, just as today’s players would–after a period of futility–adjust to the control and pitching craftsmanship of earlier pitchers.

      • Greenfield Red

        Just can’t agree. Today’s athletes are bigger, stronger, faster, better conditioned, and have better information on opponents. The Babe was too out of shape and undisciplined to even get a 2nd look in today’s game. Yet there he is… best ever in my book, and has to be high up on anyone’s list.

      • greenmtred

        It’s an unresolvable argument, for obvious reasons, but that’s what makes it fun. Many–most–of those old-time players grew up doing hard manual labor of the sort that few people do now, and accounts of typical days for farmers, loggers, etc. give some insight into the sort of conditioning that such a life required. Many ballplayers came from such backgrounds. Faster? Possibly, but Jesse Owens(computer simulation magic giving him modern shoes and track surface) may well have been competitive with today’s best. The question was about hitting 100mph fastballs, though, and foot speed and bench pressing have little to do with it. I stand by my earlier comment.

      • Greenfield Red

        Peace brother. It doesn’t mean that much to me. I don’t want to use my capital defending a Yankee! I have much bigger problems with Sports and Baseball in the current climate.

  6. jim walker

    It hurts me to feel that Phillip Ervin and Cody Reed are both probably now in a better situation for their careers than they were with the Reds yet on the other hand the Reds near MLB depth at both their spots is virtually depleted with the nearly simultaneous departures of Packy Naughton and Stuart Fairchild (and throw Josh VanMeter in here too).

    There is going all in and going on in while also burning bridges to future which is what I see the Reds doing.

    • Charles Lackey

      Reds no longer have any prospects it seems. Garcia is up with the Reds. I doubt seriously Stephenson will ever be with the Reds. Is the Reds Front Office to see this team lose game after game, year after year????
      Down go the REDS year after year.

      • jim walker

        And Garcia is being pushed probably early because Jeter Downs was dealt in the bean counters’ special deal which sent Bailey to LosAngeles

    • Old-school

      Reds gave Hamilton 2000 at bats and 5 + years to not develop as a hitter. They gave Suárez 3 Years and 1500 at bats to develop and he did. Duvall and Schebler got pencilled in every day, and if 0-4 with 3 k happened or 2-19, they were out there again. Peraza got 1500 at bats.

      This is where Bell lost me last year. As soon as it was apparent after 2017 the Duvall Hamilton Lf/cf combo Weren’t the OF for the next winning team on awful teams, Winker and Ervin should have played every day. Bryan price famously said at the end of 2017, Winker and Ervin weren’t guaranteed roster spots in 2018 with the worst of in baseball and worst team in baseball. Bell platooned Winker with Peraza?!?!?! He sat Ervin for temporary fillers-mason in cf 2018, van meter and Dietrich and the 4 month Yasiel Puig experiment.

      Reds don’t develop players Or a plan
      . Theyve had a 1 year filler plan with the Gosselins and dietrichs and Galvises and Puigs and Iglesias. Winker/ senzel Ervin/ Tyler Stephenson/ García have not been developed as they enter the cusp of mlb

      injuries acknowledged.

      • RojoBenjy

        I tend to agree with most of this, Old-school

      • jim walker

        If 70% of MLB pitchers were LH instead of RH, most likely only the names would be changed and Winker would be gone and Ervin still a Red.

        It is a little bit apples and oranges because Ervin and Winker were not in the same draft; but, Winker was a #49 overall (but technically a 1st round CA choice) in 2012 while Ervin was a #27 overall choice in 2013).

  7. Rednat

    and then there were 2. Senzel and Winker. the reds had so many young prospects with such high hopes over the past 6 years. Ervin, Siri, Trammel, Downs, Long, Fairchild, etc, etc ,etc. it will be interesting to see who has the better careers when it is all said and done.

    i jhave always been mystified by the reds obsession with winker. yes he can hit but he is not a good base runner or defender. i guess is the way of the baseball world in 2020

    • DaveCT

      Iggy? Garrett? Lorenzen? Mahle? Antone? RStephenson? TStephenson? India? Greene? García? Via trade, Castillo, Sims?

      Two points. One, development is best viewed over time. These are very young guys trying to sharpen their knowledge, skills and abilities. It’s often a tough thing to do.

      Two. I wonder how many of our better AAA and young guys in Cincy last year had their value enhanced due to the juiced ball? JVM, O’Grady, Acquino, Ervin, all could qualify.

      Together, I refer to Doug, who watches player development like a hawk. There’s a ton of stuff to filter through.

    • Old-school

      Who else exactly can hit? If you want to talk. Base running.. start with Suarez votto moustakis and catching. They are all slower

      • RedNat

        I guess i have always liked players that can beat you in different ways. With the glove, on the bases or at the plate. Winker is juas so one dimensional it just surprises me that he is one of the last guys standing. Just seems other guys they have traded or released have been more versatile

      • Old-school

        Winker is leading the planet in hitting on a team that can’t hit?

        Are you really criticizing a player who might win a silver slugger at DH? How many silver sluggers have the Reds had the last 20 years? Winker is the solution… not the problem .

        Are you saying Winker is the problem?

      • RedNat

        I just think Winker optimizes the 21st century red to a tee. His strength is getting on base. But he does nothing else to help the team. Along the lines of Sean Casey, Scott Hatteberg, Joey Votto. Granted Joey was at least a good fielder and baserunner before the injuries mounted.
        Just seems like the reds have valued advanced hitting statistics over athleticism for quite some time now. And i dont think that was necessarily the case in our more successful years in the past.

    • seadog

      I tend to think Senzel is the one who won’t last. His attitude stinks and he can’t stay on the field. He is the next bust. Winker will be a star

      • GreatRedLegsFan

        I’ve seen it many times before, players with great potential that are not able to mantain healthy, either physically or mentally, hence loosing significant playing time and finally a roster spot. If that’s the case, the OF roster will be limited to Castellanos, Akiyama, Winker and Aquino for the rest of the season.

  8. GreatRedLegsFan

    I was expecting Ervin to crack more regular playing this season, at least as a 4th OF. After a 2019 campaign with a .797 OPS in 260 PA, looked like he was finally right in track. Maybe it was just too much for him to overcome the Castellanos and Akiyama signings, plus the emergence of Aquino late last season. Nevertheless, I wish him the best in Seattle, perhaps that’s what he needs.

    • DaveCT

      Maybe it was the juiced ball last year.

      In seriousness, AAA hitters JVM, Acquino, O’Grady, etc, sure look like the vet achievers now. ,

  9. Indy Red Man

    The White Sox rebuild is working. The Padres rebuild is working. I never heard of Luis Robert until this year. He’s 23 with 11 hrs/4 steals (.918 ops) and batting 7th or something. They have a base of talented draft picks that make it and then they add on. Thats how you do it. Then you have the Reds. Their “big” phenom is 25 and hits .250 while playing 30% of their games.

    • RojoBenjy

      the Reds were in on the Luis Robert sweepstakes several years ago. the price way too steep even for what he’s currently doing

    • Greenfield Red

      I agree the Reds have botched this rebuild. The changes in management and rebuild philosophy have set them back. The original plan to only trade for “major league ready players was a joke. The refusal to trade certain players because of the All-Star game in Cincinnati or because they had a bobble head day coming up is short sighted and killed the rebuild. Then trying to win 75 games rather than 60 in those 4 or 5 bad years didn’t help. The biggest one of all in my opinion was the panic trade of Chapman 3 months before he would see the field in Spring Training. The Yankees played the Reds like a fiddle and nobody holds them to account. The legal system had enough time to work through it, and with a slap on the wrist that’s exactly how it worked out. The Cubs win the Series. The Yankees get elite prospects and Chapman and gave up exactly nothing.