I’ve been slow to warm up to the Cincinnati Reds this spring.  There were things going on in my personal life. A new dog joined our household. Some medical issues had to be attended (everything is fine now, thank you). I fired my cable/internet provider and had to get the replacements up and running. The college football team based up I-71 from Cincinnati held my attention beyond the start of spring training by having the kind of off season I wish the Reds front office would have. Every time a person would think there was nothing more to be added, there was something else added.

However, as the last week of spring training starts, the comments here at Redleg Nation have picked up intensity. Some folks are expressing a mix of impatience and boredom as the final days of spring training count down.  Debates are spawning about how the Reds will fare when the games count. The recent injury to TJ Friedl has elevated the level of anxiety for many about the team’s performance. This activity got the juices flowing for me but I felt a bit out of touch and behind the curve.

To remedy my situation, I decided to check in on how the Reds hitters have been doing this spring. Yes, I know, never believe any baseball thing that happens in September or spring training. However a guy has to start somewhere. Baseball Reference provides the players’ spring training lines; and, I started there.

Warning! Data Ahead….

Below is a table of the 14 position players who seem to be in the mix for a spot on the Reds opening day roster as I am writing with TJ Fiedl added in at the bottom for good measure.

Note: The column “Opp Quality” reflects the estimated average quality of  pitching the player has faced in the spring based on the pitchers’ level in 2023. What you need to know to make sense of the table is that a “full time” MLB pitcher ranks as 10, an AAA pitcher is an 8 and an AA pitcher is 7 (and on down by levels from there to a floor of 1.5-3 for rookie leaguers.

Table numbers reflect the numbers stated on Baseball Reference as of 9:15AM March 21

Player

PA

OPS

Opp Quality

EDLC

42

.894

7.6

CES

39

.983

7.4

India

17

1.162

7.5

McLain

14

.071

7.7

Candelario

33

.484

7.5

Steer

41

.794

7.6

Benson

39

.859

7.8

Fraley

32

.692

7.6

Fairchild

30

1.207

7.4

Stephenson

33

.903

7.6

Maile

26

1.622

7.9

Martini

34

.893

7.8

Ford

27

.983

7.2

Thompson

23

.963

6.6

Friedl

35

.668

7.7

Crunching The Data

The first data to catch my eye was the opposition quality column.  Nobody listed on the table has faced on average even AAA quality pitching.  I’m guessing (hoping) the Reds have much more granular data about this. Nevertheless, at the level of data presented, there isn’t much disparity in opposition quality level faced by the various players. So, maybe it wouldn’t be that far off to make some comparisons among the Reds players with the proviso that we may not know much about how any of them will do against higher level pitching when the season starts. However given the sample size just, 1 PA versus a Low A or rookie league pitcher could really skew the data. And Wow! This  puts us pretty much back where we started, not trusting anything which happens in the spring 😉

Chew away as I know you will. Tell us why we should believe your favorite is real or is being shortchanged by his data.

51 Responses

    • Jim Walker

      The numbers I used were the numbers on Maile’s personal page at BBRef at the time I wrote the post on March 20. I noted that the numbers were as I was writing but did not specify the time.

      • Oldtimer

        I would use the Baseball Reference numbers for accuracy. Maile has the best OPS among the Reds hitters in ST 2024. I gave you the link. It was on BR yesterday (March 20).

      • Jim Walker

        The numbers have been updated to reflect what Baseball Reference says as of 9:15AM March 21.

        I also added a note to make this clear.

        Sorry for the confusion.

        Thank you.

  1. greenmtred

    It would be interesting to see the opp quality throughout baseball: do the Reds’ numbers reflect the nature of spring training generally? Or are they an anomaly? Glad the health concerns resolved well, Jim: they seem to be a frequent visitor for many of us as we pass 70.

    • Oldtimer

      Yep. I almost died from PRES (brain swelling due to high BP) on September 23rd. I was okay on September 22nd. It just showed up out of the blue. Coma for a week, intubated for a week, recovered in hospital for another week. Rehab for 12 days (relearning how to walk, breathe, swallow, etc) then back home.

      All better in 2024. It was a scary two weeks.

      • greenmtred

        I’m glad for you, OT, and Jim, I’m glad that your wife is okay. This stuff is scary and, in many ways, scarier when it happens to a loved one.

    • Jim Walker

      Agree with the comp across the MLB. I had the same thought.

    • Jim Walker

      It was mostly my wife’s turn with the medical stuff this time. She elected to have a procedure that should let her quit that arrhythmia medicine Kareem Abdul Jabbar talks about in TV commercials. She also had another tweak to cut way back on the high stroke risk which seems to be in her genes.

      It is amazing that they work inside a person’s heart without opening the chest. Even more amazing the patient comes home later the same day or the next morning and is back to normal activity within a day or two.

      • LWBlogger

        Crazy! My dad got a new heart valve. A new heart valve! A new heart valve without having to crack the chest! It wasn’t outpatient but it was orthoscopic, and his post-op recovery was pretty short.

  2. VaRedsFan

    I think Opp Quality is probably typical of all teams in Spring. The regulars played 4-5 inning early and got 2-3 AB’s. Opposing pitchers start out only getting 2 innings, and sometimes they bring in low-level guys to mop up in an inning. It only takes 2-3 AB’s against those low-level guys to skew your Opp Quality AVG up for the whole Spring.

    • Jim Walker

      Yeah, the thought I had was teams seem to insert Class A kids with killer stuff but poor command to face MLB hitters in hopes of possibly baiting trade interest down the line from teams willing to take on reclamation project/ lottery ticket opportunities.

  3. LDS

    Glad things are going better @JimWalker. As for the Reds, no I don’t think they’ve been particularly impressive in ST. But then they rarely are. As for the season? Well, there’s always next year.

    • Jim Walker

      The injury and drug suspension situations have certainly tainted what looked to be a legitimate chance for the Reds to shine in 2024.

      I am wondering how the Reds stack up with other organizations in staying in touch with their young guys and providing support for them over the off season period.

      Do they give them individualized workout programs tailored to what is known about possible issues and needs?

      How closely was Marte’s recovery from the hamstring issue being monitored? Did anyone with the team proactively sit down with him and review what drugs and supplements were OK for him to be using and which ones were not OK? Was he told to check back with the team before using anything that had not been prescribed, provided, or previously approved by the team?

      • LDS

        Agreed. I’ve been skeptical of the Reds organizational effectiveness for a number of years. I’m tired of seeing highly touted prospects crash and burn, only to wind up traded or DFA’d and a new crop rise to take their place. Year in and year out, this one can’t hit the breaking ball, this one has poor pitch identification, this one lacks an effective 3rd/4th pitch, etc. Where’s the coaching? Where’s the development plan for each player? It’s not a hard problem to solve. Some teams and many companies do it all the time.

      • redfanorbust

        Hey JW glad to hear you and your wife and pets are doing well. Thanks for your contribution with your column. As for Marte I thought I would chime in. I have seen no information on what exactly happened and apparently no one challenged the ruling. Having said that it just goes to show you how strong human frailty is. He’s a grown man and professional ball player with the rules spelled out for him and every player. Common sense alone should have automatically kicked in. It’s probably in all contracts they sign as well. The ranks of players are littered over the years who cheat or make “mistakes” and their consequences have been well documented for all to see. Being an adult playing a game and making millions to do so is a rare privilege few humans ever get to experience and I pretty much have zero sympathy for him and tons of commiseration for the team and us fans.

    • greenmtred

      Well, there is this year, too. Lowered expectations leave the possibility of a pleasant surprise.

      • LDS

        Yep, the Reds could get lucky. Odds aren’t in their favor, but it could happen. I’d really like to see them do it on purpose. Most years that’s simply a pipe dream.

  4. Mike Adams

    Jim Walker, ol’ buddy ol’ pal….
    I was wondering how your table for this spring compares to last spring’s.
    I am trying to gauge whether the Reds are better, worse or the same.
    How would you feel about adding an OPS column from last spring?
    I am being only partly lazy, I don’t know how to do it for myself.

    • Jim Walker

      Like your idea; but, I am not sure where to find the data. BBRef only has the current spring training on the individual player page; and, I also could not find it on the BBRef 2023 Reds team page.

      Anybody know where to find 2023 Spring Training data?

      Maybe the data folks subscribe to the theory that what happens in spring training is not to be believed? 😉

      • Mike Adams

        Yeah, finding last year’s spring data was my unsolvable mystery.
        Probably the data folks believe once spring training is over the data does not matter.

      • Grand Salami

        I perused the 2023 data. Much better overall output in 2024 against similar or slightly better comp. India, ELDC, Benson, Maile, Stephenson, all a few hundred points higher in OPS. Steer about the same.

        Recall we were breaking camp with Newman, Vosler, and Meyer who were underwhelming in spring too.

        Overall much better. McClain is the exception but his injury seems pretty serious considering he was abysmal.

      • Mike Adams

        To AllTheHype: thanks for the link.

      • Mike Adams

        To Grand Salami:
        Thanks for the comparisons.
        I looked at them and agree with your analysis.
        Did you leave out Fairchild for a reason? He is OPS 1.207 this spring and was OPS .830 in 2023.
        Looks like overall we can hope Reds’ hitting will be better in 2024

  5. TR

    I don’t have the statistical figures at hand, of course, but I recall a number of years when the Reds had an unexciting spring training that resulted in a season with a winning record. A week to go before Opening Day.

  6. Rednat

    Jim. You have always been high on Fairchild. Looks like he is finally coming in to his own and could be a star in this league.
    Just wondering what you saw earlier on his career that most people on this site didn’t?

    • Jim Walker

      First of all let’s not get the cart ahead of the horse. 😉 Hopefully Stu’s success will carry over into the regular season; but that’s still to be determined but it is still spring training.

      Some guy named Doug Gray brought Fairchild to my attention back when SF was moving up to AA. I forget exactly what Doug said back then but I think it was basically not to sleep on SF just because of some other highly touted OF guys the Reds had coming on about then (Siri and Trammell specifically if i recall OK).

      Then when Stu got traded to the DBacks in the Archie Bradley deal, a number of folks said that he was the key piece and not Josh VanMeter.

      So I kept watching him. What was there not to like about him? Good speed on the bases, solid defender at all 3 OF spots. OPS north of .850 at AAA. Fangraphs grades his AAA performance as a 120 wRC+ (basically OPS+ equivalent).

      I think Fairchild is one of a group of guys who experienced tangible career impairment from the COVID situation. He was at the Reds alternate site but behind the likes of India, Stephenson and Friedl. He got traded. They got the 1st chances in 2021 and made good to their credit while he went to AAA in the DBacks org.

    • AllTheHype

      Ha! Almost spit my coffee. Good one.

  7. MBS

    DH Ford 6/9 India 3/9
    C Stephenson 6/9 Maile 3/9
    1B CES 8/9 Stephenson 1/9
    ========================
    2B India 5/9 Espinal 4/9
    3B Candelario 8/9 Espinal 1/9
    SS EDLC 8/9 Espinal 1/9
    ========================
    RF Fraley 7/9 Fairchild 2/9
    CF Benson 7/9 Thompson 2/9
    LF Steer 8/9 Fairchild 1/9

    Wow compared to a few weeks ago when we had Marte, McLain, and Friedl this looks threadbare.

    I’m super glad we didn’t trade away India, could you imagine how much worse we’d look right now.

  8. Doc

    Interestingly, I went to one MLB site to look at 2024 ST stats. It requires a pitcher to have pitched 0.6 innings per team game played, or to have 1.86 PA per team game played.

    No Reds pitcher qualified, and only EDLC and Spencer Steer among the hitters qualified. I wonder if this supports those among us who question whether Reds players are prepared to hit the ground running come opening day.

    • Doc

      Obviously the hitters need the 1.86 PA per game, not the pitchers.

  9. Chris

    You should have put Barrero’s numbers up there just for fun. 1 for 11 with the Rangers along with 7 K’s. Yet people are still whining about how the Reds were stupid for letting him go.

    • Mauired

      You’re right. He’s been terrible. But is he worse than the guys currently backing up the injured and suspended Friedl, McClain, Marte.

      1st like always people love to bash the guy over these small sample sizes. 11 abs. Hes a terrible player!

      Even now I would take his versatility and enormous upside over guys like Ford and Martini.

    • DaveCT

      First. Barrero has fans on this site. I’m one. Loved watching this kid work his way from Cuba up through the system.

      Two, the “whining” is us being critical of the Reds giving Barrero just 415 ML at bats over four seasons (67, 50, 165, 133) before cutting him. That was in 24, 21, 48, and 46 games, and often just PH or defensive replacement appearances. We played the immortal Kyle Farmer instead.

      If you had followed Barrero, you’d see his ability is electric. Defensively, as a short stop, he was at/near the top in the system. Plus arm, plus range, plus athleticism. His power is there, as shown through AAA. His hit tool isn’t. But he’s only 25.

      How many at bats were given to Acquino, Shogo, Senzel, Ervin, as compared to Barrero? Endless.

      I, for one, don’t appreciate it when the club squanders opportunities. And that’s we are whining.

      • AllTheHype

        @Dave

        “How many at bats were given to Acquino, Shogo, Senzel, Ervin, as compared to Barrero?”

        Shogo shouldn’t be on the list because his contract influenced his playing time and the Reds had to try to milk the performance out of that contract.

        But the other 3……

        Couldn’t the argument also be made that, since all those guys failed, the organization gave them TOO MUCH opportunity? And now they are paring that down, appropriately?

        That’s where I am.

      • Mauired

        I would feel better if he had the same opportunity as most top prospects get to prove if he can acclimate to MLB pitching or not VS going to another team and breaking out.

        Next week is going to be interesting. Does he even make the Rangers?1 for 14 so far. Would the Reds bring him back after losing 3 starters immediately after cutting him?

      • DaveCT

        Hype, Thanks for the reply. I think there are a lot of variables here, so it’s a yes and no to your question.

        Yes, definitely, Acquino, aka, Slider Away. Shogo, agreed. mostly, as at least Barrero didn’t regularly get the bat knocked out of his hands. Senzel, see below.

        But it’s far less clear for me with Barrero. First, as with A. Chapman, it’s a huge adjustment from Cuba to the US. Second, he also had to take an entire year off from playing before he started in the minors. Third, his grandmother died (hence the name change from Garcia to Barrero), which impacted him a great deal. Fourth, the lunacy of bringing him up with no experience above A ball only to sit him on the bench. Fourth, the broken hamate. Fifth, converting him to CF in-season, especially without the foundation of performing well with the bat that should accompany position changes (if a guy is struggling offensively, change his position, too?).

        So as a prized, high end prospect, he had disruptions both within and outside of the club’s control. But, to give up after less than one full year of appearances (139 games) and at bats (415), in particular, in lieu of Farmer screams the acceptance of mediocrity that so many here decry.

        It’s just not possible to say Barrero had a fair opportunity to develop. Nick Senzel had 414 at bats in his rookie year alone (these were followed by his two lost injury years, then by 420 and 330 at bats). And Senzel’s development is another study in chaos. Barrero’s opportunity was more akin to Alejo Lopez’s than Senzel’s. It’s basically ludicrous.

        I do not necessarily disagree with his DFA. If it were clear to the organization that Barrero was not going to make the team, and possibly for reasons we do not know about, than I actually think it could have been a positive — meaning, giving him a better chance to catch on with another team this spring can be seen as a nice gesture, rather than wait to the final cuts. My point is we deprived him and thus ourselves of a fair opportunity to see how and where he can improve. That is borderline neglect, IMO.

      • AllTheHype

        Thanks for the detailed reply. We’ve had good discussions here on Barrero, and with a couple guys I respect. Enjoy reading both your opinions on various topics. We may not agree on this one, but I think we agree on a lot of other things re: Reds baseball. Cheers.

      • LWBlogger

        @Dave
        I think everything you argue about here does make sense. In my opinion, considering all the circumstances, Barrero may have been mishandled some. Having said that, having him be the 26th man on the roster, likely means he would continued to be mishandled. Barrero needs to play regularly somewhere and the Reds, at the time they cut him, trying to maybe win a few games for a change, felt it best to waive him. Unsurprisingly, he was picked up. I kind of thought a team in rebuild mode may pick him up and give him regular starts at SS, but he fell all the way to the Rangers.

        Short version of the above is, while I agree that he probably shouldn’t have made the team this year if he wasn’t going to play regularly, I do agree that he wasn’t given the same chance that other past prospects have gotten to show what they can do. Part of that was due to his own circumstances, but if a team really is high on a prospect, they need to give that prospect more of a chance than the Reds gave him.

  10. Greenfield Red

    Some stole $5million from Shohei Ohtani to pay a gambling debt. I find that not believable that the debt was someone other than SO’s himself and that it includes baseball. So he must be banned for life and the Dodgers still have to pay $700 million since the contract was guaranteed. That how I see it anyway. Who’s with me?

    • Jason Franklin

      If you are saying his interpreter was the scapegoat for a more dubious situation involving Shohei, then we need some evidence first. And I sense the sarcasm. I do enjoy a bit of razzle dazzle conspiracy from time-to-time. 🙂

    • DaveCT

      This is as good of a fake out as I’ve seen in awhile, Greenfield.

      Tempted to take the bait, is it possible Otahni’s true reason for only taking 2 mil a year with the rest deferred is because he needs an much stricter budget due to his gaming/gambling addiction?

      Just asking questions …

      • Greenfield Red

        When it comes to damaging the Yankees or Dodgers, I say shoot now, ask questions later.

  11. Rick

    Jason Vosler comes to mind from last year’s ST false gold numbers.
    I just hope we don’t have any more key injuries.

  12. Jason Franklin

    Any update on McLain? I thought they were waiting to get a second opinion on his shoulder. Anyone heard anything?

    • Mauired

      I’m worried. 1st opinion is most likely get the season ending surgery.