Tim Muma had an interesting article pop up over at BrewCrewBall.com yesterday. He looked at the Milwaukee Brewers 25-man roster, if it were made up of players on the Brewers over the last 25 years. The caveat was that it only looked at individual seasons, not careers, and that a player could only be used once (in cases where a guy played multiple positions). I thought it was a real cool concept and thought I would do a similar one for the Cincinnati Reds. We are looking only at the time period from 1993-2017 for individual seasons.

Starting Lineup

1. Brandon Phillips (2011) | 2B

This is going to sound crazy, but if this lineup is happening, the lowest on-base percentage hitter is going first. Why would someone do that? Well, he’s got the lowest slugging percentage, by far, of the starters. Wasting power with no one on base just isn’t something I want to do. His .300/.353/.457 line is the worst among the starters, but still strong. Toss in the 14 stolen bases and he could also provide a little bit of value on the bases.

2. Joey Votto (2015) | 1B

New school thinking says to bat your best hitter second and that’s what is happening here. In 2015 Votto hit .314/.459/.541 and posted a career best 7.5 WAR (Fangraphs). That’s the highest of any player in this 25-year span. He walked 20.6% of the time he stepped to the plate that season. Oh, and Joseph Daniel Votto also stole 11 bases that year.

3. Kevin Mitchell (1994) | LF

The strike cut short the season for everyone, but Mitchell was destroying the National League at the time. He was hitting .326/.429/.681 before the season came to an end. His slugging percentage was the best on this team by over 100 points, and he also carried a high average and on-base percentage.

4. Barry Larkin (1996) | SS

While Barry Larkin won the MVP in 1995, it was his 1996 season that was clearly his best. He hit .298/.410/.567 that season for the Reds. He also had 33 home runs and 36 stolen bases, while walking nearly twice as often as he struck out. His 6.8 WAR (Fangraphs) that season trails only Joey Votto (twice) among the most among position players in the last 25 years.

5. Ken Griffey Jr (2000) | CF

The Ken Griffey Jr era of Reds baseball will be remembered as a disappointment for many reasons. Some of it is in direct relation to the injuries that kept Griffey off of the field, and some of it just due to how poorly the teams pitching was which led to a lot of really bad baseball. But in 2000, Griffey put up an outstanding season in his first year with the Reds. He hit 40 home runs, while hitting .271/.387/.556 in 631 plate appearances.

6. Reggie Sanders (1995) | RF

The regular season is often forgotten by Reds fans when it comes to Reggie Sanders because of just how poorly he performed in the playoffs that season. But in 567 plate appearances during the season he hit .306/.397/.579. He also stole 36 bases and was an MVP candidate for the last Reds team that won a playoff series. Those stolen bases, even in a stacked lineup, could be quite beneficial for the bottom three hitters in the lineup.

7. Devin Mesoraco (2014) | C

It seems like forever ago at this point, but Devin Mesoraco was one of the best catchers in baseball back in 2014. That was the last time he was healthy, unfortunately. An All-Star, he hit .274/.359/.534 in 440 plate appearances. The power was legit, smacking 25 home runs and 25 doubles during the year.

8. Scott Rolen (2010) | 3B

Rounding out the starting lineup is Scott Rolen. In 2010, his first full season with the Reds, he hit .285/.358/.497. It was far from his best offensive season of his career, but it was his best with the Reds and a strong one overall. He also brought good defense with him.

The Bench

Tucker Barnhart (2017) | C

Last season saw Tucker Barnhart put together the best season of his career. In 423 plate appearances he hit .270/.347/.403, the best he’s ever done. He also took home his first Gold Glove Award for his efforts behind the plate.

Felipe Lopez (2005) | Utility Infielder

There are still two Felipe Lopez bobbleheads somewhere in my closet. And he got those because of his 2005 season where he hit .291/.352/.486 at shortstop with 15 stolen bases. His 4.7 WAR was better than two of the starting position players (but not any of the middle infielders). For the bench he provides backup defense up the middle, a little bit of pop, and some base running.

Zack Cozart (2017) | Utility Infielder

It took a while for Zack Cozart to break out and find himself offensively, but he started showing signs of life with the bat two seasons ago. In 2017 he exploded at the plate, hitting .297/.385/.548. For the bench, like Lopez he can provide defense up the middle. Unlike Lopez, he can probably handle third base, too, and his power will be an upgrade over Lopez if that’s what you’re looking for. Don’t expect much base running, though, as he nursed an injury throughout the season that kept him from using some speed that he had shown in previous years.

Ryan Freel (2006) | Utility Man

Ryan Freel could play just about everywhere you asked him to. While he never caught, or played first base, I wouldn’t put it past him. For true versatility, he can cover you anywhere. On this team he’d be the backup center fielder for defensive purposes, but could play anywhere else, too. He would also be the designated pinch runner, where his 37 steals in 2006 would be the best on the team.

Shin-Soo Choo (2013) | Outfielder

While Shin-Soo Choo played center field for the Reds in 2013, on this team he’d more likely serve as a back up corner outfielder where his defense would stand out. He would be the go-to bat off of the bench against right handed pitchers. He hit .285/.423/.462 overall with the Reds, but hit .317/.457/.554 with 88 walks and 89 strikeouts against righties. Choo also stole 20 bases during the year and could be used as a pinch runner if needed.

The Starting Pitching

Jose Rijo (1993) | RHP

I think we all forget just how good Jose Rijo actually was before he got hurt. From 1988-1994 he posted a 2.63 ERA in 1315.0 innings pitched. The 1993 season was his best season of his career. Rijo led the league with 36 starts and 227 strikeouts with just 62 walks in 257.1 innings. Oh, and that also came with a 2.48 ERA. He dominated when on the mound and he was on the mound a whole lot. His 7.1 WAR (Fangraphs) was easily the best season by any Reds pitcher in this span.

Johnny Cueto (2014) | RHP

The 2014 season for Johnny Cueto was the best of his career. He led the league in starts with 34. He led the league in innings with 243.2. Cueto also led the league in strikeouts with 242, and walked just 65 batters. Oh yeah, he also posted a 2.25 ERA that season and racked up 20 wins. In short, he dominated the National League.

Mat Latos (2013) | RHP

In his second season with Cincinnati, Mat Latos had his best season with the Reds. The big right hander threw 210.2 innings over 32 starts. That also came with a 3.16 ERA, just 58 walks – five of which were intentional, and he struck out 187 batters.

Aaron Harang (2007) | RHP

2007 was arguably the best season of Aaron Harang’s career. He made 34 starts for the Reds, throwing 231.2 innings and allowing just 213 hits. That came along with a 3.73 ERA, just 52 walks and 218 strikeouts. He posted a 6.0 WAR (Baseball Reference) that season, the best of his career (though Fangraphs WAR has his 2006 season edging out this one).

Homer Bailey (2013) | RHP

Rounding out the rotation, and there could be several options here, is Homer Bailey. His 2013 season saw him post a 3.49 ERA in 209.0 innings pitched – a career high. He also struck out 199 batters with just 54 walks that season. Bailey missed bats, didn’t walk guys, and he threw a bunch of innings.

The Bullpen

Aroldis Chapman (2012) | Closer

You’re shocked at this selection, surely. In 2012 Aroldis Chapman posted a 1.51 ERA in 71.2 innings. That came along with an insane 44.2% strikeout rate and an 8.3% walk rate. His 3.3 WAR  (Fangraphs) was the best among relievers, by a wide margin. His 0.81 WHIP was also at the top of the chart.

Raisel Iglesias (2017) | Set Up Man

In most organizations you would probably have Raisel Iglesias from 2017 as your closer. He posted a 2.49 ERA in 76.0 innings. That included a 30.1% strikeout rate, third best among players (but 7th overall behind 5 Chapman seasons and 2000 Scott Williamson) and an 8.8% walk rate.

Jeff Shaw (1997) | 7th Inning

To be perfectly honest, I had forgotten how good Jeff Shaw was in 1997. He posted a 2.38 ERA in 94.2 innings for the Reds that season. He walked a handful of guys more than I did that year, posting a 3.3% walk rate. That also came with a 20.2% strikeout rate and a 0.96 WHIP.

Sean Marshall (2012) | LOOGY

It’s not that Sean Marshall is necessarily a LOOGY, because right handers didn’t exactly have a bunch of success against him – but he just destroyed lefties. They hit just .173/.206/.204 with four walks and 34 strikeouts against him in 102 plate appearances in 2012. For the season he threw 61.0 innings with a 2.51 ERA.

Arthur Rhodes (2010) | LOOGY

It was the second to last season that Arthur Rhodes pitched in the big leagues, but he was dominant for the Reds in 2010. Rhodes threw 55.0 innings with a 2.29 ERA. Left handers managed to hit just .214/.230/.393 against him with just one walk and 26 strikeouts in 89 plate appearances.

Scott Williamson (1999) | Long Man RHP

While Scott Williamson wasn’t exactly a long man in 1999, but he threw 93.1 as a reliever that year. That’s long man-esque enough for me. The right hander posted a 2.41 ERA that season with a 29.2% strikeout rate and an 11.8% walk rate. He also posted a 1.04 WHIP that season.

Tony Cingrani (2013) | Long Man LHP

This selection is sort of cheating because Tony Cingrani was a starter during the 2013 season for the most part. He made 18 starts and relieved in five games. He only threw 104.2 innings that season, though, and had some time in the bullpen, so I’m taking the cheap way out. He posted a 2.92 ERA that year with 43 walks and 120 strikeouts.

Overview

This Cincinnati Reds team would steamroll any team in baseball right now. Of course, it should given that we are picking the best players over a 25 year span. The offense is loaded, with power, speed and a strong ability to get on base. The defense is strong and could be even stronger late in the games if needed.

The rotation was tougher to make happen after the top three. I think Aaron Harang would make every top five, but I can concede that maybe a 2006 Bronson Arroyo gets the nod for some people over 2013 Homer Bailey. I prefer the way Bailey went about his production with the strikeouts rather than relying on the defense as much as Arroyo did, but those additional innings that Arroyo had would be valuable.

The bullpen is full of anything you want. An elite closer. An elite set up man. Dominant righties. Dominant lefties. Dominant long men. It’s all there. Here are the simple stats for my Reds Team of the last 25 years. Who did I miss?

*Fangraphs WAR*

22 Responses

  1. Colorado Red

    Doug,
    Do you have the K’s and BB’s mixed up (in the chart)?
    A 44% walk rate for a closer would not be good.

    Reply
    • Doug Gray

      Haha, I did. For anyone that is confused, I’ve corrected the mistake.

      I actually noticed I had them backwards when making the chart. But went to make dinner before publishing and said “you’ll remember to fix it before creating the image”. WHAT AN IDIOT I AM!

      Reply
      • sixpacktwo

        Doug,

        You’re too young for that. I do it daily. Now, I need to do it when I think of it or write it down for a check off list.

  2. Hoyce

    SS production is tough. Cozarts numbers this year and he’s not even close to starter. Pitching has been rather weak. Love me some cueto. And I expect suarez’ numbers this year to match rolens

    Reply
  3. Jim Delaney

    Pete Schourek in 1995 finished 2nd in Cy Young Award. Pete Harnisch had a very good 1998. Mike Jackson had great season out of Pen in 1995. Reds 1995 staff is one of best in teams history… a shame they ran into the Braves. GREG VAUGHAN was huge in 1999 as well….

    Reply
    • Doug Gray

      Schourek may have finished 2nd in the Cy Young Award race, but he was only the 2nd best starter on his own team that year if you want to believe Fangraphs WAR (John Smiley edged him out by 0.1 WAR). Of course, I’m not a huge fan of WAR in general for pitchers, and I prefer Baseball-Reference WAR when it comes to pitchers. Still, Schourek was pretty valuable that year and was one of the top 10 pitchers in the NL that season.

      He wasn’t going to overtake any of the top three choices for me. I think those three guys, in those three seasons, were clearly better. If you wanted to take him over Bailey or Harang, I think you could make that argument. Both threw more innings with better strikeout rates, similarly low walk rate, and Bailey had a similar home run rate. Now, Schourek did deal with a slightly shorter season because of the late start due to the strike/lockout. Schourek had a better ERA compared to the league than both of those guys did, but was that just due to a better defense? I’m not really sure – but their FIP’s were 3.71 (Harang), 3.31 (Bailey), and 3.42 (Schourek). Harang gets the nod in Fangraphs WAR and it’s not close, with a 5.4 to 4.2 and 4.1 for the other two. It’s an even bigger edge for Harang with the Baseball Reference version, but there it gives a nod to Schourek over Bailey.

      Personally, I chose Bailey because he had more innings and a stronger strikeout rate. I’m willing to listen to the argument that Schourek or Arroyo takes that final spot. Maybe even Edinson Volquez from 2008.

      Reply
      • GM Nep O'Tism

        +1 to the bWAR for pitchers over fWAR.

        Bailey ’15-’17: 125.1 IP, 6.39 ERA… -1.4 bWAR/1.1 fWAR
        Lorenzen ’15-’17: 246.1 IP, 4.57 ERA… 0.9 bWAR/0.5 fWAR

        According to Fangraphs, Bailey has been more valuable than Lorenzen over the last three years. I am not a big fan of FIP (I think it leaves too many things out of the equation) so using it to determine WAR for pitchers was always a silly thing in my mind.

        – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

        As for your list, I would consider trading Freel for 2004 Dunn. I know his defense is rough, but I would really think that taking the defensive hit in exchange for 34 2B, 46 HR, 108 BB would be worth it, and just roll with Choo as backup CF, where his offense also offset the defense.

        2004 Dunn had a 142 wRC+, 2006 Freel had a 100 wRC+. That’s a bigger difference than 2017 Votto (165) and 2014 one-legged Votto (128).

        Then you can also use Dunn as your DH when you play interleague games.

        – – – – – – – – –

        You already addressed the Bailey/Arroyo difference, which I would probably take the Arroyo side on, both for the innings and for the leadership/personality.

      • Doug Gray

        Someone else brought up adding a slugger to the bench. I said I would add Dunn, but it would be rookie year Dunn. It’s kind of cheating because he only played half of a season, but he had legit power that year, walked a lot, and he was still quite athletic back then and could have provided some base running value, then, too.

      • GM Nep O'Tism

        Oh, late addition… I would also consider replacing Barnhart with 2010 Ryan Hannigan. He only played half the season as the backup to Ramon Hernandez, but he hit .300/.405/.429 in it.

        Barnhart’s got that nice glove, but having a backup catcher hitting .300 with an OBP over .400 would be awfully nice.

        Hanigan loses in defense with 6 DRS in 525.2 innings to Barnhart’s 21 DRS in 926.1 innings, but he did have a 126 wRC+ to Barnhart’s 92 wRC+. I’ll take good-not-great defense with a great bat over great defense with a sub-par bat, even more so when you have Rijo/Cueto/etc pitching, so they’re already suppressing scoring.

  4. Jim Delaney

    Eddie Taubensee in 1999 had huge year at Catcher hit well over 300, over 20 bombs and over 85 rbis….

    Reply
    • Doug Gray

      He also, somehow, wound up with negative defensive value. I’ve never seen that from a catcher before. I can’t honestly say that I remember just bad/good he was behind the plate, but he didn’t throw out anyone in 1999 (I mean, he threw out a few guys, but I believe it was just 15%). For me, up the middle guys need to be able to play defense and Taubensee simply couldn’t. Give me the Gold Glover, who was actually that (not like Palmiero winning the award when he played a total of 26 games at first) all day long when he could also hit a little bit.

      Reply
  5. Jim Delaney

    Bip Roberts had huge season in 1992 finished 8th in MVP,,, voting… Also Tony Fernandez only played for Reds in 1994 but he would be a great utility player..

    Reply
  6. Stock

    Homer does not belong on this list. Replace him with Bronson Arroyo (6.8). I know you never like8d Arroyo but all he did was produce. Something Homer has never done.

    Per Baseball Reference Homer’s career WAR with the Reds is 6.0. Arroyo’s Baseball Reference WAR in 2006 was 6.8. 2013 was Homer’s best year but his Baseball Reference WAR of 3.2 is less than half of Arroyo’s.

    Reply
    • Doug Gray

      Let’s not confuse me thinking that Arroyo wasn’t likely to keep repeating his performance with me not liking him.

      And let’s also be real – Homer Bailey has absolutely produced. From 2012-2014 he produced and produced quite well. Using Fangraphs version of WAR, Arroyo’s mark in 2006 was 4.6. Bailey’s in 2013 was 4.1. As I’ve said many times, pitching WAR sucks. I prefer Baseball Reference WAR for pitchers over Fangraphs, but both have serious flaws in them in my opinion. Let’s dive into the Bailey/Arroyo thing:

      Innings: 240.2 to 209.0. Arroyo gets the nod.
      Strikeout rate: 23.4% to 18.6%. Bailey gets the nod.
      Walk rate: 6.4% and 6.5%. The absolute tiniest of edges to Bailey.
      ERA: 3.29 to 3.49. Edge to Arroyo.
      FIP: 3.31 to 4.15. Bailey gets the nod.

      It’s close. Do you go with Arroyo for the innings and a very small lead in ERA? Or do you go with Bailey with the fewer innings but way bigger strikeout numbers? I went with Bailey because I think with this defense, his skillset of missing bats would just play better. Those extra innings from Arroyo would be nice, but 209.0 is going to get it done, too.

      I have no issue if Arroyo is your pick. It’s a legit argument. But I don’t buy that if Arroyo is the pick that Homer doesn’t belong on the list and he’s never produced.

      Reply
      • Stock

        I will give you that Homer is more talented than Arroyo. No question about it. Strikeouts are about talent so of course Homer wins there. FIP is determined based in large part to K% and BB%. If you are more talented you will have a better FIP. FIP does not win ball games though so should not be used to determine the quality of one’s season. Never have I seen an umpire say you gave up 3 runs but according to FIP you should have given up 5 so we are reversing your 4-3 win into a 5-4 loss.
        Tom Glavine is in the hall of fame and had a career FIP of 3.95. He won a Cy Young and finished 21st in MVP in 1998 with a FIP of 3. He finished 2nd in the Cy Young and 14th in the MVP in 2000 with a FIP of 4.03 and finished 3rd in the Cy Young and 24th in the MVP in 1993 with a FIP of 4.01. FIP can be used to predict future performance but never as a means to judge past performance.

        The difference between Bailey and Arroyo is heart and intelligence. Homer takes too many days off. In his two best seasons (2012 and 2013) he had 19 games were his ERA was north of 6. That is nearly 30% of his starts he gets shelled. In Arroyo’s two best years (2006, 2010) he had an ERA north of 6 in 16% of his games. Lets look at the most important stat in baseball. Wins. You can say many things factor into wins like the quality of the offense and defense behind you, but Bailey and Arroyo played on the same team so over the 6 years they were together things should normalize. Bailey won 14 or more games 0 times in his career. Arroyo won 14 or more games 6 times in his career. In Bailey’s two best years the Res won 34 of his starts. In Arroyo’s two best years the Reds won 42 of his starts.

        As for WAR I am not sure why you say the Baseball Reference WAR is more accurate for pitchers but use the Fangraphs WAR in your counter. Using by your definition the best evaluator of WAR for pitchers, Homer’s 3 best seasons (and only 3 good seasons) he had a WAR of 7.1. Arroyo had a WAR of 6.8 in 2006. Arroyo has had a WAR north of 2, 8 times in his career. Bailey 2. Arroyo has had a WAR north of 3.2, 3 times in his career. Bailey has 0. Arroyo’s 3 best WAR years (13.7) are nearly twice Bailey three best. Arroyo’s 4 best (16.4) are well more than twice Bailey’s 5 best (8.1).

        Arroyo finished 23rd in the MVP vote in 2006. I am pretty sure I got as many MVP votes as Bailey in 2013. Arroyo’s 2006 was better and it isn’t really close.

  7. AndyBado

    I’d take 2016 Billy Hamilton over Freel. (I’d actually like 2013 Billy extrapolated over a full season, but I think that’s stretching the rules a bit.) I know the numbers say Freel>Billy, but I don’t care. Billy would be the perfect pinch runner/late game OF defensive replacement. More speed, more defense, just as much unbridled hustle.

    Reply
    • AndyBado

      Also, I may prefer 2017 Votto to 2015 Votto. In 2017, he basically refused to strikeout but maintained a similar AVG and BB% to 2015 with more power, and he showed a renewed commitment to defense.

      There are more than a handful of Votto seasons to choose from. None of them are wrong. It’s just a matter of taste.

      Reply
    • Doug Gray

      I wouldn’t argue much against that. Billy is better in center and on the bases. I took Freel because he can play the infield, too. Not that you’d need it on this kind of roster, though, because he wouldn’t play over the other infield back ups unless something went terribly, terribly wrong.

      Reply
  8. Billy

    If we’re talking about constructing a 25 man roster, I’d be inclined to put Todd Frazier on it to cover the corner infield and provide pop off the bench. I’d suggest doing that instead of having two middle infielders as the backups. That said, I certainly haven’t looked at the numbers or anything.

    Reply
  9. Tom

    By my count, that’s 12 out of 25 players drafted/signed/developed by the Reds. For whatever that’s worth. I wonder how other teams — particularly those with the reputation of having great farm systems — would fare in this analysis.

    Reply
  10. Brock

    LOVE looking back at those mid-late-90s Reds teams on baseball-reference. Brings back memories of players that I haven’t thought about in years.

    Also, baseball-reference gives Rijo 9.3(!) WAR for that 1993 season. If his team had provided a few more wins for him, there’s a good chance he would have won the Reds’ first Cy Young. Greg Maddux only had 5.8 WAR but went 20-10 w/a 2.36 ERA while Rijo only had 14 wins. Rijo finished in 5th for Cy Young voting.

    Reply

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