redsminorleagues.com http://redsminorleagues.com Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:07:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 4444956 MLB institutes new pace of play rules for 2018 http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/19/mlb-institutes-new-pace-play-rules-2018/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/19/mlb-institutes-new-pace-play-rules-2018/#comments Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:07:28 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=20844 Major League Baseball announced a few changes to the pace of play rules for the 2018 season. Those rule changes do not include the previously proposed pitch clock.

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Major League Baseball believes it’s got a pace of play problem. Maybe they do. The biggest discussion over the offseason was whether or not the MLBPA and MLB could agree on a pitch clock. Well, they did not. But, there were several rules changes announced.

The big rule involves mound visits. This comes down in two parts. The first is that teams are limited to six non-pitching change mound visits per game. That also includes visits by the catcher or by infielders. If the game goes into extra innings, a team gets one additional non-pitching change visit per inning.

Now to the second parts of the rule: If you are out of mound visits, but the catcher and pitcher are clearly crossed up, then the umpire can allow a mound visit if he so chooses. These situations also do not count as a mound visit:

  • When a player goes to the mound to clean their cleats in rainy/wet conditions
  • An injury visit by the trainer
  • Visits to the mound after the announcement of an offensive substitution

Here’s where it gets fun: There is no penalty, so-to-speak, for a 7th mound visit. Essentially, the umpire will just say no, you can’t do that. Teams are going to find ways to try and get around this rule. It will be interesting to see how, exactly, they go about it.

They have also set time between innings limits. In locally televised games there is a 2:05 break during the regular season. In nationally televised games that jumps up to 2:25. For playoff games that jumps again to 2:55.

At the end of the day, I think this is all for show. It’s not going to change the pace of play on most nights. It’s not going to speed up the game. The pace of play, and speed of the game itself isn’t some thing that can be fixed with little tweaks like this. In a game built around pitchers that strike guys out at a high rate, and batters trying to be patient, the game is going to be difficult to speed up. You can make differences on the margins with stuff like what’s been adopted here, but what are we really talking here? The saving of 45 seconds on an average game? This all just seems like change for change sake. Maybe I’m wrong and we will see a real change coming in terms of how quickly games go by. But, I doubt it.

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Cincinnati RedsGraphs: The position player version http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/19/cincinnati-redsgraphs-position-player-version/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/19/cincinnati-redsgraphs-position-player-version/#comments Mon, 19 Feb 2018 16:00:16 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=20841 Joey Votto is the oldest Cincinnati Reds position player in spring training this year.

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Last week when the pitchers and catchers reported I created an awesome graph for the group. Yesterday it was report day for the rest of the 40-man roster and non-roster invitees. Everyone made it to Goodyear on time with the lone exception of Sebastian Elizalde, who had some of his paperwork held up due to his participation in the Caribbean Series – but should be arriving soon.

While every single pitcher and catcher in camp with the Cincinnati Reds is younger than I am, that isn’t true for the position players. Joey Votto is older than I am by seven months. And I love him for that. Here’s the chart for the birth dates of the non-catcher position players in big league camp this year.

You can click on the graph to see a larger version to get a better look at the players (which may depend on how you are viewing the site).

There’s a pretty big gap between the Joey Votto/Cliff Pennington group up to the Adam Duvall/Phil Gosselin group. It’s that next tier though that doesn’t really see another big gap until you get to the Nick Senzel/Jose Siri/Shed Long grouping at the very end.

Like the post last week, there’s not a ton to this. It’s just a fun little chart that I created and wanted to share.

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Cincinnati Reds Top Prospects: Alejo Lopez http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/19/cincinnati-reds-top-prospects-alejo-lopez/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/19/cincinnati-reds-top-prospects-alejo-lopez/#comments Mon, 19 Feb 2018 05:22:10 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=20834 Cincinnati Reds prospect Alejo Lopez spent his 2017 season playing around the infield for the Billings Mustangs. While there, the switch hitter posted a .300 average with more walks than strikeouts.

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The 2017 season began for Alejo Lopez in the same place that the 2016 season ended. The Cincinnati Reds sent the infielder back to Billings for the second straight year. In 2016 he had hit .273/.342/.327 for the Mustangs with two more walks than he had strikeouts.

The season didn’t start out on the best note for 21-year-old Alejo Lopez. He went 0-7 in the first two games of the season for the Mustangs. He picked things up from there, though. Over the final week of June he went 10-23 (.435) with three doubles and two home runs. The two home runs already topped his 2016 total.

July began with an 0-4 effort with two strikeouts against Great Falls. Over the next two weeks Alejo Lopez would run off a 12-game hitting streak. He would rack up 17 hits in 40 at-bats (.425) with seven walks, three doubles, two triples and a home run. A pinch hitting appearance on July 16th would end his hitting streak, and he’d go 0-2 with 2 walks the next day. He would start up another hit streak, this one lasting eight games, and finish out the month’s final 11 games with 12 hits in 38 at-bats. July would be a strong month as Lopez hit .341/.418/.482 with eight extra-base hits and 11 walks. He had just nine strikeouts in 102 plate appearances.

Things got out to a slow start in August. Over the first six games of the month, Alejo Lopez hit just .200. That did come with seven walks, good for a .455 on-base percentage in that span. The switch hitter picked things up from August 9th through the 18th, hitting .313/.395/.563 in eight games played. Things almost hit a stand-still after that. In the final 10 games of August he would go 4-29 (.138), finishing out the month on a down note. The late slump led to a .224/.344/.395 line. He has 14 walks and strikeouts, along with seven extra base hits on the month.

The slump continued into the first four games of September. Alejo Lopez managed just one hit in that stretch for Billings. He could close out the season with a strong final five games, hitting .474 without a strikeout in 23 plate appearances. In the nine games played on the month to end the season he hit .345/.421/.345.

For all 2017 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Alejo Lopez Spray Charts

As a switch hitter there will be three different charts for Lopez – As a left handed hitter, as a right handed hitter, and then an overall chart that combines both.

Combined Spray Chart

As Left Handed Hitter

As Right Handed Hitter

Alejo Lopez Scouting Report

Hitting | As a switch hitter, Lopez has always hit for a better average as a lefty than a righty. He’s hit .311 in 354 at-bats as a left handed hitter, but just .245 as a right handed hitter in 102 at-bats. He projects better as a lefty than a righty, but he projects better as a right handed hitter than he’s shown thus far in his career. Overall, he’s got the potential for an above-average hit tool.

Power | Lopez is not likely to show a ton of power. Double digit homers isn’t out of the question, but it’s likely he’s going to be an 8-12 homer type than beyond that.

Running | He’s got above-average speed, but doesn’t always show it.

Arm | His arm is average, which plays fine at second base.

Defense | He’s sure handed and shows solid range at second base.

It’s the possibilities with the bat that stick out the most for Alejo Lopez. His potential to hit for a good average, and make tons of contact along the way sticks out. For his career he’s walked more than he’s struck out. In fact, he’s done that all three years he’s been a professional. He’s also shown good base stealing abilities, going 22-for-29 over the last two seasons.

Defensively he’s played mostly second and third base, but second base will be his long-term home. His bat just doesn’t play enough at third. He’s also had very limited time at shortstop in his career, playing in eight games – starting in three. There’s a chance his bat develops enough that he profiles as a starting caliber second baseman, but he looks like a possible future utility infielder right now. The limited power output holds back the ceiling, but his ability to play multiple spots, make tons of contact, run a little bit and provide quality at-bats goes a long way.

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Should the Reds pick up Corey Dickerson? http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/18/reds-pick-corey-dickerson/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/18/reds-pick-corey-dickerson/#comments Sun, 18 Feb 2018 06:46:08 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=20832 The Tampa Bay Rays have designated outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment. Would it make sense for the Cincinnati Reds to pick him up?

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The Tampa Bay Rays made a head scratching move on Saturday night. They designated outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment. Dickerson, who will be 29-years-old in May, was an All-Star in 2017 and hit .282/.325/.490 with 54 extra-base hits. He’s spent nearly all of his time in the Major Leagues as a left fielder, with just 33 starts in either center or right field since 2013 began.

When the move first started showing up, nearly everyone was left scratching their heads. Tampa Bay has already agreed to pay Corey Dickerson $5.95M for the 2018 season. He’s a quality, even if flawed player. The thought, initially, was that this was simply a paper move and that Dickerson had been traded, but still needed some i’s dotted and t’s crossed. The DFA would allow them to not waive someone else they planned on keeping around and tomorrow the trade could go through. Word then came out about an hour later that no, that was not the case. There was no trade in the works. The Rays simply were designating him for assignment.

As I noted above, Corey Dickerson is a good, but flawed player. Let’s look at what he’s good at. The guy can hit for power. In the last two seasons he has hit 69 doubles, seven triples and 51 home runs in 1177 plate appearances. His isolated power (SLG-AVG) in that span is .215. That’s good for 34th in baseball, falling between George Springer and Justin Turner.

That’s about where things end for Corey Dickerson on the good side of things, though. He doesn’t draw walks, with walk rates of 4.3%, 6.0%, and 5.6% in each of the last three years. That’s not good. He also isn’t exactly a contact guy, with a strikeout rate just over 24% in each of the last two seasons. In his good seasons, offensively, it’s been years in which is BABIP was high. When it’s been average, or below, he’s struggled to provide much beyond his power.

Defensively, he’s pretty much been a left fielder for his entire career, and well, that leaves him rather limited. But, the question is: Can he play more than left? He played in Colorado for the first three years of his career. The outfield there is enormous, so he didn’t spend much time at all in center with the Rockies. In Tampa Bay he happened to be playing with arguably the best center fielder in baseball over the last few seasons with Kevin Kiermaier. Because of that, he again didn’t see time in center field.

Corey Dickerson has a grand total of 14 stolen bases in his career. He’s been caught 15 times. Simply looking at those numbers, you would think that he’s slower than your grandmother. But, in fact, Corey Dickerson is a well above-average speed guy. The Statcast sprint leaderboards have him ranked 108th out of 451 players in sprint speed. He’s basically just as fast as Jose Peraza, Mookie Betts, or Jose Altuve. Apparently he’s just a terrible base stealer.

With that kind of speed, it begs the question: Can Corey Dickerson play center field? It would seem that the speed requirement is indeed there, particularly if he’s not going to have to play there every day. That doesn’t mean he can, because there’s more to playing center than just pure speed. It does however leave open the possibility.

A player like Corey Dickerson isn’t likely to come simply from a waiver claim. He’s been worth 4.1 fWAR and 4.2 bWAR over the last two seasons. He’s a quality player. A team is likely going to have to make a trade for Dickerson. If you are going to pay his entire salary, you will likely have to give up a little less than if you are going to try and get the Rays to pay some of it. The outfielder is under team control through 2019.

Corey Dickerson sounds similar to what the Reds already have in their corners with Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler. He’s got some power, generally struggles to hit for average and has been a lower on-base percentage guy. Like Schebler, he’s got speed to work with, but is questionable in center field. Would he be an upgrade to Duvall or Schebler? Is there room for him in the outfielder, where the Reds already have four guys for three spots?

He would certainly add value to the roster – he’s a quality player. Whether it makes sense for the Cincinnati Reds to pick him up is another question. The cost acquisition is important, as would the question of just how much of an upgrade to the roster he would be.

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Dilson Herrera working at shortstop & third base http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/17/dilson-herrera-working-shortstop-third-base/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/17/dilson-herrera-working-shortstop-third-base/#comments Sat, 17 Feb 2018 21:32:52 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=20829 Dilson Herrera, fresh off of shoulder surgery that hopes to correct an issue that had been bothering him for parts of three seasons, has been getting reps in at both third base and shortstop on top of his regular second base.

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Mark Sheldon posted an article yesterday on Dilson Herrera at Reds.com. The article begins by talking about the health of his shoulder, as he recovers from surgery.

The good news is, Dilson Herrera says he’s healthy and ready to go. The shoulder injury began with the Mets. They diagnosed it incorrectly for two seasons in a row. He was traded to the Reds, who after hurting the shoulder in spring training of 2017, also misdiagnosed the issue at first. After rest and rehab, he returned to the lineup in Louisville, but couldn’t make it through the season with re-injuring the shoulder. This time around the Reds made the proper diagnosis and Herrera went under the knife to get things repaired.

The bad news is that Dilson Herrera is out of options. He’s one of only two players out of options on the Reds 40-man roster. Homer Bailey is the other. Scouting reports going back years have essentially said that Herrera is only a second baseman on the defensive spectrum. What stood out to me from the Sheldon article linked above is that the Reds have Herrera working at both third base and shortstop.

If you recall, it was his time at third base that led to the shoulder injury popping back up last spring. Of course, there were underlying issues there as the injury had been lingering for years at that point. Still, the Reds are going to ease Dilson Herrera into those positions where the throws are more strenuous.

Since Dilson Herrera is out of options, his ability to play somewhere else on the diamond could be key. Being a second baseman only, who isn’t the starter, makes it very tough to fit onto the bench. While I believe that even if he can’t handle the other spots that the Reds will still keep him around, at least for a little bit, being able to play somewhere else in a pinch could be quite useful.

The bat has always been the calling card for Dilson Herrera. Outside of the Major Leagues, he’s hit everywhere he’s gone.  Last season in Louisville may be the lone exception. A tough start wiped out his season totals, where he OPS’d just .709. Over the final 41 games (of 68 total) he hit .301/.342/.474 for the Bats. His season came to an end on July 19th, but he had only gotten five at-bats for the two weeks prior.

In the Major Leagues, Herrera has hit just .215/.308/.383, but all 169 plate appearances he’s had came in 2014 and 2015 when he was just 20 and 21-years-old. He will turn 24-years-old in two weeks. It’s been a long time since Herrera has played in the Major Leagues. And the next time he does, it’s going to be in a backup role. That’s a role that he’s not really been used in during his career.

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Billings Mustangs looking for a new pitching coach http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/17/billings-mustangs-looking-new-pitching-coach/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/17/billings-mustangs-looking-new-pitching-coach/#comments Sat, 17 Feb 2018 05:45:35 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=20824 Last month the Cincinnati Reds announced the Billings Mustangs coaching staff for the 2018 season. A month later and there has already been a change at pitching coach.

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It was nearly a month ago when the Cincinnati Reds announced the Billings Mustangs coaching staff. Well, sort of. The manager, Ray Martinez, would be returning. Former Major League All-Star Bryan LaHair would be joining the organization as hitting coach. Derrin Ebert would be coming back to Billings as the pitching coach, after serving in the role with Dayton the previous few seasons. The fourth coach was not named.

Fast forward a few weeks and Darrin Ebert is no longer going to be the pitching coach for the Billings Mustangs. The Reds have been preparing their Media Guide for 2018 and it’s been coming out in sections over the last week to the media. When the Player Development section became available I downloaded it immediately. But, something jumped out while browsing: The Billings Mustangs section listed the pitching coach as TBD, and Derrin Ebert was not listed anywhere.

As noted, the 2018 Media Guide is being released in sections right now. The entire thing isn’t available as one document. Going through several other sections of the Media Guide, Derrin Ebert showed up. He was listed on the Major League coaching staff – simply as “Coach”. It also noted that he joined the staff in January of 2018. The bio does not specify what his job will be on the staff, though.

What it does mean, though, is that for now, the Billings Mustangs are without a pitching coach – at least officially. Minor League pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear on February 28th. Ideally the Reds will have someone lined up by then, even though the Mustangs season won’t begin until June.

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Reds prospect Jake Ehret suspended for 50 games http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/16/reds-prospect-jake-ehret-suspended-50-games/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/16/reds-prospect-jake-ehret-suspended-50-games/#comments Fri, 16 Feb 2018 22:18:54 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=20826 Cincinnati Reds relief prospect Jake Ehret was suspended for 50 games to begin the 2018 season for his second positive test for a drug of abuse.

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Cincinnati Reds right handed pitching prospect Jake Ehret has been suspended for 50 games for a second positive test of a drug of abuse. Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer was the first to report this.

Jake Ehret was the Reds 14th round draft pick in 2014 out of UCLA. He’s spent his entire professional career as a reliever, pitching in 134 games between the Arizona League Reds and Pensacola Blue Wahoos. From 2014-2016 he had posted ERA’s each season between 3.71 and 3.96.

Jake Ehret’s 2017 season

It was the 2017 season that saw a big step backwards for the righty. He split his regular season between Daytona and Pensacola. He had struggles at both stops. In 19.2 innings with the Tortugas he posted a 5.95 ERA. In Pensacola he posted a 9.14 ERA in 21.2 innings. Between the two stops he walked 30 batters with 31 strikeouts. To be frank, he got his butt handed to him in the 2017 regular season. Something wasn’t quite right. The control was way out of line with what he had shown in past seasons.

Despite the struggles, the Reds wanted to see more from Jake Ehret. He’s got stuff, and his 2017 was just out of whack with his past performance. The organization sent him to the Arizona Fall League in October. Things went a lot better with Scottsdale, granted it was just 10.1 innings of work. Still, Ehret allowed just two runs and had 13 strikeouts with five walks. You’d still like to see the walks be a tad lower, but it was a small step back in the right direction. With his suspension he won’t be eligible to return to the mound to try and build upon his Arizona Fall League performance until late May.

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Greeneville Reds Park Factors for 2017 http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/16/greeneville-reds-park-factors-2017/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/16/greeneville-reds-park-factors-2017/#comments Fri, 16 Feb 2018 18:12:00 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=20815 How did Pioneer Park at Tusculum College play out during the 2017 season? The Greeneville Reds will take the field there for the first time in June later on this year.

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While the title of the article is a bit misleading because the Greeneville Reds didn’t exist in 2017, the ballpark they will be playing in, did. The Greeneville Astros played in the same ballpark and same league that the Reds will in 2018. Pioneer Park is the home field at Tusculum College and is shared by the school and the Greeneville team. It’s 331 feet to both corners and it’s 400 feet to dead center.

Before jumping into the numbers, let’s note that these are only being compared to other ballparks in the league. They are not being compared to other parks in the organization or anywhere else in the Minor Leagues.

How did Pioneer Park play in 2017?

The first thing we are going to look at is how batting average was altered by the field in comparison to the rest of the league in 2017.

dAVG %Change
To LF -.039 -6.0%
To CF -.078 -15.6%
To RF -.108 -22.5%

The ballpark, at least in 2017, really hurt batting average for the hitters that came through Greeneville. Players that hit the ball to left field didn’t face the same kind of issues that hitters who went to right field more frequently faced. Right field, and even center field did a lot of damage by comparison to the other parks in the league in terms of batting average.

Of course, it’s usually how power plays in a ballpark that gives a place it the reputation for being pitcher or hitter friendly. Let’s take a look at how things in Pioneer Park played when it comes to power by looking at Isolated Power, which is average subtracted from slugging – essentially just looking at extra-base hits.

dIsoP %Change
To LF .074 19.4%
To CF -.078 -42.6%
To RF -.103 -32.3%

While left field hurt batting average a little bit, it did help power by a good amount. That, however, is where the help stopped. Both center field and right field absolutely crushed power output during the 2017 season. Center and right field didn’t do much to harm triples or home runs. But the ballpark absolutely killed doubles.

In games involving the Greeneville Astros there were 644 balls hit to center and right field in Pioneer Park. In games involving them on the road there were 642 balls hit to center and right field. The sample size is nearly identical. Triples saw 10 and 13 between home run road. Home runs were at 27 and 30. While Pioneer Park was on the low end on both of those, it was close and not really that different. Doubles, however, was drastic. In Pioneer Park there were 40 doubles hit. In road games there were 81.

Having never been to the ballpark, I can’t say why that would be, but perhaps there’s a strong wind pattern that comes across right field and pushes toward left field. No matter what the reason is, that’s a drastic difference. It will be interesting to see if there was something more than random variance going on here. But with these numbers, it’s hard to think there’s not something directly leading to the ballpark playing out as one that is hurting the hitters.

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Can Reds Nick Senzel realistically play shortstop? http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/16/can-reds-nick-senzel-realistically-play-shortstop/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/16/can-reds-nick-senzel-realistically-play-shortstop/#comments Fri, 16 Feb 2018 09:02:53 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=20821 The early buzz from Goodyear is about Nick Senzel and where he will play on the diamond. The big question is, can he play the shortstop position?

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Nick Senzel is the Cincinnati Reds top prospect. He’s played third base every single day he’s been on the field since the Reds drafted him. That’s been 182 games at third base as he’s blown through the Minor Leagues. He’s hit a combined .315/.393/.514 in 797 plate appearances over the previous two seasons, reaching Double-A.

Eugenio Suarez is the Reds third baseman, and they’ve seemingly made that clear. He’s under contract for the next three seasons. In 2017 he had a breakout season on both sides of the ball. In the field he provided outstanding defense. At the plate he hit 25 doubles and 26 home runs while posting a .367 on-base percentage.

C. Trent Rosecrans wrote an article at The Athletic on Thursday afternoon about Nick Senzel and where he could play, since third base doesn’t seem to be open. While we’ve known for a while that Senzel was going to work on shortstop, among several positions, there hasn’t been much talk that suggested the Reds were going to really give it a look. Dick Williams, however, said this on Thursday about the Reds top prospect and the position:

“He’s expressed a desire to do it and it makes sense for us — we’ve always said you let people play themselves off the premium spots,” Williams said on Thursday. “There’s no reason to think he shouldn’t get some time there and show us what he can do.”

Now, there’s a lot of stuff in the article that’s worth checking out, so go read it all. But, let’s focus on Nick Senzel and shortstop. First, we need to address the position as it currently sits. Jose Peraza has the job right now. In 2016 just about everything went right for the then 22-year-old. He hit .324 and stole 21 bases in 72 games played. Last season just about everything went wrong for the then 23-year-old. He hit .259 with a .297 on-base percentage, and his power dropped off, too. He also only stole two more bases despite playing in twice as many games.

If Jose Peraza is going to be the 2016 version of Jose Peraza, and provide solid defense at shortstop over a full season, then the Reds may not have a shortstop problem in the long run. But, if Jose Peraza is going to be the 2017 version, then the Reds will have a problem. As I covered earlier this week in the State of the Farm: Shortstop article, the organization isn’t exactly thriving with shortstops that are close to the Major Leagues right now.

With all of that said, let’s start exploring what Nick Senzel and the shortstop position mean. First, we need to look backwards. In college Senzel played second base in his freshman and sophomore seasons. In his junior season he slid over to third base – but late in the year he did spend a handful of games at shortstop. On April 19th he began the game at third base, but regular shortstop Max Bartlett went down with an injury and Senzel slid over to shortstop. He would remain there for the next ten games before Bartlett returned.

At the time of the move, Nick Senzel was arguably the top prospect in the draft. Scouts were at every game, watching him play, evaluating his talent. Very few scouts thought, at the time, that he could handle shortstop at the Major League level. His manager at Tennessee, Dave Serrano, echoed similar thoughts to C. Trent Rosecrans earlier this week. With that said, while it’s the minority opinion, some thought that there was a chance it could work as long as he hit as expected. The trade off for some defense would be worth the boost in offense.

And that is likely what it is going to come down to. Nick Senzel is a very good athlete, so it’s not inconceivable that he could be a shortstop. When you look at his size, he’s not “too big” for shortstop. He’s listed at 6′ 1″ and 205 lbs. Jose Peraza, for example, is listed at 6′ 0″ and 196 lbs. Carlos Correa is 6′ 4″ and 215 lbs. Corey Seager is 6′ 4″ and 220 lbs. You get the point. But, he’s spent 10 games at shortstop since he left high school, and usually when that happens, there’s a reason for it.

Maybe, hopefully, everyone just missed the boat. If you think about the kind of hitter that Nick Senzel projects to be, a guy who could hit for a high average, get on base, show plenty of pop – at shortstop, that’s an All-Star every single year. Being able to add that kind of bat to the lineup would do wonders. And, of course, the Reds are going to add his bat to the lineup regardless, but being able to add it there, while keeping second base open for another quality hitter – be it Scooter Gennett, Shed Long, Alex Blandino, Dilson Herrera – would be huge.

But, it’s going to come down to the defense more so than the offense. Shortstop is arguably the most valuable position on the field outside of catcher. Defense matters there more than offense. There are limits on how much you can sacrifice on both sides at the position, but teams historically have been willing to give up a lot more offense at the position than defense at the position.

When we look at the crop of Major League shortstops in 2017, for the most part, it’s a well-rounded bunch. Most guys provided good value on the bases, and of course, as shortstops, overall provided strong defense. Some of them could really hit, too. But let’s focus on the defense. While they are all good fielders when compared to everyone, when we look at comparing them to just the rest of the shortstops, there’s going to be some good and some bad.

Heading to the Fangraphs leaderboards and looking at the most valuable shortstops in 2017 it’s a mixed bag in terms of how the best guys provided their value. As a group they mostly provided good value on the bases, and some of them could really hit. Only three of the 29 shortstops provided negative defensive value – but, that includes the positional adjustment, which is rather large for shortstops.

When we look at the group and compare them only to the other shortstops in Major League Baseball, that’s where we see just how the good, solid, and bad defenders stack up in terms of overall value. Inside of the Top 10 there were only three guys who were below-average defenders according to UZR/150 among shortstops. Carlos Correa, Elvis Andrus, and Xander Bogaerts. Correa was the worst among that group at -3.7, ranking 22nd overall. Bogaerts and Andrus ranked 18th and 21st.

Carlos Correa, at least compared to other shortstops, wasn’t exactly a strong defender. He was below-average, though not by a large amount. But he was still ranked as the third most valuable shortstop in baseball because he can absolutely rake. Elvis Andrus hit quite well in 2017 and like Correa, was able provide plenty of value – he was a 4.1 WAR player, which is roughly the value of an All-Star in most seasons. Bogaerts didn’t hit quite as well as the other two, but was still the 9th most valuable shortstop and provided 3.2 WAR despite being a slightly below-average defender at shortstop.

So, how much value can a shortstop give up on defense and still be a quality player if they hit well? Quite a bit. You probably can’t be the worst defender among the group, but you can be below-average. Take Jean Segura for example, he ranked as the 26th worst defender at shortstop in 2017 at -5.5 UZR/150. Despite that he was worth 2.9 WAR (2.0 is considered to be league average for a starter). That’s a fairly valuable player and would have been the 4th most valuable position player for the Reds last season – falling between Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett. Segura was valuable, though, because he can hit a little bit. He posted a .300/.349/.427 line.

Nick Senzel projects to be a better hitter than Jean Segura was in 2017. He also projects to provide more baserunning value, at least compared to what Segura provided last season. If there’s a chance that Senzel could be the level of defender that Segura was at shortstop, according to UZR/150 – which was among the worst in the league, but not the worst, then this whole Nick Senzel to shortstop thing could possibly work.

The one concern, though, is that even if that is the level of defense that he plays, is it something that the Cincinnati Reds would be willing to “live with” given their young pitching staff? Those extra outs made by a stronger defender could be of value beyond just the specific value to your shortstop. It would mean fewer pitches, and fewer stressful pitches made by your pitching staff.

There’s a whole lot that goes into this kind of decision. It’s not just about Nick Senzel. It’s about him, and it’s about Jose Peraza. And it’s about Scooter Gennett, and Shed Long, and Dilson Herrera, and Alex Blandino. It’s also about Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, Luis Castillo, Brandon Finnegan, Sal Romano, Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett, Tyler Mahle, and the guys that could pitch out of the bullpen. As I noted the other day, I think that how the Reds use Nick Senzel this spring is the biggest story involving one player in Goodyear.

If by some stroke of genius and circumstance it works out that he’s capable of playing shortstop, it could be a franchise altering kind of move. It may be a long shot kind of hope, but at least we are going to get to see it in action. That beats some past plans that the organization talked about trying but never put into action on the field.

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Cincinnati Reds Minor League Talk: Episode 26 http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/15/cincinnati-reds-minor-league-talk-episode-26/ http://redsminorleagues.com/2018/02/15/cincinnati-reds-minor-league-talk-episode-26/#comments Thu, 15 Feb 2018 22:52:42 +0000 http://redsminorleagues.com/?p=20819 Another week and another episode of Reds Minor League talk is here. Spring training just got started this week and we've already gotten some minor league news to discuss.

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Spring training is officially underway and we already have some Minor League news. We are back this week with another episode of Reds Minor League Talk. This weeks episode is just over 18 minutes long.

There were a few different topics that I touched on this week. The first was the news that right handed pitcher Jeff Manship failed his physical. He was on a Minor League deal, so the consequences aren’t big for the Cincinnati Reds in this instance. I also talked about the signing of utility infielder Cliff Pennington to a Minor League deal. There were a few more topics, including a little bit of a rant on how stupid the arbitration process is, and I answered a few questions from twitter. It’s a shorter watch this week, so go check it out.

Also, a big thanks to everyone who subscribed over on Youtube over the last few weeks (you can subscribe here if you haven’t, but would like to). We cruised on past 1000 subscribers over there, bypassing step one of what was needed to keep getting a small amount of income coming in from the advertising over there. Step two is getting to 4000 hours watched over the last year. We aren’t there yet, but we are moving in the right direction. It’s going to be a close call with less than a week to go. So if you’ve got the spare time, watch a few episodes of the series and add a couple hours of watch time while you do something else on your computer.

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