Earlier today on twitter there was a brief discussion between myself, Joel Luckhaupt and a few others about center field, Nick Senzel, and Billy Hamilton. Heck, I’m not even sure it was a conversation as much as it was a few of us just sharing our thoughts. One of the thoughts that I shared was about Billy Hamilton, in regards to his defense. Now, let me be perfectly clear: I fully believe that Billy Hamilton is an outstanding defensive player. He’s one of the best fielders in all of baseball. The newest stat unveiled by Statcast, directional outs above-average shows just how good he is in 5-of-the-6 directions in center. That dude can go get the baseball. Anyone and everyone knows it.

With that said, the idea keeps coming up that Billy Hamilton helps the pitchers, and that’s why the team can’t go in a different direction. And yes, Billy Hamilton does help the pitchers. But how’s that working out for the Reds? Their pitching has been terrible for years. Yes, it would have been a little bit worse had Hamilton not been the center fielder. But there’s this weird thing thought that he’s the only option because he’s helping the pitching. Shin-Soo Choo was a terrible center fielder. The Reds pitching still threw out of their minds. And that happened because the pitching was good. If you want to improve the pitching, then improve the actual pitching. Go out and get better pitchers. Spend the money. Make some trades.

Maybe Billy Hamilton is still the best overall option to play center field. It wouldn’t be terribly surprising if that were the case. Maybe Nick Senzel can’t handle the position on an every day basis. I’m not sure if he can. I’m not convinced that he can’t do it either. What I do know is that I want to actually see it in action. He’s fast. Senzel’s got the required straight line speed to handle center. What needs to be answered is if that first step is there. If the turning and running is there quickly enough to make center field work. Those answers are still unknown at this point.

The Reds current defense isn’t great. I’m not even sure that it’s good. But that isn’t why the Reds pitching isn’t. The Reds pitching isn’t good because it’s just not good. The Reds bad pitching is not the reason to not move on from Billy Hamilton in center field IF there is a better overall option. Fix the pitching by fixing the pitching. If Billy Hamilton is the best overall option in center, then keep playing him there. But do that because he’s the best overall option, not because the pitching sucks.

Joey For Prime Minister T-Shirt

34 Responses

  1. DocProc

    I’m with you.
    But how about Peraza to CF (because he’s speedy but sucks at SS) and Senzel to SS (because he’s a gold-glove infielder, young, quick, and athletic)?

      • RandyW

        You keep saying that but you don’t have any facts to base your opinion on. No one from the Reds have stated it to be so.

      • DocProc

        I know that’s been said, but I don’t think it’s true. I saw him play SS in ST and he looked fine. I’ll bet he’d make fewer errors than Peraza’s 20.

        I think moving him to SS would be much easier than moving him to the outfield.

  2. BurgRed

    I don’t know about him not able to play SS on a daily basis. He looked fine in ST and he has all of the athletic ability. You know Robin Yount played a lot of games at Short and it didn’t hurt his career. I’m sure we could name quite a few others that made a career of it will way less ability. Just my 2 cents gang

    • Doug Gray

      Here’s my two cents on it: The Reds entered April with Jose Peraza as the only shortstop in the organization above rookie-ball who had the semblence of a big league starter. And he was entering April as one of the four worst hitters in baseball the year before. And Nick Senzel played zero games at shortstop in Louisville in April. Then Jose Peraza posted a .704 OPS through April. And Nick Senzel then started zero games at shortstop in Louisville in May. The Reds simply do not believe he can play shortstop. They aren’t going to play him at shortstop.

      • RandyW

        The reds weren’t going to put senzel at short in aaa in the beginning of the season and have peraza looking over his shoulder.

      • Alex Reds

        To be fair, things that the Reds do that would suggest what they believe in, they change their mind months later. Like Winker playing RF. I guess it depends which financial general manager or owner is making baseball decisions that month. You would think the Reds would have given Senzel a month at SS to actually see what happens. Observe how he is improving over a committed sample. You know, things that a well managed major league teams would do. I don’t even think he got a second game at SS, and he played fine the first game with limited chances. I guess the Reds expect gold glove instincts on the first day. I remember when Peraza was the worst hitter and fielder, and he’s improved on both – but not without months/year of experience. The Reds can’t get out of their own way. Your other post about Stephenson’s ERA in AAA in the upper 2’s just shows how good he can be. When’s the last time we had a prospect perform like that in AAA as a starter? Even if there is a prospect that matches the ERA, how about the strikeouts? So we’re not going to give him a chance either, and let him get settled in. Now, in this case he got injured, but it seemed the Reds were done letting him get experience and giving up on him. Yet, we had Homer pitching us to a net of -19 wins when he has only one more year on his contract. The Reds can’t get out of their own way.

  3. DX

    How many times must you explain that Suarez and Senzel will not be the SS of the future? It is obvious that neither can play SS and should be equally obvious that Peraza is only 23 and is the SS of the future. There are some unclear things for 2019 like CF and starting pitching, thankfully the position of SS is not one of them.

      • RedsinWashst

        Doug you have had no problem questioning Reds management on a number of items. I agree with you on most but for some reason on Senzel playing shortstop the Reds are completely right and it should not be questioned. Peraza has a problem going to his left and it has shown all year. You also have said that Senzel should not play the outfield because of his vertigo, which I also agree with. He was named the best fielder in the minor leagues 2x at 2 different positions. He needs to stay in the infield.

  4. Joe

    I think that’s being said because you can’t validate having billy out there everyday and that’s the only reasoning the reds people can think of for doin it. But like u said terrible pitchers are going to pitch terrible even if they have 7 GG behind them

  5. Bryant

    But it makes no sense to give up on Billy Hamilton because he cannot hit without at least testing the hypothesis that their “experiment” to make him a switch hitter was a failure and one that held back his hitting enough to make a difference sufficient to turn him back from being adequate to his current inadequate offensive production. Despite his lower batting average from his natural right side let him try just hitting from whichever side he prefers and see what happens. We know he’s a failure as a switch hitter. We don’t know he would be if he stopped it. Nothing to lose, and if he just hits a little more we have a pretty good asset.

    • Jasonp

      I once had this line of thinking but not anymore. If making him a switch hitter held back his ability to hit enough time has passed for him to have recover from it.

      Last 3 years total he is hitting 252 as left handed hitter and a 226 right handed hitter. He is not showing he is a better right handed hitter.

      He is also showing that he is not getting better as a hitter. 247 hitter last year and a 238 hitter this year. If he was going to improve as a hitter we would have seen signs of it these last two years.

      He has been a similar hitter for 5 years now. I think we have him only for one more year. It is about time to move on from him. He is entertaining to watch but he just isn’t a good hitter. I feel he is always evaluated on what he could be and not what he actually is.

      To the original post I am not really sure how much a good or great defensive center fielder effects how well a pitcher does. I remember reading an article where a center fielder made like 38% of putouts hit into the outfield. I think it was like 6%-8% more then the left and right fielder. So it didn’t seem to be many more outs.

      I am not sure if the type of outs they make or the small % of more outs makes a huge difference or not but it could be that the data could point to the center fielder not being as important as everyone always has thought they were.

      • Norwood Nate

        I agree on the switch hitting thing. For a few years now I have been a proponent of having Billy only hit from the left side as he has historically been better from that side. Better still isn’t good, and at this point the Reds need to move on. He is who he is and has always been.

        If the Reds hang onto him, then use him as a PR, defensive replacement, and when he does start, make sure it’s a game against RHP so he at least has a chance to be just a poor, not awful, hitter.

        Ideally, you find someone who wants to use him in that role and has the resources available to play the arbitration raise he’ll get to be a bench player.

  6. cinvenfan

    Bad pitchers will be bad, no doubt. But, should we make them worst?. Is that bad defense that has cost many close games (not to mention the ineptitude lapses from the offense like last night). An is not only physical errors, but lack of range, double plays not completed, bad routes or missing the cut off men. Many of those miscues don’t show in the stats, but certainly hurt a lot. Runners on, extra pitches, playing in a hitters park nonetheless.
    Baseball is hitting, pitching and catching. It’s always been like this and will always be like this. Like or not fundamentals do matter.

    • IMHO

      One hit or one strike seems decide on bad pitching. I see a lot of depth defensively and offensively in this Reds Organization…..yes, it may be a few years because they are NOT giving up their guys in the MLB yet, especially in the infield. But just wait. Have faith. There is depth in the Red’s pitching…especially what you are seeing in the MiLB. There are guys out there that could not start due to their college innings limit…I think the Reds see something in these MiLB guys – they are out their in Instructional right now. They can be the future – but right now, they have to work with what they got….

    • Doug Gray

      Bad pitching is going to be bad no matter who is playing defense behind them. Maybe it’s slightly less bad, or slightly more bad depending on the guys back there, but it’s going to be bad. Just like good pitching is going to be good no matter who is back there, assuming we are talking about guys playing positions that they can actually play (no playing Joey Votto in center field or at shortstop, for example).

  7. RedFuture

    I am hoping that Sensel proves not only that he can play LF & RF but more importantly CF. It would be so nice to have a real hitter in every spot of the lineup. However these assertions may become moot. If the Reds are serious about obtaining SPs, I suspect there will have to be trades to accomplish that. The most likely strength to be traded is Gennett and/or Suarez. Bingo, a spot opens for Sensel. BH stands a chance of being packaged with either of those guys for a starter. I have no idea who that SP would be, and even though it has to be done I don’t have a lot of confidence that the Reds talent evaluators will select the right guy.

  8. IMHO

    This was entitled “Let’s talk Reds defense and PITCHING” come on..don’t bash the pitching—- we talkin minor or major here? It is the redsMINORleague.com

  9. Bob Anderson

    Reds defense exchoo was really good in 2013. You miss that. This group is bad all around.

    • Bill

      That’s a great point. The pitching is bad, but so is the defense. There’s no defense for balls flying over the fence, and no pitcher can consistently put up zeros when the defense gives opponents extra outs. It’s been really disheartening to see the Reds so frequently miss cut off men and fail to make routine plays this year. Even Billy Hamilton had a nice week of futility in the outfield this year where he struggled to make the routine play. The team needs to significantly improve both starting pitching and defense to compete .

    • Doug Gray

      I didn’t miss anything. The pitching was good because the pitching was good. The defense helped a very small amount.

  10. It's Simple

    They need starting pitching and a CF, preferably someone that can lead off. They have extra 3rd basemen. Also, they’ve had a premier closer for several years. Where has that gotten them? Trade Suarez or Senzel, trade Iglesias, and trade Hamilton, who is no longer young, and if he loses as step, he’ becomes the Homer Bailey version of a centerfielder. They absolutely must upgrade the starting pitching and the haven’t had an honest to goodness lead off hitter in years. They will have to trade something of value to accomplish that, even if . Stop trying to fit someone to another position and go get a natural fit.

  11. Michael B. Green

    I see CIN acquiring someone like Sonny Gray or Derek Holland to anchor their rotation. If they could snag Ryu (LAD) too, you could see the solution to the pitching woes. Of course, they could re-sign Harvey too.

    DeSclafani and Castillo would excel sliding into #3 and #4 rather than #2 and #3 but even if we get one good SP, things are looking up.

    You then have Romano, Mahle, Stephenson, Lorenzen, Garrett, Sims, Lopez, Mella and Wisler batting for #5, the AAA rotation and bullpen spots. Santillan and Gutierrez are coming soon too. I’m intentionally excluding Bailey and Finnegan because I don’t see them as contributing SP’s anymore.

    This staff is shaping up. We now need someone to work with our MLB catchers at framing. We also need to emphasize less walks and more GB’s – something that I believe CIN is already focused on now.

    Spend some money on SP’s this winter and we’re good to go.

  12. Shawn

    I would love to see the Reds trade Scooter and trade or DFA Billy. “No way he should be offered arbitration” sign a free agent SS or CFer. “Peraza plays whichever is left open” Senzel plays 2B. Need to sign 1 really good starter instead of 2 mediocre ones. Rotation would be
    1. FA
    2. Castillo
    3. Descofini
    4&5. In order of who I think it should be. Could change in spring training. Lorenzen, Iglesias “if he don’t start he should be traded” Garrett, Simms, Reed, Romano, Stevenson.

  13. redlegs4ever

    It’s ridiculous to think afforded a legit opportunity Senzel couldn’t play SS at least as well as Peraza. I mean that’s a REALLY low bar and I would prefer defense first at short but with no legit in house options Senzel is the best of a bad situation.

    Defense is criminally underrated by a lot of people on this site, including Doug IMO. My main goal for this offseason is to sign Iglesias to play SS.

    • Doug Gray

      Based on what, other than “well I think”, do I underrate defense?

      • redlegs4ever

        That’s kinda just it right there, there’s no stats to real quantify defense and I feel that gets it overlooked. I didn’t mean for you to take offense to it it’s just an observation.

        I think if you ask me to point out example(s) the fact you think Billy needs upgraded for being an elite glove/bad hitter and Jose Peraza doesn’t for being an awful glove/mediocre hitter to me says you don’t value defense to the level I believe it should be. Especially at two key positions.

      • Doug Gray

        The difference between Billy and Jose is that one is 24 and can hit a little bit, while the other can’t hit at all and is entering his 6th full season in the Major Leagues. One guy gets a little bit more rope than the other.

      • redlegs4ever

        From just a pure offensive standpoint I agree with you, but that’s not factoring in the defensive difference at all, the whole point of this. And it’s not like were talking one’s slightly better than the other. Billy Hamilton is one of the top if not the top CF in all of baseball and Jose Peraza is the worst SS in all of baseball.