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Position Review: Shortstop Shortcomings

Maybe the biggest question leading into 2011 was that of the shortstop position. Would it be the so-called incumbent Paul Janish or the free agent signee and 2010 World Series MVP Edgar Renteria? Reds manager Dusty Baker informed those along his portion of the Reds Caravan that it would be Janish getting the first crack as the starter. A rousing ovation ensued after Baker’s announcement.

I’m thinking most of those that cheered upon hearing those words may want a “do over”.

In fact, Janish displayed barely any of the plate skills that he “developed” in 2010. Not only was there this regression, there was the slightest of downturns in his defense as well. Considering it was the glove that got the Texan to the bigs, this was not what the Reds or Janish needed. Upon the completion of the 2011 season, there were already rumblings about Janish’s tenure as a Red.

Let’s think about this for a minute though. I stated that it was the leather that got Janish his calling, not the lumber. In fact, his career batting average in the minors was only .261, just a point higher than his average from 2010. It’s normal to lose a bit that first full season, but for the fall to be as dramatic as it was for Janish in 2011, you can only scratch your head about it.

Point is, if Janish can hit .250 and playing sterling defense, things would be just fine. This was stated many times prior to 2011’s beginning. It just didn’t materialize. The Janish we saw in 2010 never made the appearance we had so hoped for in 2011.

But the void that became the shortstop position had an accomplice…Renteria. He struggled to find consistency early in the season and it didn’t matter what phase of his game you were observing, hitting or defense, it was all off kilter. Renteria constantly drew criticism for getting playing time ahead of Janish despite looking lackadaisical in both the batter’s box and in the field to possessing a defensive range that rated almost to that of a crawling toddler.

Some signing, huh?

Finally, the light at the end of the tunnel came on July 7th, the day Zack Cozart made his MLB debut. This move alone seemed to inject a little more life into the team. To a lot of Reds fans, this move by Walt Jocketty and the Reds brass was way overdue.

In a strange twist, as long as it took Cozart to finally gain his promotion to Cincinnati, it ended. Only 16 days after that call up, the Cozart Campaign was snuffed out due to a errant throw from first baseman Joey Votto. As Cozart was attempting to catch it, his arm was hit and, at first, causing what was termed as a hyper-extension. Upon a review, it was suggested that Cozart be shut down and undergo Tommy John surgery. The saving grace (if there is one) is that the injury was not to his throwing arm. That was the only bonus.

So the Reds were once again back to the Janish/Rentria duo.

Oh boy… here it comes…

Name G PA H R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG BABIP
Edgar Renteria 96 333 75 34 5 36 4 .251 .306 .348 .302
Zack Cozart 11 38 12 6 2 3 0 .324 .324 .486 .345
Chris Valaika 14 27 7 3 0 0 0 .280 .333 .400 .318
Paul Janish 114 366 72 27 0 23 3 .214 .259 .262 .244

Nothing jumps out at you, does it? Here’s some (painful) things about these bats in comparison to the other NL teams…

  • 12th in runs scored (65)
  • 11th in home runs (7)
  • 8th in RBI (59)
  • 14th in batting average (.238)
  • 13th in on-base percentage (.281)
  • 14th in slugging percentage (.317)

The power numbers aren’t as significant in the sense that the shortstop position is not viewed by all as one that needs to provide power, but you at least got to hit…and get on base. The RBI was the only stat in which Reds shortstops were even in the top half of any major statistical category. Even with the 2010 duo of Janish and Orlando Cabrera rated higher in most of these and the Reds chose not to bring Cabrera back in lieu of singing Renteria (or sorts).

Nice.

A healthy Cozart will be possibly the number one issue for the Reds in 2012. I don’t think any Reds fan could bear another dismal overall performance from th eposition.

Grade: D, it would be even lower if Renteria didn’t suddenly fine a late season groove from the plate.

Position Grade
First Base A-
Second Base A-
Third Base C+
Shortstop D

To read any of the prior reviews, click on the position within the grade card.

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Tags: 2011 Reds 2011 Season Baseball Cincinnati Reds Edgar Renteria MLB Paul Janish Zack Cozart

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