Most Cincinnati Reds fans would agree that the Reds have a pretty awesome lineup, right? The best in the division, best in the National League? Let’s talk about that for a while.
The Reds have had a problem finding a decent left-fielder until this past season when Ryan Ludwick stepped up big-time and won the job outright. Center-field has been a problem because of the lack of contact made by speedster Drew Stubbs. A trade to Cleveland for Shin-Soo Choo ensued and that was taken care of, sort of.
Whoever plays CF, Bruce or Choo will be an offensive upgrade over Stubbs, the only downside being defense. They have been pretty well set in the other positions. Scott Rolen retired (allegedly) leaving Todd Frazier to man the hot corner. Upgrade in hitting and power, perhaps a downgrade in defense.
Ryan Hanigan can hold his own behind the plate with the best of them. He is a very good contact hitter and throws runners out at a decent rate. In fact he was the standard bearer in the National League last year gunning down 48 percent of the thieves-to-be. That rate was a full 21 points higher than the league average of 27 percent.
But how do they match up, man to man at each position against the league’s best? I will try to answer that and other questions as I begin a series of comparisons concerning the Reds against the best of the league.
I will start with the catchers. I would like to see the Reds roll out Hanigan more games than they did last year. Teams like the Cardinals and Giants have catchers that they play a huge bulk of the time. I would like to see the Reds do that in lieu of the quasi-platoon thing they do with Devin Mesoraco.
Who is the best in the National League behind the plate? I personally like Yadier Molina of St. Louis. He has always been the benchmark defensively for catchers in the league but he now has stepped up his offense to a very respectable place. He has two .300+ seasons back to back including the .315 he carved out in 2012.
But obviously the front runner in the league would have to be Buster Posey of the Giants. I mean how do you not count the Most Valuable Player as the best catcher in the league?
Let us take a head-to-head look at Hanigan and Posey. We will only deal with career averages based on 162 games, unless otherwise delineated.
Offensively Posey hits with much more power than Hanigan. In ISO Posey trumps Hanigan .189 to .085. Posey wins the battle of the slashes as well. His line is .314/.380/.503 while Hanigan produces these numbers, .275/.370/.360.
Here is a table that tells the story.
It is obvious that Hanigan is a superior catcher on defense and in bat discipline, however a great edge goes to Posey in regards to run production and total performance. This one goes to Posey. A huge edge in catching for the National League.
Next time we will look at the first basemen.