Key to Cincinnati Reds in 2015: Outfield Offensive Production


Most may believe one reason the Reds’ struggles in 2014 was related to the fact left field was pretty much an empty vessel. With no regular established at the position, left field was viewed as the big wasteland. Truth be told, it wasn’t just left field. In fact, if you look at some numbers, the entire Reds outfield can be pinned as a reason the Redlegs offense was so off last season. Some might argue it is the primary reason.

So let the ugliness be unveiled…

[table id=46 /]

Before I drive too hard on these numbers, it must be made clear that while the bats were sawdust last season, the leather did perform well. Billy Hamilton was a finalist for the Gold Glove in center field and deservedly so. Overall, the Reds outfield ranked 2nd in UZR (16.1) and 7th in DRS (10).

Unfortunately, that’s where the bulk of the good news ends if you are referring to the 2014 Cincinnati Reds.

Now more bad news…

By position, the Reds outfield posted a sOPS+ of 74 (LF), 76 (CF), and 77 (RF). Their combined 0.9 fWAR was dead last in the National League. If you’re unfamiliar with fWAR (or WAR as a whole), the entire Reds outfield for the 2014 season was not good enough to account for one win. Not a single one. Well, when we take WAR into consideration it wasn’t.

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One last piece of horrible info. The entire outfield could not post a combined OBP over .300. Re-read that last sentence. In this day and age of stressing OBP, the entire Reds outfield posted a OBP of .286. Simply unacceptable.

Each of the three outfield positions has a question or topic we should consider.

Left Field

So with the deal to place Marlon Byrd in left, the Reds have seemingly found a stop-gap for the position. I mean does anyone honestly expect Byrd to be with the Reds come the trade deadline if the team is struggling? I seriously don’t. I doubt I’m alone in that crowd.

But bringing Byrd to the Queen City could be pivotal for a reason that is not being mentioned all that much. I’m referring to the development of Jesse Winker and/or Kyle Waldrop. The organization can now take a little extra time to make sure these guys get the seasoning they still require. Having a veteran as Byrd on the roster afford the team to do just that.

Center Field

We touched on the defensive prowess of Hamilton. But it’s Hamilton’s bat that needs to see stark improvement in 2015.

Hamilton’s speed is completely mesmerizing, but what’s the point in having all that speed if you are unable to get on base? You see the table above and are well aware that the majority of those CF numbers come from Hamilton.

Now the issue: with Hamilton presumably sitting atop the Reds lineup, if he is unable to get on base any better than last season, Cincy must look elsewhere to fill that void. Well, that’s if they want to contend in 2015. And we all hope they have the desire to contend.

Right Field

So 2014 wasn’t the season we wanted to see from Jay Bruce. Wasn’t what he wanted to see either.

I’m going to repeat something I’ve said here many times. Do not expect that batting average to hit .281 like it did in 2010. Considering his BA from other seasons, that .281 stands out far too much to be considered an expectation.

The main question for 2015 is easy to determine: Is Jay Bruce healthy? Some portions of the fanbase may pan him due to his high strikeout rate (and it is high, don’t pretend it isn’t), but the Bruce of 2014 was truly of the shadow we had seen in seasons past.

It really does all start here for the Reds – the outfield. If Hamilton can get on base, Bruce can return healthy to hit the home runs to drive him home, and taking a veteran such as Byrd who can allow the organization more time for younger players to develop (but don’t forget Byrd is also a decent bat to have), the 2015 Cincinnati Reds might, and I stress might, be all right.