Cincinnati Reds: Who’s in Left Field in 2016?


In 1938, the world heard Costello ask Abbott, “who’s on first?” for the first time. It’s been 77 years, and Cincinnati Reds fans have altered the famous phrase a little to ask, “who’s in left?”

Those die-hard followers of the Redlegs have watched Marlon Byrd, Ryan Ludwick and Jonny Gomes try to lock down the left side of the outfield the last few years. It has been a carousel of odd-ball names the team has thrown out there, reminiscent of tossing darts at a dart board. Real life baseball players like Laynce Nix, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Chris Dickerson could not hack it.

The last left fielder to be named to the All-Star team from the Queen City was none other than the Big Donkey, Adam Dunn, in 2002. Who is going to put a stop to this revolving door? Well, the consensus is that Bryan Price is on his way out as the manager. With the possibility of a new regime in the clubhouse, let’s look at some players from inside the franchise and out who might be able to hold down the fort.

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Everyone’s first thought is to promote from within, and that means top outfield prospect, Jesse Winker. This dude is on a tear at the end his minor league season. The former first-round pick from 2012 has played 120 games at Double-A Pensacola and has a .275 batting average, 13 home runs and 55 RBIs. The .383 on-base percentage he carries in 2015 would be tops of any outfielder on the big league squad. Now, obviously no one knows if his game will translate from the minors to The Show (i.e., Brandon Larson), but his name is on the tip of a lot of tongues.

When Zack Cozart returns in 2016, he will be the starting shortstop, no questions asked. Assuming Brandon Phillips remains a Red and is at second base, Eugenio Suarez has got to play somewhere. Why not in left? Suarez has hit up and down the lineup, blasting 11 long balls while hitting .284 and driving in 39 runs in just 69 games. The fans like the young shortstop, as does management. Walt Jocketty needs to find a way to get him on the field next season by hook or by crook.

Looking outside the franchise, there are several appealing free agents. Let’s all realize that Justin Upton is not coming to Cincinnati and let’s move on. Some AFFORDABLE free agents you could see patrolling LF are as follows:

Matt Joyce: He is a lifetime .243 hitter, but has hit double digit HRs five of eight years in MLB.

Chris Denorfia: A former farmhand in Cincy, Denorfia has posted solid numbers during his career. A .271 hitter, what he lacks in power, he makes up for in defense.

Wanna get real crazy? The guy I thought the Reds should have pursued last offseason, Ben Zobrist. Yes, he’s 34, but he brings experience, athleticism and a solid bat. His big contract days are behind him and the opportunity to play in the Great American Small Park, along with the stability of knowing he will play the same position day in and day out may be enticing.

Only time will tell. Maybe we can talk Ron Gant into coming out of retirement to win a second Comeback Player of the Year award. Until then, we will remain asking, “who’s in left?”

Next: Reds sending seven prospects to Arizona Fall League