Cincinnati Reds gain wealth of valuable experience in 2016

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cincinnati Reds got experience for their young players during the rough campaign, if little else, in 2016.

When the Cincinnati Reds look back on 2016, they can take solace on two things.  One is that they found answers to some roster questions.  The other is that they got experience for several young players.

The young players may have gotten more experience than you noticed.  Eugenio Suarez, who seems like he’s been here forever, played in less than 100 games in each of the last two years.  This year his total shot up to 159, including 151 at third.  He only totaled 3 games at third in his MLB career before 2016.

Utility man Jose Peraza is another player who gained valuable experience.  Peraza had a unique experience of his own this season.  He only played in seven MLB games coming into the season.  He played in 72 in 2016.

More than that, Peraza received experience at multiple positions.  He came up through the Atlanta Braves system before moving to the Dodgers in the middle of the 2015 season in the Alex Wood megadeal.  He switched from primarily a shortstop to primarily a second baseman during his Braves’ tenure.  With the Reds he did so much more.

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Over his 72 games with the Reds, he started at short, second, left and center.  He started second to give Brandon Phillips a break.  Then he started in left, so Adam Duvall could cover right for a few games after Jay Bruce left.  Then he took charge in center when Billy Hamilton originally went down.  Finally, he played short to end the season during the Zack Cozart injury.  Talk about experience!

Then there are the pitching and catching solutions that the Reds have found throughout the 2016 campaign.

The Reds have absolutely solved their back-up catcher question in 2016.  Both Ramon Cabrera and Tucker Barnhart played well enough to be the main back-up catcher in 2017.  They both are switch-hitters who can handle the pitching staff.  Whether or not the Reds can find a starting catcher is the question.

Then there is the wealth of questions that the Reds answered regarding their pitching staff heading into next year.  They have established most of their rotation and the key components of the bullpen.  The bullpen may actually be competent next year.

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The question with the staff is which version will show up in 2016, the version that featured Alfredo Simon or the one that featured Michael Lorenzen.  The experience the staff gains means that it will likely be the Lorenzen version.  That would be great for the entire team.