Cincinnati Reds’ defense has some holes that will be difficult to fill

Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Cincinnati Reds made the playoffs they did so by playing good defense and scoring just enough to win.

The Cincinnati Reds have several of the same players as they did when they made it to the playoffs, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing.  At the start of 2016 the Reds had four starters that were starters in the playoff run: Jay Bruce, Zack Cozart, Brandon Phillips, and Joey Votto.  Billy Hamilton was around too.

It’s fair to say that no one would rank Jay Bruce as one of the top ten defensive right fielders in MLB.  He had a very up and down defensive career in Cincinnati.  He covers good ground and has a strong arm, but isn’t the best at getting to balls in the gap, especially as he ages.

Zack Cozart, on the other hand, is still one of the top shortstops in all of MLB.  The Chicago Cubs’ Addison Russell and the San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Crawford in 2016 passed him, but he is still credited with eight runs saved last season.  That’s just a touch below normal for the elite defensive shortstop.

Some people may still rank Phillips as a top ten defensive second baseman, but his results have definitely eroded.  Back in 2008, Phillips was the best defensive second baseman in all of baseball, but that was eight seasons ago.  Now Phillips is a defensive liability, costing the Reds seven runs, striking out the gains that Cozart made.

Want your voice heard? Join the Blog Red Machine team!

Write for us!

Joey Votto is another controversial defender.  He is not in the top ten defensively by any metric.  He was the worst defensive first baseman in MLB in 2016 after being a plus defender every prior year of his career.

Beyond the veterans who were part of the last playoff run, there is a group of younger Cincinnati Reds trying to emulate the playoff teams.

Billy Hamilton is one of the best center fielders in all of baseball.  He lost the Gold Glove to Ender Inciarte of the Atlanta Braves this year, after finishing second to Juan Lagares of the New York Mets in 2015.  There is only one center fielder in all of MLB that consistently beats Hamilton.  That is Kevin Kiemeier of the Tampa Bay Rays.

More from Reds News

The play of new left fielder Adam Duvall was a pleasant surprise.  He nearly won the Gold Glove, narrowly losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Starling Marte.  Duvall saved 16 runs.

That is nearly two wins.  His play was a highlight in the second half.  As each ten runs is worth about one win, his defense is literally responsible for 1.6 wins.

Eugenio Suarez is the most interesting person on this list of seven defenders.  No one who saw Suarez play much third base would rank him in the top ten defensively in the majors.

Suarez led MLB with 23 errors, but was a net neutral job by the Reds’ third baseman.  It begs the question if he fits at third.

Next: Reds still looking at catchers as spring training looms

The Reds have some nice pieces defensively.  Letting Bruce move on to greener pastures should make the play in right more consistent.  Now the Reds just have to watch the impacts of aging on Cozart at short.