Cincinnati Reds’ defense – a secondary look at where the holes are located

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cincinnati Reds had two of the best outfielders and two of the worst infielders defensively in 2016.

Billy Hamilton has been one of the best defensive center fielders in all of baseball since he became the everyday center for the Cincinnati Reds in 2014.  Hamilton saved 15 runs during the 2016 season, 8 by range, 3 by throws and 4 by great plays.  His range factor was second to only Ender Inciarte of the Atlanta Braves.

Adam Duvall was the second best left fielder in all of baseball.  Unlike Hamilton, he did almost all of his work in range where 15 of his 16 runs saved came from.  He made one great throw, but his 2.13 range factor was the best among left fielders in MLB.

Brandon Phillips appeared to fall off the table defensively in 2016.  He cost the Reds’ defense 7 runs in 2016, all due to poor range.  He also cost the defense 9 bases due to his inability to cover enough ground.

Joey Votto was the worst defensive first baseman in MLB in 2016.  He cost the Reds 14 runs, 11 from lack of range, 2 from bad plays and 1 from a missed bunt.  It’s more than just the runs, though, as the second worst first baseman only cost his team 6 runs defensively.  He still made a run at the MVP based on his offense alone.

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The Cincinnati Reds’ fans could see how the above four did with their eyes, but the rest of defense takes another look.

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Tucker Barnhart has earned the reputation as a defensive backstop.  In addition to the three runs that he cost the team defensively, he also tied Wellington Castillo of the Arizona Diamondbacks with the worst CERA in MLB of 5.04.  Barnhart was cast into an awful position, but he is not an elite defensive backstop yet.

Another player that requires a second look beyond the eye test is third baseman Eugenio Suarez.  Suarez led MLB in errors, but his net defensive outcome was that he saved the Reds one run.  His range factor ended up average, but he played defense about the same as the Chicago White Sox third baseman and former Red, Todd Frazier.

Because of his power, Suarez has been the Reds’ most overrated player since he got to Cincinnati.

For his part, Zack Cozart has maintained his elite status as a defensive shortstop.  Cozart saved the Reds ten runs with his range, but cost them two by not effectively turning double plays.  Cozart ranked third in the NL in range factor, but only Andrelton Simmons of the Los Angeles Angels had both more runs saved and a higher range factor.

Next: Joey Votto's wasted offensive season

There are numerous ways to look at defense.  The Reds have seen some of their best defenders take a turn for the worse.  Now they need to see if the next generation of Reds can rise to the challenge.