Cincinnati Reds – a multi-year comparison of defense vs. offense

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cincinnati Reds are a rebuilding team that is comprised of aging veterans from their last playoff run.

The Cincinnati Reds never really went into the rebuilding process 100%.  They traded away young veterans like Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman, while keeping Brandon Phillips and Homer Bailey.  That has caused an interesting aging in place situation for the team.  The defense has separated into almost two different teams.

Joey Votto had the worst defensive year in his career in 2016, costing the Reds 14 runs after averaging saving 6.6 runs for the previous five years.  Combine that with Votto creating at least 120 runs in four of those same six seasons and Votto is still a perennial MVP candidate.  His defense may be slipping due to age, but he led the National League in runs created in 2016 and batted over ,400 in the second half of the season.

Brandon Phillips is another matter entirely.  2012 is the last season when Phillips could be considered an elite defender and he slid down to a negative defender in 2016.  He also only created 65 runs in 2016, his second lowest total with the Reds.

Zack Cozart has also played elite defense in his time with the Reds.  He contributed to the Reds’ last run to the playoffs.  Cozart has saved runs as a shortstop every year since he made it to the majors.  In three of his five seasons as a starter, including 2016, Cozart topped 50 runs created for the Reds.  He could have been a number three hitter in the Reds line-up.

The other Cincinnati Reds are young players that should be on their way in their careers.

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Third baseman Eugenio Suarez is the other player that has some good year to year numbers.  As a back-up for Cozart in 2015, Suarez allowed 12 runs more than the average shortstop.  He projects essentially an average defensive third baseman with 20+ home run power.

Billy Hamilton’s career has wildly fluctuated.  In three complete seasons Hamilton has saved 39 runs as the Reds’ starting center fielder.  Unfortunately, he only created enough runs to be an everyday player in 2014.  He actually answered the call all season long then.

The last player with enough playing time is sort of starting catcher Tucker Barnhart, who has caught the majority of games each of the past two years.    Each of the past two years, Barnhart has cost the Reds 3 runs defensively after saving two runs his rookie year as a back-up.  His offense dramatically improved in 2016, going from 22 runs created all the way to 51.

Next: Reds close in on deal with Bronson Arroyo

The Reds need to get the last few starting spots into the hands of their top prospects.  The young players are all improving either offensively or defensively, if not both.  Not they just need to play together to show us what they have.