The Cincinnati Reds have two of the best defensive outfielders in baseball.
Playing in Great American Ballpark, the Cincinnati Reds are known more for offense than defense. That may not be fair, however. Especially considering two of the starting outfielders are among the best defensively.
Center fielder Billy Hamilton saved nine runs defensively last season. That is most among National League center fielders. He has saved 47 runs since he joined the Reds in 2013.
Much like stolen bases, however, Hamilton has never been viewed as the best. Every year that Hamilton has been a starter, he has finished second in the NL in steals. He also keeps coming up short in the Gold Glove race and could be leaving to boot.
Speaking of coming up short for the Gold Glove, Adam Duvall has been snake bit. For the last two seasons, he has been a Gold Glove finalist. Despite that, he has yet to win.
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Duvall saved eight runs in 2017, second to Gold Glove winner Marcell Ozuna. In 2016 he saved 16 runs, second to Gold Glove winner Starlin Marte. Ozuna and Marte were both center fielders in the minors, but Duvall was a first baseman until he reached the majors with the San Francisco Giants.
Right field is the weakest position defensively for the Cincinnati Reds.
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Scott Schebler played right field for the Reds last season. He is an average MLB right fielder. He was defensively neutral.
In 2016 Schebler saved four runs defensively in right. He was negative in right and center that season. That was Schebler’s rookie season.
Phil Ervin played some back-up right field. He was also defensively neutral. He is more a of a left fielder.
Jesse Winker played right field when Schebler was on the DL last season. He cost the Reds four runs defensively during that time. He is the Reds only sub-standard outfielder.
The Reds’ primary competition for the title of the best defensive outfield is that of the Boston Red Sox. They have Andrew Benintendi in left, Jackie Bradley in center, and Mookie Betts in right. Bett’s athleticism really makes the difference in that outfield.
What makes the Red Sox difficult to compare to the Reds is Fenway Park. Benintendi has less ground to cover than most left fielders. Betts can make his stats look better because of the bigger right field.
At least the Reds have the best outfield in the NL. If they played in the same park as the Red Sox, experts would rank the Reds’ outfielders higher. However, in the meantime, the Reds deserve the recognition that they have earned.