Half of the Cincinnati Reds defenders are Gold Glove caliber
Over the past two seasons, half the Cincinnati Reds fielders have been finalists for the National League Gold Glove awards. Last season catcher Tucker Barnhart, first baseman Joey Votto, center fielder Billy Hamilton, and left fielder Adam Duvall were all Gold Glove finalists. It was the second year in a row that Duvall and Hamilton were finalists.
Barnhart ended up winning the Gold Glove, ending any catching controversy. He led the NL in throwing out base stealers at a 41% clip. He saved eleven runs, too, which was fourth best in the NL.
Votto, meanwhile, was among the worst defensive first basemen in 2016. In 2017 though there is little doubt that he played exceptional first base. His range was down a bit, but his decision making drastically improved from one year to the next.
Of course, everyone knows about the play of Hamilton. He saved nine runs defensively, leading NL center fielders. He averages almost 12 runs saved per season as a starter.
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Duvall is the sneaky good defender. Each of the past two seasons he has finished second in defensive runs saved among NL left fielders to the eventual Gold Glove winner. His future may be at first, but for now he is playing elite defense in left.
The Cincinnati Reds have inconsistent defenders in the other four spots.
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The most worrisome spot is second base. Scooter Gennett won the job from Jose Peraza last spring with great offense. Unfortunately, he lost eight runs defensively and was among the worst three second baseman defensively in 2017.
Shortstop is also a concern. In 55 games last season backing up Zack Cozart, Jose Peraza gave up six defensive runs. That would have been the second worst number among NL shortstops to only rookie Dansy Swanson of the Atlanta Braves.
Scott Schebler, meanwhile, was average. He played a neutral right field and sub par center fielder in support of Hamilton. He may play more center this season with Jesse Winker on the roster.
Eugenio Suarez went from the worst third baseman in the NL to one of the best. He saved five runs in 2017. Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies is clearly the best, but the role of second best could be Eugenio’s.
If the Reds want better pitchers, they need to be better defenders. Half of their defense is already elite. It’s the other half, however, that needs to help the Reds improve.