Cincinnati Reds: Will Phillip Ervin get his shot next season?

CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 12: Phillip Ervin #27 of the Cincinnati Reds jumps to catch the ball hit by Jose Martinez of the St. Louis Cardinals in the third inning at Great American Ball Park on April 12, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 12: Phillip Ervin #27 of the Cincinnati Reds jumps to catch the ball hit by Jose Martinez of the St. Louis Cardinals in the third inning at Great American Ball Park on April 12, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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The Cincinnati Reds will not have Billy Hamilton roving the outfield of Great American Ball Park next season. Will Phillip Ervin get a chance to take his spot or will his defensive limitations not afford him that opportunity?

The Cincinnati Reds decided last week to move on from Billy Hamilton being their everyday center fielder entering the 2019 season. Hamilton was non-tendered and is now a free agent. While some fans want the Reds to look outside the organization, is an internal candidate like Phillip Ervin the best replacement for Hamilton?

Ervin finally got his shot at the big league level last season and showed why he was a former first-round pick. Ervin hit .252 with 7 home runs and 31 RBIs in 78 games last season for the Reds. Ervin’s OBP of .317 was 18 points better than Billy Hamilton. Hamilton’s OPS+ was 68, while Ervin’s was 98.

Ervin also flashed some speed on the base paths. While he can’t blaze like Billy, he picked his spots and stole 6 bases while only being caught once. As the season waned on, Ervin didn’t get many chances to play center field, as Hamilton and Mason Williams usually took duties in there middle of the outfield. He did, however, get 4 chances to play in center field.

Related Story. Which non-tendered players should the Reds pursue?

So, offensively, there’s no doubt that Ervin is an upgrade over Hamilton. But, and this is a big but, Ervin may be a huge liability defensively. Ervin consistently missed the cutoff throw last season and allowed countless runs to be scored or runners to advance because of his poor decision making.

Statistically, Ervin’s standing on defense doesn’t look any better. Ervin’s fielding percentage last season was .974, Billy Hamilton’s was .994. Ervin, unfortunately, does not have many positive statical categories on defense at all. That being said, last season was just his first in the Majors.

Look, the Cincinnati Reds will have countless options to replace Billy Hamilton in center field next season and almost every one of them will be better offensively. But, Ervin’s defensive limitations could prevent him from being a real option for the Reds.

Next. The future is now for Senzel

Cincinnati will likely look to improve their hole in center field with a low price free agent on a one-year deal or they can just go ahead and begin the Nick Senzel experiment in the outfield. Regardless, Ervin is still likely to have a spot on the team, and at the very least can be the fourth outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds in 2019.