The Cincinnati Reds reassigned nine players to minor league camp on Friday. Phillip Ervin, not Nick Senzel was the most surprising cut.
As the Cincinnati Reds have and continue to trim their roster down to for Opening Day, most fans would say that they were surprised when Nick Senzel was sent to Triple-A Louisville. However, Phillip Ervin might have been the most surprising cut. His performance recently certainty makes this argument valid.
Ervin’s numbers this spring really caught the eye of many fans. In Cactus League play, Ervin hit .341 with a .438 on-base percentage, 5 home runs, and 8 RBIs in 48 plate appearances. I’m typically not one to value or deduce too much about a player from these statistics, usually because its such a small sample size and most of these numbers may come against low-level minor leaguers.
However, the five home runs really jump off the page because you normally don’t see many players reach that mark in Spring Training. Ervin’s numbers this spring are really impressive and is one of the biggest reasons that fans were shocked to see Ervin’s name among those reassigned on Friday afternoon.
Also, the surprise surrounding Ervin’s reassignment to minor league camp can be traced back to the his performance during his rookie campaign last season. He has flashed some potential the last two seasons which has made fans clamor for him to have a bench role with the team at the very least.
Ervin made his MLB debut with the Cincinnati Reds in the 2017 season. That year he hit .259 with 3 homers and 10 RBIs. In 2018, he was provided more playing time and batted .252 with 7 home runs and 31 RBIs in 247 plate appearances. Although, these numbers aren’t spectacular, it shows that Ervin can produce when given the opportunity.
Last season at Triple-A Louisville, Ervin batted .289 with 5 home runs and 38 RBIs in 202 plate appearances. His on-base percentage of .373 was fantastic which show good plate discipline and the ability to draw walks. In all, Ervin had a great season in 2018 between Triple-A and the majors.
Phillip Ervin’s versatility in the outfield makes his exclusion from the roster even more surprising. He can play left, center, and right field. Matt Kemp and Jesse Winker don’t really play center. Even though Yasiel Puig and Scott Schebler can play all three outfield spots as well, the position versatility of Ervin can’t be discounted.
In today’s game, players who can play multiple positions are the ones that are often valued quite a bit, especially as a bench piece. Even though it’s only the outfield when it comes to Ervin’s versatility, it’s still important to be able to rely on one player to play each outfield position if it is needed.
The main reason for Ervin’s reassignment is roster construction. With the acquisitions of Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, the outfield is very crowded. Throw in the urgency to get Nick Senzel’s bat into the lineup and you have six players vying for just three spots. With David Bell’s desire to carry 13 pitchers, there’s likely to be only one bench player playing the outfield.
Ervin is probably the biggest surprise when it comes to the Opening Day roster cuts. However, looking at the team as a whole, it probably made sense. Sometimes, especially on good teams with a lot of depth, every player who deserves a spot doesn’t always get one. Phillip Ervin just happened to the victim of that circumstance this season.