What once looked to be a major strength may now be the biggest question mark for the Cincinnati Reds entering the 2020 season. Who plays second base?
Several times throughout the 2019 season, it looked as though the Cincinnati Reds had solidified their middle infield going into 2020. However, the recent struggles of several players is giving some fans cause to pause. Second base, specifically, may be the biggest question mark for the Reds front office as the offseason approaches.
Before the season began, it was a slam dunk that 2018 All-Star second baseman Scooter Gennett was going to add to his credentials. After back-to-back seasons of Gennett hitting over 20 home runs and racking up 90-plus RBIs, Reds Country was anxious to see if Scooter could make it three straight years.
That was not to be, as Gennett suffered a groin injury that shelved him for the first several months of the season and Scooter was later shipped to the San Francisco Giants at the July 31st trade deadline. Gennett has since been released by the Giants and is currently a free agent.
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After the Reds shuffled their lineup, José Peraza was selected to fill in for Gennett at second base. After all, Peraza had experience at the position, playing there before Gennett arrived and was coming off a 2018 season in which he led the Reds in hits.
Unfortunately, Peraza couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start, and the 25-year-old from Venezuela was benched in favor of Derek Dietrich who was signed to a minor league contract during the offseason.
Dietrich was absolutely destroying the ball during the month of May and enjoying every minute of it. Dietrich slugged .841 that month and stared down 12 home runs as they left the yard. Double D looked like a lock to be re-signed this offseason.
But Dietrich struggled mightily after a red-hot May. Hitting just .150 during July, the left-handed slugger had more hit by pitches (6) than extra base hits (4) that month. Dietrich has been relegated to a bench role and has just seven starts in the last two months.
Josh VanMeter looked the part, didn’t he? The Cincinnati Reds rookie was promoted shortly after his best buddy Nick Senzel made his major league debut. After demolishing the baseball in Triple-A, the Reds were hoping that VanMeter could bring some pop to the lineup.
After his second shot at the big leagues, VanMeter went on a tear. During the month of July, VanMeter played 15 games and started 8 of them. He hit .417 with a 1.333 OPS, smacking four round trippers and racking up seven RBIs. But of late, VanMeter has crashed and burned.
The 24-year-old has just 24 hits in his last 117 at-bats which is good enough for a .205 batting average. VanMeter’s OPS is sitting at .744 after seeing it peak at .970 back in late July. VanMeter has seen more starts in the outfield of late, mainly due to Jesse Winker‘s injury.
Finally, the Cincinnati Reds thought they had the position straightened out once they claimed former Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Freddy Galvis. With José Iglesias firmly entrenched as the Reds shortstop for the remainder of this season, Cincinnati decided to let Galvis play second base.
Like others before him, Galvis got off to a hot start in a Reds uniform. The 29-year-old slashed .292/.319/.508 in his first month with the club, but September has not been as kind. Galvis is 3-for-30 with zero home runs and eight strikeouts since the calendar flipped to September.
So, while every player who’s occupied second base during the 2019 season has shown flashes of brilliance, there’s also a lot of cause for concern. While the answer for who will play second base in 2020 may still be on the roster, I wouldn’t be upset if the Reds looked outside the organization as well.
Brian Dozier, Jonathan Schoop and Brock Holt will all be free agents this offseason, as will former Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett. While the bullpen has given away games of late, there’s no denying the offense is the Reds biggest issue heading into the offseason. Perhaps it’s time upgrade at second base?