Cincinnati Reds: Jonathan Villar is severely underrated

JUPITER, FL - MARCH 10: Jonathan Villar #2 of the Miami Marlins in action. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FL - MARCH 10: Jonathan Villar #2 of the Miami Marlins in action. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

With the rumors of a potential deal between the Cincinnati Reds and Jonathan Villar, why are some fans bemoaning the possible addition? Villar is definitely an upgrade over Freddy Galvis, a player fans and the front office were quite content starting at shortstop heading into the 2020 season.

Hindsight is always 20/20 and there’s a certain group of fans who constantly reference Cincinnati’s decision to allow former shortstop José Iglesias to enter free agency after the 2019 season. Heck, after seeing what Iglesias has done since he left Detroit, the Tigers’ front office are probably kicking themselves for letting the infielder leave the Motor City in the first place.

Jonathan Villar is severely underrated.

While it’s not exactly comparing apples to apples, Jonathan Villar has been a severely underrated free agent this offseason. It’s hard to lump Villar in with the other free agent shortstops, as the 29-year-old is probably viewed by many front office executives as a second baseman. However, Villar has plenty of experience playing shortstop.

When comparing Villar’s numbers to that of last year’s starting shortstop Freddy Galvis, it’s not really that close. While Galvis may have more home runs and RBIs than Villar over the past three seasons, Villar has a higher OPS (.734) and has 91 stolen bases to Galvis’ 13. Villar’s speed on the base paths may be one of the more underrated aspects of his game.

Villar’s offensive numbers also surpass what Andrelton Simmons put up over the past three years. While Simmons is known much more for his glove than his bat, Cincinnati has been looking for an offensive upgrade at the shortstop position. While Simmons’ .328 on-base percentage matches Villar’s, the newly signed member of the Minnesota Twins has an OPS+ of 95, while Villar owns a 97.

Furthermore, when you look at what a contract for Jonathan Villar may cost the Reds, especially compared to the two-year/$28M deal that Didi Gregorius signed, adding the former Baltimore Orioles’ shortstop makes a ton of sense.

Villar is also a switch-hitter whose career-splits are quite comparable, regardless of whether a lefty or a right-handed pitcher is on the mound. The potential also exists for Villar to bat leadoff, though with Shogo Akiyama and Nick Senzel on the roster, I’d expect the Dominican native to bat further down in the lineup.

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Hopefully, soon enough, the Cincinnati Reds and Jonathan Villar will agree to terms and we can put the search for a starting shortstop to bed. Villar may not be every fans’ choice to be Cincinnati’s Opening Day shortstop, but he’ll be a more-than-serviceable player until José García is ready for The Show.