I’m sold! While some may scoff at the idea, Kyle Farmer will be the Cincinnati Reds starting shortstop on Opening Day. Book it! And you know what; I love it. We’ve heard all offseason that the Reds were looking to upgrade the shortstop position heading into the 2021 season, but Farmer is ready to take on the challenge and prove the doubters wrong.
I get it, Farmer was Cincinnati’s third-string catcher all of two seasons ago, but a lot has changed since then. Gone are José Iglesias, Freddy Galvis, and José Peraza. José García is not yet ready to man the position full-time, and the front office failed to bring in a proven shortstop. That leaves Farmer as the unquestioned starter on April 1st versus the St. Louis Cardinals.
Reds infielder Kyle Farmer can handle the shortstop position.
I understand why those on the outside looking in will criticize the Reds for not upgrading the shortstop position this offseason. Like we said, García looked overmatched against major league pitching and hadn’t even played Double-A ball. Farmer, until last season, had only played one inning at shortstop.
Last season, Farmer started 10 games at shortstop and racked up 80-plus innings fielding the position. He logged a perfect fielding percentage, didn’t commit a single error, and, in limited action, showed a flare for making the big play.
Statistically speaking, Kyle Farmer held down the shortstop position better than he did second base. In 73 innings sat second base, Farmer committed 6 errors in 31 chances. Of all the positions Farmer’s manned over his career, he’s logged the most time (243 innings) at second base.
With Tyler Stephenson now in the mix, Farmer’s opportunities behind the plate will be few and far between. Honestly, I doubt he’ll don the tools of ignorance at all this season unless it’s an emergency. The middle infield, and to be more specific, shortstop is where we’ll see Farmer rack up the majority of his playing time.
Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer can rake versus left-handed pitching.
Overall, Kyle Farmer did not have a bad go of it at the plate in 2020. In fact, outside of Stephenson, who only had 17 at-bats, Farmer had the best batting average on the team. That’s nothing to brag about per say, as last year’s team hit for .212 collectively. However, Farmer’s .266 batting average was the best among players with at least 50 plate appearances.
While Farmer was ineffective against right-handed pitching (.478 OPS), the 30-year-old flat-out destroyed southpaws. Against left-handed pitching, Farmer slashed .400/.423/.480. Farmer made adjustments to his swing over the offseason that may help him in his bid to be the team’s everyday shortstop. Here’s what Farmer had to say to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com:
“I made a big swing change this offseason, like a really drastic swing change, and I hit every day off a right-handed slider machine just to get myself used to that.”
Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer also reported that Kyle Farmer is back to his college weight of 195-pounds. Farmer had been preparing all winter to be the Cincinnati Reds starting shortstop, and it appears that he’ll get that chance.
At this point, unless the front office swings a deal for Willy Adames or Trevor Story, both of which would cost the Reds a ton of top-tier prospects, there’s no other way you can convince me that Cincinnati will land a better shortstop than Kyle Farmer.
I understand why Reds Country isn’t 100% behind this move. After all, we were told all offseason that the team was looking for a shortstop. That never materialized, and unless you’re willing to sell the farm, a clear upgrade isn’t available.
I don’t despise the idea of adding a player like Amed Rosario, but is he really that much of an improvement over what the Reds currently have? Furthermore, what are you willing to give up in order to land a player that may not be much better than former Cincinnati shortstop José Peraza?
If José García is as good as many throughout the organization believe he is, then the franchise owes their young prospect time to develop. In the meantime, I think it’s time that the fanbase embrace Kyle Farmer as the Reds starting shortstop in 2021. Farmer may not be who you thought the Reds would choose as their starting shortstop, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.