Reds: When Mike Moustakas returns, he should play second base

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 12: Mike Moustakas #9 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates his solo home run with Eugenio Suarez #7 during the second inning. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 12: Mike Moustakas #9 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates his solo home run with Eugenio Suarez #7 during the second inning. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Reds have been without third baseman Mike Moustakas since May 20th after the slugger was placed on the 10-day injured list with a nagging heel injury. While Moose has no timetable for a return, when he does, it should be at second base.

This is not to say that Moustakas is a poor third baseman. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I’d prefer to see a lineup similar to what David Bell rolled out on Opening Day; Moustakas at third base, Eugenio Suarez at shortstop, Jonathan India at second base, and Joey Votto at first base. But Suarez has proven that he’s not a shortstop, and need to move back to the hot corner.

If the Reds hope to salvage the season, Mike Moustakas must play second base.

The Reds ownership and front office did David Bell no favors this offseason, leaving the Cincinnati skipper with no viable option to supplant Freddy Galvis at shortstop. Despite the fact that many talented free agents (Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius, and Marcus Semien) were available, Bob Castellini, Nick Krall, and the Cincinnati brass decided to roll with Eugenio Suarez at shortstop.

That has turned out to be a giant flop. The Reds need to do an about-face, admit their mistake, and move Suarez back to third base. In turn, upon his return from the IL, Moustakas should head back to the keystone. Moose played 32 games at second base in 2020.

Yes, you could argue that moving Moustakas to second base and sending Jonathan India to the bench or optioning him to Triple-A would weaken the infield defense. However, the Reds can ill-afford to keep Eugenio Suarez onto the field as the team’s everyday shortstop.

According to FanGraphs, Suarez has -7 defensive runs saved (DRS) while playing shortstop, yet the 29-year-old is responsible for 2 DRS at the hot corner. Mike Moustakas has put up 1 DRS while playing third base this season and -3 DRS while manning second base in 2020. However, prior to 2019, Moose’s last three seasons saw him register -16 DRS while playing third base.

If the Reds moved Mike Moustakas to second base, who would play shortstop?

While some fans may think it’s a step in the wrong direction, optioning Jonathan India to Triple-A Louisville and inserting Kyle Farmer as the Cincinnati Reds everyday shortstop would be the team’s best option when Mike Moustakas returns from this heel injury. If the team prefers, it can keep India in the clubhouse as a bench bat.

India has been impressive during his rookie campaign, but after starting the season red-hot, the 24-year-old has returned to earth. In his first 10 games, India hit .353/.400/.441 and racked up 11 RBIs. But, in his last 30 games, India has slashed just .172/.305/.310.

It’s not as if Kyle Farmer has been much better. Over his last 15 games, Farmer is hitting just .173/.185/.288. However, I think Reds Country can collectively agree that Farmer is the best defensive option Cincinnati has at shortstop. Given that Suarez has committed a ridiculous eight errors at shortstop, it’s just not a mistake the Reds can continue to make.

David Bell is in a tough spot. Does the Cincinnati skipper improve his defense by moving Moustakas to second base, Suarez to third base, and send India to the bench in favor of Farmer? Or should Bell keep running Suarez out night after night as the team’s primary shortstop with the notion that the infield defense will be dreadfully below-average?