Unheralded Kyle Farmer was the Reds unsung hero in 2021

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer (17) celebrates.
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer (17) celebrates. / David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Farmer was relieved when he learned that he'd made the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. I think I speak for all of Reds Country when I say that I was relieved as well.

Where would the Reds have been without Kyle Farmer in 2021? The former catcher turned shortstop became a regular in the Cincinnati lineup and had a career-year in 2021.

Kyle Farmer was the Reds unsung hero in 2021.

How easy it would have been for Farmer to sulk, hang his head, or a become bitter and discontented teammate.

Heading into spring training, after having not secured a proven shortstop, Kyle Farmer emerged as the odds-on favorite to occupy the spot on Opening Day.

He'd done nothing to play himself out of the opportunity. In fact, Farmer stood head and shoulders above a group that included Alex Blandino, Dee Strange-Gordon, Kyle Holder, and Jose Barrero. Two weeks into camp, the job was Farmer's.

But, as things often do, the situation changed. Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell needed to find a way to get Jonathan India's bat into the lineup. Side note: aren't we all glad he did?

Bell moved Mike Moustakas from second base to third base, Eugenio Suárez shifted from the hot corner to shortstop, and India was given the keys to the keystone.

Kyle Farmer was not the Reds Opening Day shortstop.

What did that mean for Kyle Farmer? Back to the bench. Farmer was relegated back to being a versatile, yet valuable, utility player.

Again, Farmer could've given up. But he didn't. Farmer continued to compete and continued to prepare until he was finally given the opportunity to showcase his talents on a regular basis.

Suárez's transition back to shortstop proved to be a disaster and an injury to Joey Votto required Moustakas to move from third base to first base.

Suárez then returned to his usual spot at third base and Farmer became the Cincieveryday shortstop. The 30-year-old would never relinquish that title throughout the remainder of the 2021 season.

Farmer had a career-year, putting up 16 home runs, 63 RBIs, and appearing in 147 games. Farmer was worth 1.6 WAR per FanGraphs. Not only was his offensive production solid, but his defense was well above-average.

Farmer posted 1 defensive run saved (DRS) and his 5 outs above average (OAA) ranked in the Top 11% of the league according to Baseball Savant.

Kyle Farmer, despite his fantastic 2021 campaign, will have some competition at shortstop next season. Cincinnati's top infield prospect, Jose Barrero, will likely be given every opportunity to win the job during spring training.

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That said, Barrero is not going to be handed the job; he's going to have to take it from Kyle Farmer. Farmer was indispensable in 2021. So matter who starts at shortstop on Opening Day next season, you have to expect that Farmer will be crucial to the Reds success once again.