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Updating the Top 100: The Recent Departures

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Two polar opposites, except for the part about not being on the Reds anymore.

Your 2015 Home Run Derby Champion
Your 2015 Home Run Derby Champion
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

It is a fairly well adopted presumption to say that Aroldis Chapman presents, on the basis of the domestic violence allegations which emerged this offseason, a "public relations catastrophe".  Being the contrarian that I tend to be more often than not, I say: "why?"

This being 2016, where it is never to be assumed that any two English-speaking people are actually talking the same language, let's lay out some fundamental building blocks.  One, domestic violence is bad and people who are found guilty of such actions should be punished to the extent the law allows.  Two, threats of violence including, say, shooting a gun in anger within the garage attached to the house you share with a significant other are also wrong.  Third, far too many people place far too significant an importance on sports, generally, and the success of their favorite teams, specifically.

Those caveats out of the way, let's talk about Chapman and the presumptive PR nightmare.  The Yankees, new employers of Chapman, drew nearly 3.2 million fans to Yankee Stadium last year.  They were an 87 win team and were no longer the beneficiaries of a Derek Jeter farewell tour.  As of today, Fangraphs projects the Yankees to be roughly the same team, with a projected 86 wins for 2016.  What, given the addition of Chapman to the team, would be a reasonable expectation for attendance?  How many fewer fans will attend the games?

If attendance figures aren't your thing, how much lower will the YES network's ratings be when showing Yankee games in 2016?  If you think the PR catastrophe will take on more of an intangible bent, how many of the in-season press conferences, interviews, and post-game media sessions will be dominated by questions about Aroldis Chapman's sordid off-field history?

Not that long ago, I watched an NFL playoff game between the Bengals and Steelers.  It included at least two hits that to an untrained observer gave off every hint of being designed to intentionally and severely injure the opponent.  It also featured an incident in which garbage was thrown at an injured player on a trainer's cart, as well as police reports regarding one fan urinating on another in the stands.  This is not the stuff of civilized people.  I consider myself more introspective than most, but not necessarily more upright or virtuous.  It crossed my mind that this football game would (should?) be a tipping point which would inspire me to not watch the sport again.  Naturally, it wasn't even the last football I would watch in that very weekend.

The employment of Aroldis Chapman, I am positing, will not cost the Yankees anything financially.  To the extent that they now have the most dominant bullpen arm in the game, it may thicken their already-bulging wallets.  The team may suffer if Chapman is suspended, although one doubts that this suspension will be terribly significant, length-wise.  If you are philosophically minded, the trade may damage the Yankees from a spiritual level but to believe this you would also need to believe that the trade would simultaneously profit the Reds on some spiritual plane, which might matter if the team hadn't already sent Alfredo Simon on the mound for a full year after allegations of rape were levied his way.

The punch line, of course, is that not only did the Reds sell extremely low on one of their most marketable assets, they did so for apparently specious reasons.  Again, not because the charges against Chapman are insignificant.  Far from it.  But because, from the view of an outsider, the Reds discounted their own asset without any discernible evidence that the rest of the league would apply a similar discount.  And even if the discount was uniformly applied across the league in January, what would lead you to believe--€”knowing what you do about media cycles and such--€”that the same discount would be evident six months from now?

It would be difficult to jump from the preceding thoughts into any kind of coherent description of Chapman on the baseball field, so let's barely even try: Chapman was the most enjoyable Red to watch over his tenure, in part because he could physically do something that no one has ever done before and in part because his appearance on the diamond almost always signaled a win for the good guys.

He finishes his Reds career with a record of 19-20, combined with 146 saves.  His career ERA of 2.17 equates to an ERA+ of 181.  He recorded 546 strikeouts in 319 innings.  He stands as the 7th best relief pitcher in Reds history (same as last year).  He has the 4th most saves in franchise history, and the 33rd (!) most strikeouts.  On the basis of another excellent season, Chapman elevates from #171 to #130 on the all-time list.

Top 15 Relievers in Reds history

1

John Franco

2

Clay Carroll

3

Danny Graves

4

Pedro Borbon

5

Tom Hume

6

Rob Dibble

7

Aroldis Chapman

8

Ted Power

9

Joe Beggs

10

Jeff Shaw

11

Scott Williamson

12

Norm Charlton

13

Scott Sullivan

14

Francisco Cordero

15

Jeff Brantley

***

TODD FRAZIER - 90

Played as Red

Primary Position

Career Rank

Peak Rank

Prime Rank

2011-2015

3B

101

75

75

Percent Breakdown of Value

Best Season

Best player on Reds

Hit

Field

Pitch

2014

N/A

81%

19%

0%

Awards/Honors as a Red

Leading the League

On the Reds Leaderboard

All-Star - 2014, 2015

At Bats - 2015

- 7th in single season XBH (2015)
- 22nd in career slugging pct
- 24th in career HR
- 42nd in career OPS+
- 43rd in career XBH

In many ways, Todd Frazier is like a literary antithesis to Aroldis Chapman.  Whereas Chapman presents a mysterious and dark persona, Frazier appears transparently buoyant; a golden retriever to Chapman's Doberman.  And yeah, the Doberman can probably do some cooler stuff when it comes to brass tacks, but which one do you want the kids playing with?  Maybe this metaphor is breaking down, on account of I don't know shit about dogs or what any ballplayer is really like, but you probably understand.

Back to stuff I know marginally more about, the offseason narrative around Todd Frazier basically centers around one question: we all expected the Reds to trade him, but did they get screwed?  While we won't know the answer to that question for some time, I have a feeling that the other 29 teams in the league saw some significant flaws in Frazier that restricted the ultimate bounty available for Cincinnati in a trade.

Consider:

  • While Frazier has posted 9.3 bWAR over the last two seasons, at least some of that is a function of being extraordinarily durable (he was 9th in the league in plate appearances in both 2014 and 2015). Health is a skill, but it's rarely a guarantee. My guess is there was some discount applied due to the likelihood of reduced playing time.
  • Frazier very clearly traded pitch selectivity for power in 2015. His walk rate fell from around 8% to 6.5%, while his fly ball to ground ball ratio increased from about 1.4-to-1 up to 2-to-1.
  • Obviously, this resulted in more extra base hits, as Frazier set career highs in doubles and home runs, but also consider that Frazier's home-run rate on fly balls hit also increased, from 12.2% to 13.4%. We know Frazier is strong, so it's unnecessary to question the above average home run rate, but the increase in rate could very well represent a blip that's calling for a correction.
  • Frazier's OPS in the first half of the year was about 300 points higher than that in the second half of the year. Usually, I don't put a lot of stock into 1st half/2nd half splits, but if there is also evidence of a change in a hitter's approach, the 2nd half drop may be a sign of league-wide adjustments coming home to roost.

Add it all up and I'm not sure we should feel as though the Reds got jobbed on the player package secured for Frazier's next two years.  If you want to complain about Frazier not being traded in July, however...

As with many of the player capsules this year, the obvious move is to document how you will remember a certain player's time with the Reds, since the odds are that we'll never see Frazier (or several of his teammates) in a Cincy uniform again.  Todd Frazier certainly had some signature moments, but he always struck me as the most naturally talented player in the lineup.  Not because he had the best numbers, but because his approach looked so inconsistent from at-bat to at-bat, and his swing would look so out-of-sorts at times, only to be followed by a 450 foot blast to straight away center.  Maybe he was the anachronistic guess hitter in an era in which you don't hear much about guess hitters anymore.

Since 2011, Todd Frazier played in 633 games, coming to bat just over 2,500 times.  His slash line of 257/321/463 was good for an OPS+ of 113.  He also has 108 career home runs to pair with 324 RBI.  He moves from #125 on the all-time Reds list to #90, also jumping three slots on the list of franchise third basemen.

Top 15 3rd Basemen in Reds history

1

Heinie Groh

2

Arlie Latham

3

Grady Hatton

4

Chris Sabo

5

Hans Lobert

6

Harry Steinfeldt

7

Bobby Adams

8

Billy Werber

9

Todd Frazier

10

Aaron Boone

11

Chuck Dressen

12

Charlie Irwin

13

Babe Pinelli

14

Lew Riggs

15

Edwin Encarnacion