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2016 Red Report - J.J. Hoover, next Cincinnati Reds closer

Someone has to anchor the Cincinnati bullpen. That anchor may be J.J. Hoover.

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Fast Facts:

James Allen Hoover was born in Pittsburgh, PA on August 13, 1987, which means he'll begin the 2016 season with the Cincinnati Reds as a 28 year old.

He attended Calhoun Community College (Decatur, AL), as did former Reds draftee and OF Gary Redus and longtime New York Yankees C Jorge Posada.

Hoover has a beard.  Right now.  Probably.  If not, he should, as he has often before.  Keep that beard, J.J.

J.J.'s married to a zookeeper and hangs out in Northern Kentucky.  Read that sentence again and tell me you don't wish you were J.J. Hoover.

Organizational History:

Contract Status:

Signed 1-year, $1.4 million contract in 1st year of arbitration eligibility after winning arbitration hearing against the Reds on 2/15/16.  Hoover will have two years of arbitration eligibility remaining after 2016.

Career Stats:

2015 Projections:

Career Pitch F/X Profile:

2015 Pitch F/X Profile:

2016 Outlook:

The trade of Aroldis Chapman to the Los Angeles Dodgers New York Yankees left the Reds without a presumptive closer, and all signs point to Hoover being the most likely Red to assume that throne.  He joins Homer Bailey and Raisel Iglesias as the only Reds pitchers on the 40-man roster that are making a standard deviation above league minimum - his $1.4 million salary for 2016 being nearly 3 times higher than every other projected Reds reliever - and while he doesn't have a wealth of experience compared to Reds' bullpens of yore, he's easily the most seasoned member left standing.

He'll be the Reds closer on Opening Day barring a massive surprise.

Hoover had a resurgent 2015 season by several metrics, as the freakishly high HR/9 and HR/FB numbers he dealt with in a rough 2014 season normalized significantly.  However, his K/9 plummeted, he posted a BB/9 over 4.3 for the second consecutive season, and his 4.47 FIP suggested that he didn't have a massively different season from the 2014 one that saw him sent back to the minors for a stint.

The reality is that Hoover is a durable arm, one who can hit 95 mph with his fastball and who relies on a steady fastball/slider/curveball mix to get outs.  He's also been worth a combined -0.4 fWAR since the end of the 2013 season, which makes counting on him as both the dependable arm in the 'pen and the team's closer a bit of a precarious proposition, all told.

Plenty of pitchers who will pitch in 2016 will be worse than J.J. Hoover, but holding him up as a benchmark for Reds' relievers flies firmly in the face of the Reds bullpens of recent years that pushed $30 million in annual payroll thanks to the likes of Chapman, Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall, Manny Parra, and Burke Badenhop.  Hoover has proven to be a workhorse, which almost suggests he'd be best served aiding a young rotation in an early relief role on a team not projected to win very often rather than as a closer who will only enter games when the putrid Reds have a lead after 8 innings, but I digress.  Still, he's cheap enough and durable enough to be more asset than liability, and the Reds will look for him to carry their bullpen flag in 2016.

And, if he does, he may well be traded by the end of July.