Jesse Winker is back and healthy, and despite his 2018 season ending prematurely due to a shoulder injury, he did boast an on-base percentage that started with a ‘4’ before hitting the DL. Jose Peraza, meanwhile, led off 50 times last season, and sported a tremendous .310/.347/.465 line over the final 459 PA of his year, also swiping 23 bases in the process.
If you could somehow combine Winker’s ability to get on base and Peraza’s speed, you’d end up with almost a prototypical leadoff hitter, one who, on paper, looks exactly what we all hope Taylor Trammell will end up being in a few years. For now, though, new manager David Bell is going to have to get a bit creative in his batting order decisions, though he does appear to have a plethora of good options up and down his roster to choose from. He discussed as much with The Enquirer’s John Fay earlier today, with some truly refreshing quotes about his priorities - especially for the eyes of Reds fans who watched the team roll out Billy Hamilton at leadoff for so, so long. That included this particular tidbit:
“Nothing real strict,” Bell said. “It’s more of a guide. It makes sense to me that you have one of the top hitters hitting second. It makes sense to me you have a guy who can get on base leading off. It makes sense that you want – if not your best hitter with power (one of your best) – hitting fourth.”
As our own Former Fearless Leader Joel Luckhaupt pointed out, that’s a methodology initially introduced by Tangotiger, aka Tom Tango, aka one of the foremost and respected sabermetricians in the baseball world. As Fay also noted on twitter, that’s the ‘first’ analytics book David Bell read, which also implies he’s read several.
And, because this is a Reposter, we’re going to segue into a fantastic post from FanGraphs’ David Laurila on culminating the Reds rebuild, one that features extensive insight from Reds President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams, much of which discusses the club’s increased focus on analytics - and how Bell himself wowed in his interviews with his open-minded approach to improving the franchise. It’s safe to say that not only are the manager and front office on the same page that the game has evolved to the point where analytics are a must, but that they’ve expanded well beyond just the manager and GM being the only ones using it. From a burgeoning analytics department to a coaching staff that’s using new ways to relay their message, the Reds rebuild has truly been as thorough off the field as it has been on it and on the roster.
In related news, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon spoke with Winker about the now-crowded Reds outfield, among other topics, and it seems Winker completely embraces what the team has done to help build around him. Sheldon even gets some thoughts from Winker on where he might hit in the batting order, because he knew exactly how we were trying to run a consistent theme through the first half of this reposter.
In news completely unrelated to that entire theme we just mentioned, MLB’s Cut 4 gave new names to the 30 MLB franchises based on aspects related to their area’s history. Let’s just say there’s an homage to Porkopolis for the new fake Reds.
Remember when the Reds signed reliever Robbie Ross to a minor league deal? Well, the Reds didn’t actually sign reliever Robbie Ross to a minor league deal, as MLB Trade Rumors unreported earlier. If MLB Trade Rumors unreports it, then it must be untrue. Them’s the rules.
To tie a bow on this here theme-y Reposter, C. Trent Rosecrans detailed an early defensive practice that the Reds have employed at camp in Goodyear, and it’s clear they’re doing their best to create a very intricate system. Rosecrans raises a very significant early point regarding the team’s projected defense - namely, that the individuals expected to man key spots this year don’t have the particular defensive proclivity that we’ve seen from their predecessors - meaning the Reds are likely to rely more on all eight field players to make up for the lack of individual prowess there. After reading through everything we opened this Reposter with, it’s hard not to think that was a very calculated decision when the Reds were doing all their acquiring of players this winter, which makes how their team defense plays out this year one of the more intriguing storylines to watch.