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The Red Report 2020 - Trevor Bauer

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The Reds ponied up at the 2019 deadline to bring in the next big part of their rotation. Now he has to perform better in 2020.

Cincinnati Reds Photo Day Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Fast Facts

  • Born January 17, 1991 in North Hollywood, California
  • Bats: Right; Throws: Right
  • Attended William S. Hart High School in Santa Clara, California, the same school attended by notable pitchers James Shields, Mike Montgomery, Tyler Glasnow and Bob Walk!
  • Attended college at UCLA, where he won the Gold Spikes Award back in 2011.
  • Noted drone enthusiast.

Organizational History

  • Drafted by the Diamondbacks in the first round (3rd overall) of the 2011 amateur draft.
  • Made MLB debut on June 28, 2012 with the Diamondbacks.
  • Was a part of the trade that helped the Reds acquire Shin-Soo Choo in December 2012.
  • Was traded to the Reds at the 2019 deadline in a deal involving Yasiel Puig and Taylor Trammell, among others.
  • Arb-3 (1 year/$17.5 million). Free Agent: 2021

Career Stats

Scouting Report

Fangraphs
Fangraphs
Brooks Baseball

Trevideo Bauer

Projections

Outlook

Trevor Bauer has certainly not not been in the news this offseason, but it has mostly been positive.

After his arch-rival, the Houston Astros, were popped for their trash can banging, sign stealing scheme, Bauer took somewhat of a victory lap on them on social media.

This beef has been pretty well aged, dating all the way back to the 2018 season when Bauer was a member of the Cleveland Indians. You can catch up on it here, but the moral of the story is this: Bauer, in a tweet, accused the Astros pitching staff of using foreign substances on the baseball, crediting it for the clubs well known increase in spin rates. Alex Bregman replied calling him “Tyler,” (which is a pretty funny burn). Bauer clarified the next day that he wasn’t really accusing the Astros of cheating, but continued to troll the Astros throughout, well, forever.

He really went on the offensive this winter, however, after MLB handed down punishment to the Astros and confirmed their sign stealing scheme. Bauer is, if nothing else, a fantastic troll. The thing is, at least for this offseason, the man is making a lot of sense. There’s a ton of incredible nuance in the answers he provided to a media scrum right at the beginning of Spring Training, transcribed here by the Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans. It’s an incredible read, not only for the amount of sense that he makes, but also for the amount of people he’s able to chuck directly under the bus. A probably not comprehensive list:

  • The Astros organization, obviously, but particularly Jim Crane
  • Roberto Osuna
  • Justin Verlander
  • Alex Bregman (but not by name)
  • AJ Hinch
  • Ryan Braun
  • Rob Manfred
  • MLB Announcers

I mean, just incredible.

Outside of just the Astros, Bauer has also had some strong takes on MLB’s scheme to switch up the playoff format. (SPOILER ALERT: he’s not a fan). And, in an episode of HBO Real Sports that aired just this week, he’s speaking again on the issue of foreign substances being used by pitchers. In his estimate, by about 70% of pitchers.

None of this really has anything to do with his pitching outlook for the 2020 season, probably. It’s definitely something that keeps him and the Reds in the headlines, and it’s certainly something both the FS-Ohio booth and opponents broadcasters are going to bring up nearly each and every time he pitches, at least at the beginning of the season.

The for the Reds, the main objective for Bauer is, simply, to pitch much better than he did since becoming a Red in 2019.

Trevor Bauer had an incredible year in 2018 with the Indians, finishing 6th in AL Cy Young voting, leading the American League in FIP (2.44) and HR/9 (0.5). That HR/9 number is important, though, as it was easily the best number of his career, nearly a half point lower than anything he’d ever done.

That didn’t translate into 2019. After 156.2 IP with the Indians, the number sat at 1.3, which was high for him, but not unreasonably so. Over his last 56.1 innings pitched with the Reds, however, the HR/9 spiked to nearly two, which is obviously not going to work.

Bauer pitched a ton of innings in 2019, facing a Major League leading 911 batters throughout and pitching 213 innings, a career high (previously 190 IP in 2016). And all of that pitching certainly took it’s toll, as Bauer admitted to playing through some ailments on his way out of Cleveland, including partially torn ligaments in his ankle and back spasms. It’s certainly possible that the culmination of all those injuries added up by the time he was pitching in Cincinnati.

That 2018 season is important, though, because as it stands, it’s easily the best season that Bauer has put up in his career. A 27 year old pitcher turning into one of the game’s elite isn’t exactly surprising. But considering that the follow up was quite a bit less than that, it’s fair to wonder whether 2018 was more of an outlier than signs of things to come.

Bauer is a meticulous worker. I’ve chronicled his musings above, but he’s fascinating when talking about the science of pitching. He’s worked for several years with Driveline Baseball, the data-driven baseball performance training company that has become all the rage in MLB. In fact, the Reds this offseason hired Driveline’s founder, Kyle Boddy, to be their Minor League Pitching Coordinator. Bauer is probably his most famous and most devout followers, but seeking the guidance of Driveline is all the rage.

So, that’s all to say that if Trevor Bauer is entering the 2020 season healthy, there’s certainly no doubt that he’s put in the work. Other than some pitch type differences (in the graph above), there’s not a ton to suggest that the process was bad for Bauer in 2019, just the results. Some of the home run issues can be explained away by the run environment in general, but not all of them.

The Reds are counting on having a Big Three at the top of the rotation, and Bauer factors into that in a big way. Anthony DeSclafani is certainly no slouch, and the Reds signed Wade Miley to put a solid contributor in the back part of the rotation. If that signing works out, it’s obviously great for the Reds.

But make no mistake: Trevor Bauer was brought here to team with Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray as a potential third ace in the rotation. He’s proven he’s better than he was in his Cincinnati debut. Now he needs to do it.