While the former arms that have taken the mound for the Cincinnati Reds seem to still be plying their trades across the baseball landscape with moderate fervor, the batsmen who formerly donned the uniform and now play elsewhere haven’t exactly lit the world on fire.
Climate change and lightning have lit the world on fire, but not necessarily the hitters who once found themselves part of the Cincinnati system.
Like yesterday’s exploration of the former Cincinnati pitchers who kicked around the big leagues during the 2021 season, today’s list of hitters is not meant to be comprehensive. Rather, it’s just a closer look at how a few old friends performed out there this season.
Yasmani Grandal - C, Chicago White Sox (traded by CIN in December 2011)
Grandal never played in the big leagues with the Reds, but their 2010 1st round pick once served as a major trade chip and - if rumors were to be believed - was a major target in free agency of the Reds before signing with the White Sox.
The expert pitch framer is one of the most selective hitters on the planet, and despite being out with knee surgery for a month and a half in 2021 turned in another brilliant campaign. Valued at 3.7 bWAR and 3.7 fWAR, the 32 year old blasted 23 dingers as part of a .240/.420/.520 line across 375 PA, walking more times (87) than he struck out (82). That all came in just 93 games, to boot.
Adam Duvall - OF, Atlanta Braves/Miami Marlins (traded by CIN in July 2018)
Grandal had a ‘true to form’ 2021, and so, too, did Adam Duvall. The guy has monster power and a ton of swing-and-miss in his approach, and that paired with solid OF defense is exactly what he provided all year. It’s an approach with its flaws, to be sure, but it’s dependable at what it’s good at, and that’s precisely why Atlanta brought him back mid-year in a time of need.
Duvall swatted 38 homers between Miami and Atlanta, racked up 3.1 bWAR/2.4 fWAR, and did it all despite an overall OBP of just .281. That’s what happens when you slug .491 in some larger ballparks, I guess, and he led the NL with 113 ribbies, too.
Billy Hamilton - OF, Chicago White Sox (reached free agency in November 2018)
Billy slugged .378 for the Sox this year, a number higher than he slugged in every single season he spent with the Reds (except his 13 game cameo in 2013). As Chicago lost Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez to injuries and needed OF depth on the fly, he provided them a bit of that, his typical defense, and even 9 steals with nary a failed thievery.
It was limited action across 71 games, however, and he still only managed a 67 OPS+. Still, it was good to see him again in the big leagues, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him round out a roster of an otherwise lumbering team for another few years since he still provides pretty elite non-bat skills.
Jose Peraza - IF/OF, New York Mets (granted free agency by CIN in December 2019)
Remember when the Reds basically traded for Peraza twice? First in the Aroldis Chapman deal that collapsed, and later in the December 2015 Todd Frazier three-team merry-go-round?
Glory days, well they’ll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days
Peraza made the Mets roster, posted a 76 OPS+ as a utility wonk in 154 PA spread across 64 games, was valued at 0.0 bWAR/0.2 fWAR, and the Reds used a former catcher they non-tendered over the winter as their shortstop all year. It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world.
Todd Frazier - IF, Pittsburgh Pirates (traded by CIN in December 2015)
Frazier! The one who blocked us all on Twitter back in the day!
Todd racked up 40 PA with Pittsburgh after signing on with a minor league deal prior to spring training, though injuries and a 3 for 35 start to his season saw him cut by the second week of May. He’s set to turn 36 in February, and if I were a betting man, his big league career is likely over after 218 dingers, a Home Run Derby title, a pair of All Star appearances, 25.2 career bWAR, and nearly $48 million banked.
Not bad, my man. Not bad at all.
Jay Bruce - IF/OF, New York Yankees (traded by CIN in August 2016)
In late May of 2008, my girlfriend at the time was working as an events coordinator for a golf club outside Georgetown, KY. I was trying to sling stocks and bonds as a broker in Lexington during the early rumblings of the worst time to sling stocks and bonds perhaps ever, and much of my world was a jumble. Jay Bruce, though, was the answer, the future, and the Next Big Thing for the Cincinnati Reds, and that had my eyes and ears as his big league debut neared.
When word of his call-up broke, I landed some tickets and hit I-75, swung through the golf course in Georgetown, and we motored up to GABP for what we all now know was a debut for the ages.
She’s my wife, and we’ve got a firecracker of a daughter now. We’ve lived in Colorado for a decade - a decade. When I do the math and think back a bit, I’m pretty sure it was Bruce’s meteoric rise that made me start reading more and more about Reds prospects on the internet than I ever had before, and how I landed on a little corner of the internet named Red Reporter for the first time.
Jay slugged a homer as a New York Yankee on April 6th of this year, and retired for good 10 days later. It was the 319th of his fine big league career, and when I stand up out of bed each morning these days I know at least one of my ankles will hurt for a half-hour, though I never really know which one.