When we last checked in, two weeks into the season, the Reds were in first place and flying high. The last six weeks have been a bit more up and down; Cincinnati stands at 26-30, good for 4th place in the National League Central division.
Surprisingly, there’s still plenty of good news. The rest of the division has been nearly as bad as the Reds over the last couple of months, so Cincinnati is just 4 games out of first place (this time last year, the Reds were already 19 games out and fading fast). The fact that the Reds are still hanging around is a testament to this widespread mediocrity, but also the outstanding production from almost everyone who isn’t a pitcher. The offense, in fact, has been the second-most valuable unit in all of baseball, behind only the Nationals in accumulated WAR after the first two months.
The pitching, on the other hand…well, the pitching is why the Reds are four games back instead of four games up on the rest of the division. It can only get better from here, right? (If not, Lord, beer me strength.)
But after an eventful two months, it seemed like a good time to update our comprehensive Reds Player Power Rankings. We have a few new names this month, and some of them have even made a positive contribution to the Reds. Let’s count ‘em down! And remember: This is only an exhibition. This is not a competition. Please, no wagering.
Dropped out of rankings due to lengthy period of inactivity:
36. Bronson Arroyo (Previous Rank: 32): A heartwarming story is turning even the most sentimental Reds fans cold. Arroyo started poorly, and then things got worse. Since the start of May, Arroyo is 3-3 with a 5.51 ERA. He’s been “worth” -0.7 WAR so far in 2017. If the Reds had any healthy starters, Arroyo’s career might be over. I look forward to his induction ceremony to the Reds Hall of Fame—which at this point, is really the only time we ever need to see him don a Reds jersey ever again.
35. Jake Buchanan (NR): Grabbed off the scrap heap, last seen pitching in Triple-A for the Cubs, the 27-year-old Buchanan has a really cool beard.
34. Robert Stephenson (17): I’m sure the Reds have a plan for Stephenson, but I’m not entirely sure what it is. After struggling in the big league bullpen—0-2 with a 8.03 ERA—and sitting for long stretches without seeing any action at all, the Reds finally sent him down to Louisville. Stephenson made his first start of the season this weekend, tossing four shutout innings, but he continued to struggle with his command. Until he can start throwing strikes consistently, it’s difficult to envision how he can help the Reds in 2017 or moving forward.
33. Stuart Turner (26): On the disabled list, and the Reds aren’t likely to be in a big hurry to get him back on the roster. Combine Turner hitting only .148/.172/.259 in limited opportunities with the fact that Devin Mesoraco and Tucker Barnhart are doing a fine job with the catching duties, and Turner might be out of luck. As a Rule 5 draftee, if the Reds don’t keep Turner on the big league roster after he returns, he’ll be sent back to the Twins.
32. Lisalverto Bonilla (NR): Another scrap heap acquisition, Bonilla has appeared in six games, four of them starts. He hasn’t distinguished himself, going 1-3 with a 7.43 ERA. On the other hand, he’s accumulated more WAR as a hitter (0.1) than Arismendy Alcantara (-0.1). Not in the Reds long-term plans, and likely not in the short-term plans either, once guys begin to get healthy.
31. Barrett Astin (25): Astin is back in Louisville, where he is pitching about as well as he pitched in Cincinnati. Which is to say: not particularly.
30. Phil Ervin (NR): I dunno. I had to put him somewhere. Only three ABs for the Reds, and he’s hit a cold spell in Triple-A after a very hot start.
29. Asher Wojciechowski (NR): Pitched an effective six innings in the first game of the St. Louis series this week, surrendering just two runs on eight hits. He’s 28 years old and has a really difficult name to spell, so I’m guessing his time in Cincinnati is dependent entirely on how effective he performed in his most recent appearance.
28. Rookie Davis (20): Currently on the minor league disabled list. Davis was a surprise addition to the Opening Day starting rotation, and things didn’t go well: 1-2, 7.58 ERA. Probably needed more time in Triple-A, and he’ll get it soon, as he’s due to return from the DL in the near future.
27. Sal Romano (21): Made one start for the Reds, throwing in the high-90s, but was too wild. Hasn’t pitched since April thanks to a shoulder problem, though he is due to return soon. Don’t be surprised if he’s back in a Reds uniform some time in the next month.
26. Cody Reed (10): I’m kinda surprised Reed ranked as high as 10th the last time we did this. Who made these ridiculous rankings!? He only got one start in the big leagues, and it was a disaster; overall, he’s 1-1 with a 6.43 ERA. In six starts at Triple-A, however, Reed has a 3.23 ERA. He’s still walking too many guys, but the kid is just 24. Plenty of time for him to figure it out. I wouldn’t be surprised if Reed is in the rotation by the end of the season.
25. Amir Garrett (2): Well, this has been quite the precipitous drop in the rankings, from a solid #2 last time based on a brilliant couple of starts at the beginning of his big league career. After effective outings in five of his first six starts, Garrett is 0-3 with a 16.20 ERA in his last three. The future remains bright for this kid, so don’t give up on him just yet. But the recent past has been rough.
24. Arismendy Alcantara (31): Alcantara has moved up in the rankings only because the starting pitchers have been so bad. He’s hitting .255/.268/.382, but has come up with some big hits for the Reds. As a bench player who can play a bunch of positions, the Reds could do worse (and often have in recent years).
23. Tony Cingrani (16): When healthy, Cingrani was great: 1.93 ERA in five appearances. Hasn’t pitched for the Reds since the last rankings appeared, but he’s out on a rehab assignment right now. Expect Cingrani back in the Reds bullpen within the next week or so.
22. Patrick Kivlehan (23): Meh. Hitting .226/.317/.415 with three homers off the bench. He is what he is, and I don’t mind having him on the pine.
21. Tim Adleman (24): Last time we looked at the rankings, I noted that if Adleman is giving you lots of big league innings, it means something has gone wrong with your pitching staff. Well, something has definitely gone wrong…but Adleman has been surprisingly adequate (3-2, 4.89 ERA). In fact, he practically reeks of adequasivity.
20. Blake Wood (19): Has been pitching like Blake Wood—mostly reliable, I suppose—until the last week, when he decided to start giving up home runs and blowing games. He’s 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA over his last four appearances. Wood is a legitimate big league reliever, and he can still help this club, but I’ll never understand why Reds manager Bryan Price lets him anywhere near the mound in high leverage situations.
19. Scott Feldman (15): Feldman is who we thought he was: 4-4, 4.52 ERA, right in line with his career numbers. The highest pitching WAR (0.8) of any starter on the Reds staff, but that’s textbook damning with faint praise. Feldman has a 7.00 ERA in his last four starts, and it really seems like I probably have him ranked too highly here.
18. Austin Brice (NR): Brice, obtained from Miami in the Dan Straily trade (along with top prospect Luis Castillo), has been a nice little surprise. Just 25 years old, Brice has made ten appearances (16.2 innings) with a 1.62 ERA. Decent chance Brice hangs around the big league bullpen for the next few years.
17. Ariel Hernandez (NR): Probably shouldn’t be ranked this high, either—no, definitely shouldn’t be ranked this high—but I’m still mesmerized by Hernandez’ single dazzling appearance for the Reds.
16. Scooter Gennett (6): Is it possible that Gennett isn’t going to be a Reds legend after all? Maybe he’ll just be a pretty good bench player with a chance to work his way into the starting lineup. Which is fine. He’s currently hitting .269/.307/.444 with 3 HR and 18 RBI.
15. Jesse Winker (28): He’s only ranked this high because Winker leads the Triple-A International League in both batting average (.321) and on-base percentage (.399). Unfortunately for Winker, all three guys he has to supplant in order to find a spot on the big league roster are all ranked in the top ten on this list.
14. Brandon Finnegan (14): Hasn’t moved a spot on this list despite the fact that Finnegan hasn’t pitched since mid-April. That’s because he’s literally the only starter on the 2017 Cincinnati Reds who has been anywhere close to effective (1-0, 2.70 ERA). Plus, the NCAA baseball tournament just started, and Finnegan once pitched in both the College World Series and the MLB World Series in the same year. He’s scheduled to return to the Reds in the next couple of weeks. Fingers crossed.
13. Jose Peraza (22): After a really slow start, Peraza has come on lately. He’s hitting .297/.342/.459 since May 13, and is the 8th-best baserunner in baseball according to FanGraphs. Also, a top-25 defensive player. Did I mention that he just turned 23 years old?
12. Drew Storen (13): A 2.25 ERA in 24 relief appearances. He’s been steady, reliable, and exactly what we’d hoped for. Will Storen be a Red after the July trade deadline?
11. Tucker Barnhart (8): Has been very solid. The hitting hasn’t been particularly notable (.276/.326/.382), but his defense has been outstanding, and Barnhart has thrown out 54% of opposing baserunners, which is the best mark in the league. The kid is a legit big leaguer.
10. Devin Mesoraco (27): I couldn’t be more pleased with Mesoraco’s performance since returning to the club after two seasons filled with injury and surgery and very little big league baseball. Mesoraco is hitting .246/.370/.443 with 3 home runs in 23 games; his swing looks good, the power is returning, and he’s displaying a great approach at the plate. If he can stay healthy, Mesoraco really helps this lineup.
9. Billy Hamilton (18): He’s only hitting .252/.304/.324, so do I have Hamilton ranked too high? I don’t think so. He’s the best baserunner in either league; Hamilton’s 28 stolen bases is ten more than anyone in baseball. He’s the 7th-best defensive player in either league. He’s tied for 5th among Reds hitters in WAR. Hamilton is good, even if he isn’t hitting.
8. Wandy Peralta (12): Where did this guy come from? Peralta continues to be effective, with a 2.96 ERA in 25 mostly high-leverage appearances. Showing no signs of slowing down after a hot start, and a valuable member of one of the better bullpens in baseball.
7. Michael Lorenzen (7): No one on the Reds has more confidence than Lorenzen, and he backs it up by regularly pitching the Reds out of tight spots. He’s 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA and, like Peralta, he’s only 25 years old.
6. Scott Schebler (9): Schebler is tied for the National League lead in home runs with 16; raise your hand if you expected that to be true after two months of the season. He’s hitting .241/.309./540, with an OPS+ of 118. The guy is basically Adam Duvall, except two years younger. That’s a pretty valuable player to have around.
5. Adam Duvall (4): Duvall has experienced a roller coaster season that would make The Ghost of Jay Bruce proud, but his overall numbers look pretty good: .271/.322/.533, 15 home runs, 45 runs batted in. The guy is basically Scott Schebler, except he’s a better defensive player. That’s a pretty valuable player to have around.
4. Eugenio Suarez (3): Suarez ranks 13th in the National League in WAR, and continues to show signs of a breakout season like few expected. He’s hitting .286/.364/.508 with 10 homers and 33 RBI. While he continues to hit well, much of Suarez’s value is tied up in his glove; he’s been the second-best defensive 3B in the league thus far.
3. Raisel Iglesias (5): It’s difficult to overstate how great Iglesias has been so far in 2017: a 0.61 ERA and 10 saves in 24 appearances. Most of those outings have been dominant. He’s still the most talented pitcher in the Reds organization, and I’m not sure there’s a reliever in baseball I’d rather have than Iglesias. But Price seems to have stopped using him for multiple innings—he’s pitched one inning or less in his last 11 games—which seems like a huge strategic mistake to me. You have an elite reliever, Bryan Price. Use him.
2. Joey Votto (11): Votto is simply a marvel, hitting .286/.414/.571 with 14 home runs and 44 RBI, and over the last couple of months, he just decided to stop striking out. Further, over his last 162 games, spanning two seasons, Votto has posted numbers that are almost unfathomable: .347/.458/.605 with 195 hits, 34 HR, and 109 RBI. At age 33. Is it possible that Votto is getting even better with age?
1. Zack Cozart (1): Cozart retains his top spot in these ultimate rankings, and for good reason: he’s been nothing short of amazing. The veteran shortstop leads the entire National League in WAR (3.1), ahead of luminaries such as Bryce Harper, Paul Goldschmidt, and Votto. He’s second only to Mike Trout in all of baseball! Yes, dear reader, you are reading that correctly. We are nearly a third of the way through the season, and Zack is hitting .348/.433/.620. He leads all big league shortstops in all important categories by a wide margin. If the season ended today, Cozart would be a real candidate for the Most Valuable Player award. That’s probably too much to hope for—okay, it’s definitely too much to hope for—but Cozart’s first All-Star appearance should be in the cards. A deserving accolade for a guy who has had a good career for the Redlegs.
Chad Dotson is a contributor to Nuxhall Way, ESPN’s SweetSpot blog, and the founder of Redleg Nation. You can follow him on Twitter at @dotsonc.