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The Reds’ Bright Spot

Say what you will about the Cincinnati Reds, as a team they play air-tight defense. I don’t think much has been made of it, but the Redlegs led the National League in UZR with 52 runs saved last season. Just looking at the team’s current depth chart, they might possibly improve on last year’s mark. This isn’t to say their squeaky clean glovework is going to somehow launch them into contention next year, but hey, when you can find a bright spot for a languishing franchise such as the Reds, it needs to be highlighted.

There are a couple nifty new sets of defensive projections that have recently come out. Jeff Zimmerman of Beyond the Boxscore has cooked some up, and Steve Sommer has some projections that go the extra mile and regresses UZR to a population based on the Fan’s Scouting Report.

                   Jeff  Steve
Joey Votto         2      3
Brandon Phillips   7      7
Scott Rolen        7      8
Paul Janish        4      7
Chris Dickerson    1      8
Jay Bruce          1      4

Be sure to click on the links if you would like to read up on their methods.

There’s not a weak link on this chain. I’m assuming Drew Stubbs will be their center fielder after Willy Taveras‘ replacement level season, but we can’t put anything past Dusty Baker. Stubbs gets glowing reviews from scouts, and his Total Zone stats (found at MinorLeagueSplits.com) agree: the numbers have him at +58 in 423 minor league games, including 19 runs in 107 games in AAA last season.

UZR had Stubbs at 8 runs in just 42 games in the big leagues, for what it’s worth. The bottom line is he can go get ‘em.

Paul Janish may be Adam Everett-light, and I mean that as a compliment. I think. He hit for a paltry .275 wOBA and is projected to do the same next year, but in just less than 600 innings on the field he was good for 12 runs as measured by UZR. Small sample, yes, but the fans like him and the Reds like him enough to start him next season.

The Scott-Rolen-for-Edwin-Encarnacion-plus-prospects trade is still a head scratcher to me, but he was consistently -10 on defense where Scott Rolen is still mostly Scott Rolen.

Things might get ugly yet again this summer in Cincinnati, but it won’t be for a lack of fielding.