There are a lot of threads on RedsZone right now devoted to conversation about which position the Reds should improve to get them into the playoff picture. Is Matt Holliday the answer in left field? Should the Reds target an infielder like Tejada or DeRosa? Or should they just get the bat with the biggest impact? So this thread is devoted to determining which positions have actually been a strength for the Reds so far in 2009, and which project to stay that way from here out.
In attempt to determine which positions the Reds can choose to improve offensively, here is a list of the team's sOPS+ by position to date (OPS+ also normalized by position):
Catcher has been a position of strength for the first time in years.Code:C: 117 1B: 121 2B: 138 3B: 67 SS: 100 LF: 71 CF: 74 RF: 100
First base was another huge asset for the club before Votto went down. Now there is uncertainty at the position.
Second base has been the team's best position offensively, and is a strength defensively too.
Third base has been a swirling black hole of suckitude, both offensively and defensively.
Shortstop has been surprisingly solid. Alex Gonzalez has been decent enough defensively and Jerry Hairston has been good enough offensively there to make the position average with the stick.
Left field has sucked, but that should improve as the Nix/Gomes platoon gets all of the ABs.
Center field doesn't look good offensively, but the Reds are committed to defense-first at that position and Taveras/Dickerson along with all of those guys down on the farm all play great defense.
Right field has been just fine, and it's Jay Bruce's position for the next decade.
Clearly, catcher, second base, and right field are set. I would venture a guess that center field won't be changed either, for a myriad of reasons: the Reds are committed to a defense-first center fielder, the farm system is loaded at that position, and a lack of difference makers on the market.
Personally, I would leave left field alone too. I just feel that unless a superstar like Lance Berkman is brought in--and he probably can't play left field anyways--there won't be a big enough upgrade over the current platoon. And just like center field, I don't think the Reds will trade for a shortstop. They have a lot of money invested in Alex Gonzalez, and have offense-first and defensve-first options available in Jerry Hairston and Paul Janish, respectively.
That leaves two positions, first base and third base. Why haven't I eliminated first base yet? Well, I don't know what the Reds know. And if Joey Votto isn't going to be available for a lengthy amount of time, then the Reds need to address that position. And I have the perfect solution; I would get Edwin Encarnacion some playing time over on the other side of the infield. Third base has been terrible, and we all know Edwin isn't a fit defensively there. Why not move him to first base with Votto out indefinitely? My trade targets would be top third baseman like Adrian Beltre, or possibly a first baseman such as Aubrey Huff.
What do you think?