The league’s outfielders today are more athletic and more dynamic.
With the emergence of Houston’s top prospects Derek Fischer, Kyle Tucker, and Yordan Alavarez, a reliable player like Josh Reddick might get pushed down the depth chart but remains an essential asset. Losing starts going forward is going to happen but Houston can take solace knowing what they’re getting with him. He’s as reliable as they come.
In 2017, Reddick was signed by the 2017 world champs and produced immediately. That year he had a career year. His triple slash was All-Star worthy .314/.363/.484 and he absolutely raked in the ALDS against Boston. Unfortunately, he was unable to repeat the same success the following season, spiraling to a .242/.318/.400 triple slash.
Are we watching a decline to his career? Offensively, maybe. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t productive.
Reddick has been the same player for over half a decade. He’s hung around 15-18 homers, and doesn’t get you a lot of steals, true, but he does bat around .260 respectably. His numbers suggest he’s better after All-Star break, rather than before.
There is also evidence that he might be best suited for a platoon role these days, which seems like his inevitable destination.
So, why write a piece about a slightly above average, future platoon player? Because Reddick is a character study in a sport filled with second chances. The modern athlete, in any sport, not just baseball, starts to see a decline past 30-years-old. Most are written off and become roster fillers for teams who will sign affordable one-to-two year deals. Some of the finest platooners in game have carved out a solid second career. Ben Zobrist, David Freese, and even Boston’s Steven Pearce to some extent, are just a few names that are the unsung backbones of their teams.
The past two seasons, Reddick has walked and struck out more than he has in the past 4 years. At age 32, maybe he has simply lost a step, but his later innings numbers in 2018 suggest he is best suited for that platoon role.
6th Inning: 61 (PA); 21 (H) 8 (RBI); .412/.475/.588
7th Inning: 53 (PA); 13 (H); 10 (RBI); .283/.308/.391
8th Inning: 61 (PA); 22 (H); 13 (RBI); .400/.433/.745
9th Inning: 40 (PA); 9 (H); 11 (RBI) .250/.300/.389
His early inning numbers kind of expose him. He’s slow to start and strong to finish. Typical platoon player.
Reddick’s bat speed is the likely culprit. MLB Statcast has tracked his Exit Velocity as noticeably dipping, averaging 85.2 MPH, which leaves him towards the bottom 8% in all of baseball.
In trying to research the root cause of this, Reddick did make an appearance on the Disabled List due to an infection in his knee on 05/23/2018, and then returning on 06/06/2018. However, by looking at his month by month splits, there wasn’t a trend supporting the notion that the dip in performance was based on this injury.
That said, his days of clubbing 18+ home runs and 80+ RBI’s are behind him. And he’ll probably continue to find later inning success, while having to be more patient at the plate to increase his walks. Thus, begins the life as a platoon player.
The one area that hasn’t changed is Reddick’s defensive game. It’s what makes him worth keeping him on Houston’s roster. No problem there. The Georgia native is entering year 11 and still has one of the most dangerous arms in the game. If you want to fall down a Youtube rabbit hole, google “Josh Reddick’s arm” and enjoy. He’s been doing this for years and still doesn’t get enough props. He has some of the best footwork among all outfielders. His foul line mastery is still better than any fielder I’ve seen in years. He can catch, turn and throw on a dime, and his throws are frozen ropes.
In this 2017 clip, he snags a one-hopper and seamlessly guns out Chad Pinder at the plate.
While right field is his jam, he’s capable of playing everywhere at the same intensity and skill level. In July of 2017, what him cut down Gardner to end the Yankees’ rally.
He makes it look easy. Last year against Mariners, he ended their hopes of a potential rally here.
In one of his best games of last season, he robs Trey Mancini, which is impressive, but his throw is even better. In one motion, he robs and throws to the infield to hold a runner at first base. These are the kind of plays that keep Reddick relevant and will keep him employed.