The Cincinnati Reds need to quickly determine which version of Scott Schebler is the real one.
Scott Schebler started last season platooning in left field for the Cincinnati Reds with eventual All-Star Adam Duvall. Schebler had some decent spurts, but was mostly ineffective and couldn’t hit lefties. Before long Schebler was sent to Louisville and Duvall was starting everyday in left. Schebler looked like he needed the trip.
Defensively, Schebler also was a split personality. As a right fielder, he saved 4 runs defensively. When playing left and center fields, he cost the Reds a combined 6 runs over the course of the season.
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Schebler spent half of the season in Louisville, batting .311 with an OBP of .370. He hit 13 home runs with an OPS of .934. He created 59 runs, which over a full season in Cincinnati would have made him the second on the Reds or about as productive as Josh Hamilton was in 2010 for the Texas Rangers.
The dilemma is which version of Schebler will show up in 2017 and beyond. He struck out the same number of times in Louisville and Cincinnati last year at 59, which shows just how good his second half was. It could be that Schebler is the type of player that needs to play everyday.
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Schebler still had split issues. He only had 41 at-bats with a .267 OBP against lefties in Cincinnati. When facing righties, he had an OBP of .342.
What can the Cincinnati Reds expect out of Scott Schebler in 2017 in right field?
Entering his age 26 season, the real Schebler is probably somewhere between the Louisville version and Cincinnati version that he showed last year. Given his difficulties with left-handed pitchers, Schebler probably can only expect to play 140 games at most.
Playing fewer games should limit his strikeouts to under 100. That same playing time limitation will probably keep his home run output below 20. That type of limitation will likely lower his runs created total to about 60 or half of what he would have in Louisville last season over the course of a full season.
That would be fine production for Schebler. It would put him in the middle of the Reds offensive producers. Then it becomes a matter of whether he would hold onto his right field job with those numbers.
Keeping his job may prove to be more difficult. His primary competition in spring training will come from future left fielder Jesse Winker, who figures to create about 80 runs if he plays everyday. He doesn’t have much power, but should have an OBP of over .370.
That is the Reds’ dilemma. If Schebler gets off to another slow start, then Winker almost certainly will get the call to Cincinnati. Once that happens, it may difficult to find an everyday role for the left-handed slugger.