Examining Josh Reddick's value to the Astros moving forward

Reddick has made some big plays with his glove. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Josh Reddick signed a 4-year, $52M contract with the Houston Astros prior to the 2017 offseason. At the time, it was the biggest free agent commitment that Jeff Luhnow had ever made. Believe it or not, it is actually the largest free agent guarantee that Luhnow ever made as GM. Michael Brantley and Carlos Beltran garnered higher AAV's than Reddick, but they were shorter term deals with $16M and $30M in overall payout. Other large contracts on the Astros, like Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, and Jose Altuve, were either acquired via trade or done as extensions.

Four years down the road, Reddick faces free agency again. Reddick has just over nine years of service time, which means he'll undoubtedly seek a contract somewhere in 2021 to accrue 10 years of service time and pick up the benefits that come with that distinction. Reddick clearly isn't in line for a similar deal to what he signed in late 2016 as a player entering his age-30 season, but is there value left in the tank?

Hard Hit % - 29.3%

Barrel % - 4.8%

K % - 20%

BB % - 9.5%

Chase % - 25.7%

Judging off of the numbers, it seems Reddick had a change in approach at the plate. His 20% K% was an 8% increase from last season. His BB% increased by 3%, his chase % decreased 4%, his swing % decreased 4.6%, and his launch angle increased 3.5°. Aside from BB%, all the numbers referenced were either career highs or lows.

What do those numbers say about his approach? Reddick presumably came into 2020 trying to keyhole for pitches in a particular location and do significant damage with those pitches. The problem? He did the least amount of damage he ever had.

Reddick had a barrel % of 4.8%, which was 1.4% better than 2019. Unfortunately, 4.8% still isn't very good, as it's only in the 24th percentile of MLB. To be clear, you can still be a good hitter with that low of a barrel %, but it's tough to barrel the ball that inconsistently while striking out 20% of the time.

Relying solely on broadcast video, it's tough to see if Reddick had a swing path change. It's likely that if there were more publicly available data (through things like Blast Motion, Trackman, Rapsodo) that his swing path would be working a little more uphill in 2020.

Similar to Brantley, there're signs of aging with Reddick as well. His 17.4% whiff % against fastballs was the worst it's been since 2012, and it was 6% worse than in 2019. Reddick's .263 AVG against fastballs was .046 worse than it was last year, and his .254 xBA against fastballs was the worst it's been in the Statcast era (2015-present day).

It's a similar story with his slugging statistics. While Reddick's .430 SLG against fastballs was actually the best it's been since 2017, remember he made an approach change with doing more damage on these pitches in mind. However, the numbers suggest he got lucky, as his .382 xSLG is the worst it's been in the Statcast era.

The story continues away from the plate as well. In 2017, Reddick had an average sprint speed of 27.8 ft/s, ran a 4.20 from home-to-first, and was ranked in the 71st percentile in MLB in sprint speed. Now, Reddick has an average sprint speed of 26.2 ft/s, ran a 4.47 from home-to-first, and ranked in the 34th percentile in MLB in sprint speed.

Reddick has even declined defensively, which is where he provided the most value anyways when he first signed with the Astros. In 2017, Reddick had a UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) of 2.1, a DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) of 8, and an OAA (Outs Above Average, which is essentially an indicator of range) of 4. He was even better in that particular category in 2018, when he had 8.

In 2020, while it was a shortened season with less defensive opportunities, he had a UZR of -7.8, a DRS of -3, and an OAA of -5. His average jump on the baseball was 2.7 feet below average.

All-in-all, it tells the story of a player who is past his prime and is clearly on the downturn of his career. He certainly is not a starting outfielder on a contending team. The book on his Astros career isn't completely closed, as they could bring him back for cheap if they lose both Springer and Brantley and aren't intrigued with any other free agent options. Otherwise, Reddick will likely be heading to a rebuilding team in need of a veteran presence while he chases that 10th year of service time.

This is part three of an offseason series. You can also read part one on George Springer and part two on Michael Brantley.

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Houston's offense had another strong day at the plate in Seattle against the Mariners on Wednesday. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

After striking a deal with the Mariners before Tuesday's game, along with a reported deal with the Marlins on Wednesday before the finale, the Astros continued to try and bolster their bullpen with fresh arms while also focusing on this series against Seattle. Having won the night prior to even it up, it came down to the rubber game on Wednesday afternoon to decide the series.

Final Score: Astros 11, Mariners 4

Astros' Record: 63-40, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-5)

Losing Pitcher: Yusei Kikuchi (6-6)

Astros continue to score runs in Seattle

Just like in the earlier games in this series, the Astros had no problems offensively. They strung together four consecutive one-run innings, starting in the top of the second when they loaded the bases, then got an RBI groundout by Myles Straw to go up 1-0. In the top of the third, Yuli Gurriel drove one in on a two-out RBI double, bringing in Jose Altuve, who led the inning off with a double of his own. Chas McCormick led off with a single in the fourth, then later scored on an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz.

The fourth run in as many innings came in the top of the fifth, as Gurriel would notch his second RBI with a solo homer to start that inning, pushing the lead to 4-0. They didn't stop there, and neither did Gurriel, as he would get RBI number three on the day as part of a four-run top of the sixth, with RBI hits him, Altuve, Diaz, and Carlos Correa, doubling the lead to 8-0.

Odorizzi gets to the sixth before allowing two homers

The run support gave Jake Odorizzi plenty of leeway, which he didn't need until the bottom of the sixth. He held Seattle scoreless over the first five frames, allowing just four baserunners on a hit by pitch, a walk, and two singles, all peppered over that span and erased in each inning. Kyle Seager would get the Mariners on the board in the bottom of the sixth, blasting a one-out solo homer to cut the lead to seven runs at 8-1. After a single in the next at-bat, recently traded Abraham Toro made it four games in a row with a homer, this one a two-run shot to cut the lead to 8-3 and end Odorizzi's day. His final line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 95 P.

Houston wins the series

Houston brought in Brooks Raley to finish the sixth, issuing two walks but stranding them to keep it a five-run lead. Myles Straw helped push that back to six in the top of the seventh, reaching on a single to start the innings, then stealing both second and third to get in position for Diaz's third RBI of the day, a groundout to make it 9-3. Cristian Javier was the next reliever out for the Astros, but he would not make it through the bottom of the seventh, allowing a single and three walks, the third with the bases loaded to bring in a run.

Bryan Abreu was brought in to get out of the jam, getting a strikeout to end the seventh. Then, in the top of the eighth, Kyle Tucker would put two more runs on the board with a two-run homer making the lead seven runs at 11-4. Abreu remained in for the bottom of the eighth, erasing two one-out singles to get through the frame. Brandon Bielak took over in the bottom of the ninth to close things out, posting a 1-2-3 inning to wrap up the win and give Houston the series victory.

Up Next: Houston will travel down the coast to San Fransisco before getting a day off on Thursday. They'll pick up an exciting three-game series with the Giants on Friday, with the opener slated to start at 8:45 PM Central. Framber Valdez (6-2, 2.97 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, while San Fransisco's starter is TBD.

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