Cincinnati Reds Players Set to Outplay Their Contracts in 2013

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Cincinnati Reds Players Set to Outplay Their Contracts in 2013
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

In reference to their willingness to dole out big contracts, the Cincinnati Reds have been one of the more savvy teams in baseball over the past couple of decades. 

Prior to the big-money extensions of Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips before the 2012 season, the Reds were known as a relatively frugal organization.

Though Votto and Phillips were able to cash in on big contracts, there are still players who make far less than their ability and performance would indicate.

The three players outlined in this article fall into that crowd and are legitimate candidates to outplay their 2013 contracts.

 

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Hanigan ($2.05 million)


Outside of Ben Zobrist, Ryan Hanigan is the most underrated player in Major League Baseball. 

Save Yadier Molina and there isn't a more dominant catcher in terms of his ability to throw runners out.

Hanigan led the majors last year in caught stealing percentage at 48.5 percent (per ESPN.com).

Additionally, Hanigan commands the respect of his pitchers and calls an outstanding game behind the plate.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, Reds pitchers were on point with Hanigan on the receiving end.

In 877 innings, Reds pitchers compiled a 3.04 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP with ratios of 7.8 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 3.12 K/BB, 8.0 H/9 and 0.9 HR/9. 

Hanigan, simply put, is a very good catcher.

As evidenced by his career averages, Hanigan offers a .275-plus batting average with an OBP around .370 in any given season.

He's never going to offer a whole lot of pop, but at a relatively weak position, Hanigan is about as valuable as they come.

Even if he keeps in-line with his career averages, Hanigan will easily outplay his 2013 salary of $2.05 million (per Baseballprospectus.com).

 

Which player is more likely to outplay their contract in 2013?

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Mat Latos ($4.25 million)


Mat Latos is one of two pitchers to make this list and it's easy to see why.

The Reds finally gave Latos a pay-raise this season, bumping his salary up to $4.25 million in 2013 (per Baseballprospectus.com) but he will certainly out-pitch that salary.

In 2012, Latos set career highs in starts (33) and innings pitched (209.1). Latos also tied his career high with 14 wins.

To go along with those career highs, Latos had a 3.48 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and ratios of 8.0 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 2.89 K/BB and 7.7 H/9.

The statistics that lead me to believe that he will out-pitch his contract in 2013 lie in the second half of last season.

In the second half of 2012, Latos pitched to a 7-2 record with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. Latos ratios in the second half included 7.5 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 2.56 K/BB and 7.1 H/9.

Latos was stingy on the mound in the second half and allowed a .219/.285/.327 slash line with only a slight downturn in BABIP (.279 down to .261).

2013 will be Latos' age-25 season and given his track record for improvement over his first four seasons, there's little reason to believe that he will not continue with his progression.

$4.25 million is a bargain for a pitcher who is turning into a Cy-Young caliber pitcher.

 

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Leake ($3.06 million)


The Cincinnati Enquirer broke the news today that, barring anything crazy, Aroldis Chapman will close games for the Reds in the 2013 season.

Presumably, Mike Leake will round out the starting rotation which will facilitate a bounce-back season this year.

In 2012, Leake struggled, going 8-9 with a 4.58 ERA, a 1.35 WHIP and ratios of 5.8 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 2.83 K/BB and 10.1 H/9. 

Positives in Leake's season can be found though and fans can take solace in the fact that Leake made quality starts in 57 percent of his starts.

Leake's 57 percent QS% was better than the 53 percent league average and his career mark of 62 percent is better than the same 53 percent league average over his three-year-career.

Also indicative of his ability to outplay his contract is the fact that Leake has age on his side.

2013 will be Leake's age 25 season and he's still in the early stages of his development as a big league pitcher.

After being drafted with the eighth overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft, Leake skipped the minor leagues entirely and began his professional debut with the Reds in 2010.

Had Leake gone to through the minors, it's likely that he would just be reaching the major league level.

Leake is a smart pitcher and has a great feel for the game, and if Buster Olney's observations hold any weight, then Leake could certainly out-pitch his $3.06 million contract in 2013 (per Baseballprospectus.com).

All contract figures courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts at Baseballprospectus.com.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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