Jeimer Candelario Is Providing the Stability the Reds Need

Switch-hitting infielder Jeimer Candelario has been a much-needed stable presence in the middle of the Cincinnati Reds' lineup.

Jeimer Candelario of the Cincinnati Reds hits a double in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field.
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JUNE 14: Jeimer Candelario #3 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a double in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field on June 14, 2024 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Heading into the offseason, the Cincinnati Reds were in a position to add a veteran bat to help round out a lineup full of young, budding talent. They needed someone with a high floor and a track record of success. With an already crowded infield in Cincinnati, most fans looked toward outfield bats who could help supplement the lineup.

Instead, the Reds shocked many by signing Jeimer Candelario, a corner infielder, to a three-year, $45 million deal.

Candelario’s bat was a fit for the team. A switch-hitter, his gap power could play up at Great American Ball Park and provide the Reds with a solid-to-plus baseline expectation.

However, that wasn’t the case out of the gate. A terrible start to the season for Candelario had fans questioning if this signing would pay off for the club. His poor at-bats and high strikeout rate were not helping the Reds dig their way out of the hole they were in. Yet, the 30-year-old has since turned a corner.

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Since the start of May, Candelario is slashing .289/.327/.553 with nine home runs. He cut his strikeout rate down to 18.5% to go along with a 140 wRC+. His at-bats have been much more competitive, and he’s getting off better swings more consistently.

A big part of his success has been his power from the left side. Against righties, Candelario is slashing .256/.291/.549 with 11 home runs and 11 doubles on the season. Nine of those home runs and seven of those doubles have come since May 1.

As you can see from the video above, only one of his long balls has gone to the opposite field. Lifting and pulling the ball is going to be the best way for Candelario to unlock the most of his power, and he is doing just that. Getting to the thirty-home run mark for the first time in his career is well within reach.

No, he’s not going to put up Elly De La Cruz exit velocities, but Candelario makes solid contact (37.4% LA sweet-spot rate), regularly turning what might have been doubles during his Detroit years into home runs. Playing in Great American Ball Park doesn’t hurt, either.

As is the case more often than not, hot or cold streaks usually equal each other out. Candelario has offset his horrible start with a hot stretch, and all told, he has a 118 wRC+ on the season. At the end of the year, I think we will see him somewhere between a 110 and 120 wRC+, which is exactly what this team needs.

A team that relies so heavily on young players with about a year of service time or less will likely go through more ups and downs than a team full of proven veterans. The Reds, when healthy, have a deep lineup, but they needed a more consistent bat.

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No one is looking to Candelario to be a star or drive this team’s offense. But, a switch-hitter who can fit in the middle of the order and provide a high floor was a severely undervalued need for Cincinnati. Especially as the depth has been stretched, I don’t think the Reds could ask for much more than what Candelario has brought to the team so far.

With Noelvi Marte nearing a return, Candelario will see less time at third and more time at first or DH. In turn, Spencer Steer can get more innings in the outfield, at DH, or in some type of utility role.

No matter how you slice it, the Reds lineup is getting closer to what they imagined this offseason. If they want to make a run to the postseason, Candelario is going to be a big part of their success.

Stats and rankings updated prior to first pitch on June 18.