Spencer Steer Has Helped Keep the Reds Afloat to Start 2024

After losing countless regulars due to injuries, Spencer Steer has stepped up as a leader in the heart of the Cincinnati Reds lineup.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 1: Spencer Steer #7 of the Cincinnati Reds in action against the Philadelphia Phillies during a game at Citizens Bank Park on April 1, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Reds had plenty of hype and buzz heading into the season. Elly De La Cruz and his walking highlight reel ability, Matt McLain rising up top second basemen list, to Jeimer Candelario inking a three-year deal.

Spencer Steer was not quite garnering the same traction. A crowded infield pushed Steer to the outfield and possibly a super utility role. Hell, some even suggested he should be a platoon to Nick Martini. Fast forward to now and I believe what we are seeing is more than just a hot start.

Let’s step back for a second. Last season was Steer’s first full season and man did he impress. Steer slashed .271/.356/.464 with a 10% walk rate, 20.9% K rate, 23 home runs and 15 stolen bases.

All while playing five different positions in the field. His ability to play all over gave David Bell the flexibility to play matchups, give someone a day off, or withstand a short-term injury. While that option is still available, Steer has settled into mostly playing left this season.

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Steer’s weakness has been his defense. He graded out poorly last season but has improved since settling into left. While he’s still a below average defender according to OAA, I think he has the ability to eventually be at least average due to his athletic ability. His routes to the ball have not always been efficient but with more time out there, he can improve.

More importantly are his improvements are at the plate.

Keep in mind, we are still working with a small sample size, but the differences cannot go unnoticed. Major improvements across the board and impacting the baseball at a higher rate has lead to a .258/.374/.449 slash through 89 at-bats. We all know that hitting the ball hard usually leads to better results and his 52.9% hard hit rate ranks near the top of the league.

Steer’s hot start can be credited to him feasting on fastballs. A .296 average, three home runs, four doubles, and a triple off velocity is impressive. As a rookie he hit .273 off fastballs and also handled breaking balls well (.270) eliminating an easy weakness pitchers try to attach.

Usually when you see a player take a jump in their power numbers you also see strikeouts and/or swing and miss jump as well. Not the case for Steer. He’s increased his walk percentage (+2%) and decreased his strikeout percentage (-5%) while also swinging and missing less.

Although I expect the data to regulate as the sample grows, what if it doesn’t?

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What if Steer really has had it click and we are looking at one of the better pure hitters in the Reds lineup? Not out of the realm of possibilities. A high walk rate, relatively low strikeout rate, 25/20 hitter would do wonders for this team.

After Noelvi Marte was suspended and TJ Friedl and Matt McLain were injured, the Reds offense took a massive blow. Three starters, two at the top of the order, were gone. Add slow starts from India, CES, and Candelario and it’s obvious this team needed someone to step up in a big way and Steer has done just that.

The Reds sit at 12-9 and 2.5 games back of the Brewers in the NL Central. Considering the players they are missing, I’ll take it. Steer has been a big part of the teams success and with a difficult schedule coming up, the Reds will continue to rely on his production.

With Elly De La Cruz at the forefront, no one is going mistake Steer for being the franchise player that everything is built around, but he might just be the glue guy that is most important to the Reds success this season and beyond.