Josh Reddick has had an interesting career. Playing top tier right field defense along with having decent power has allowed him to be a two win player in each of the past four years despite only eclipsing 500 plate appearances once. However, he has only really been useful in the fake game once, in 2012 when he hit 32 homers and stole 11 bases.
That year sticks with me with Reddick. It was his first as a full timer and his only in which he was healthy throughout the year. Despite his struggles the following year and the injuries that limited him to just 396 plate appearances last season, Reddick clearly has talent and has continued to evolve his offensive game.
Being owned in just 10% of Yahoo leagues means he is essentially free. You can add or drop him at will at this point I standard formats. The sentiment around Reddick is, this is me making a broad assessment, is that he had one breakout year and since has been middling and injured and not worth the hassle. I do no disagree that he has not produced fantasy results since that year, but I do disagree that he is not the same player as his 2012 breakout year. In fact, his 108 wRC+ was lower than last year’s 117, and the focus he has made on limiting his strikeouts is evident as he has seen his strikeout rate drop from 22.4% to 19.5% to 15.9% and this year’s 7.8%.
This is less about Reddick’s hot start in 13 games this season and more about seeing how this player has evolved and can be useful to your team right now. To start, finding players who can both hit the ball over the fence and steal bases with any type of frequency are almost like finding needles in haystacks in this current run environment.
While Reddick stole just one bag last year, he has stolen 23 and been caught just four times since joining the Athletics, and two of those steals have come already this year. I do find it hard to expect Reddick to ever be a 30 home run guy again, but ZiPS projection of 15 in 112 games makes me rather confident that between 15-25 home runs is certainly achievable, depending on his health. So on a full year rate basis, 20 home runs and double digit steals is a fair expectation, which again has value on a majority of standard format rosters.
The improvements Reddick has made in controlling his strikeouts will help him go from a batting average bleeder to either a non-contributor or potentially even an asset. Right now this is a bet that his strikeouts will remain down, but considering his trends it does seem like a reasonable bet to make. If he hits .270 going forward, which is lower than his ZiPS and Steamer projections, with the type of power and speed he will be giving you while actually on the field, and you get a quality player.
The downside with Reddick is solely health and roster spots. Reddick is currently worthy of a roster spot, but if he gets dinged up again like he did earlier in the year then you will need to drop him. To me that is not too bad of a downside considering his cost is one roster spot and a pickup acquisition, if your league limits the amount you are able to have on an annual basis. I would like it if he hit higher in the lineup, and that may happen if he continues to hit very well, but for now he is hitting in the bottom half and will contribute more to RBI than runs.
As many of us have players starting to hit the disabled list or miss a number of consecutive games with injuries, my advice would be to pick up Reddick and ride with him while he is hot and healthy. We have a history of past quality performances and it seems like he has made strides in his overall offensive game. With a power and speed combination and fewer strikeouts, Reddick could be an early season waiver wire addition that changes the outlook on your roster, and there are not many of those types of players just sitting there for free.
Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.