Is Scott Schebler the Cincinnati Reds' Newest Gem?

Schebler enters play Friday leading the National League in home runs. Is his early-season tear legitimate?

The Cincinnati Reds found themselves with a pot of gold last season.

Adam Duvall -- a player they acquired in 2015 via trade from the San Francisco Giants -- burst on the scene, blasting 33 home runs and earning himself a spot on the National League All-Star team. They had plucked Duvall from someone else's Triple-A roster, and he quickly blossomed into a ball-bashing stud at the dish.

These types of acquisitions aren't overly common. There aren't many guys in the big leagues who can top 30 home runs in a given season, and even fewer do so out of nowhere in their age-27 seasons. This was a true diamond in the rough for the Reds.

They may have done it again in 2017.

That frozen rope was Scott Schebler's 16th dinger of the season, the most by any player in the National League. Entering play on Friday, he's rocking a .249/.318/.558 slash, and just like Duvall, he came out of nowhere.

When Duvall cropped up, the obvious and immediate question was whether or not his power was legit. It wound up being fully so, and Duvall's pop has carried over into 2017. But we have to ask the same thing about Schebler. Can he keep sending balls over the fence at such a disgusting rate? Let's check it out.

Impressive Peripherals

As was the case with Duvall, we have more to go on with Schebler than just his current-season marks. He had some time in the Majors last year, and we can also look back before the Reds acquired him via trade to see what he did in the minors with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both samples are going to tell us that we could have seen this tear coming.

Schebler's up to a sample of 523 plate appearances in the Majors, which is almost equivalent to a full season. In that time, he has 28 home runs with a .257/.325/.485 slash, putting his isolated slugging at .228. Given the number of times at the dish, he's looking pretty spicy.

Schebler's batted-ball numbers back all of this up. In his career, Schebler has a 36.8% hard-hit rate and 35.0% fly-ball rate, both of which are above the league averages of 32.0% and 35.3%, respectively, for non-pitchers. Things have been even better in 2017, as we'll see in just a second.

The one reason for some possible skepticism about Schebler entering the year was the lack of loft he exhibited in 2016. Although he had a high hard-hit rate then, his fly-ball rate lagged behind at 29.1%. It's hard to duplicate Duvall's power when you're feasting on grounders. Schebler has had a pretty dramatic shift there this year.

Batted-Ball Stats Hard-Hit Rate Fly-Ball Rate Ground-Ball Rate
2016 33.3% 29.1% 52.6%
2017 41.3% 42.6% 41.8%

Not only are those stats significantly better than what he did last year, but they put Schebler in the same realm with what Duvall has done in 2017.

Batted-Ball Stats Hard-Hit Rate Fly-Ball Rate Ground-Ball Rate
Scott Schebler 41.3% 42.6% 41.8%
Adam Duvall 34.9% 44.1% 34.2%

Although Duvall is still doing a better job of avoiding worm killers, Schebler's hard-hit rate towers over that of Duvall. Toss on that Schebler's strikeout rate is just 19.4% compared to 23.3% for Duvall, and you can see why it'd be fair to get a bit excited about this lil pup.

This is new-found power for Schebler in the Majors, but he wasn't a stranger to round trippers when he was in the minors. Back in 2014 with the Dodgers' Double-A affiliate, Schebler had 28 dingers in 560 plate appearances with a 38.4% fly-ball rate. The year before that, he had 27 homers in High-A.

He has a power-heavy pedigree that's finally shining through at the highest level in his age-26 season. Schebler may not wind up leading the N.L. in home runs, but it'd be certifiably false to say that this output is fluky.

The big difference between Duvall and Schebler is that Duvall is right handed, meaning he has unleashed his nastiness against pitchers of either handedness. Schebler swings from the other side of the dish, which would force us to take a step back and re-evaluate if all this sweetness came just against righties. That just doesn't seem to be the case.

Only 46 of Schebler's plate appearances have come against southpaws this year. But in those, he has managed to bop four dingers and five doubles all while striking out just seven times. It's a small sample, but that's pretty freaking snazzy.

Even if we expand the sample to Schebler's entire career, we get just 96 plate appearances against same-handed pitchers, but the peripheral stats stay tremendous. On top of a 16.7% strikeout rate, Schebler has a 40.5% hard-hit rate and 32.4% fly-ball rate. We typically want these samples to get a bit larger before drawing any conclusions, but the early returns are good enough to say that this dude is more than a righty-banging specialist.

So, in whole, we have almost a full season's worth of data on Schebler, and the raw stats say he's a stud. The peripheral numbers back that all up, and it seems as if he can at least hold his own against lefties. To top it all off, he's a full year younger than Duvall was when he got his groove on. The Reds may not have found another Adam Duvall; they may have found a better one.


If it weren't for arguably the league's worst starting rotation, this Reds team would be superbly interesting. Guys such as Duvall, Zack Cozart, Joey Votto, and Eugenio Suarez are all playing great baseball, and the defense leads the league in defensive runs saved. They've got pieces they can either build around or trade for a solid return, and Schebler is firmly part of that equation.

Because one of their top prospects, Jesse Winker, is knocking down the door to the Majors, and the Reds don't seem to have the pieces to compete this year, they're going to have a dilemma. There's no place to stick Winker in the outfield with Duvall, Schebler, and Billy Hamilton all roaming that grass, and Votto is still raking at first base. No matter how tempting it may be to make Schebler the odd man out, 2017 has shown that it shouldn't come to that.

Schebler, in the most basic sense, is a 26-year-old outfielder who has performed admirably in the Majors and has the underlying stats to back it all up. Because he's on the front end of his prime and doesn't hit free agency until 2023, it's entirely possible he's still performing the next time the Reds are able to compete. The power in this guy's bat is legit, and his contract status is a dream. This is the type of guy who can and should be part of a rebuilding team's future plans.