2012 Reds

Erardi on last season’s historically bad bench

From Cincinnati.com:

The entire article is a good read, but about last year’s “big two” on the bench (Valdez/Cairo):

Actually, to describe the performances of Valdez and Cairo as ‘‘holes’’ is kind.

Valdez may have had had the worst offensive season in Reds history — and Cairo wasn’t far behind.

For players with a minimum of 150 plate appearances in a season, Valdez’s OPS+ (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage, adjusted for ballpark and league played in) of ‘‘24’’ is the third-worst in Reds history. To make matters worse, Valdez had 37 more plate appearances than either of the guys in front of him (Bill Fox, 1901, OPS+ of 20 in 171 plate appearances, and Paul Blair, 1979, OPS+ of 21 in 155 plate appearances).

Bill Bergen’s 1901 season may have been even worse, given that he had 326 plate appearances in his OPS+ of 29. (We bring this up because Cairo also had an OPS+ last year of 29.)

You probably noticed that Bergen-Fox (1901) committed their malfeasance together, as did Valdez-Cairo (2012). At least the latter were obscured (until we came along, anyway) by their team’s 97-65 finish. Bergen and Fox ‘‘led’’ the Reds’ way to a 52-87 finish in 1901. That’s hard to obscure when you’re in last place, 38 games off the pace. And, yes, it could have been even worse. The 1901 Reds should have been 46-93, given that they allowed 260 more runs than they scored.

Valdez-Cairo matched Bergen-Fox as the only Reds teammates to get 150 PA with an OPS+ under 30. As such, the 2012 Reds are the only major league team since 1913 to have two players stoop to such a level of non-distinction.

He also looks at this year’s bench….read the article.

35 thoughts on “Erardi on last season’s historically bad bench

  1. Should the Reds’ bench have been stronger last season? Absolutely! Have the Reds repeatedly tried to fill the bench and top of the lineup with bargain basement options for the last several seasons? Absolutely. On a limited budget, sometimes that happens, but just because the player is on the roster doesn’t mean he has to be played over and over and over and over… if the player is simply not producing. I mean how many times do we need to get him going and keep him ready just in case when he is hurting the team more by playing than sitting. I really liked Cairo while he played with the Reds. I liked his attitude, his performance, his approach to the game, his dedication, his clubhouse presence, everything about him. Unfortunately his performance fell off the table in 2012. He played one year longer than he should have played and Uncle walt signed him to one year too long on his final contract, but who knew beforehand? Cairo had an exceptional performance in 2010 and 2011. No one knew he would tank in 2012, but it happens. Everyone was simply trying to get one more productive season, including Cairo. The real problem was continually playing Cairo when he wasn’t needed and he obviously couldn’t do the job any longer. The article doesn’t even address the performance of Wee Willie Harris before Uncle Walt finally removed him off the roster to keep Mr. Baker from continually utilizing Harris and his all mighty -1 OPS+ (yep you read that correctly, a whopping -1 OPS+!). The Reds’ bench is exponentially better for 2013, but the bench management should not be any better since Mr. Baker will still be handling those responsibilities. Burris or Donald or Hannahan will not be big bats off the bench. The big bats off the bench will be Heisey and XP, but I’m sure that Mr. Baker will feel the need to get his utility infielders going, repeatedly, again and force the lesser hitters into major roles.

    • He played one year longer than he should have played and Uncle walt signed him to one year too long on his final contract, but who knew beforehand?

      Me. 38 y/o ballplayers tend to fall off a cliff. His OPS+ in 2010-11 were 104 and 100. Perhaps not “exceptional.”

  2. The whole article can be summed up by saying that Cairo and Valdez are gone. It complains more about flaws of the past than discusses what Jason Donald and/or Jack Hannahan can do.

    Will Jason Donald be an improvement over Wilson Valdez? ‘Anybody would be better than Wilson Valdez’ is a pretty weak argument, just like how ‘anybody is better than Willie Harris’ didn’t result in a big improvement with Mike Costanzo.

    Xavier Paul, in all fairness he’s far from a sure thing. The Reds plucked him off the scrap heap and he put up 86 ABs for a good, albeit short, season. Can he keep up a .314 average and .379 OBP or will he return to a ~.250 average and ~.290 OBP? I think he deserves a spot on the opening day roster but it’s far from certain that he’ll spend the whole season with the Reds.

  3. I found this to be an interesting article. I thought the one glaring omission was the fact that Erardi doesn’t mention Todd Frazier coming off the bench. He was obviously a HUGE part of the Reds success and did most of it off the bench (or replacing injured players which I consider a bench role), I think Frazier alone made the Reds bench significantly better than if the historically bad duo of Cairo/Valdez would have had to fill his role. His move to the starting lineup is a pretty big hole to fill on the bench, but I hope Hannahan and Donald can do it.

  4. @redsfanman: No, it’s not a weak argument when the guy who you are comparing to had a 24 OPS+. I generally agree with the “anyone would be better” argument being not a good one, but pretty much anyone can put up a 24 OPS+. OK, a guy who couldn’t make his high school team maybe couldn’t, but let’s say just about any major leaguer.

    Donald had a putrid season last year and had an OPS+ of 50. He had two reasonable seasons before that. So I would put the chance of him exceeding a 24 OPS+ at about 99.5%.

    I do agree that Paul is not likely to put up numbers as good as his small sample size last season.

  5. @Hank Aarons Teammate: Wilson Valdez’s numbers went down after he came to the Reds, Jason Donald’s could also. Just saying. We hope Jason Donald will perform well with the Reds but it’s possible that his numbers will drop off a cliff – such an occurrence would be nothing new for Reds bench players.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Wilson Valdez’s numbers went down after he came to the Reds, Jason Donald’s could also.Just saying.We hope Jason Donald will perform well with the Reds but it’s possible that his numbers will drop off a cliff – such an occurrence would be nothing new for Reds bench players.

      And I’m putting a 0.5% probability, in other words 1 in 200, that Donald will underperform 2012 Valdez. Do you think it’s more than that?

    • Wilson Valdez’s numbers went down after he came to the Reds, Jason Donald’s could also. Just saying. We hope Jason Donald will perform well with the Reds but it’s possible that his numbers will drop off a cliff – such an occurrence would be nothing new for Reds bench players.

      Cliffs usually strike players in their mid 30s. Jason Donald will be 28. Of course, he fell off his own cliff last year (dropping 230+ points of OPS).

  6. The trouble is, in this case, that pretty much anyone short of Mike Costanzo would be an improvement over the Valdez/Cairo tandem.

    Stop to consider that Emmanuel Burriss, who managed one extra base hit last year and whose signing last fall was met with a collective groan by the Redleg Nation, still put up an OPS+ of 44.

    A significant chunk of the Reds’ bench in 2012 was historically awful, especially if you include the slot held by Willie Harris (-1) and then Costanzo (-59). You could field a 23-man roster and get just about the same offensive production.

    It’s foolish to project numbers for bench players, but it is difficult to see how any combination of Donald/Hannahan/Rodriguez/Burriss could do any worse.

  7. @Hank Aarons Teammate: Jason Donald is a professional athlete and I think the chances are far better than 1 in 200 that he’ll be struck with a lingering injury that will harm his performance. Cozart’s elbow, Cueto’s back, Votto’s knee, none of us saw those things coming in recent years.

    @iw1967: I think Burriss is pretty much out of the equation by now, replaced by Cesar Izturis, for whatever that’s worth. Burriss is pretty far down on the depth chart at every position.

    • @iw1967: I think Burriss is pretty much out of the equation by now, replaced by Cesar Izturis, for whatever that’s worth.Burriss is pretty far down on the depth chart at every position.

      Point taken about Burriss. Izturis had a OPS+ of 54 with the Brewers last year, which are All-Star numbers compared to Valdez, but still pretty awful. He also had an OBP of .248, which firmly establishes him as the leader for the slap-hitting-middle-infielder-who- refuses-to-take-a-walk position on the Reds bench.

      This isn’t really related to the subject, but I didn’t realize until I started looking at these other numbers just how bad of an offensive season Drew Stubbs had. Stubbs put up a stat line of .213/.277/.610 with an OPS+ of 61 in 544 plate appearances.

      How bad was that?

      Some of the older members of this board might remember Enzo Hernandez, who was a shortstop for some really bad Padres teams in the early and mid-1970s. In 1971, Hernandez put up one of my favorite bad offensive stat lines of all-time. That season, he posted a robust .222/.295/.545 line. I’m not sure what was more remarkable – the fact that in 618 plate appearances he managed 12 extra base hits and 12 RBI or that he still managed to walk 54 times while only striking out 34. Oh, by the way, his OPS+ for the season was also a 61.

      In my opinion, Drew Stubbs is a better player that last season indicated and far better than Enzo Hernandez ever was. But it amazes me he could be so unproductive and spend most of the season batting in either the 1 or 2 slot in the lineup. Interestingly enough, Hernandez spend almost all of 1971 batting leadoff for the Padres.

      I’m not sure what any of this means, but it sure makes you think.

  8. @redsfanman: He didn’t ask you that, he asked how likely you believe it to be that Donald would underperfrom Valdez from 2012. If you want to include in your calculus that Donald plays 3 months with a tight knee and a swollen pinky you can do so.. But on the field, under whatever health circumstances, (not on the DL… dinging a player for being unproductive for being on the DL isn’t the nature of the question), how likely do you think it will be that he produces worse results than Valdez?

  9. Wow, the last two strings in RLN sure got some peoples dander up. What I find VERY encouraging and what has me really psyched for the start of ST this year, is that we are getting down in the trenches and proliferating our angst about one or two bench players. We are NOT driving ourselves crazy about about the prospects or doubts about the top of the order (TYVM Choo & Phillips). We are NOT driving ourselves crazy about who will protect Votto in the lineup (TYVM Ludwick). We are NOT driving ourselves crazy about our starting pitching or relief pitching (TYVM & insert the names of your choice here). Folks, this is a championship caliber team playing their home games in GABP. The starting lineup is solid from #1 through #8. The starting pitching is solid from #1 through #5 (no matter which 5 are starting). The relief pitching is solid in long, middle, setup and closing (no matter which reliever closes). Heisey and XP will perform off the bench admirably, even if XP has some dropoff. I will go to war with those two reserve OF any day. The Reds have very arguably the BEST pitching coach in MLB. The Reds have arguably the BEST owner in MLB. The Reds have arguably one of the top five front offices in MLB. Which two players fill the 7th & 8th place on the bench as utility IF is not significant concern from my perspective. I certainly have my preference for those utility IF filling the 7th & 8th bench slots, but I’m also certainly not going to lose any sleep over it.

  10. Ironic that Enzo Hernandez was mentioned. The Hardball Times reported he committed suicide on January 13

    • Ironic that Enzo Hernandez was mentioned. The Hardball Times reported he committed suicide on January 13

      Yes, but sadly, he’ll still put up a better OPS+ than Valdez’s 2012.

  11. @Shchi Cossack:

    Well stated. Having 10-12 quality guys fighting it out and competing for 5 spots is a good thing. A good problem to have. The Reds are in a very enviable position. Most MLB teams would like to have this problem.

  12. @Matt WI: Okay, I think Jason Donald has a good chance of being just as bad as Wilson Valdez. Donald hit .202 with a .246 OBP in 2012. Valdez hit .206 with a .236 OBP. Both players had a terrrible 2012 season offensively, almost the same numbers, we’re all hoping that Donald’s numbers will go up with a move to Cincinnati though and assuming that Valdez’s can’t. There’s a good chance that Jason Donald will just be a new name for the same player, another in a long line of similar players to march through a revolving door.

    • Okay, I think Jason Donald has a good chance of being just as bad as Wilson Valdez. Donald hit .202 with a .246 OBP in 2012. Valdez hit .206 with a .236 OBP. Both players had a terrrible 2012 season offensively, almost the same numbers,

      What you’re missing is that Donald’s crap year was TWICE AS GOOD as Valdez’. Literally. Twice the OPS+. Some of that is 10 points of OBP; some is 60 points of SLG, and the rest is ballpark and league effects.

      • What you’re missing is that Donald’s crap year was TWICE AS GOOD as Valdez’.Literally.Twice the OPS+.Some of that is 10 points of OBP; some is 60 points of SLG, and the rest is ballpark and league effects.

        Alright, Jason Donald had 2 doubles, 1 triple, and 2 homeruns. Wilson Valdez had 4 doubles and no other extra base hits. Jason Donald was a big time power hitter, Valdez was a nothing. Is that the point? Their power numbers, or lack thereof, are pretty identical. Even Bronson Arroyo has hit 2 homeruns in a single season.

        How much is ballpark and league factors? Enough to assess that they put up the same friggen season!

        • @redsfanman:

          How much is ballpark and league factors?Enough to assess that they put up the same friggen season!

          That’s just really lame. But I’ve come to expect these kind of arguments.

  13. @Shchi Cossack: See, we can find plenty to complain about even when there’s nothing to complain about. We’ll complain if it requires focusing on the 25th man on the roster and guys who won’t even make the team. Even with Drew Stubbs gone we can complain about Drew Stubbs.

    • Reds sign Manny Parra and Miguel Olivo.

      I’m hoping they start a new thread soon. Both interesting moves. Reds designated Todd Redmond for assignment (no surprise to me) to make room for Parra. What the heck are they going to do with Parra? A lefty with a 1.65 WHIP last year? I have more faith in Jose Arredondo to get lefties out than I do in Parra. In my opinion Parra is just as unlikely to make the team as Redmond was.

      Miguel Olivo is an interesting pickup, and a real threat to Devin Mesoraco, if they want to send him to AAA to play everyday and hit. They now have a legitimate major league backup catcher who can hit for power. In my opinion, after looking at his numbers, Olivo’s biggest problem offensively is that he spent so much time in Seattle.

      • Olivo’s biggest problem offensively is that he spent so much time in Seattle.

        His biggest problem is that he’s a 34 y/o catcher. John Bench was “playing third base” by that age.

  14. Whoops! Hadn’t finished. We have some very important arms in Louisville this year, and probably 2 or 3 reclamation projects. Do you think he’s the right guy?

    • Whoops! Hadn’t finished. We have some very important arms in Louisville this year, and probably 2 or 3 reclamation projects. Do you think he’s the right guy?

      Yes! Absolutely. Lucky to have Powers in the organization.

    • @rhayex: Mesoraco can buy his tickets to the Kentucky Derby right now.

      It might be a bit premature for Meso to buy Derby tickets just yet. He well may be clear out of the Reds org by the first Saturday in May and thus not in Louisville either.

  15. @redsfanman: I don’t know how to break it to you but they signed Parts to a Major League deal. I think it’s very unlikely he doesen’t make the team.

    • @redsfanman: I don’t know how to break it to you but they signed Parts to a Major League deal. I think it’s very unlikely he doesen’t make the team.

      They signed Todd Redmond to a major league deal and designated him for assignment before spring training. I believe Nick Masset has a major league contract and might have to be cut. JJ Hoover will earn near the MLB minimum but I doubt they’ll send him to AAA just because he’s less expensive. Parra signed a relatively cheap one year deal, they’re hoping that he makes the team but I think that’s far from certain. If he does other guys with MLB contracts will have to be sent to AAA.

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