2013 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: Reds Remember How to Score, Briefly Forget How to Field

Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….rntitanic-copy

FINAL
Cincinnati 6
Texas 4

BOX SCORE

W: J.J. Hoover (1-5)
L: K. McClellan (0-1)
S: A. Chapman (20)

POSITIVES
–Boy, where do we start? How about with Mike Leake who pitched eight innings of one run baseball (though he only got credit for seven as, for some reason, they made him pitch the third inning twice). Leake really ought to be going to the All-Star game. His ERA stands at 2.52 right not.

–The Reds scored six runs today, which is, I believe, the most they’ve scored since 1995.

–Among the offensive contributors were Shin-Soo Choo, who reached base five times (including a lead-off homer); Joey Votto, who reached base three times, and Devin Mesoraco who hit the game winning home run.

–One more just for Devin.

–The Bullpen was lights out tonight, though Manny Parra scared the bejesus out of all of us.

NEGATIVES
–During the third inning, the Reds committed three errors (two by Votto). That hadn’t happened since 2006. It was ugly, but also the only low point of the game. Of course, if they’d gotten it done in the field that inning, the game would have been over at the end of regulation.

NOT SO RANSOM THOUGHTS
–I know people have been griping about the Reds hitting with RISP. Generally, I don’t see much point, as over time, teams hit the same with RISP as they do without (feel free to look it up if you don’t believe me). But they had certainly been in an awful drought lately. Tonight, the Reds were 3-12, which is a .250 batting average. As a team they are hitting .248.

–There is always the chance I could be wrong, and I don’t officially believe in momentum anyway, but this felt like the kind of game that turns a team around. They got the hits they needed. Except for the hiccup in the third, they played a quality game and beat a high-quality team. They have Latos going tomorrow and suddenly look poised to win the series, and then the schedule eases up. I could certainly see them going on a run heading into the All-Star break.

–I am not impervious to dejection, as I think you saw last night, but this is a good baseball team, and they showed it tonight. I’m excited to see where the Reds go from here and I’ll be pulling hard for them to pass back the Pirates and the Cardinals. Tonight marked the halfway point for the Reds and if they double what they’ve done to this point, they’ll finish 92-70. That would get them in the playoffs, I’m almost certain. Time for the second half.  Let’s go.

Source: FanGraphs

50 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: Reds Remember How to Score, Briefly Forget How to Field

  1. It feels good to be able to say that the Reds won. It was a nice win with one bad inning, it’s nice to see the Reds bounce back from those 3 errors and Leake not get let down by his fielders. Lets get ‘em tomorrow!

  2. Lot of Reds fans at the ballpark tonight. Third inning was disgusting and you could literally see the scowl on Votto’s face from where I sat behind third base. Twice I thought we gave it away on deep hits to center and right. Was truly a fun game to watch despite the fact that I just knew after the third we were gonna lose. There’s was never a momentum swinging moment where I thought our guys had a chance. I’m glad I was wrong. Excited to see Latos pitch a duel tomorrow!

  3. The Reds “momentum” is on a collision course with Yu Darvish. The pitching matchup of two excellent pitchers favors the Rangers slightly.

  4. If the Reds go 92-70 they are pretty likely to make the playoffs and pretty unlikely to win the division.

  5. Choo definitely has issues with lefties, and it’s going to be an issue late in games when the opposing team matches up with a lefty specialist. But all the people all over Choo—his OBP is .421 this year. Isn’t that why the Reds got him? Did anyone expect his OBP for the season to be .421? Would you take it if he had a .421 OBP at season’s end?

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: You are right about Choo, of course. He got off to such a great start that we collectively figured that he was the second coming of Ted Williams. He’s still playing well–better than we should realistically have expected. I do have a question about Joey, though: getting on base 3 times is listed as a positive, and is one, of course. But he neither scored nor drove in any runs, so my question: isn’t this a bit like the tree falling in the forest with nobody to hear it? Isn’t obp’s value almost entirely contingent on the number of runs in which it results? Does an advanced metric exist which measures runs (scored and driven in) per at-bat? You’d have to subtract homers (they’d count twice), and the stat would be to some extent dependent upon teammates’ performances, but I think that applies to the value of any personal stat. Winning requires runs, and runs are often–usually–a group effort. I ask this in reply to your comment, because I’m particularly interested in you take on it.

  6. I think a lot of people like to look for a game that could turn around a season. I thought we might have had one in Arizona until Chapman spoiled Bruce’s two-homer game. Maybe this will be it. But Latos better bring his A game tomorrow.

  7. I just don’t see the Reds going 92-70ish to finish this year out. While the talent is there, this team just seems to lack any sort of consistency. Of course, I’ll be more than glad to eat my words when they finish at or better than 92 wins.

  8. I was at the game tonight as well and agree it was a nice turnout for the Reds. I did spend more time with my hands over my head curled up in my seat than I have in a long time……I can deal with tough times, but bad baseball drives me nuts. So the third inning had me pretty apoplectic. I will say that equally bad was Chapman walking Pierzynski to lead off the bottom of the 11th. With a 6-4 lead, you just can’t do that, particularly when you have his stuff. Moreland bailed him out, but he went 2-0 on him as well. For Chapman to reach any semblance of his potential, he has to grow from the complete baseball moron that he is, and learn to pitch to the game situation. OK – he also needs to start, but I’m not going down that path tonight.

    Great game by Choo, particularly the base hit off Cotts as he hasn’t hit lefties at all. Also, Votto kept his head in the game after the awful 3rd and contributed nicely.

    Looking at negatives, you could certainly add Hannahan who looked really bad, and the only reason Meso isn’t on the list is for obvious reasons.

    One thing I really like about the Rangers is their approach at the plate. There have been a number of AB’s the past 2 nights where even after an 0-2 count they forced the Reds to throw a strike. I don’t know much about Dave Madagan as a coach, or if it’s something else altogether, but they seem to battle through AB’s better than most teams.

    The pitching tonight was really solid by the Reds, as noted in Jason’s summary. Leake didn’t fool around and kept a pretty low pitch count – also he kept pretty strong during the 3rd inning fiasco. I can’t say I agree with Parra’s use tonight, but he continues to pitch pretty well since a really putrid start. Tonight is not the way to use him, but he stepped up nicely, as did LeCure (who also was a really great guy signing before the game, really friendly with the kids as many adults tried to mob their way into the crowd).

    Hoping for a great game from Latos tomorrow! Though Darvish is tough, I’m hoping that Mr. Choo can loosen him up a bit. Go Redlegs!!

    • @Steve Hanshaw: Nice report from the game.

      The hitting coach is almost always a pure reflection of the manager in terms of philosophy and emphasis. Dusty Baker is all about swinging early in the count if possible. So that’s what our hitting coach pushes – except to the hitters like Choo and Votto who follow their own approaches.

      • @Steve Mancuso: Agreed, though I do think you need to be a bit careful with the instruction to take more pitches, and understand the difference between cause and effect. My belief is that you are correct regarding the “hacktastic” approach we have, but you can go too far the other way – example being Hannahan’s 2nd K last night where he clearly went up looking to take a couple of pitches – getting down 0-2 on two fastballs – then looked like the bottom hitters on my 11 yr old daughter’s softball team waving at a breaking ball in the dirt for strike 3.

        I do wish Dusty/Jacoby would preach more patience, but in fairness the reason Votto/Choo/others see more pitches is better pitch recognition, better ability to hit with 2 strikes, and better understanding of game conditions. Which, as you point out, we don’t seem to value or want to develop in our younger players. BHam is a guy that worries me, as he has the natural ability to be a Hall of Famer if he truly treats every at bat as part of his craft, an opportunity to win one individual battle. If he comes up Dusty-hacking, he could parlay himself from a Vince Coleman to a Corey Patterson.

    • @Steve Hanshaw: Thanks for the on the spot report.

      Hannahan is a waste of a roster spot. A corner IFer has to be able to hit.
      I don’t understand WJ’s concept of a bench, other than it’s being one that Dusty likes.

      I didn’t see Chapman pitch the 10th but yes you can’t walk the lead off hitter with a 2 run lead. After going 2-0 to Moreland, he slowed his fastball from 98 down to 94-95. He’s very hittable at that speed.

      After the DP, he calmed down and was throwing 100 mph fastballs and got strikes 2 and 3 with sliders.

  9. I don’t believe the Pirates will continue at their pace. Reds will be 2 games out starting August, tied going into September, and eventually win the division.

  10. In 2012, at the halfway mark, the Reds were 44-37. So they’re 2 games ahead of that pace. Like last year, I think they’ll do better in the 2nd half. I am assuming that Cueto and Marshall are healthy for August and September, and no devastating injuries.

  11. I had that feeling that Hoover would win his first of the season after he got thru the 10th. Congrats to him and to Mes. Mike Leake is awesome. His poise was put to the test in the 3rd inning, he kept his cool.

  12. Anybody know how to find Choo’s BABIP vs. LHP? His splits have never been this pronounced and he clearly knows what to do (like his single in the 9th last night), so I’m wondering if a skewed BABIP might explain things. But I don’t know how to find that. Thanks.

        • @Eric the Red: Search for Choo in Fangraphs, the default page for Choo will be season stats, next to that click “splits” and scroll down the page to the table for “advanced” stats. You’ll see BABIP vs L and vs R

        • @Eric the Red: Personally I don’t place as much emphasis on BABIP as a luck indicator as others. If you rank the NL hitters by BABIP generally the best hitters have the best BABIP which would indicate that good hitters, to some degree, have more control of where the ball goes than bad hitters.

        • @bohdi: Perhaps xBABIP is better as it looks at line drives, grounders, and fly balls.

          But the thing to look at is not “do the best hitters have the best BABIP”, because those things aren’t independent. For example Cuddyer is having a good year and his BABIP is .383. Is he having a good year because his BABIP is abnormally high? That’s what I’m trying to say. I’d like to know, for a given hitter, how much does his BABIP fluctuate year to year. Cuddyer, for example, is nearly 100 points above his career average this year.

        • @bohdi: It can still be instructive. For instance, Choo is 100pts below his career average for BABIP vs LHP, but only a little above his career numbers vs RHP. So I feel pretty good about my original idea, that his numbers vs LHP this year owe a lot to an uncharacteristically low BABIP. (Thanks again–I wouldn’t have found his career numbers without your help.)

  13. I see some delusional people here. “Pirates will end up just a few games over .500??” THEY HAVE THE BEST RECORD IN BASEBALL! “Reds are a few games better than at this point last year”. Yes, record wise that is true but the Reds are 24-5 vs Cubs, Marlins, Brewers and Mets. You know what that means right? Forget stats and trends etc. Just watch Frazier, Cozart, Meso, Hanigan, Heisey’s ABs. If you think this team can achieve anything meaningful with this group as our right handed bats, you are fooling yourself. I love this team as I have for over 50 yrs but I can see what is real. Walt and Co. are trying to win with great starting pitching and an offense made up of 3-4 AAA hitters. They need a bat!

    • I see some delusional people here. “Pirates will end up just a few games over .500??”THEY HAVE THE BEST RECORD IN BASEBALL! “Reds are a few games better than at this point last year”.Yes, record wise that is true but the Reds are 24-5 vs Cubs, Marlins, Brewers and Mets.You know what that means right?Forget stats and trends etc.Just watch Frazier, Cozart, Meso, Hanigan, Heisey’s ABs.If you think this team can achieve anything meaningful with this group as our right handed bats, you are fooling yourself.I love this team as I have for over 50 yrs but I can see what is real.Walt and Co. are trying to win with great starting pitching and an offense made up of 3-4 AAA hitters.They need a bat!

      Isn’t that how the Giants won last year?

    • @Redstockings: I agree with you–felt this way before the season started; they might easily make the post-season and might go deep in it, but the offense is not the strength of this team, no matter how you tweaked the batting order.

  14. I think to even consider the chances we get any kind of real production from either Cuteo or Ludwick and even Marshall is just foolish. All three are going to struggle health wise for the rest of the season so other players must step up and Walt really really needs to get some true quality help.

  15. Redstockings: Pirates were 16 games over .500 before the All-Star break last year and finished without a winning record by collapsing in September. A lot can happen in the 2nd half. Yes, the Reds need a bat but we all tend to forget, Ludwick was supposed to be our Cleanup hitter with BP batting 2nd. Injuries take a toll. Walt will do something but no reason to get frustrated in June. IMO: Meso should now get more PT than Hanigan. He’s a better player. I like Heisey but I think we know what we’re going to get with him now. I always say the real season begins immediately after the All-Star game. LONG season.

    • @sezwhom1: and Cueto was supposed to be our ace and Marshall/Broxton our setup guys. If any team is poised for the exact opposite of a “collapse”, it is the Reds (once that DL starts shrinking).

      • @RedTitan19: It will be a big help if Cueto, Broxton and Marshall come back effectively, but that is far from a foregone conclusion, particularly in Cueto’s case.

    • @sezwhom1: and the Pirates might collapse again or, just as likely, they are a year older and wiser and have learned from that experience. I think that they are a good team–not significantly more flawed than the Reds.

  16. I just saw these numbers, which surprised me: the Reds have played 41 games against teams below .500. The Cards have played 51, and the Pirates 46. (I think the numbers are slightly out of date, and the Pirates are up to 47 or 48.). Start combining that with the unequal home-road split so far in our head to head games vs both of those teams, and it’s yet another reason for optimism.

    • @Eric the Red: For a goodly part of the 2nd half, the Pirates and Cards are going to be playing each other while the Reds are playing the Brewers the same number of games +/- 1 or 2. The Reds need a split between the Pirates and Cards and to win 11 or 12 versus the Brew Crew to really cash in, although 10 wins for teh Reds versus the Crew versus roughly a split split for the Pirates and Cards would work nicely too.

  17. Is it fair to say that Devin Mesoraco has the 2 biggest HRs of the 2013 season?

    His game typing HR versus Craig Kimbrel, as well as last night. Just sayin’ Get the man consistent ABs.

  18. I’m not going to hindsight the aquisition of Hannahan. At the time of the signing, I thought a LH option to backup 3B was a good signing and the expectation of a positive offensive production from Hannahan in that backup role, based on past performance, was a 50/50 proposition. Unfortunately, said offensive production has fallen on the wrong side of that 50/50 proposition.

    Last season, the Reds had a decided disadvantage for LH hittining on the 25 man roster until the aqusition of XP, which solved the LH hitting problem on the bench. Then Choo was added to the starting lineup this season and the 25 man roster flipped to a decidely LH hitting roster with a decided disadvantage for RH hitting after Ludwick went down.

    No real revelations in those observations from the Old Cossack.

    • @Shchi Cossack: Agree. Even more, I think they wanted Hannahan for his defense with the expectation that maybe Frazier would need a better defender available for late innings. Frazier has certainly outperformed my expectations defensively, while Hannahan has underperformed both on offense and defense.

    • @Shchi Cossack: I think you’re right regarding Hannahan. I guess the frustrating thing to me is we valued his ability to play 1B and 2B in a pinch – when in reality that is what our starting 3B gives us and we’d be better off with a bat (Henry Rodriguez?) in the lineup.

      I try not to bitch too much as it gets a bit boring reading some of the idiocy in the game threads, but I’ve been frustrated all along that we give away a roster spot that on most teams is a pinch hitter, to cover the occasional defensive needs – when we already have those needs covered on the roster. Frazier will be well below average at SS and likely at 2B as well, but to play a few games in a week to spell Izturis (or Donald) if Cozart or Phillips gets hurt is not something that will turn him into a crying baby. Said differently, I’m fine with Hannahan OR Izturis on the roster, but the fact we need them both deprives us of the opportunity to stash a bat on the bench, regardless of the position.

  19. Negatives–
    –Asking Mez to bunt in the 11th. With his power, that should never be an option.
    –Has anyone ever seen Votto stand directly in front of a tricky hop and take it off his chest? Me neither. He really needs to stop trying to be Mr. Fancy and keep it simple.

    Very exciting game to watch. I expect no different today.

  20. I guess one more……not sure if it’s a bitch or just something I don’t understand…..from the first two games: Dusty is heavily into making sure guys understand their roles. I’m fine with that, as I do agree it can give some certainty to guys. I guess what I don’t understand why “8th Inning” is a “role”. When Sam LeCure pitches in the 8th inning on Friday, down 4-0, he’s a mop up man, albeit with the game close enough we don’t want to let Izturis pitch the inning. When he pitches the 8th inning on Saturday in a 4-4 game — particularly coming off this recent run where we really needed a win – he’s the highest leverage reliever in the bullpen.

    Is it just me, or does Dusty not really understand what a “role” is?

  21. Early in the season, I recall Heisey trying to alter his approach at the plate and being more selective in his approach and working the count more, then he suddenly and inexplicably reverted to his old form of swinging from his heels. Since his return from the DL (obviously limited PA), he seemes to be taking a more professional hitting approach again, but this may just be the Old Cossack’s mistaken impression or just a miniscule sample size.

    With Hanigan ailing and Ludwick on the DL for no one knows how long (possibly the entire season), this pretty much leaves the Reds with limited to no options in fielding a good hitting lineup against LHP. The Reds have 2 OF with significant issues against LHP:

    .149/.314/.181 Choo v. LHP for 2013
    .239/.335/.339 Choo v. LHP for career
    .143/.250/.143 XP v. LHP for 2013
    .141/.208/.155 XP v. LHP for career

    Unfortunately, the Reds only have 1 option, Robinson, available to address those 2 problems:

    .300/.391/.383 Robinson v. LHP

    Since Choo has maintained at least a mariginal OBP (.314 for 2013 & career) against LHP, the obvious L/R platoon is in LF between XP & Robinson. The Reds would benifit immensely from another avialable OF platoon option, but that is limited to Heisey right now and that would be a questionable improvement:

    .257/.333/.400 Heisey v. LHP for 2013
    .280/.379/.659 Heisey v. LHP for career

    If Heisey could approach his career performance against LHP in a L/R platoon situation, the option of platooning Choo & Robinson in CF and platooning XP & Heisey in LF becomes viable, but it took Dusty 2 months to come to the obvious realization that a Robinson & XP platoon in LF was his best available option and only then because Heisey was unavailable for nearly 2 months.

    Right now, I would still begin (if that has already begun) working Meso in LF as the only other viable option to consider. I think the Reds need to plan for a Ludwick-less remainder of the 2013 season and I don’t think WJ will pull the trigger on any additional aquisitions unless he can obtain a useful, equitable major league player in exchange for someone like: Perez, Phipps, Fellhauer, Soto, Rodriguez, Gallaraga, Reineke or Reynolds from AAA or Lutz or Smith from AA. I don’t see any of those players in the Reds’ immediate future plans and WJ might even be able to get a pretty good return in a trade for some of those minor league prospects.

  22. When I read the talk and stats about versus .500+ and .500 minus records, I wonder if these are raw or processed stats. For instance take the Reds/ Cubs splits. The Cubs are 34-45 overall but remove their 13 games versus the Reds and they are 31-35. That is still a sub .500 record but a at least borderline mediocre.

    So, how reasonable is it to vilify the Reds such as is often done for playing .769 versus a team that the rest of the league is playing .469 against???

  23. I do believe in momentum and if the Reds can take the series in Texas they will have it for San Francisco and Seattle at home.

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