2013 Reds

2013 Projection Review – The Offense

Hi kids, how’s it going? So, the season’s over for the Reds and that’s a bummer. As you may remember, the last few years, I’ve done preseason projections. In 2012, I did pretty well. This year was tougher for a variety of reasons, but I’m still willing to hold myself accountable. Let’s start with the offense and see how I did. I’ll take a look at pitching either tomorrow or when I get to it…

Player 2013 Proj. WAR Actual (bWAR/fWAR) 2013 OPS Proj. Actual
Shin-Soo Choo* 4.0 4.2/5.2 .830 .885
Brandon Phillips 3.5 1.6/2.6 .740 .706
Joey Votto 7.5 6.4/6.2 .990 .925
Ryan Ludwick 2.0 -0.9/-0.8 .795 .618
Jay Bruce 3.5 5.1/4.1 .860 .807
Todd Frazier 3.0 2.7/3.3 .760 .721
Zack Cozart 3.5 1.6/2.1 .730 .665
Ryan Hanigan / Devin Mesoraco 4.0 -0.3/0.4 .725/.765 .567/.649

Nailed It

Todd Frazier. Seriously. I called the  offensive decline. Sure, maybe he dropped a touch more than I though he would (but then, offense was down league-wide), but I pegged him at 3 WAR, and that is exactly the average of the FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference versions. Indeed, I think we have a decent idea of who Frazier is now, and he is a solid player.

In the Neighborhood

Shin-Soo Choo. Again, maybe I didn’t quite predict the extent of the uptick, but I did predict that there would be one. Most had Choo holding steady or declining. I feel pretty good about that one.

Too Conservative

BP and Bruce. I saw each of them moving in the right direction, but I didn’t correctly predict the extent of Bruce’s improvement or the extent of BP’s decline. I’m really worried about BP heading into the future. Given his age, I think it’s unlikely that this was simply an “off year.” I’d guess his days as an above-average player are over. Bruce, dare I hope, may be hitting a pretty nice peak.

Too Bold

Votto & Cozart. I thought I saw something with Cozart. I was wrong. Votto was more complicated. I waffled on his numbers all spring, but the power seemed to come on at the end, so I went higher with my projection than I would have otherwise. That was a mistake. He still had an excellent year, but it wasn’t as good as I projected it would be.

I Will Not Be Held Responsible

Ludwick and the Catchers. Five players saw time in left for the Reds this year. Collectively, they generated -0.5 bWAR and 0.6 fWAR. Ludwick, when he played, was awful (Heisey, believe it or not, was the only player to post real positive value in left). But I can’t reasonably be blamed for that injury (btw, Ludwick will be a 35 year old who depends on power for his value coming off a major shoulder injury for anyone who thinks the Reds don’t need to worry about left next year).

Now for Hanigan and Mesoraco. Hanigan was hurt a lot, and given his age, I worry that he’s lost it all together. Mes seemed better this year than last year, but his OPS was almost exactly the same (.640 in ’12, .649 this year). That’ probably fine because he’s still pretty young and catchers often peak late, but I’d like to see him come on and do next year what I predicted him to do this year. He’s had a full season of MLB at bats now and he hasn’t done much with them.

Conclusion

I didn’t do nearly as well this year, as did last year, and when I missed, I mostly missed high, which is a problem. Maybe I was too optimistic coming off a great 2012, but still, this seemed like a team where almost everything that good go wrong for the offense did. Anyway, only about 4 months to spring training.

40 thoughts on “2013 Projection Review – The Offense

  1. This is why I’m not particularly worried about the 2014 club. By just about every account the 2013 team underperformed across the board and was hit by damaging injuries all season. Very few of the bad performances can, in my opinion, be chalked up to actual player decline. There is every reason to think a good number, if not most, if not almost all of those bad performances should see a correction next year. Choo’s the big question mark, obviously, but even if we lose him I think we more than make up for that loss of production through FA moves and bounce back years from guys like Votto and BP.

    • @eric nyc: With the exception of Votto and Mesoraco, I don’t know if we can expect the under-performances to reverse, though. Phillips, Ludwick, and Hanigan are all getting old. Cozart and Frazier probably are what they are.

      • @Jason Linden: Count me as one of the guys who doesn’t think BP is done. He still can hit for power and I don’t think you can simply “chalk him up” for an injury every year that will kill his offensive performance over an entire season. I would bet he bounces back in just about every hitting category at least a bit next year, with the possible exception of RBI assuming he’s not spending nearly as much time batting #4.

        I also think we upgrade from Ludwick in LF and possibly Frazier at 3B through FA and/or trades. Both would make excellent bench players which means we’ve just taken a quantum leap from Hannahan and Izturis. I’d also expect Votto’s bounceback to be pretty significant and I still think it’s just a matter of time before Bruce puts together a season full of hot months without the cold streaks and runs away with an MVP. Seems like he could be about to hit his prime. Considering our pitching should be as good if not better next year, I’m just not that worried. Of course, there’s any number of moves the front office could make in the next few months that could shake that optimism.

        • @eric nyc: I don’t know who you’re getting who’s better than Frazier. I mean, he’s not a world beater, but he is solidly above average. When trying to upgrade, it’s best to not focus on places where you are already above average.

          I think you misunderstood me on BPs injury. I was just pointing out that he does get little niggling injuries every year. I do NOT think the injury this year explains his decline. He has had a very steady decline for the last few years. It’s a pretty clear trend if you look at it.

          Also, regarding his ability to hit for power, his ISO has declined or held steady every year since 2007. Additionally, it has been common for BP to have a few months every year when his bat goes missing. Look at his splits year by year. I’d have to see real confirmation that he was hurting all year before I bought into the injury excuse. I think he was hurt for a bit, but I also think he is getting old in a hurry.

          Here are a couple of links that include discussions of aging trends for 2Bs, if you’re interested:

          http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=4464

          http://camdendepot.blogspot.com/2010/06/depot-retro-infield-age-curves.html

        • @Jason Linden: BPs “decline” seems to be commonly attributed to the trend of his last 3 seasons. I’m on my phone so I’m not going to paste the slash lines, in a daunting you know them. From what I recall, 2011 was a career year for him in just about every hitting metric (I seem to remember him hitting around .300). 2012 was at about his career norm (I seem to remember him hitting around .281). This year was, by all metrics except RBI, disappointing. So yes, technically that marks a three year “trend.” Going from an abnormally great year to a normal very good year to a disappointing year. I am no master sabremetrician, but that doesn’t sound like conclusive proof of the end of a hitters career to me. If anything, at 32-33 I would imagine he has one or two more years of his career norms to look forward to which I will take. Especially given his defense which hasn’t fallen off a bit.

          As for the trend of 2Bs at that age…Who cares? Seriously do you think there’s something about standing in that spot in the infield that deteriorates your hitting ability at a uniform rate? I’ll look at your links later, but I would be inclined to think they are more coincidence than anything else. Especially when you consider that generally 2Bs are lesser offensive players to begin with.

      • @Jason Linden: BP was hurt for a good part of the year (hbp). I believe that that was a significant reason for his decline–decline in some areas, at any rate. Cozart came on strong at the end, so he may not be hopeless. Or he may be. Wait until next year.

    • @eric nyc:

      This is why I’m not particularly worried about the 2014 club.

      Choo’s the big question mark, obviously, but even if we lose him I think we more than make up for that loss of production through FA moves and bounce back years from guys like Votto and BP.

      That covers it pretty succinctly right now. The Reds are in a transition phase, but how much or how little is yet to be determined or revealed. All we know right now is a new manager will be in place for spring training. Beyond that, WJ has a lot of work to do and evaluations to make.

      I’m excited right now at the prospects for 2014 and going forward, but if the Reds make no changes to the roster beyond losing Choo and changing managers, that excitement may turn to trepidation for the 2014 season by the end of spring training.

  2. It will be interesting to see if Frazier has better numbers next year, he went in an extended slump but after his conversation with Pete Rose (from what I read the Reds were focusing on mechanics and Pete said go back to see the ball hit the ball) he took off again, if he doesn’t have that long slump the numbers are way different.

  3. I understand that BP’s numbers were mostly down, but early in the year it seemed as though he was going to have a very good all around offensive year. I don’t remember the date or game, but he got hit on the wrist and from there his numbers steeply declined. (I am sure someone smarter than I can find those numbers.) Is there reason to believe that he was not near 100% for much of the season? Phillips is the last guy to say he’s hurt and will try to do whatever he can (sometimes to the detriment of the team) to play through his injuries. I will admit that I am a huge fan of Phillips (though he does do things that cause me to shake my head) but it seems hard to believe that his inevitable decline began so abruptly.

    • @GolfGuy75: A number of people have raised the injury bug with Phillips. I think that can be allowed for to some extent, but then, something like that happens to Phillips every year. This year, it really shut him down. I also don’t really believe that he was hurt for the last 4 months of the season.

      And then there’s his age. second basemen have a historical tendency to drop, almost by magic, from a cliff right around age 32, which is where BP is. He may well bounce back, and I hope he does, but I’m not banking on it.

      • @Jason Linden: I understand age as increasing the propensity for injury. Still I think the record shows he was significantly injured pretty much from late may on through and that prior to the string of injuries, he wasn’t showing signs of decline in that first 1/3 of the year.

        When the guy is still elite as a fielder and still league average offensively, I think it makes sense to ride it out with him unless unless you can get a better fielder at 2B or world beater offensive player for him because that is what it is going to take to replace him without hurting the team overall.

        It might behoove the team to get a competent bench player that could play a week at a time to allow Phillips (and others) to be able to sit out day to day instead of trying to play through which just adds to the situation in several ways.

  4. My feeling about the offense is that they are short of a right handed hitting cleanup man for the Reds to be a dominating team. It looks like that would mean a free-agent leftfielder, so let’s see what happens with Choo.

    • @Redsfanx: problem is, that was supposed to be Ludwick, and we’re paying him a lot next year. We’re not going to go get another one and put him on the bench.

      • @al: Ludwick’s only got a year left and I think everyone recognizes the shoulder injury might have been the final nail in the coffin for him. Sunk cost. I think they bring in a FA no matter what. They’ll look at Ludwick in spring and if he still doesn’t have his swing or his power back, at the very least they’ll sit him on the bench if not just waive him. He was signed to be a power hitter and it wasn’t a bad contract at the time. Couldn’t forsee that injury happening 3 innings into the year.

        • @eric nyc: I feel like it was a bad contract at the time.

          From 2010-2012, which doesn’t even take into account his horrendous early career, he hit .253/.323/.427 while playing league average, at best, defense.

          During the same period, here’s a few players:

          Phillips: .285/.336/.439
          Votto: .321/.434/.564
          Bruce:.262/.340/.493
          Frazier: .273/.331/.498 (2012 only)
          Cozart: .246/.288/.399 (2012 only)

          Sooo, basically, the Reds signed a player who is between 2012 Frazier and 2012 Cozart in terms of his recent (’10-’12) offensive prowess. They were banking on 34 yr old (at the time) playing as good as or better than he had in his entire career. That’s the very definition of a bad signing to me. If you are gonna reach on projections, make sure a guy is like 24-26.

          Ludwick has been a good hitter for about 1 3/4 seasons out of his 953 career games played. It was a pipe dream to expect him to turn into 2008 Ludwick again.

  5. At what point does a player’s distractions become too much of a liability to his team? The Bengals realized the time had come to offload Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson a couple of years ago when his presence undercut the franchise’s efforts to win a championship. Are the Reds at a similar place with Brandon “Dat Dude” Phillips, given his declining offensive output (yes, he drove in 100 RBI– but a paltry few in September when the heat was on) and his annoying grandstanding? If Frazier and Cozart have reached their abilities as .240-.260 hitters, can the Reds afford to have a .250-.260 second baseman who grounds into too many double plays and regularly loafs to first on ground balls?

    • Does anyone really believe that we will get Choo back?

      How can they? His contract will likely be 100mil+, the Reds simply can’t afford that, and if they could I don’t think it would be a wise investment at that level.
      Go search for another one year ‘rental’ type while Hamilton continues to develop.

      • @zblakey: It’s hard to say, I think. Maybe I’ve missed something, but it seems to me all baseball people who aren’t named Boras have targeted Choo at 4-5 yrs. $15M per. That’s a pretty good deal for his production. Especially given that he has skills that should age pretty well.

        Boras says $100M, and I guess that might happen, but it might not either. We’ll see. It’s still October, so I’m going to be an optimist for now. The Baker firing really makes me think we’re in for n entertaining offseason.

        • @Jason Linden: I’d do 4 years/$15 million in a heartbeat. My guess is 5 is a minimum, though, and that takes him through his age 37 season. That’s likely 2 years of sunk money. For a guy who, as we just saw, can be essentially erased from a pivotal game just by starting a LHP. He’d have to give us a pretty huge discount for it to be worthwhile.

        • @eric nyc: I don’t see Choo being indispensable to the Reds next year, even though he had an excellent season this year. As you say, his poor performance against LHPs is a glaring weakness. I think all efforts should bd made to make Billy Hamilton our starting CF— he’s a better outfielder and base stealer and base runner than Choo, who made some terrible blunders on the base paths. The reds should let Jacoby go, hire a great hitting coach who can work with Hamilton to improve his hitting.

        • @dmr11: And in limited PAs, he showed he CAN get on base as a big leaguer. You don’t know until you try. Plenty of players in the past have improved on their AAA numbers when sent to the bigs.

          The thing about Billy is that any slow roller to the left side has a chance to be a base hit. If he can focus on making contact and using his legs, there is no reason to think he can’t potentially be a .270 hitter in his first big league season. And if he can learn from Votto how to take a pitch or two, he might have somethign like a .325 OBP, which with his speed, means an every-day quality player.

          I think his spring training performance will ultimately be what makes the decision.

        • @Jason Linden: 5yr/$75-million would be as far as I’d be willing to go on Choo if I were Walt, but I must admit, I don’t know the market quite as well as I used to. The Hunter Pence contract took me by surprise and I feel that Choo is a superior player to Pence.

  6. It isn’t too hard to think that we will get the exact same production from LF and CF next season even if Choo leaves for another team. BR has Choo at 4.2 WAR and the left fielders* at a combined -0.5 WAR. If Ludwick and Hamilton can combine to be league average starters (i.e. around 2.0 each), we’ll be around the same place. Might be hard to believe with as good as Choo was this year, but the reds almost won the division with a gaping hole in left.

    * Robinson +0.7
    Heisey +0.6
    Lutz -0.1
    Paul -0.8
    Ludwick -0.9
    I know these include time spent at other positions, but it gives you the right idea

    • @down with dusty: Arguably, Frazier is a better hitter than any of those guys and if that’s true, it’s as easy to assume that the Reds could go for a FA at 3B and move Toddfather to LF. I do think Frazier’s defense is better than adequate, though.

      • @Johnu1: With true 3B so hard to find, I don’t know if you move a GG-caliber glove away from the position to fill the position people send their worst defenders to.

        If you look at the list of third baseman in all of MLB. There are only 18 players who recorded at least 1,000 innnings at the position this season. The only person who has less than Todd Frazier’s 10 errors on that entire list of 18 is David Wright with 9 errors. Wright played a little over 250 less innings than Todd Frazier and recorded just one less error.

        • @ToddAlmighty: I buy that about Frazier’s glove, alluded to it. I think he is a GG defensive guy with a lot of upside. I like his enthusiasm. Correct, there aren’t any good 3B on the market that we notice, but it doesn’t preclude one being out there that we don’t. I also agree that the best defense in LF is with a bat.

          Just brought it up to add to the conversation.

        • @Johnu1: Fair enough, just know a free agent LF will be a lot easier to find than a free agent 3B. If you recall, the last free agent 3B the Reds picked up (and were extremely happy with at the time) was Jack Hannahan. Just don’t wanna see 150 starts for a Hannahan-caliber player. Hah

  7. I’m surprised that you didn’t mention Cozart’s second half of the season. I am curious as to what his WAR would have been if he didn’t bat 2nd in the lineup all season. Before the All-Star break he hit .236/.265/.369, yet after the All-Star break, he hit .282/.315/.400, and that’s not a small sample size for the latter. It’s 64 games/220 AB. Possible that keeping him down in the order plus maybe something else has helped it click for him? I’m really curious to see how he bats next year (once again, provided he stays down in the order).

    I think Frazier’s power numbers will get a little better when the new hitting coach comes in and fixes Frazier’s balance issues when he bats. Guy has crazy strength. Even if he is what he is right now, that’s not too bad either. 3.0 WAR with GG caliber defense and a great person/personality to boot? I’ll happily take that and I have a suspicion that so would a lot of other teams.

    Also curious what Mesoraco’s numbers will look like if/when he becomes the majority starter. With Arroyo as good as gone, and Bailey with 1 year left, it’s time to stop giving Hanigan all these starts. Mesoraco needs 4/5, because that big hot streak he had was the same time Hanigan was on the DL and I don’t think that was a coincidence that with regular playing time he looked so good. Yet in Sept. Hanigan had 14 starts and Mesoraco had 12. Despite the fact Hanigan was terrible all year.

    • @ToddAlmighty: Half season is just half a season. 64 games really isn’t that much. Most of your important rate stats take about 500 PAs to normalize to a reasonable degree. If he does it again in April and May, we’ll talk.

    • @ToddAlmighty: Offensively Cozart is Stubbs without the speed.

      Defensively he is somewhat less (than Stubbs) in terms of positive impact at a different but still crucial defensive position.

      And for me the question isn’t is Coazart adequate in terms of OPS/ WAR etc on his own (and the same for Frazier and Meso), it is are they adequate as pieces of the whole puzzle of the Reds offense. I think part of the answer is which Joey Votto shows up in 2014. The pre knee injury version or the 2013 version.

      • @OhioJim: You know, mentioning defense I find it interesting when you look at dWAR and such for Stubbs and compare it to how everyone talks about how amazing he is defensively. I’m beginning to think that it’s a bit of a myth that Stubbs supporters created. Kind of like how last year Rolen supporters made the myth that Frazier couldn’t play good defense to argue why Rolen needed to keep starting over Frazier.

        I know it’s two different positions and all, but according to Baseball-Reference, in Cozart’s 300 major league games, he has a career 3.7 dWAR. Meanwhile after a -1.1 dWAR 2013, Drew Stubbs in his 632 major league games has a career -0.1 dWAR. Doesn’t quite line up with what everyone says.

  8. If Peter Gammons is right, the Reds will be terrible. Riggleman is a bad manager and is worse than Dusty. This will be the Reds being cheap and settling for a terrible manager.

  9. I honestly had the pessimistic impression that none of our position players from 2012 exceeded their last year’s performance. Clearly I was overly pessimistic, and both Frazier and Bruce did this (Votto, too, but only because he didn’t play much of last year). Bruce had a huge improvement, and the weird thing is I barely recognized it. I wonder why.

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