2014 Reds

Odds and Ends: Weather, waffles, Votto, pitchers and books

The long term weather forecast for Opening Day in Cincinnati is 71 degrees with only 20 percent chance of rain. And that’s only *six* days away!

Joey Votto is determined to swing at fewer pitches in the strike zone, according to Eno Sarris at FanGraphs. Votto also says he gets better pitches to hit when Billy Hamilton is on base (so get on base, Billy!) which argues for batting Votto second, behind Hamilton, to maximize that connection.

Mostly good news, for a change, on the injury front. Homer Bailey pitched five relatively pain-free innings yesterday. Mat Latos had an even better experience over three. Jonathan Broxon pitched one. John Fay column and video interviews with Bailey and Latos. Mark Sheldon’s notebook on same. Johnny Cueto is scheduled to throw six innings in a minor league game today. The Reds have assured us that Cueto’s recent shoulder twinge that caused them to cancel Cueto’s last appearance is unrelated to his lat muscle issues that put the pitcher on the DL three times last season.

A couple new baseball books are hitting the shelves. Pete Rose: An American Dilemma from Kostya Kennedy takes another swing at biography of our hometown hero, ultimately arguing for Rose’s admission to the Hall of Fame. You can read a review by Craig Fehrman (a follower of Redleg Nation) in the Wall Street Journal. And Johan Keri has written Up, Up & Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos.

The Reds exhibition game in Louisville on Saturday night is sold out.

In delicious news, the Reds now have an official waffle. Waffles from The Taste of Belgium will be sold in Great American Ball Park near my seat (along first base line) this year. Fans can choose a plain waffle, a waffle with chocolate and whipped cream, a waffle with fried chicken and a waffle with fries. Yum.

17 thoughts on “Odds and Ends: Weather, waffles, Votto, pitchers and books

  1. I’m fine with Votto not swinging at as many pitches in the strike zone as long as it isn’t with 2 strikes. I’d rather he go down swinging then take pitches right down the middle for strike 3. I think that drove me crazy last year, the number of times he was called out on strikes.
    With 2 strikes, if it’s close, you gotta be swinging!

    • The Old Cossack must agree with the called 3rd strike scenario. This spring training, Votto’s propensity to go down on a called 3rd strike has been troublesome, but it is just spring training and the time to work out the kinks. Votto seems to be getting into a more regular season routine at the plate lately.

      My biggest hope is that Votto’s approach at the plate turns out to be the biggest concern of the season with all of the other questions falling in with positive results.

      • When I was a young lad, about the only thing that ever made my father mad (at least as far as baseball is concerned) was taking a called third strike. It was unacceptable. Therefore, I worry that I have carried forward my father’s disdain without any sort of real rationale for it.

        I love the fact that Joey chokes up with two strikes. This is where I channel my father and absolutely insist that my kids do the same. So, I’d like to see Joey continue to approach the two strike count by shortening up the swing and putting the ball in play and couple that with being a bit more aggressive on pitches that are likely to be called strikes.

    • I did some research using Baseball Savant’s Pitchf/x search. Joey Votto struck out looking 44 times last year (so a little less than twice a week). For some comparisons, Mike Trout struck out looking 53 times and Paul Goldschmidt struck out looking 35 times. Miguel Cabrera did only strike out looking 16 times, but as this GIF(http://www.businessinsider.com/incredible-gif-shows-miguel-cabrera-hitting-6-home-runs-at-once-2013-5) shows, the strike zone is not something he seems to concern himself with.

      If we limit it to third strikes in the heart of the plate, then Votto and Goldschmidt each struck out looking one time on pitches in zone 5 (the heart of the strike zone). If we expand to also include zones 2 and 8 (the zones above and below zone 5, so in the middle of the plate, but at the top or bottom of the zone), then Votto struck out looking 3 times, Trout 4 times, Goldschmidt 5 times, and Cabrera 1 time.

      • To be fair, those 44 looking strikeouts were quite a bit more than he had in any previous year of his career.

      • Thanks for that Cabrera GIF. That’s incredible. I have always been from the camp that wanted Votto to swing at more strikes…not expand the zone

      • Interesting data. I think Joey feels like not all strikes are the same in terms of swinging. Some pitches fool hitters yet still end up in the strike zone. For example, a hitter might expect a breaking pitch that starts as a strike but then dives out of the zone, and ends up with a fastball that stays in the strike zone. Also, it would be interesting to see a breakdown of how many called third strikes came with a full count – where Votto also has the positive outcome of a walk riding on the pitch.

      • Joey struck out looking 11 times on 3-2 counts. Only 1 of those times was the ball in the middle zones. That was a changeup in the top of the strike zone that Derrick Robinson was also caught stealing on.

  2. At least Votto would give Hamilton a chance to steal or whatnot. With Phillips hitting second, I expect a lot of first-pitch swinging. I’ve liked the idea of Votto hitting second for a while now, but not holding my breath.

  3. Hamilton with 2 (count ‘em…2!) sac flies today. Hamilton just continues to look like he knows what he’s doing and is capable of doing it. C’mon folks, there’s plenty of room on this bandwagon right now, but space may become rare if you procrastinate. I’m really starting to think Jason’s best guess of 2.0 WAR might be rather conservative.

    • Going into today’s game, Hamilton had a GO/AO ratio of 4.00 which is more than outstanding for a player with his skill set. After focusing all sr=pring on bunting and hitting the ball on the ground, what does he do with a runner on 3B and less than two outs. Yep, a big ol’ sac fly, twice.

      • I’m on the HamWagon and have been from the start. I think the kid is ready. With his speed, all he has to do is make some kind of contact without popping/lining/flying out and he has a 50% chance of getting on base.

        Kid is gonna be pretty good for us. Better than Vince Coleman, probably. I can see him developing into a Jose Reyes (non-injured version) with maybe a little less power.

        Who’s with me?

        • I’m with you guys for sure. I think Billy has a very good chance to revitalize the offense and seriously improve the defense. I don’t like driving a bus, so I’ll sit quietly in the back (near the restroom) with my waffles, chicken and craft beer.

  4. Just trying to get signed up and logged in in anticipation of the newest national holiday (at least it should be) – Opening Day!

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