Thinking Inside the Box

One Meaningless Game

Opening day is wonderful. It might be my favorite day of the year, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that feeling. And it certainly hurt that the Reds lost on Monday. But something happened, and if it keeps happening, this will be a good year for the Reds.

In my mind, there are four players whose offensive contributions I’m really paying attention to. Votto and Bruce will hit. I’m not worried about them. Cozart won’t. I’m not worried about him. Mes might, but it doesn’t matter so much if he does. No, the ones I’m watching are Hamilton, Ludwick, Phillips, and Frazier. That group, collectively, managed a .375 OBP on Monday. If that happens over the season, this will be a great year to be a Reds fan.

Sure, all that came from just two of the four players. But you know as well as I do that one game doesn’t really mean anything. Even that .375 OBP is almost certainly an illusion.

Still, as I go through the early part of the season, this column is likely to frequently focus on those four players over and over. The deeper we get, the more meaningful our information will be as we start to see Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) stabilize and batted-ball data come in and Isolated Power (ISO) find it’s level. These are the kinds of numbers I’l often jump into when doing deep analysis.

But there’s nothing deep you can do about one game. Neither you nor I nor anyone else can tell anything about hitter from a single game. No matter how much it might mean to us, Opening Day is just one game and one game tells us nothing about how these guys will hit this year. For that we have to wait for next week and the next and the next and the next.

Stay tuned.

12 thoughts on “One Meaningless Game

  1. Cueto was dominant and healthy. That was a HUGE factor and will be a HUGE factor in any success the Reds have in 2014. Are the lat problems and repeated DL stints a thing of the past? Only the next several weeks will answer that question, but after one start, Cueto was back on his game as one of the top 5 starters in the NL and the ace of the Reds starting rotation. He pitched 7 strong innings & threw 97 piches. He exited the game due to early season pitch limits, but he protected the bullpen.

    The performance by Phillips, even if it was only one game. After a horrendous spring training for Phillips, his performance and the way he acheived that performance was particularly encouraging. The Reds need at least one top of the order hitter to produce. If they get two (Hamilton AND Phillips) then the task of winning becomes so much easier, but if at least one produces, adjustments can be made to try and compensate. If neither produces, well I hope we don’t have to finish that thought.

    The performance by Frazier was encouraging also because I agree that Frazier and Ludwick will be key questions to resolve for those middle of the order performances. If the Reds get two (Ludwick AND Frazier) offensive forces in the middle of the lineup, then the task of winning becomes so much easier. If only one of theose two players produce, then adjustments may compensate, but the options become limited. If neither produces, yeah, there’s that road we don’t want to have to travel.

  2. I hate to be negative but I feel Ludwick will be a lost cause this year. He’s 35, only had two good seasons in his career, and has shoulder issues. I think Heisey will get more starts by season end. Plus Heisey is a much better defensive player.

    • I too was sour on Ludwick for this year. For what it’s worth, in his first at-bat he did smoke the ball to the SS Peralta and the SS had to make a good play to his left to get the ball. In his 2nd at-bat he hit a hard line drive that went foul into the LF stands. He made good contact, but did not have good results that ended with an O-fer. But, that has to be somewhat encouraging. He seems to have regained his strength and his batting eye isn’t too far off. Only time will tell.

  3. Great article and analysis

    Todd is a big dang deal to this team, his bat and while I have always called Joey the captain in my mind, Todd is a more likely candidate

    After a hot spring, Heisey deserves a start. Hope he gets one this month

  4. Seattle’s Nick Franklin just became a little more available for trade last night. The M’s SS Brad Miller popped two big HR’s. Franklin has been sent to AAA Tacoma. Also on Tacoma’s roster is the M’s next best SS in Chris Taylor. And Franklin won’t get any 2B playing time at the ML level. Franklin, who is a switch hitter, should be the Reds back-up SS/2B. He just turned 23 a month ago. C’mon WJ get with it.
    Arizona also sent SS Didi Gregorius to AAA. Hmmm.

    • I’m curious who you’d be willing to give up (that Seattle might want) to get Franklin and the same for Arizona…if you’re looking at Gregorius.

      • Well Didi belonged to the Reds first, so we just have to, you know, politely ask for him back :)

      • For Franklin, anybody in AAA or lower that isn’t named Stephenson, Ervin, Winker, Brean or Lively. YRod, Lutz, Traveiso, Contreras, Corcino, Lorenson, Garrett, Rogers, Romano, or maybe Moscot.
        For Gregorius, I’d offer to fill up the D-backs Coke machines in their locker room for a year, a la the Moneyball movie.

        • Bill, my reason is that the Reds have two really good picks in the first round of this year’s draft and can easily replace whomever they would trade for Franklin, with either of those picks. Travieso or Contreras could be replaced by one of the top pitchers in college with the #19 pick or the #29 pick.

  5. While I can appreciate the down-play of the loss on opening day, to call it meaningless isn’t quite right. Had the Reds won, this article isn’t written with the same headline.

    The game was very meaningful; as meaningful as the one tonight, the one tomorrow, and the 159 after that. To me, this one game showed the exact same problems this Reds team had all of last year. Cueto not able to move a runner over; Runner on 3rd base with no one out and failure to score, and a line-up which overall has trouble putting hits together (not once on Opening Day).

    One game … sure. One meaningless game; absolutely not.

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