We have made it to the exact halfway point of the 2014 season for your Cincinnati Reds. The Reds sit at 43-38, 6.5 games back in the NL Central, and in a 3-way tie for the second wildcard spot with the Cardinals and Nationals. This is a good point in the season to compare each players production in 2014, compared to their preseason projections. For this exercise, I used ZiPS preseason projections. For those who might not be familiar with ZiPS, here is a basic synopsis of it, courtesy of Fangraphs:
ZiPS - The work of Dan Szymborski over at Baseball Think Factory, the ZiPS projections uses weighted averages of four years of data (three if a player is very old or very young), regresses pitchers based on DIPS theory and BABIP rates, and adjusts for aging by looking at similar players and their aging trends. It’s an effective projection system, and is displayed at FanGraphs for off-season and in-season projections.
This is certainly not a perfect science. Many players have played significantly less than they were projected for because of injuries, etc., but nonetheless I believe this will provide a decent grading of each players production through the first half of the season.
The “2014 Pace” is simply doubling each players WAR through the first 81 games. I took that number, and subtracted it from the 2014 ZiPS projection to see the difference in each players production vs. projection.
As you see above, Frazier, Hamilton, and Mesoraco have all beat their entire season long 2014 projections through the first 81 games of the season. The Reds quite simply would not be in the position they are without those three players significantly blowing away their preseason projections.
Heisey and Santiago both have a nice WAR based on their projections. Nearly all of their projection comes from the defensive side (Heisey also gets help from his 6 SB). Their numbers are both probably inflated quite a bit because of making some great plays in the field in a small sample size.
Phillips, Ludwick, and Cozart are all slightly below projection, but I don’t think anyone should be too disappointed in their production vs. their projections.
Skip Schumaker was projected to be bad (-0.7 ZiPS projected WAR), and he has been even worse (on pace for -1.6 WAR). Quite frankly, the Reds should limit Schumaker’s playing time as much as possible. He hurts the team far more than he helps it.
Then there is Jay Bruce and Joey Votto. Bruce has just 0.8 WAR, and Votto just 1.3 WAR. Bruce has 64 less PA than what his projected numbers are at, and Votto has 59 less. Both players have battled injuries all year, and played hurt at times. While their numbers so far are certainly disappointing, I would expect both players to have a much better second half. With that being said, I would be very surprised if either player makes it close their full season projections.
Johnny Cueto has been absolutely sensational in 2014, and is a front runner for the NL Cy Young. He is on pace for a ridiculous +3.5 WAR compared to his preseason ZiPS projection (it should be noted that ZiPS only projected him to make 23 starts, and he has already made 17).
Mike Leake has also been much better than his projection, and a major contributor for the Reds in 2014.
Alfredo Simon has been outstanding, especially for a guy who only supposed to be filling in for Mat Latos for a few starts. His numbers are a strange case however. His FIP (4.28) is way higher than his ERA (2.81), showing that he has been quite lucky this season. His WAR projection was based completely as a reliever, expecting him to pitch 71.1 IP in relief.
Homer Bailey has been slightly below his projection, but he has pitched much better of late (3.25 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 44 K, 12 BB in his last 7 starts). It should also be noted that Bailey posted a 3.02 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in the 2nd half of 2013.
ZiPS projections really liked Tony Cingrani coming into 2014, but he has disappointed. Mat Latos has only made three starts, but has looked very good in two of those three starts. He will most likely blow that 0.8 2014 WAR Pace out of the water, as he should make a lot more than three starts in the second half.
Despite just 23.2 innings, Aroldis Chapman is tied for 4th among all MLB relievers in WAR at 1.4. Broxton has also been a very pleasant surprise, posting a ridiculous 0.68 ERA.
Most surprising here is that Logan Ondrusek has been the Reds third (!) most effective reliever.
Parra, LeCure, and Hoover have all been disappointing, but I’d expect their numbers to improve in the second half. As for Sean Marshall, that looks like a brutal $6.5 million that the Reds will still have to pay him in 2015.
The Reds were projected to go 82-80 by Baseball Prospectus before the season started. The Reds are on pace to finish the season 86-76. Baseball Prospectus is still a little down on the Reds, as their current projection expects them to finish the season 41-40, for a final record of 84-78. As disappointing as this season was in April and May for the Reds, their June surge has really put the Reds ahead of where they should be. The Reds have been better than they should have.