Central Intelligence

Week 15: NL Central 1st Half Review

NL Central Power Rankings Week 15

*please note: all stats outside of team records only include games played through 7/12/14

1. St. Louis Cardinals (last week: 2):

52-44, 2nd Place, 1.0 GB, 360 RS, 346 RA (+14)

The Cardinals battled injuries and the incredible start of the Brewers to find themselves just 1.0 games out of first place at the All-Star break. The preseason favorite in the NL Central here at RN (and just about everywhere else) find themselves back at the top of the power ranking here at the break.

The St. Louis offense struggled for the majority of the first half. They scored just 358 runs going into Sunday (27th in the MLB). The peripherals are little more optimistic, as their 97 wRC+ is 12th best in the MLB. The Cardinals will have to deal with the major loss of Yadier Molina, who ESPN’s David Schoenfield says could cost them four wins.

The Cardinals starting pitching was the strength of the team. Their starters 3.31 ERA is good for 4th best in the MLB, and their 1.23 WHIP is good for 8th best. Joe Kelly was beat up in his first start since April on Friday (3.0 IP, 7 H, 6 ER), but his addition should help the Cardinals rotation, who should also feature Wainwright, Lynn, Miller, and Martinez. The Cardinals won’t get Michael Wacha back until later in the season.

Starting Pitchers this year

cards sp

 

Team MVP’s

  1. Adam Wainwright: 1.83 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 115 K, 27 BB, 3.3 WAR
  2. Jhonny Peralta: .252/.326/.458, 14 HR, 44 RBI, 122 wRC+, 3.2 WAR
  3. Matt Carpenter: .285/.380/.385, 4 HR, 34 RBI, 3 SB, 122 wRC+, 3.3 WAR
  4. Matt Adams: .333/.346/.535, 11 HR, 40 RBI, 2 SB, 2.5 WAR
  5. Yadier Molina: .287/.341/.409, 7 HR, 30 RBI, 111 wRC+, 2.6 WAR

Injuries (click to expand)

cards hurt

2. Milwaukee Brewers (last week 1):

53-43, 1st Place, 423 RS, 406 RA (+17)

The Brewers got off to an incredible 20-8 start in April, but are limping to the All-Star break. The Brewers lost 11 of their final 13 games in the first half, yet they still hold a 1.0 game lead in the NL Central.

Gomez (4.1 WAR, 143 wRC+) and Lucroy (3.7 WAR, 145 wRC+) have been absolutely tremendous this season for the Brewers. The Brewers offense has really carried them, as they had scored 412 runs entering Sunday (2nd most in the NL).

The Brewers will need to get off to a strong start to the second half. The Cardinals are missing Molina for around two months, and the Reds are down Votto and Phillips. The Brewers need to capitalize while those teams are banged up.

Starting Pitchers this year

brew sp

Team MVP’s

  1. Carlos Gomez: .299/.364/.504, 14 HR, 46 RBI, 17 SB, 143 wRC+, 4.1 WAR
  2. Jonathan Lucroy: .315/.385/.494, 9 HR, 44 RBI, 3 SB, 145 wRC+, 3.7 WAR
  3. Scooter Gennett: .302/.338/.475, 7 HR, 31 RBI, 5 SB, 121 wRC+, 2.0 WAR
  4. Kyle Lohse: 3.26 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 95 K, 23 BB, 1.7 WAR
  5. Ryan Braun: .296/.344/.515, 11 HR, 50 RBI, 8 SB, 136 wRC+, 2.0 WAR

Injuries (click to expand)

brew hurt

3. Cincinnati Reds (last week: 3):

51-44, 3rd Place, 1.5 GB, 377 RS, 349 RA (+28)

The injury bug absolutely destroyed the Reds in the first half, yet the Reds still find themselves just 1.5 games back at the All-Star break. Our own Steve Mancuso so eloquently wrote about the Reds Overcoming Adversity (that is a must read) yesterday. The Reds finished the first half 21-10.

Frazier, Mesoraco, and Hamilton provided the Reds with an incredible, surprising three-headed monster for the offense, and Johnny Cueto was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Frazier needs just 8 more homers to have the most HR by a  Reds third baseman since Tony Perez in 1970. Cueto finished the 1st half with the best ERA (2.13) since 1975, and the best WHIP (0.89) since 1944 by a Reds SP pitcher (minimum 100 IP).

Starting Pitchers this year

reds sp

Team MVP’s

  1. Todd Frazier: .291/.354/.496, 18 HR, 51 RBI, 14 SB, 137 wRC+, 3.7 WAR
  2. Devin Mesoraco: .298/.364/.600, 16 HR, 44 RBI, 165 wRC+, 2.8 WAR
  3. Johnny Cueto: 2.03 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 134 K, 33 BB, 2.7 WAR
  4. Billy Hamilton: .283/.315/.419, 5 HR, 38 RBI, 38 SB, 3.1 WAR
  5. Aroldis Chapman: 2.20 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 57 K, 10 BB, 1.7 WAR (28.2 IP)

Injuries (click to expand)

reds hurt

4. Pittsburgh Pirates (last week: 4):

49-46, 4th Place, 3.5 GB, 391 RS, 393 RA (-2)

The Pirates started the season slow, going 18-26. Since then, the Pirates are a much better 31-20. It has been the Pirates offense that has really carried them through their pitching issues/injuries. The Pirates team 105 wRC+ is good for 6th best in the MLB (2nd in the NL), and their .333 OBP is second best in the MLB (just 1 point behind the Tigers).

Andrew McCutchen is putting together another potential MVP season. McCutchen’s 4.6 WAR is second best in the NL (trailing Tulowitzki’s 5.2 WAR), and his 179 wRC+ is the best in all of baseball.

The Pirates starting pitching has been far removed from the group that posted the 5th best ERA in the MLB last season (3.50 ERA). This season, the Pirates have posted a 3.91 ERA (16th in the MLB).

Starting Pitchers this year

bucs sp

Team MVP’s

  1. Andrew McCutchen: .325/.422/.573, 17 HR, 61 RBI, 15 SB, 179 wRC+, 4.6 WAR
  2. Russell Martin: .283/.409/.406, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 3 SB, 138 wRC+, 2.4 WAR
  3. Josh Harrison: .294/.331/.445, 5 HR, 27 RBI, 9 SB, 118 wRC+, 2.1 WAR
  4. Neil Walker: .272/.343/.437, 12 HR, 41 RBI, 123 wRC+, 1.3 WAR
  5. Tony Watson: 1.42 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 50 K, 10 BB, 1.0 WAR (44.1 IP)

Injuries (click to expand)

bucs hurt

5. Chicago Cubs (last week: 5):

40-54, 5th Place, 12 GB, 366 RS, 396 RA (-30)

Two players on the Cubs five most valuable players of the first half (on the list below) were traded at the beginning of July. The Cubs made a major move when they traded Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the A’s

The Cubs are certainly not ready to compete this season, but they do have some great young talent. MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects features four Cubs in the top 15: SS Javier Baez is 6th, 3B Kris Bryant is 8th, SS Addison Russell is 11th, and OF Albert Almora is 15th. That is a lot of offensive talent in a time in baseball when young offensive players are at a premium.

Starting Pitchers this year

cubs sp

Team MVP’s

  1. Anthony Rizzo: .276/.383/.503, 20 HR, 49 RBI, 143 wRC+, 2.9 WAR
  2. Jake Arrieta: 1.95 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 85 K, 22 BB, 2.6 WAR
  3. Jason Hammel: 2.98 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 104 K, 23 BB, 2.1 WAR
  4. Jeff Samardzija: 2.83 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 103 K, 31 BB, 2.1 WAR
  5. Starlin Castro: .278/.324/.442, 11 HR, 52 RBI, 109 wRC+, 1.9 WAR

Injuries (click to expand)

cubs hurt


NL Central Players of the Week

  • Kolten Wong, Cardinals: .333/.407/1.000, 5 HR, 8 RBI, 2 SB, 288 wRC+, 0.8 WAR

  • Jeff Locke, Pirates: 14.1 IP, 1.26 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 9 K, 1 BB, 0.3 WAR

See previous players of the week here.


NL Central All-1st Half Team

Starting Lineup

  • Catcher – Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers: .315/.385/.494, 9 HR, 44 RBI, 3 SB, 145 wRC+, 3.7 WAR
  • 1B – Anthony Rizzo, Cubs: .276/.383/.503, 20 HR, 49 RBI, 143 wRC+, 2.9 WAR
  • 2B – Scooter Gennett, Brewers: .302/.338/.475, 7 HR, 31 RBI, 5 SB, 121 wRC+, 2.0 WAR
  • SS – Jhonny Peralta, Cardinals: .252/.326/.458, 14 HR, 44 RBI, 122 wRC+, 3.2 WAR
  • 3B – Todd Frazier, Reds: .291/.354/.496, 18 HR, 51 RBI, 14 SB, 137 wRC+, 3.7 WAR
  • OF – Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: .325/.422/.573, 17 HR, 61 RBI, 15 SB, 179 wRC+, 4.6 WAR
  • OF – Carlos Gomez, Brewers: .299/.364/.504, 14 HR, 46 RBI, 17 SB, 143 wRC+, 4.1 WAR
  • OF – Billy Hamilton, Reds: .283/.315/.419, 5 HR, 38 RBI, 38 SB, 3.1 WAR

Bench

  • Catcher – Devin Mesoraco, Reds: .298/.364/.600, 16 HR, 44 RBI, 165 wRC+, 2.8 WAR
  • IF – Matt Adams, Cardinals: .333/.346/.535, 11 HR, 40 RBI, 2 SB, 2.5 WAR
  • IF – Starlin Castro, Cubs: .278/.324/.442, 11 HR, 52 RBI, 109 wRC+, 1.9 WAR
  • OF – Josh Harrison, Pirates: .294/.331/.445, 5 HR, 27 RBI, 9 SB, 118 wRC+, 2.1 WAR
  • OF – Ryan Braun, Brewers: .296/.344/.515, 11 HR, 50 RBI, 8 SB, 136 wRC+, 2.0 WAR

Starting Pitching

  1. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals: 1.83 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 115 K, 27 BB, 3.3 WAR
  2. Johnny Cueto, Reds: 2.03 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 134 K, 33 BB, 2.7 WAR
  3. Jake Arrieta, Cubs: 1.95 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 85 K, 22 BB, 2.6 WAR
  4. Kyle Lohse, Brewers: 3.26 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 95 K, 23 BB, 1.7 WAR
  5. Michael Wacha, Cardinals: 2.79 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 83 K, 26 BB, 1.7 WAR

Bullpen

  • Aroldis Chapman, Reds: 2.20 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 57 K, 10 BB, 1.7 WAR (28.2 IP)
  • Pat Neshek, Cardinals: 0.70 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 37 K, 5 BB, 1.3 WAR (38.1 IP)
  • Zach Duke, Brewers: 1.18 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 49 K, 7 BB, 1.0 WAR (38.0 IP)
  • Tony Watson, Pirates: 1.42 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 50 K, 10 BB, 1.0 WAR (44.1 IP)
  • Mark Melancon, Pirates: 2.38 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 37 K, 6 BB, 0.8 WAR (41.2 IP)
  • Jonathan Broxton, Reds: 1.13 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 22 K, 11 BB, 0.4 WAR (32.0 IP)
  • Francisco Rodrgiuez, Brewers: 2.44 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 42 K, 11 BB, 0.3 WAR (44.1 IP)

80 thoughts on “Week 15: NL Central 1st Half Review

  1. Nice summation of the 1st half. And I can’t argue with a single inclusion on your All 1st Half Team. Nice job.

  2. That All 1st Half team sure backs up the notion that the NL Central is the best division in MLB. Looking at the starting pitchers and the number each team has used, it makes the Reds 2012 season even more spectacular when their SP’s made every start, but 1. That was the year Jocketty let a championship run slip through his fingers. Only 67 games left, makes it a short second half. The Reds have to come out just as hot in the second half as they ended the first half. This division won’t be settled until the last week.

    • DB blew up the 2012 season against the Giants. WJ had nothing to do with it. Revised history can be amusing to look at but it is still an aberration from reality. IMO, if anyone sees this differently; they need to go to the Reds History Re-eduction Camp and get straightened out.

      • I have to agree, it wasn’t Jocketty, it was the previous managerial regime. For, Jocketty can only do what resources he has available. Mid-season, you are talking about trades. And, who was available out there? We weren’t going to get anything like Headley for Rolen.

        Not to say that Jocketty can do no wrong. I still don’t know why we went after Marshall. Good or bad player, I just don’t think he was needed. I can understand why we went after Broxton. But, the previous managerial regime cried and forced that issue, straight to the papers. But, overall, summing it all up, it was Baker. Just looking at his overall post-season record, that would tell you the guy has no clue about preparing a team for post season wins.

      • Votto went on the DL and had knee surgery two full weeks before the trade deadline. Jocketty does nothing. How could he have foreseen the way Frazier and Ludwick carried the team in Votto’s absence? The Reds needed a leadoff hitter that year, too. Jocketty did nothing. A hitter was needed in 2012 and Jocketty picks up a relief pitcher. Ahh, but we had those sweet August deals. A Jocketty fixture. Bloomquist stuck around for about a week.

        • All this is irrelevant. Reds made the playoffs and lost to the eventual WS Champs by a Baker meltdown. Everything else is immaterial. Walt did his job and Baker failed his. If there was ever a obvious case of culpability, this was it.

          WV, I love your stuff but as far as 2012; I think you are fighting an un-winnable battle.

        • Walt does nothing? Who got Scott Rolen in here for 2010? Who got Latos, Marshall, and Broxton in here. Who hired Price?

          Again, you need to remember, Walt can only do with the pieces that he has. Also, he needs to consider, get rid of one, then who plays? Like the talk with BP. If we did trade him, then who plays there? There’s no plan B. Not to mention, most of all, we need to have a trading partner. It’s easy to say we need a leadoff hitter. But, then, what are we going to give up to get him. What, Michael Bourn for Leake, Cingrani, Chapman, and Hamilton? We would have our leadoff hitter. But, that would be a stupid trade, for us! If someone had a leadoff hitter, what were they asking for him. What, Sizemore would have been a great leadoff hitter? And, with his history of injury, what would you offer him? Boston just released him, as well. Now, he’s with the Phillies.

      • Trying to figure out what you guys are claiming exactly Baker did wrong in 2012. Didn’t walk Posey with the bases loaded?

  3. Simon’s WAR makes no sense. How can he have a lower WHIP, ERA, and similar walks as Leake and have a much lower WAR? That does not match what we see either.

    • Same with Simon. Look at his WAR. Something is missing here. If you give me 50/50 odds that Simon wins 20, I’d bet you straight up that he does. How we can watch these guys every start and think the WARS are accurate is dumbfounding to this fan. WAR being accurate to reality that is. I’m sure the calculations based on the inputs is spot on. Not looking for an argument, it’s just an opinion. Everyone is free to disagree.

      • One more time … the issue you have is with the way FanGraphs calculates its WAR. They use strikeouts, walks and home runs as how they measure a pitcher’s contribution. On the other hand, Baseball-Reference, when they calculate WAR, uses a formula that is mostly about earned runs given up. Here are B-R WAR calculations:

        Cueto – 3.5
        Simon – 2.2
        Leake – 1.0
        Latos – 0.6
        Bailey – 0.3

        It just depends on how you want to measure pitcher contributions. That’s all it is.

        • I was using the WAR shown at the head of Blog Post for reference. Obviously, I find the BR much more accurate and useful. Thanks for pointing it out.

        • One slight correction: Bref uses Runs Allowed, not Earned Runs Allowed. They do try to take Defense into account, but they calculate their WAR on RA.

      • Leake is ahead of Simon in FanGraphs WAR because it measures pitcher contribution to wins based on strikeouts, walks and home runs. Leake has more strikeouts, fewer walks and given up fewer home runs than Simon. That’s why his fWAR is lower.

        • This is why, for me, though all the peripheral stats can factor into things, with pitching, I also have to consider Steinbrenner’s old saying (wasn’t it?), “Just win, baby.” For, even with low peripheral numbers, for instance, something simple like ERA, with a low win total, that can just as easily mean that given a situation that could cost us a run and the win, the pitcher still gives it up instead of buckling down and not giving up the run.

  4. The 67 remaining games show that 31 are in the Central division;
    Pirates____6
    Cards____10
    Cubs_____6
    Brewers___9

    The Baseball world is as it should be, the Reds and Cards going for the division title.
    Next Monday the Reds are at the Brewers and the Central division gets down to the head to head match-ups that will make the difference. The Reds last 19 games are all in the division.

  5. I think the Pirates are in for a losing record this year. They have been hovering around a 0 run differential all year, usually on the negative side. Cutch is gonna Cutch, but I just don’t see the rest of their offense keeping this pace and they just don’t have any pitching to speak of outside of Wilson, a middle reliever.They were extremely lucky to not get swept this weekend. It’s going to be interesting to see what they do long term – They have Cutch locked up on an EXTREMELY team friendly deal for the next 4 years. Imagine the return you could get for him with that contract – You could build half a starting rotation on one trade alone. He’s the cornerstone of the team right now and in my opinion the 2nd best player in baseball, but even with that they don’t seem to be legitimate contenders. Still, with that contract it would be hard to let him go and there would be a fan revolt if they did. What to do what to do…

    A little disheartening to see the Cardinals powering through without Molina. You have to figure his loss will be felt sooner or later but I wish it was sooner. Still, if it comes down to a wild card race for us, I’ll be pulling for the Cards to win the division. No way I want to play a WC play-in game against Wainright.

    • The Pirates organization has been pretty good about bringing in new players at the trade deadline. Last year they focused on hitting (Byrd, Morneau). This year my guess is pitching. I agree with your view that they are probably the weakest of the four teams, though. The Cardinals will trade for or bring in another veteran catcher. It wouldn’t surprise me if that was Jose Molina from Tampa Bay. The Cardinals will also get more starting pitching – David Price?

      • I listened to the Price trade idea being discussed on MLB and they agree that the Acquisition of Price would be a typical Cardinal move but the price (players) for Price will not be cheap and dealing away “prospects” just does not fit the way the Cardinals do things. I think the catcher thought will probably happen. To think about Price in a Cardinal uniform as the number 2 behind Wainwright could cause the Pirates to call it a year and the Brewers to trade off Braun and rebuild for next year. :)

        • agree the Cards will go with lesser player trade, ie Peavy or Lackey as examples to bolster rotation.

    • The Pirates have a hole at 1b like Reds have in LF the difference is that they only have Cutch to bail them out, the Reds have 2, Todd and Devin. I think the true loss of Molina will show up in the teams pitching era. Without Wainwrights it has already started to go up. I totally agree about the one game play-in.

    • Didn’t the Reds “power through” when Votto went down in 2012? Teams sometimes use that as a motivation to get things going. My question is all their injuries to the pitching staff finally going to catch up with them over the loss of Molina…

    • A quick glance is that the 5 starters are the best starter from each team based on their WAR rating and Steve covered that with his explanation to Charlotte it depends on which calculation you use.

    • Simon’s numbers are all inflated. He has been very good as a back of the rotation starter but his wins and ERA have been buoyed by a tremendous amount of good luck. The guys on this list are all deserving. It’s amazing what Simon has been able to accomplish and we would be long out of contention without him, but he’s not one of the best pitchers in the division.

  6. I keep reading about how walt has to make a move… this move or that move. “What’s the move” Going to mortgage future pitching for Ben Zobrist? Doesn’t have Ludwicks numbers. Willingham? Hitting .227 with 53 strikeouts in 156 innings.
    Look… the goal has always been to build a team for the long run. 1.5 out with the number of injuries we have had.
    3 pitchers to sign. can you afford leake and latos. cueto will be out of our reach.
    how do you trade any pitchers at AA for a mediocre outfielder just to make a move?
    upgrade at shortstop? who… where from? going to pay the cubs price? not going to happen.
    stay close… hope votto gives you a push at the end. don’t mortgage the future until you see if you are going to need it.
    making a move just to make one doesn’t work. no marlon byrd’s out there.

    • Please don’t use batting average to evaluate these guys. Ben Zobrist has a wRC+ of 117 which would instantly make him the 3rd best hitter on the team, not to mention he’d be starting instead of Santiago and Negron for the next two months. Willingham has a wRC+ of 116 (122 for his career) and would be a substantial upgrade over Ludwick. Plus Ludwick would be a very good bat off the bench.

      No matter what we do at this trade deadline at least one of the pitchers you are talking about will be gone in 2 years. If I had to guess, I’d say both Cueto and Leake will be gone. But we have a lot of pitching depth in the minors. You can’t keep ignoring the offense to stockpile pitching. It’s what has led to disappointing offensive performances the last 4 years, particularly in the playoffs. Yes, we are only 1.5 games out right now but the other 3 teams at the top of the division are going to be making moves to improve. Standing pat gets you what we saw last year.

    • I agree with NYC that Zobrist would be a great pickup for the Reds and the Reds have reportedly had some interest in aquiring Zobrist, at least enough interest to kick the tires. The issue is for how much and the Ray’s asking price for Zobrist is exorbitant. The same can be said regarding Willingham but to a lesser degree both on contribution and cost. The Reds simply shouldn’t overpay in terms of prospects for any aquisition. Now if a fair compensat package for either of those two players could be negotiated, I’m all in for either one.

      • Willingham’s a 35 year old rental who will be a FA next year. The Twins couldn’t possibly ask much for him. Zobrist is also no spring chicken and only has one option year after left 2014. But he is extremely affordable and very versatile. The Rays are a savvy organization and Zobrist will have a number of teams bidding if he’s made available. Be interesting to see the price tag difference between Zobrist and Duda if both are put on the block.

  7. Seeing Zack Duke playing for the Brew Crew makes me sick. Duke is
    31 years old and has a 1 year contract for 2014 @ $850K. Then we see WJ signing Parra at 31 years old for a 2 year contract @ $5.5MM. This is one of the 5 biggest issues I have with WJ as a GM, continually over-valuing and over-paying for RP and then being stuck with ineffective RP and on the hook for guaranteed, excessive contracts.

    • That being said, we look pretty well set up with a back end of Parra-Jumbo-Broxton-Chapman. I wouldn’t trade that for any back end in baseball and I don’t know that the Broxton contract really kept us from doing anything this past offseason. I agree that we dump too much money in general on RP, but at least for the moment that money has bought us a damn good bullpen.

    • Must not have been around the last week or so. His fielding-independent numbers are much higher than his ERA would suggest. Basically, he’s been very lucky along with great defense and solid run support. fWAR takes those into account and just grades him on what he can control.

      • I understand those points. However, whether lucky or not, he has produced at above average levels. That would seem to indicate that his production is far above average. The advanced stats just show that it’s not likely to last. When his production falters, his WAR should regress or not advance very fast. That is how WAR SHOULD work.

        • The WAR calculations are based on different variables that measure “production” so they come up with different numbers. When you say Simon has produced, do you mean he has produced low numbers of earned runs? That’s what B-R bases their WAR on. But FanGraphs looks at how many strikeouts, walks and home runs Simon has “produced” and he grades less well on those. The point people seem to miss when they say they know what their eyes see is that it depends on what your eyes are looking for. If you’re looking for runs scored, your eyes see one thing. If you’re looking for strikeouts, your eyes see something else. Both of those are the “eye test” they just start with different assumptions about isolating what a pitcher can most control.

      • @Eric NYC Simon’s run support is actually lower than that of Leake or Bailey, but he hasn’t needed many runs this season. Simon has allowed 2 earned runs or fewer in 12 of his 18 starts this year and 3 earned runs on 4 occasions, pitching 6 or more innings in each of those 16 games. I think it’s quite likely that Simon’s success is at least partially due to the fact that he’s pitched well. His FIP tells me that he hasn’t struck out enough batters to have a low FIP.

        • I may be selectively remembering his run support from a handful of games, though I will say he hasn’t suffered the kind of early drought that Cueto had (How many 1-0 games did he lose early on?), but the one thing I didn’t add to the original list was that Simon also hasn’t been on the bad end of some of the bullpen collapses that were common through the first 2 months that cost guys like Cueto and Leake wins. Part of the issue with Simon’s FIP is the lack of strikeouts like you said, but it’s also that (as has been covered to death lately) his BABIP is very very low, to which at least a considerable amount can only be attributed to luck.

    • Which system is this article using for WAR? I checked the WAR stat on ESPN and they have Simon at 2.3 WAR which makes a lot more sense.

        • I see your comments above now and I understand how the stat is being produced now. Thanks. I still contend that the stat is a bit frustrating at times.

        • So I’ve been educating myself on the differences between the WAR systems. I see merits of both, but why only show the WAR from FanGraphs? In this instance, it has a pretty big bias toward SO pitchers. Do the sabermetrics folks favor FanGraphs?

        • For the purposes of a simple ranking like they’re doing here, it would be pretty complicated to include both fWAR and bWAR. You’d pretty much have to constantly maintain two separate lists. Depending on how you want to evaluate guys – how they HAVE done versus how you can likely EXPECT them to do moving forward – it’s easier to just pick one and go with it. For the purposes of a “first half review” you could certainly make the argument that using ERA as a concrete reflection of the outcomes of the guys’ games is the way to go if we’re handing out awards. On the other hand if you want to predict who the best pitchers in the division are going to be at the end of the year, FIP is statistically going to be more accurate most of the time. It has been a hot topic of debate on this board for the last couple weeks.

      • Also, G-Man, Eric is expressing his and some others opinion in reference to “luck”. Please do not take that as the only or even the majority opinion. The 2.3 could be based on Baseball Reference’s methodology.

  8. Def agree with Walt not bringing back Zack Duke on a minor league deal, def mistake. He would have provided insurance for Sean Marshall. He’d be perfect for the Reds right now, cheap and productive. We revived his career and gave him a 2nd chance. Then we let him go and let the Brewers reap the benefit. Duke would give us the 3rd LH RP we need and our BP would be set.

    Chapman, Broxton, Jumbo, LeCure, Parra, Duke, Ondrusek (Hoover in AAA)
    Also Walt could have brought in JD Martinez on a minor league deal, who’s only 26 and finally putting it together this year. Hitting .335 12 HR 46 RBI. These 2 signings would fill our biggest holes and we wouldn’t need to trade any prospects. Our lineup would be:

    Hamilton, Cozart, Frazier, Bruce, Mesoraco, Martinez, 1B, Santiago

    With Votto and BP back-

    Hamilton, Martinez, Votto, Frazier, Bruce, Mesoraco, Phillips, Cozart

    • Jocketty twiddle his thumbs on Zach Duke. Duke didn’t sign a minor league deal with Milwaukee until the middle of January. And here in July, Jocketty is looking for a LH reliever that will end up not being close to what Duke is pitching for Milwaukee. Another fumble by Jocketty. As ESPN’s Chris Berman would say, “It’s a FUM-BLE !!”

    • Using quite a bit of hindsight, aren’t we? Back in January, Simon was expected to be in our bullpen, Marshall was expected to be ready to go and they also had Parra, et al. coming off of solid seasons. Duke wouldn’t have had a place on the roster.

      It’s only after the Reds had a historic rash of injuries at the beggining of the season that the thought of Duke being useful even came to anyone’s mind. And, even with his strong start, nothing in Duke’s career suggests he’ll keep it up in the 2nd half.

      • +1. I would expect a better 2nd half from Parra than Duke. Parra has far superior stuff. They don’t call you “MRRED” for no reason. The Pen seems to be settling in nicely, hope it’s not temporary.

      • I wasn’t very upset about the Reds not signing Duke to a MiLB deal. It’s possible that he wouldn’t have even taken such an offer considering that the Reds had Marshall and Parra. He may not have felt, with a healthy Marshall (who until last year had been healthy as a horse), and Parra, that he had a chance at the MLB roster. I also agree in that I’d be very surprised if Duke has a 2nd half to match his first.

        • Understand your thinking. Relying on a healthy return of Marshall was the problem, IMO. I’m guessing this is the bullpen the Reds thought they would end up with, say after May:

          Chapman
          Broxton
          Lecure
          Parra
          Ondrusek
          JJ
          Simon
          Marshall

          If that is case, who is dropped to make room for Smith? In hindsight, it would have been nice to have Smith at the price he is being paid. I just can’t get real worked up at blaming Walt on this, he used the best info he had at the time and made a judgement based on it.

          Just hope they don’t make the same mistake with Votto as they did with Sean Marshall. Obviously they know a lot more about JV’s health then we do, so we will have to wait and see. I’d expect them to bring in some sort of 1B before long.

    • Don’t agree on Duke but didn’t even know Martinez was an option. Always thought he’d be able to hit. Of course over 973 plate appearances with Houston, his .251/.300/.387 line may have made WJ think otherwise. I was kind of surprised to see it was the Tigers that picked him up. Good to see him hitting and a shrewd move by the Tigers. I’m not so sure, I can blame WJ for not predicting Martinez’ 2014 season so far. Of course for all we know maybe WJ went after Martinez?

  9. The Seattle Mariners are interested in Reds OF Ryan Ludwick. Jocketty has rejected two M’s proposals. Good grief. A chance to unload Ludwick and pick up a replacement 1B, 2B, or LHRP wasted.

    • The connection is logical for the Mariners in many ways. Firstly, their outfielders have hit a combined .246/.291/.354 this season — good for the second-worst wRC+ mark in all of baseball. Seattle outfielders have hit just 16 homers this season — a collective total that ranks lower than every team in baseball, aside from the Royals and Red Sox (who had 14 each). Beyond that, just four of the Mariners’ 13 hitters are right-handed, with struggling catcher Mike Zunino and struggling DH/outfielder Corey Hart representing the team’s only right-handed power threats. The other two, backup catcher Jesus Sucre and utility man Willie Bloomquist, are light hitters that don’t see regular at-bats. As such, Seattle has been one of baseball’s worst clubs against left-handed pitching, hitting just .248/.295/.349 as a team.
      By Steve Adams [July 11, 2014 at 1:12pm CDT]http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2014/07/mariners

    • The problem is we don’t yet have anyone anywhere in the system who can come in and play LF with better offensive numbers than Ludwick. Obviously the Mariners don’t have one of those guys to trade. Until we have a better option, Ludwick and his 105 wRC+ is pretty important to this team. I’m sure the Mariners are only shopping prospects.

      • Let’s say the Reds offer Heisey to the Mariners for pitching (if available). The move might give him the chance to restart his career and could add a pitching prospect to AAA. Taijuan Walker will do just fine and we could throw in Soto. Walker would give Walt some wiggle room when discussing “the bat” everybody wants Walt to acquire. :)

        • I would have no problem swapping Heisey for a pitcher. Problem is, Heisey isn’t even an upgrade over anyone they already have. They want Ludwick because he is actually contributing at the plate. I doubt any of our trade scenarios will involve any player already on the big league roster unless it’s Broxton or Jumbo. We’re just stretched too thin right now.

        • That has to be fWAR. They seem to put a LOT of value in defense. They’ve given Zack Cozart almost 3 WAR over the last two seasons on defense alone. Assuming our biggest problem right now is offensive output, Ludwick has a wRC+ of 105 versus Heisey’ 84.

        • Fair enough. Well, if we want to trade defense for offense I guess that’s an option. Doesn’t seem mathematically right to me. Can defense really be worth so much as to erase 20 points of wRC+ at the plate and then some?

        • Here is my best attempt at explaining this:

          Ludwick has been worth 30 wRC and -3 DRS. If you add those two together, you have 27 runs. Heisey has been worth 17 wRC and 10 DRS, added together you have 27 runs too (kind of crazy they have the exact same number).

          However, Heisey has 80 less PA than Ludwick (253 to 173).

        • That would seem to account for it, although it relies pretty heavily on defensive metrics which can be very subjective. While Ludwick hasn’t exactly been a world beater at the plate, I think it would be hard to find someone in the baseball world who would actually take Heisey over Ludwick in 2014 because of the offensive difference.

        • I see what you are saying. For the record, I don’t hate Ludwick playing over Heisey (I think if it was up to me I’d platoon them, Heisey vs RHP, Luddy vs LHP). I do hate Schumaker playing over him. One thing I will say about Heisey, go search his name in MLB videos. He has so many highlight catches despite limited playing time this year. I really believe he has saved around 10 runs defensively.

  10. I’m going to continue the conversation from another thread about Price’s aggressive baserunning philosophy here. I wanted to look at some numbers to see if I could gauge what kind of effect Price’s approach was having on our actual runs scored. If teams were committing more errors against us, if we were taking more extra bases, etc. Found some really interesting stuff, though I welcome someone with more statistical expertise than me to correct me where I’m going wrong here. All numbers for 2014 are extrapolated to a whole season of 162 games.

    In my mind, an aggressive approach means attempting to steal more bases, utilizing more hit and runs, and taking more extra bases on the paths. The easiest number to look at is stolen bases.

    2013: 67 SB
    2014: 138 SB

    That alone is a pretty striking difference. Clearly a lot of that has to do with Hamilton, but we’ve also seen big upticks in SB attempts from other guys like Frazier and Bruce. That approach should also help us avoid hitting into double plays, which BRef has a stat (Rdp) for which measures how many runs above average a team scores by avoiding double plays.

    2013: 0 Rdp
    2014: 6.8 Rdp

    So in 2013 we were perfectly average and this year we can expect to score almost 7 more runs just from more aggressive running in DP situations. All of this makes sense with the addition of Hamilton to the everyday lineup and the more aggressive calls, but here’s where I started to get surprised. You would think that all of this running and particularly Hamilton’s presence would mean more errors against us. While I couldn’t find a stat that tallied all total errors (and didn’t feel like going through 2 years of game logs) there is a stat called ROE which counts how many times players reach base on an error. I can’t find much info on this stat so I don’t know if it includes, say, going from 1st to 2nd on an error and it doesn’t measure extra bases (catcher missing a pickoff throw and sending a guy from 1st to 3rd, etc) but it seems like a useful enough comparative stat.

    2013: 61 ROE
    2014: 61 ROE

    Surprisingly, we have reached base on errors at the exact same pace as last year, which suggests that teams are not, in fact, committing many if any more errors against us this year compared to last. And here’s where we have to start taking the negative with the positive. The dreaded TOOTBLAN, for instance. Last year we had 54 total OOB (Out on Bases) compared to a pace this year of 71. Of those, last year 17 were at the plate while this year we are on pace for TWICE that, 34. That means, even in a vacuum of what the other OOB’s cost us, you can count 17 more runs lost at the plate this year versus last. That already more than erases the 7 run benefit from the double play avoidance. So what does this all net out to in the end? Well, there is another stat called Runs from Baserunning (Rbaser) which counts runs above or below average from all baserunning scenarios.

    2013: -4 Rbaser
    2014: -3.4 Rbaser

    So basically, we were bad at baserunning last year and we’re not much better this year. In addition our XBT% (extra bases taken on a given hit) is actually DOWN this year 37% from 40% last season. So we’re not even better at that. Basically, our VERY slight improvement in scoring runs due to Price’s aggressive philosophy is almost entirely due to more SB’s which is almost entirely due to the presence of Billy Hamilton. It’s not, as I would have expected, causing defenses to strain themselves against us and forcing more beneficial errors. And in the end we still will be below league average in terms of how many runs we actually score from playing fast and loose on the basepaths.

    Basically, unless I’m reading these numbers wrong, I just changed my mind on Price’s approach. If he (and Steve Smith) could just get out of his own way and let Billy Hamilton contribute what he’s almost automatically going to contribute, we could go from one of the worst baserunning teams in the league to one of the better ones, effectively winning ourselves an extra 2-3 games in the process. And that’s with Hamilton underperforming in that area – by next year when he should be stealing bases at a better clip he could account for 3-4 WAR JUST from baserunning alone. That’s halfway to an MVP trophy before you even put a bat in his hand or stick him in the field. So maybe it’s time to rein it in a bit with the aggression.

    (Sorry for the long post – Very slow day at work and the conversation has had me thinking about this stuff for a couple days. I sincerely hope I’m not TOTALLY wrong in all of this.)

    • I’m always looking for intangibles. In this case, how does the aggressiveness in general effect the players’ attitude? We don’t see the times a single has been stretched into a double, etc. Maybe it is covered in Rbaser? Does it cover the aggressive base running that allows a man to go from 1st to 3rd on a single? Or, is it mainly just the base running plays that have to do with crossing the plate? Are there any holes in Rbaser, other then the ones I have suggested?

      The ROE stat is very surprising given the fact of how many times BHam has pulled this off. I certainly could be convinced that the Reds may be too aggressive but I need more clarification/data to make a judgement. Also, what psychological effect may this style have on the players?

      Good work and hopefully this can be expanded some.

      • XBT% is the percentage of times a runner takes an extra base (1st to 3rd on a single, 1st to home on a double). I don’t know how to measure guys stretching a single into a double or double into a triple – in the end without an error they just go down in the scoring as a double or triple. I assume we have a little bit more of that than average but I don’t think it would skew these numbers all that much.

        • You have provided some surprising data either way.

          More then anything else, it would be great to know how many errors the Reds opponents have made compared to the rest of the teams. You would think there would be a stat for this that would be easy to lay hands on.

        • I found Opponents Errors per Game:

          *Reds are ranked are 6th in MLB and tied with 2 other teams
          *Reds opponents average .66 Error/game. Projected ~107 total
          *2013 numbers: .64 Error/game. Total = ~104

          Seems the more we dig, that on the surface, the less helpful the aggressive base running helps. For me, I wouldn’t make a final judgement until the non-error base running positives were measured. But so far, yuck.

        • The problem with the whole aggressive base running thing to me is that the opponents are professional baseball players. Generally speaking, they can field and throw well and are relatively immune from pressure. As we saw against Pittsburgh, they are often capable of spectacular plays, being professional baseball players. Every team commits errors. Sometimes I think we as fans connect errors caused with aggressiveness on the bases when the two really aren’t related.

          The one part of base running aggression I do like is the commitment to go from first to third on a base hit. It does seem like that is partly an attitude, not just a speed/skill thing.

          Speed is just way overrated as a producer of runs. I remember people making arguments about one pitcher “shutting down the running game” compared to another one and the difference over the course of a season was about 10 SB. That translates into a couple of runs over a year and not even a single win.

          Outs are way more valuable than an extra base.

        • I just thought the measurable might be a little more pronounced. I never expected, even in a best case scenario, that an aggressive approach would be worth more than a game or two over a season, but assuming it rose to that level that’s not totally useless and I liked the attitude it gave the team. But with the numbers seeming to suggest that it might actually be COSTING us runs, if not games worth of runs, I’m having a change of heart.

        • Steve, great points all. I’m the biggest pain in the rear on these things and seldom, if ever, do I have all the information I want but decisions have to be made at some point. When watching a game, it is not something that I dwell on and I will definitely make closer observations going forward as “some” of these factors do not appear to be qualified/quantified by any existing statistical data I can find.

          Without a doubt, I believe this team is playing a different style of baseball then the Dusty years and I do favor it. Seems like the last couple of years we waited around for the big hit; if it didn’t come, that was that. You use a couple of good examples of this. Maybe Price is setting a tone rather then looking for every single run that can be eked out. He is willing to consciously make the trade. All this is conjecture so I can’t stand behind it

          I’m inclined to go with you and if a gun was to my head, I would. This is based on a choice must be made at the moment. This being formed by my experience and personality, that is just the way I go.

          I have my misgivings about Smitty though. His judgement hasn’t proved to be the soundest.

      • I think you were on the right track with ROE. Maybe someone more savvy than I can look up wild pitch and pass ball numbers too. I think that is a BHAM stat/Price stat worth balancing with last year.

      • Really, if the unnecessary outs at home were just eliminated, the aggressive baserunning would be producing good results, not from defensive lapses or confusion or strees, just from taking advange of opportunities. Giving away outs is never a good option, especially after a batter does the hard part and simply gets on base. The GIDP, caught stealing, picked off, and thrown our at home are all daggers in an offensive threat.

        • But that’s the problem – It’s all part of the same philosophy. You can’t praise guys for looking for an extra base going 1st to 3rd but knock them for doing the same thing going from 2nd to home. Is it really that much worse to get thrown out at home versus getting thrown out at 3rd trying to take an extra base? It FEELS worse, and presumably it meant you had a guy in a situation where he was more likely to score prior to the play, but it’s all part of the same aggressive mentality. I think it might behoove Price to simply tell Steve Smith to play it safe at 3rd from here on out while still allowing the players to steal on their own and press for extra bases earlier on. Like you said, cut those outs at home eve back to 2013 levels and we’ve probably won 3-4 more games based on run totals alone.

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