2014 Reds

Off-day news: Trade rumors, Simon, Chapman, Pete

With two weeks before the trade deadline, it’s rumor season. Here’s one from former Reds and Nationals GM, Jim Bowden:

The Reds are still looking to add a hitter, with Ben Zobrist of the Rays making a perfect match on paper given his positional flexibility and the club’s current injury situation. (Of course, the same could be said of several other clubs.) With Josh Willingham of the Twins set to hit free agency, he has also been looked at by Cincinnati. (Jeff Todd, MLBTR)

The Reds could be in the market for a 1B. Here’s a fairly comprehensive list compiled this morning at MLB Trade Rumors (Jeff Todd). It includes current starters, like Seattle’s Logan Morrison and the Rangers’ Carlos Peña; players who DH but also play 1B, like Adam Dunn of the White Sox and Chris Carter of the Astros; and “buy-low” reserve players, like John Mayberry, Jr. of the Phillies. Acquiring a player who could play 1B while Joey Votto remains out and then play the outfield after he returns, would be ideal. I’m going to put the name Lucas Duda (1B/OF) out there again, as an impact acquisition.

Aroldis Chapman tweaked his already sore hamstring at the All-Star game covering first base on the final out of the bottom of the eighth inning.

“I’m not 100 percent ready to run full speed,” Chapman said with D-backs catcher Miguel Montero translating. “I kind of hesitated a little bit and I just kind of took it easy to go to first.” Chapman first injured the hamstring July 6 in Cincinnati while in the outfield before a game against the Brewers. It hasn’t affected any of the five regular-season games he pitched before the All-Star break as he worked five scoreless innings with one hit, one walk, four saves and 13 strikeouts out of 18 batters faced. I will be fine,” Chapman said. “I’ve been pitching through it for a while. As long as I don’t have to run, it feels good to pitch.” (Mark Sheldon)

Two new articles analyze Alfredo Simon’s season. They both conclude what we’ve been saying for a while, that when you look under the hood, Simon is unlikely to continue his outstanding first-half.

Simon, however, does not allow materially less authoritative line drive and ground ball contact – after adjustment for context, he should be allowing basically MLB average production on those types of batted balls. Simon has been significantly aided both by luck and well above average team defense – particularly in the infield. … In the big picture, Simon is a letter-perfect fit for his club – a strikethrower who gets more than his share of ground balls, pitching in front of what may be the best infield defense in the game. What he is not, however, is a true-talent sub-3.00 ERA pitcher. This exact moment in time is very likely the pinnacle of Alfredo Simon’s major league career. (Tony Blengino, Fangraphs)

There’s another factor that calls Simon’s good fortune into question: his conversion from reliever to starter. In 2010, 2012, and 2013, he averaged a mere 1.1 innings per appearance, primarily coming out of the bullpen. In 2011 – the only season to date his ERA has been worse than his FIP – he started 16 games and relieved in only 7. Much of his past success with outperforming peripherals in the bullpen may be a result of his brief appearances, meaning that his low ERA and 12-3 record are even more a result of blind luck. A thin .232 BABIP certainly helps, too; he’s at a much more pedestrian .277 for his career. (Steven Silverman, Beyond the Box Score)

In his press conference at the All-Star Game in Minneapolis, Commissioner Bud Selig was asked if Pete Rose would be allowed to participate in the festivities in Cincinnati next summer. Selig said yes, but in a limited fashion.

“That’ll be up to the Cincinnati club, and they know what they can do and they can’t do,” Selig said. “They’ve been very good about that. We haven’t had that discussion.” How do you tell the story of baseball in Cincinnati or the story of the Cincinnati Reds without Rose? “You don’t,” Reds owner Bob Castellini told The Enquirer on Tuesday. “We plan on using him wherever Major League Baseball is comfortable with, but we’re certainly going to include him,” Castellini said. (C. Trent Rosecrans)

202 thoughts on “Off-day news: Trade rumors, Simon, Chapman, Pete

  1. Here is an interesting hypothetical, if all 5 starts finish the season healthy and mimic the first half of season, meaning Simon finishes with 20 wins and sub 3 ERA and the others finish with normal expectations, who would you have as the 4 starters in playoffs and what would you do with the 5th?

    • I think it would be largely matchup dependent. If you are playing someone like LA or ATL, you probalby see what kind of success Simon has against those types of lineups versus Leake or whoever else would be the possible 4th starter. That might be a different guy if they are playing SF or WAS. Although, just spectulation, of course.

      • Well, yes, but these “micro numbers folks” don’t run the Reds.

        I’d put Simon back in the ‘pen for the playoffs, but that’s mostly because I don’t think his 2nd half will be as good as his 1st half, so there won’t be much of an arugment.

    • I thought it was a given Simon will not be starting past August due to him not be conditioned to throw this many innings in a season let alone by the ASB.
      Question should be who is the Reds fifth starter in September?

  2. Steve, since you first brought up Duda, I have watched several Met games. The guy looks very good at the plant. Keith Hernandez has been singing Duda’s praises on his recent adjustment to hitting to all fields. Much like TF, this kid looks to be naturally strong. Got to like his contract numbers too.

    • It seems to me that Duda will be a highly sought commodity. That being said, I think he’d be an excellent, excellent addition to our squad. I wonder what we’d have to send to get him? I’d love to see us add a little bit of pop, and he’d be perfect. I’d also love to see Zobrist, and I’d be happy to add Willingham as well. Another guy of interest is Marlon Byrd. I just hope we add a little offensive help. I;d be a happy camper.

      • Byrd is not likely because he has a contract for next year. 7 million, I think.
        Duda is cost controlled and would take more/better prospects.
        Zobrist, on the other hand, is very interesting. He can play 1st, 2nd or the outfield.

        • Byrd also has a vesting option for $8m if he reaches like 1100 PA in this year and next year combined.

          Most importantly though. Walt would never pick up Byrd after last season where he failed to both pick him up for cheap, AND failed to block the Pirates pickup of him, which brought about their reaching the postseason and beating the Reds. Picking up Byrd now for millions would be like Walt openly admitting was an utter failure at his job.

        • I am of the belief that the Reds don’t mess with PED users, if they are aware. Their trade of Grandal could have been coincidental but secrets abound within clubhouse walls. I think that’s why Byrd wasn’t even considered and won’t be again.

        • “…..secrets abound within clubhouse walls.”

          I used to think this but several years back Arroyo made extended remarks on the record that players often know little to nothing of what the other players do away from the clubhouse. As I recall he inferred that coincidentally he had learned some things about the lives of other players which shocked him and that he would not have believed had he not stumbled upon first hand knowledge.

          As far as the organizations, I think the days of wink and nodding or looking the other way are gone with the turn of the century or there abouts if not prior. If an org were found to be complicit in PED activity, which unreported suspicions would make it, it would be a public relations disaster not to mention the formal sanctions MLB would almost certainly mete out. On the other hand I suspect MLB has its security folks out looking for suspicious activities and quite possibly informing the clubs of what they are finding but not limiting the knowledge to the team to which a player is currently under contract.

  3. Zobrist is definitely on the top of my wish list. He oozes value. Duda would be a great addition, as well, I think.

    I have a feeling we’d be more likely to get a successful deal with the NYM rather than TB.

  4. Chapman’s hamstring worries me a bit. He’s never going to be running the bases, but what if he has to run to cover 1B on a grounder? What if he has to run to backup a catcher on a throw to home? Not impossibilities, and just one of those plays could take it from a minor ding to an issue that could sideline him for a while.

    • I think he should strike out every one he faces and this will not be an issue. Worked against the Pirates. Maybe they can wheel him out of the bullpen.

      • I think that’s his plan! Quick funny story, I was told by my manager after getting thrown out at 2B on a ball the LF gap off the wall ,by an outfielder with a so-so arm. “You might be the slowest guy I’ve ever seen.” … On my next AB, I hit it to the same spot but about 7 feet further and it left the yard. Upon getting back to the dugout I told my manager “You don’t have to be fast when you hit them out.”

        I can see Chapman now “You don’t have to be cover 1B when you strike them out!”

  5. I’m calling BS on the Simon part of this article.

    “They both conclude what we’ve been saying for a while, that when you look under the hood, Simon is unlikely to continue his outstanding first-half.”

    What we have been saying for a while? That’s laughable. Most of these numbers guys have been saying that since April, and that his dominance would not continue. Now, after continually being wrong, they change their theory to the idea that it won’t continue in the 2nd half. Talk about doubling down. One of the authors even used numbers pre-2012 to make his argument. Does the guy even know anything about Simon, other than looking at stats? Does he not realize that Simon isn’t even remotely the same pitcher, since working under Price’s tutelage? He also references his fastball declining. Hmm, I ask once again, has he ever watched Simon pitch? Simon gets up to 95 even 96 often, but as a more controlled pitcher now, he doesn’t go all out (reference Johnny Cueto) on every pitch. Also, he referenced his slider dropping 4 or 5 mph. I would suggest that he’s having a problem combining or distinguishing between Simon’s slower “slop” pitches that he throws. Take for example his pitch sequence to Cabrera. Last two pitches, were slider in the 80′s, followed with a slow curve ball at 76.

    At the end of the day, the numbers guys gravitate to FIP, which is deceiving, and a micro version, that really doesn’t tell the full story. Give me era and whip, and you will see the real pitcher. Proof is in the results.

    • “Proof is in the results.”

      If you don’t understand that a full career of numbers is more valuable than half-a-season, no one can really have a meaningful discussion with you.

      Simon has been lucky. Period. When a ball leaves a bat, players are only getting hits 22% of the time off him. That’s WAY below historical averages. That doesn’t mean Simon won’t continue to get lucky, but it does mean that he’s not “elite.” He’s a decent pitcher who is getting ball-in-play luck; likely aided by the elite defense playing behind him.

      • Which, to be fair, I’m very happy about. I hope the Reds continue to give up few runs in the games Simon starts. That would make me a happy Reds’ fan.

      • The problem with the “full career of numbers” is that it does not reflect a change in performance related to a change in approach. Frazier is good example: the back of his baseball card would not lead you to expect what he is now. It may be luck, and he may regress to his predicted norm, but it seems related to modifications he has made in his approach. Perhaps, as Chris Miller says, this is true of Simon as well. No need to be so dismissive.

        • I really don’t understand why we have to keep having this conversation about BABIP. Has Simon improved his game over last year? I don’t know…The measurable don’t seem to point to a much different pitcher. The only numbers that are substantially different are ERA and, surprise, BABIP. And the answer to the question “Is Alfredo Simon a pitcher who can sustain a BABIP of .220?” is no. Period. The analogy of Todd Frazier is not very accurate because the bulk of his offensive improvement has come with measurable improvements in important elements of his approach like pitch recognition, walk rate, and ISO. He’s hitting for more and better contact, not striking out as much, and hitting more HR’s. Those are all things he can control that he is controlling. Simon is pitching pretty much exactly like he always has the past few years, only he’s been luckier than just about anyone in baseball with BABIP and now he’s in a role where he can get more of those W stats that get guys on All Star teams.

        • Someone needs to write the history of the pitching W stat. It is so convoluted and weird. I would respect it a lot more if it was simply whoever got the most outs on the winning side gets the W and whoever gave up the most runs on the losing side gets the L.

      • “He’s a decent pitcher who is getting ball-in-play luck; likely aided by the elite defense playing behind him.”

        The thing is, that’s what makes a lot of good, even elite pitchers. Not unless you get someone who does strikeout every batter, which has never happened, good pitchers are going to get hitters to hit balls at defenders. Thus, so much talk, also, about playing more shifts this year as well. Because, the defense does have something to say about that as well.

        “If you don’t understand that a full career of numbers is more valuable than half-a-season, no one can really have a meaningful discussion with you.”

        Good point. And, just what career numbers does Simon have? Or, even more relate-able, what are his recent career numbers of starting this much? For all practical reasoning, he has none. I don’t mean good numbers nor bad numbers. For all practical purposes, he has no numbers that show his success from starting this much.

        So, the only real numbers we have to go by are the numbers from this season. And, they look pretty good to me. The only question with Simon is the innings, the numbers of pitches, etc. Since he hasn’t thrown this much for a long time, can he make it? I prefer to side a bit with Price on this one, who should know Simon better than any of us. Price has talked about how Simon has pitched year round, how Simon just doesn’t go home and rests, how Simon also throws during winter ball. So, Price is telling us Simon has a stronger arm than many of us think and/or give him credit for. I believe I heard Price has said that, sure, he would keep an eye on Price, but that he does that for all his pitchers, anyhow.

        • The problem with believing that good pitchers can get batters to hit the ball at defenders is there is no evidence for that. The average pitcher (including the ones that wash out) gives up hits to 29-30% of the batters they face. The most elite pitchers may lower that to 27-28% (and some of the greatest pitchers don’t do this at all, leading to the possibility the variation is random). So there is just no evidence that good pitchers get batters to hit balls to fielders. Maybe 1 out of 100 hitters. Maybe not even that many.

        • I believe, Steve, it is very true to a degree. For instance, if you have a pull hitter up, and you pitch him inside, odds are he’s going to hit it to his strong side. Thus, the entire idea of the shift, making it “more likely” that the ball will be hit toward a player.

          Not saying this is the only thing. That’s why numbers don’t make a player. Numbers only tell where a player is good. Like many have said, good pitching isn’t as much as 100+ mph fastballs, etc. Maddux wasn’t ever a power pitcher. But, he was elite, as many others like him. Why? They have control, can hit their spots as will (not just a strike or a ball but also top left in the zone, top left out of the zone, etc.), know how to work the count in their favor, a big difference in mph in their fastball and their breaking stuff, study the weaknesses of each hitter on the other team, etc. Many of these things the advanced numbers can’t, haven’t caught up with, or will never be able to measure/tell.

          Remember, I never said I don’t consider advanced numbers. I just don’t solely go by them. For, there are simply things they can’t tell. Like with Simon the first half. Bottom line, he’s winnings. I don’t care about his walk rate, K rate, ERA, FIP, etc. Bottom line, he is winning. When he starts to “not win”, then I will deal with that when it comes up. Until then, “Just win, baby.”

      • Simon…lucky? A record of 12-3 cannot be luck in MLB. If you watch the guy pitch you can see the movement especially downward movement on his pitches and he mixes speeds nicely without overthrowing. He is tough to square the ball up on the bat and that is a recipe for success. That’s not luck. The rest of the Reds pitchers play with same D behind them and none of them have a record close to his. Plus he is big, strong, and durable. Simon has found a method that works for him and we should be enjoying his contribution to the Red’s success.

    • Pne last thing. “Give me era and whip.”

      I have less of a problem with WHIP than ERA, but consider the following:

      Situation: Bases loaded, 2 outs. Simon on the mound.

      Option A: Simon gives up a liner to deep left-center. The CF’er is Billy Hamilton. He catches the ball, thus ending the inning.

      Option B: Simon gives up a liner to deep left-center. The CR’er is Skip Schumaker. He does not catch the ball; 3ER to Simon.

      Simon has ZERO control over those outcomes, yet ERA will say he’s a worse pitcher with Shumaker in center than with Billy in center.

      This is the easiest way I can explain ERA’s inherent limiation. If you choose to ignore it, at least I tried!

      • I think most here are well aware of what ERA is and choose to use it in evaluating pitchers. You can vehemently disagree but I don’t think it is born of ignorance.

        • I think you are well aware of what ERA is, but I wouldn’t ascribe it to everyone. ;)

          Anyways, point taken. But still, I will never give up trying. I think argument is invigorating.

        • Me too! You’re one of the best too.

          All these things are various tools in a box but if I “see” a guy has great stuff, I’m not going to deny it. It will be the most important factor in making a determination. I don’t care what he did 3 years ago. He is a new pitcher since arriving here. Of course, that is an opinion based on a personal evaluation and not necessarily a fact.

        • Oh, I agree completely. He’s got great stuff, and assuming his workload doesn’t bother him, I’m think he’s a perfectly serviceable major league starter. Even without using things like ERA and wins to evaluate him, he’s been a good pitcher. He has positive WAR, which is mostly what I care about.

          And actually, he’s been slightly UNLUCKY on giving up homers. Simon’s xFIP- is lower than his FIP-. A derivation of that is he’s been slightly more unlucky than the league has been in his fly balls turning into home runs.

          He walks a lower percentage of batter than all Reds’ started not named Mike Leake. That’s probably what I like most about Simon.

        • 12-3, definitely serviceable, at least this year, at least so far.

      • Some of you saber guys have been saying each month how lucky Simon is. In fact, when he struggled in May, many of you were claiming proof. Look, I’m not saying that Simon won’t tank in the 2nd half. I am suggesting that the saber numbers don’t prove that, and month after month they have been wrong so far. If he does tank, I’d suggest it would be more inclined to be due to fatigue than anything else.

        As for your example, I don’t buy your premise, because you chose to breakdown one position, but you ignored the reality that he also could get burned in RF and LF, due to Schumaker playing instead of Bruce, while Bruce is at 1st, or Pena is at 1st instead of Votto. We could go on and on. Your stats micro oriented and don’t tell the story, and rely too much on the strikeout. Also, I don’t buy that pitchers don’t have “some” control on how a ball is hit, if they didn’t you wouldn’t see such drastic differences in pitchers giving up HR’s, vs. those who don’t.

        Point is, baseball is a long drawn out sport, and the traditional stats, the one’s on the back of a baseball card, give a true idea of what a player really is. I mentioned WHIP and ERA, because they both are very much connected. They both tell a real story. ERA’s normally go up and down based on WHIP, and batting average against. Again, real simple stats, that paint a real story. If we rely on FIP, then we must believe that Simon has been a BELOW AVERAGE pitcher this season so far, which is just untrue, but FIP numbers suggest that. Not only that, but FiP also tells us that Bailey has been better than Simon this season. Good luck selling that one to everyone.

        • You completely misunderstood my example.

          Would you say a pitcher with an ERA of 2.70 is better than a pitcher with an ERA of 3.70? I’d bet you would. That difference, especially early in the seaon, could be attributed to a hypothetical play like the one I mentioned.

          I never clained anything to be 100% true or fact, I’m just saying there is a lot of what goes into ERA that is not controlabe by the pitcher, namely, who is in the field behind him.

          Again; I’m not saying ERA is a bad stat. I’m just saying it’s limited in its use and application. It measures how many earned runs a pitcher has given up in the past, which is largely influenced by things out of the pitcher’s control. That’s all.

          And you mention that Simon might regress due to fatigue. I agree 100%. I think that is the MOST likely reason he might regress. He hasn’t pitched this many innings ever. But regression is regression, regardless of where it comes from.

          I don’t know. It just seems like people can get caught up on “us SABR guys” using the word “lucky.” Simon being lucky doesn’t make him bad. It means his numbers (ERA, WHIP, etc) paint him to be a more skilled pitcher than he is.

          He’s good. He’s not bad. He has positive WAR (something I like). He is not elite. That’s my assertion. Basically, it feels like we’re arguing whether he’s a 1-2 starter now after 1/2 a good season, or a good 3-5 starter. Assuming his arm can handle the load, I feel he’s aperfectly fine major league starter.

        • This response may land in the wrong place, but this is to you JDX19. I’m not saying that Simon is an elite pitcher over his career. I’m saying he is an elite pitcher this 1st half, and based on his numbers over 2,5 seasons now, I see nothing that shows he is going to implode, unless of course it’s due to fatigue.

          In other words, he’s an All Star, and deservedly so. I guess, I take offense on his behalf, that the assertion is that he’s average and lucky. That hasn’t been the case since 2011 in Baltimore.

        • We can get arguing here about this situation and that situation all we want. The fact is, that’s a situation that probably won’t ever happen or that would regularly happen either way. Schumacher doesn’t catch the ball? Sure, could happen. But, then, why didn’t he catch it? If an error, then that’s 0 ERs to Simon. Or, Hamilton may not catch it. He hasn’t caught everything out there.

          Whenever one talks specific situations, they are essentially meaningless. It’s just too easy for other variables that can enter the picture. It’s just too easy to think of another scenario just as realistic that counters the first scenario.

    • There are plenty of first half all-stars that tail off for the second half. Anybody who has just a little fantasy baseball experience knows this phenomenon pretty well. It’s not a set in stone deal that Simon tapers down, it’s simply the most likely thing.

      What would be keeping the pace for Simon?… and ERA at or equal to his current ERA by the end of Sept? A quarter run up or down?

      While I hope it doesn’t happen, I wouldn’t be shocked to see it go nearer 3.5. It’d be an interesting market bet…

        • Jack Armstrong is a nice example, that really ruins the theory provided by the sabermetric guys. Everyone of his pitching stats went down. In fact, his FIP was WAY down in 1990, along with everything else. Normally, the Saber guys would suggest that JA was lucking in 1990, but they couldn’t even do that, because his non traditional numbers were also down. Everything JA did in 1990, he did it the best he ever had, and was never able to duplicate. even is BABIP was higher in 1990 than in 1989, but less than in 1991. In other words, I think you would have a tough time explaining why he had a great year in 1990. Sometimes guys put it all together in one year. Don’t believe it? Look up Pete Schourek in 1995. Again, all his stats were better that year, including FIP. There is a reason guys are ONE YEAR WONDER’s, and it isn’t just luck.

        • I don’t know how you can say any example “ruins the theory provided by the sabermetric guys” when you don’t have even a basic understanding of what that theory is.

          It takes about 30 seconds looking at Armstrong’s 1990 season to explain it. And it proves the point about Alfredo Simon. Armstrong’s strikeout rate went up quite a bit in 1990 and his walk rate dropped to a career low. He was extremely lucky with home runs – just compare his HR/9 rate to any other year. So it was a combination of him pitching better and getting lucky. Keep in mind (and this is where you show you don’t understand) that FIP doesn’t normalize home runs. So if a pitcher is lucky or unlucky with home runs, FIP won’t “fix” that. The stats like xFIP and SIERA aren’t available for 1990.

          In Simon’s case, he isn’t pitching better by anything we can measure other than a lower walk rate (which is good). His strikeouts are at a career low. His home run rate is normal. If anything, he’s been a little unlucky with HR which is why his FIP is higher than his xFIP. He’s giving up more line drives. He’s basically the same pitcher he was in 2011 when he started for Baltimore, with fewer walks and fewer strikeouts. The one difference is his BABIP, which pitchers have almost no control over. Certainly not the kind of control that would get it down to 23%.

          So unlike Armstrong’s case, there really aren’t much in the way of underlying stats – when you look under the hood, just like in a car – to explain his lower ERA.

        • I used Jack Armstrong as an example of a guy who pitched better than what his career numbers would indicate (albeit in short career at that time) and came back to earth in the second half.

      • I think that Simon is a great example of hitting his spots and pitching to a plan.
        The way our defense is playing, all you have to do is wisely pitch to contact with wicked stuff and you can win 20 games. I think he has been pitching to the spots that they set the defense to.

        Some of our guys will miss spots badly. Latos bounced a fastball off the plate, not at all where that pitch was designed to go. Cueto and Leake miss frequently with their cutters and Homer can lose his mechanics and miss by the width of the plate.

        Simon has seemed to hit the glove. Have to believe that makes defense a lot easier and has resulted in the lower BABIP.

        I think the other factor is the late movement on Simon’s pitches has improved.

        He was a starter a few years ago in Baltimore so it is not like he is coming out of the pen for the first time.

        I played poker the other night with my Orioles buddy who reminded me that Simon was cut by the O’s for shooting a gun into the air. I did not remember that

    • Simon, in fact, hasn’t kept up his April pace, even as measured by his runs allowed. His ERA then was 1.60. Now it’s 2.70.

      Measuring a pitcher by the runs they give up is just one way. You can also measure a pitcher by strikeouts, walks, hit batters, home runs, ground ball rates etc. The only stat that Simon is above average is runs allowed. And that stat is substantially affected by fielding and luck. You can look at whatever stats you want, including wins if you really want to. But in the stats that the pitcher controls most closely, Simon is nowhere near elite.

      Look, we all want Simon to keep this up. It’s not like we have some secret agenda that is advanced if his ERA goes up. It’s just pointing out what the data shows – and not anything fancy. Just look at his strikeouts, walks, home runs and ground balls.

      • Even if Simon is only a 2 WAR pitcher that is a deal for his salary! We paid Bronson Arroyo many millions to do that for years. Who would replace Simon, Holmberg?

        • Oh, heck no. Holmberg is a significant downgrade from Simon. I don’t think anyone would advocate that.

      • Steve, you are taking a real small snapshot to make your point. Simon’s era in May was well over 4.00. Guess what, his WHiP was much higher, as was his batting average against. We can see the obvious based on the traditional numbers. The fact is, the saber numbers don’t really tell us the truth, because they suggest Simon hasn’t been good, because his FIP is below average.

        And no, runs allowed is not the only stat where Simon is above average. His WHiP is also above average, sitting just over 1. What’s ironic, is some of you use his FIP to suggest he’s getting lucky, but guess what, his ERA is in line with his previous two seasons, and his WHIP is very similar to last season. Again, the author of the one article used pre Cincy numbers to make his point, but if you look at the Cincy numbers, he looks very similar each year, except for his WHIP the 1st season in Cincy.

        It comes down to this. The Saber guys are using their numbers to tell us that he is essentially getting lucky. The traditional numbers tell us he’s doing exactly what he’s been doing, and the end result numbers back that up. In other words, his earned runs are very similar.

        I like the Saber information, but “solely” using it to judge a player is a mistake.

        • With you; I use saber numbers to buttress a point, not make one. I will use those numbers occasionally to make a case to the guys that are inclined toward advanced statistics.

        • Hard to know where to start. First of all, it’s funny that you consider WHIP as a “traditional stat” since it’s entirely a creation of fantasy baseball.

          WHIP shares a common weakness with ERA (and to some extent batting average against) in measuring pitcher performance, and that is it attributes hit-rates to skill instead of substantially luck.

          Look, it’s really this simple. Pitchers have little control (1-2%) over whether balls fall in for hits or not. The average is between 29-30%. The greatest pitchers of all time might be able to nudge that number down to 27 or 28%. That’s it. That’s the entire control that Clayton Kershaw, Pedro Hernandez, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, etc. have over what percentages of balls put in play fall in for hits.

          So far this year, balls have fallen in at a rate of 23% for Alfredo Simon. A bit of that is defense, but most of that is purely good luck. Nothing more. Those stats – WHIP especially, since it’s substantially dependent on hits, and ERA and to some extent batting average against, are all drastically affected by that good luck. You act like it’s a “eureka” moment to discover that WHIP and ERA move together. It’s not. Those stats are highly co-dependent on BABIP and luck.

          It’s really a mistake to muddle this issue by throwing around the terms “saber guys” and “saber numbers” when this is simply a matter of what basic stats to look at in evaluating a pitcher. If a friend of yours said 30 years ago, you can tell all you need to know about a pitcher by looking at his strikeouts, walks and home runs, that person would basically be defending FIP.

          You really think WHIP is more traditional than strikeouts? or home runs? It’s not.

          **Answer this: A pitcher works four innings and gives up a home run, two walks and two singles. He gets everyone else out. How did he pitch?

        • Steve, I am clearly a traditional stats guy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate some of the modern sabermetric type of stats. WHIP being the most ideal, and the most accurate, as far as truly telling us something. The reality is, you put yourself in a win/win argument because we were told after a couple months that Simon was lucky, and at the half way point that he was lucky, and again now. If he does exactly the same this second half, then you will stretch the goal posts, and tell us that he’s not destined to have the same success next year. I think that’s not such a compelling argument, but one you are pressed upon, because your numbers don’t tell a conclusive story.

          And yes, if a friend told me those numbers 30 years ago, I’d say that’s interesting, but here’s his era.

          To your last question, well, the answer is, who knows? Which really makes my whole point about statistics. You gave me an incomplete amount of information, for which I can’t give you a conclusive answer. If the HR was the only run that came across, then I would say he struggled a bit, but got out of trouble, and has only given up a run in 4 innings. If those walks and hits came around to score, I’d say he didn’t pitch so well. In your effort to micro analyze the stats, I would suggest you miss the big picture, which was what were the ultimate results, since the game is about who scores the most vs. who lets someone score the most.

          At the end of the day, you and I will continue to disagree on this topic, which is fine. I actually appreciate the saber stats, and think they are good supporting numbers, especially when breaking players’ numbers down, but are an incomplete summation of the players overall success/results. Simon being a great example this season. Just a couple of weeks ago, we actually read an article in here that suggested that Bailey had been better than Simon this year, based on these modern stats. You can spin it any way you would like, but that was, and still is not the case. Guess what, traditional stats confirm that hasn’t been the case.

        • WHIP is *not* a “modern sabermetric type of stat.” It’s the opposite. It’s just a ghost stat invented for a fantasy baseball league in the mid 80s.

          Some pitchers are lucky over a long period of time. That’s the nature of luck. It’s distributed randomly and at the extreme tails in distribution, with enough pitchers in the population size, you’d expect there to be a few pitchers who are lucky over several years.

          You didn’t address my point about BABIP. That the greatest pitchers of all time have balls fall in for hits at 27% instead of the average of 29%. Are you saying that Alfredo Simon, since his balls in play are falling in at 23%, is substantially better than all those other pitchers? Are you saying that as you’ve watched Simon this year, you’ve thought he was pitching better than Greg Maddux or Bob Gibson or Pedro Martinez.

          If the pitcher in my example gave up a hit, walk, walk, home run in that order, he’d given up four runs (terrible ERA). If he gave them up in this order, home run, single, walk, walk, he’d given up one run (great ERA). He didn’t really pitch better or worse in either case. But because of the *order* his ERA is radically different. That’s one of the reason’s runs aren’t the best way to measure pitcher performance.

        • I think it all comes down to this: either you accept that batted balls have an element of luck and are, thus, mostly not under the pitcher’s control, or you don’t.

          If you don’t, then the foundation of many types of statistical measures are lost on you.

          Since you keep going back to WHIP, I think this may be the case. Any meausre that takes into account how many hits you give up (as WHIP does) is subject to the same random variation that balls in play are subject to.

          And Steve’s right, WHIP is a fantasy baseball creation. The first time I ever heard of it, after being a lifetime baseball card collector and baseball nut, was in 2002 when I went to college and played fantasy baseball with my dorm-mates.

        • Steve, the way you broke out your example; both scenario’s, is probably one of the biggest reason myself, and many others, especially a lot of old school baseball guys disagree with the modern day sabermetric guys. I don’t know your baseball background, and wouldn’t pretend to either. Having said that, many guys who have played the game extensively would completely dismiss your point, when you suggest that both scenarios are the same. They absolutely are not the same. Managers, and baseball people in general appreciate, and notice the difference between guys who can get into trouble, and minimize that trouble. And in reality, the only way to really decipher the actual difference is in era; the outcome that affects the team. FIP says that the scenario’s are the same, when they aren’t. Jim Palmer is known for many things on a baseball diamond, but one thing many people don’t know about him, is that he never, in his long storied career, ever gave up a Grand Slam. That wasn’t luck; he’s talked about it many times. He had a basic philosophy; one run was better than 4. Point is, your theory takes the special quality that some pitchers/hitters distinguish from others, and looks at them as if they were machines, and uses only numbers, that don’t even present an actual baseball outcome or conclusion. By the way, I didn’t mean to ignore anything about your comment about babip; I’m not sure what you were asking me.

        • Doesn’t have to be such a dramatic example. Same point. Suppose in an inning, a pitcher gives up a single a home run. That’s not “trouble” or a grand slam. Just a simple two batters. The sequence is likely determined by the batting order. In one scenario, the ERA is twice that of the other. Yet the pitcher basically pitched the same.

        • Players are subject to “observers’ bias,” while statisticians are not.

          Just my opinion.

        • Steve, you lost me on that question. JD, that is certainly true. It’s also why most any GM doesn’t JUST look at sabermetric numbers, but also uses traditional numbers, and the good ole’ eye test. Anyway guys, we just disagree. JD, you and I agree on other things. Steve, as always, I love this sight of yours, and really appreciate the articles, and all you guys do.

        • one thing not often mentioned is.. it is all balls hit in play are not equal… if a pitcher is hitting his spots .. and changing speeds well.. then the ball will not be hit as hard, thus will be fielded easier and produce more outs

      • Steve: Simon’s fastball is also above average. Trying to predict what his second half (2/5ths, actually) will look like may be fun, but is also crazy. Fatigue, regression and weakened infield defense may derail him, of course. Or not. He throws well–good stuff, good control. Numbers aside (he’s working with Price now, as has been pointed out, so the past may not be prologue in this case), he’s got better than decent stuff. I’m not predicting his continued dominance (I’m NOT crazy, after all..) and actually suspect that you naysayers are correct. I also suspect (fear) that the Reds will get swept by the wretched Yankees in this upcoming series, and that Joey will never again be at full strength. Ditto BP. And Todd and Devin will come back to earth, and BH…..

      • That’s one reason, Steve, why I like to measure a pitcher on wins as well. A pitcher may not give up many if any walks. That doesn’t mean he’s going to win the game. Simon has given up the most HR’s on the team. But, he’s still winning games and has the second lowest ERA on the team. One thing that I haven’t heard from anyone giving any advanced numbers, for example, is what’s the pitcher’s opponents’ OBP in high leverage situations? For instance, take any pitcher and a specific case, they let the first two batters get on base, 2nd and 3rd, no outs. Then, they get the next 3 hitters out in some fashion. The pitchers WHIP for that inning, 2. The opponents overall OBP, 0.400. But, given what I believe would be considered a high leverage situation, the opponents OBP? A big fat 0.

        Like someone said before, can a pitcher make the pitches needed when called upon? All season, Simon has performed when called upon. If I recall right, one of Steinbrenner’s favorite sayings, “Just win, baby.” And, that’s all Simon has done so far. We had a pitcher last season who many thought he had a great season. At this point last season, that pitcher gave up fewer HR’s, had more K’s, had many advanced numbers better than Simon has now. But, that pitcher at this time, 5-8. Simon, 12-3. I will take Simon right now.

        Not to say Simon will finish like this. We just don’t know. For, it’s been too long, if ever, Simon has ever been in this role, especially with this success. It could easily be he’s learned something from Price. Who’s knows? All I know, he’s winning games.

        • Great point, here is the 2014 leverage situational splits for Simon and your assumption was on target:

          Low Leverage: 216/299/383
          Medium Leverage: 230/275/356
          High Leverage: 139/189/235

        • And every single one of those numbers has been effected by BABIP. Sample size, sample size, sample size. That’s not to say Simon isn’t good in high leverage situations – he was a reliever so that’s most of what he’s known in his career so far. Just don’t read TOO much into those numbers quite yet.

        • Steve S, you make another great point here. The Reds announcers talk about this in respect to Cueto all the time. How he is so dominant when he gets into trouble. The Saber guys will often ignore this factor, which is why I also brought up Jim Palmer, and how he has never given up a Grand Slam. A guy can give up 10 solo shots, and ultimately be better than the guy who gives up 4, because his 4 were all three run HR’s. That’s why, at the end of the day, ignoring ERA is just ridiculous. ERA is the final stat. It’s the sign that tells you whether your pitcher keeps runs off the board or not.

    • Despite what the advance metrics may predict, what is at issue for me is he is already at a career high for IP, he averaged under 80 IP the previous 2 seasons, has any pitcher in their 30′s had 2nd half success after surpassing their comined IP from the previous 2 seasons. I would think after 150 IP he is sent to the bullpen but I do not know if their is presendence to suggest he can continue

      • It’s worth noting that Price praised Simon’s arm. Said he was blessed with regard to his versatility, durability, etc. I wonder if they don’t believe Simon has more in the tank than we do. That being said, I too would be shocked if he finishes the season in the rotation let alone has a sub 3.5 ERA

        • Could be very possible. The myth of the “rubber arm” had to come from somewhere, right? Maybe Simon is the proud owner of one. That would be a nice surprise if he can give us 160+ IP and still be good for the ‘pen.

    • I’m with you. I just go start to start with this guy, and just about every time he takes to the bump, the Reds win or at least have a chance to winl These are the same people that use numbers to tell me how great Jay Bruce is. Sometimes we forget what our eyes tell us. Go Second half Simon!

  6. Look for someone to try bunting on Chapman. Odds are they would strike out anyway so why not see if he can chase down a bunt.

      • Yeah, if someone asked me to lay down a bunt against Chapman, I would have to ask if they were crazy. Then I’d go and stick my bat out until I failed miserably in my sacrifice attempt.

  7. That AB with Cabrera was a masterpiece. My analysis of players is probably 3/4 or better on what I actually see. For guys I haven’t seen very often, I have to rely on statistics only.

    This guy is a “pitcher”. Back in the Baltimore days he hardly qualified as a thrower. His ERA has been consistent since arriving in Cincy. I do expect some regression if for no other reason then BP is out for a while. I expect all the pitchers to take some sort of hit because of this. Still can’t see Simon with an ERA of above 3.25 at the end of the year unless he just wears down.

    I do understand where the stat guys are coming from but in this case, I just think they are wrong.

    • I know its a bias, but My eyes agree with you. Who would you rather see pitching in the 6th inning with a 2 run lead on this team. Right now I take Simon over Bailey and Leake. And for sure I dont go to this bullpen! Just because Simon takes advantage of our great defense, thats no knock.

      • Absolutely, I think he is second best starter on this ballclub. People can ridicule me all the want.

      • Bailey’s GB% is higher than Simon’s, so taking advantage of the defense doesn’t work as an argument for Simon over Bailey.

        • And Leak’s GB% is higher than both of theirs. So if you want a pitcher to take advantage of the defense, Leake is the guy, with a 54.1% GB%.

        • Well then, I guess that screws your theory up, because your previous argument was that Simon was clearly taking advantage of a top rated defense, and well of course, getting lucky. Can’t have it both ways.

        • You really have no idea how to make an argument, do you?

          If you were to say “Simon is my guy because he takes advantage of his defense” and that was your ONLY statement, as is the case here, then you can easily refute that as being a valid reason due to statistics.

          Stop arguing just to be argumentative. It’s clear you don’t understand what I’m trying to say, so I’m done.

        • I lean heavily to the “saber” side (whatever that means). However, it’s going to be hard to get others to join if certain posters don’t cut down on the arrogance in their arguments. They are correct more than not, but it’s sometimes more about how you say something.

        • JD, instead of calling me argumentative, or that I don’t know how to make an argument, whatever that means. I would suggest that maybe you state your case a little bit better, and then maybe I’d understand your points. I see you towing both sides of the line. But hey, I guess that’s me being argumentative. No, it can’t be that, because I don’t know how to make an argument. I think if you re-read your last post, maybe you can understand why I’m not quite understanding your posts.

        • See, that’s the ting. You say I’m “towing” both sides of the line. I’m not.

          You came in with a snide remark after I made a statement about ground ball rates being a poor reason to consider Simon as a starter over Leake or Bailey.

          That statement has absolutely nothing to do with my above statements, but you attempt to link them together to try and trap me in some sort of contradiction. I do not appreciate this.

          And if you would read the entire body of work, I think it would be clear what my stance is. Check out my correspondence with Charlotte. I have stated at least 3 times on this thread that Simon is a solid pitcher who happens to be benefitting from some good fortune. (Steve Mancuso also backs that up. Is Simon really better than Pedro Martinez or Clayton Kershaw?) Then, I back up those statements. I also try to give examples of how ERA can be very deceiving, since a pitcher with a different ERA could literally have given up the EXACT same type of hits.

          If I come off as arrogant (to the poster who suggested as such), I apologize. It’s not my intent. The comment about me not being able to “have it both ways” just set me off because it makes no sense and it’s clear that anyone making such a statement hasn’t read a single word I’ve written.

        • I really wish there was a way to edit posts. Typos are making me look like a fool. ;) Hah!

        • Sparky, your post cracks me up. I’m staring at the text, and see a pitcher of ole’ Sparky Anderson next to it, and I can’t help but think, in a argument like this, he’d say the same thing. He wouldn’t want all the Mumbo Jumbo; just the facts, and those facts say he supports a sub 3 era, and has won more games than anyone in the league.

  8. Two weeks ago I heard that the Reds were scouting Duda and Murphy. But the more I read coming out of NY, it is that Duda is going nowhere. That news has disappointed me greatly. Murphy is looking for an extension, but the Mets haven’t offered yet. He’s a free agent after the season. Reds shouldn’t go after a rental player. They need someone for LF for the remainder of this year and next year. Murphy would be a good #2 hitter and can play LF too. Much to my dismay, I don’t think the Mets will give up either though.
    The Reds really need someone who can hit LH pitching. Ludwick, Heisey, and Schumaker are horrendous against LH pitching.
    Zobrist is having a tough year in TB. But a change of scenery might do him some good. He’d be an ideal fit for the Reds. He’d be almost perfect hitting behind BHam. Zobrist is a switch-hitter and smacks around LHers. Zobrist has played all OF spots and all INF spots except C. Zobrist has an option for next year.
    Another the Reds should be considering is Houston’s OF Dexter Fowler. Another switch-hitter who smacks around LHers. Fowler hasn’t played any 1B, only the OF. Fowler is a FA after the season. He could re-sign if he likes playing for a perrenial contender. His only playoff experience was with Colo. in a 2009 wild card.
    If the Mets aren’t sellers, then one, or both of these switch-hitters could definitely help the Reds generate more offense.

    • After looking at his numbers, Zobrist numbers are very comparable to last season. Small drop-off and then a small drop-off from 2012-2013 too. I’m guessing age may be playing a factor. If the Reds get him for a “rental” this season, I’m happy. Anything beyond that, I’m concerned that he could fall off the ledge at his age.

        • Sure. I don’t think the Rays would take Schu for him though. So you have a comparison but it’s not the one to make in this case. To me, it is “what” it will take to get him that is the question.

        • RIght… I didn’t mean to imply Shu would be the trade, just that is the player that Zobrist would take some playing time from. Santiago too.

    • According to their career stats for Duda, Murphy, Zobrist, and Fowler, it is Fowler and Murphy who have the better numbers in August and September. Zobrist is fairly consistent at around .260 and Duda seriously fades in September.

      • Heck WV, I’d take any of them. Just think that Duda is probably still developing and plays to GABP very nicely. Most importantly, he has a lot of experience at 1B.

        Digging down into Duda’s splits, August looks to be his most productive month. September the numbers are not good but looking at the yearly breakdown, he came up in September 2010 and posted these numbers in 92 ABs: 201/261/417. Objectively I believe they are skewing his overall September numbers. He did not have a good 2013.

        I’m afraid his value is probably skyrocketing and it would take too attractive a package to fetch him. To hear the Mets TV team tell it, the Mets see what a lot of other people are seeing (not good for the Reds).

      • Duda’s still a little too young to start seeing patterns like that, I think. Guys usually fade towards the end of their first couple years just getting used to the grind of a full season. I’d take Duda in a heartbeat, but I doubt the Mets will trade him.

    • I’m on the Zobrist train, he’s perfect for what we need now and for the future. Think if we offer Cingrani and some low level prospects we can have him. Didn’t really want to give up Cingrani but think we’ll be ok with Stephenson still in the wings and having higher upside.

      • No way I’d trade a major league starting pitcher under team control for 4 more years for a 33 year old utility man. We have prospects for that kind of trade.

        • Zobrist is perfect for the short term but his value as full time outfielder is low. So once Phillips returns what do you do. Only, if Votto was out all year maybe Frasier at 1B, Zobrist 3rd, but why not get a cheaper 1B. A lot of his value is infield defense and versatility so with a healthy roster he is redundant.

          I agree, cant give up a solid starter. But most people are highly suspicious of Cingrani as a starter. He is hurt, preventing a trade now anyway. Rays place unusual values on players, so who knows who they would want.

          By the way, Zobrist has a7.5 million option. That is valuable.

        • I love Zobrist and I think he is a perfect fit for what we need right now and next year. I just wouldn’t trade Cingrani for him. I think we have enough talent in the farm system to get him without touching a guy who has had success starting in the majors already. And I don’t think Stephenson has to be involved.

        • Unless they can get an All-star do not give up anything but 2nd tier minor leaguers, I cannot recall who they got for Broxton a few years back- so I judge that asa good trade

        • Yeah if I were the Rays’ GM and you offered Cingrani straight up for Zobrist, I’d do the deal, contingent on Cingrani passing a physical… Then upon hanging up the phone, I’d revel in the fact that I got a young SP, with good upside, under team control for at least 4 seasons, for an aging utility guy who although he has something in the tank still, is clearly declining.

  9. Simon this year is walking a lot fewer hitters than he has before, which also probably translates into his being in more pitcher’s counts than he had before. Also, in his 2011 season in Baltimore, where he pitched 1 fewer innings than he did last year, he gave up an astounding 39 doubles, plus 4 triples and 15 homers, whereas this year he’s only yielded 16 doubles, 1 triple and 14 homers.

    I have always thought that BABIP missed the point a bit, and that SABIP (slugging against) would be a much more useful measure, because it would tend to measure how often hitters smoked the ball against the pitcher, which is what the hitter is actually trying to do in most cases. (I’d be curious how BABIP varies as to the count on the hitter; I would guess the 0-0 pitch yields a higher BABIP and SABIP than does 0-2, etc..) Those 26 fewer doubles and triples explain a lot of Simon’s improvement, and it is probably because he gets ahead in the count and hitters have to take less aggressive swings against him. And because he’s developed his secondary pitches very well, he is probably a bit hard to get comfortable against.

    So I am not necessarily buying that he will regress all that much. Maybe he’s getting a lot of lucky grounders to Cozart, but that seems a bit glib.

    • That’s an excellent point. If you aren’t taking into consideration the counts that hitters are being put in, then the FIP and BABIP numbers tend to tell you less. I love statistics, and took plenty of classes in college. One of the 1st things you learn in statistics is that your sample data, and how and where it comes from is EVERYTHING. Leaving factors out, leaves your statistical analysis with plenty of holes. Your point about SABIP probably would tell us a little bit more, but still, without the knowledge of situational ball/strike counts, it still doesn’t tell the whole story.

      Saber numbers clearly have it wrong about Simon. And it’s mostly because they don’t have all the data needed to come to a better conclusion. That’s why, traditional stats, over a period of time, tell you all you really need to know about a player.

    • Just reading through some of the recent threads and saw this. I like this post; I’m sorry it didn’t get taken up for discussion.

      I can’t argue against the idea that Simon’s BABIP is not within his control. If pitchers could, with skill, drive their BABIP down to 22-23%, it would happen a lot more. The fact that there’s so little differentiation between pitchers over time has to mean something. I still think there’s some interplay between Simon’s “strikeout stuff”, his low strikeout rate, and his over performance vs the advanced stats that we don’t fully understand; maybe your approach would help get at it.

  10. Morneau is a good option if Votto is out long term and if cheap, but I seem to remember had did not hit a HR with Pit last year. Colorado obviously inflates numbers.

    I would rather get a guy playing in Miami, San Diego, or Seattle. Buy low and hope they love Great American.

    • His home/away split are actually good. In general, I don’t like to trade for older players. Unless, you can get them at “Blue light” special prices.

  11. I think since Billy has proven himself, the Simon debate is now the soup du jour. Hope everyone just takes it in the spirit of fun. Not saving lives here.

    • After the Simon issue is settled, we can move on to Jumbo Diaz. That ought to be entertaining as well.

      • Jumbo throws 99 mph and misses bats. Throw out his first outing this year and he’d have an FIP under 2.00. Jumbo’s the real deal. Now it’s just a question of if he can keep it up.

        • WIth all the crap in the bulpen, it is amazing to me that they thought Travor Bell Nick Chrstiani, and Curtis Partch were better option out of spring training. I am always skeptical of 30 year minor leaguers but considering the circumstances in hindsight it looks terrible

    • Dangit, Charlotte! People’s lives are at stake here! We MUST get to the bottom of the Simon issue! Nurse; scalpel!

  12. I guess I don’t understand why people argue so much about Alfredo Simon. No one on this site or any other site is saying that SImon stinks. He’s probably going to continue to be pretty good, and better than his FIP numbers (like all Reds pitchers should be) because of the elite defense behind him. Remember, FIP is based on league average defense.

    At the same time, all you have to do is look at the numbers or watch him pitch and you can see he’s not an elite starter. Elite starters strike more guys out than he does. Nothing else in his game has changed from the last few years. There’s just no reason, by numbers or the eyeball test, to think that he’s going to keep his ERA under 3 this whole year.

    Doesn’t mean he’s bad, he’s still a great pickup for the Reds, even if he ends up with an ERA nearer to 4 than 3.

    • Greg Maddux in his 1st year as an All Star at 18/8 with a 3.18 era, had a k/9 of 5.1. Next year, 3rd in Cy Young voting with 19 wins and a 2.95 era, k/9 5.1. Maddux was proving he was an elite pitcher, and in his typical style, he got better in almost every area, but overall, this elite pitcher retired with a 6.1 k/9 ratio. Simon is currently 5/8 k/9 this season. You may disagree, but Maddux was clearly an elite pitcher with a weak K/9 career average, and just a little above average in his finest years. Simon is certainly not a career elite pitcher, but this season so far, he’s having a elite pitcher’s year, regardless of what his k/9 rate is.

  13. Regarding Simon; I recall the “advanced metric” crowd calling the Reds to sell high on Mike Leake a few years ago for many of the same reasons as are given in support of Simon’s pending demise. Color me cautiously optimistic with Simon.

    • Totally apples and oranges. Mike Leake is young and has actually improved, based on the advanced metrics and standard metrics. If you wants to say I told you so on not trading Leake, that’s fine, but they should do it because he’s actually improved, not because he continued outperform his advanced metrics.

      For example, Mike Leake is throwing harder, strinking out more people and walking fewer this year.

      Simon is old, and there just aren’t any of the same signs that he’s dramatically improved from last year.

      • While I don’t completely disagree with this, I suppose it could be argued that as a SP, Simon is still a baby. The point I was making is that by over emphasizing advanced statistics to make baseball decisions, then we could have missed a couple of fine (and cheap) Mike Leake seasons and possibly a great one from Big Pasta.

        • I hear you, and like I said, if people want to crow about being right on Mike Leake, I think that’s fair. I just think they should do it for the right reason. That is, if a few years a go, if you said that the Reds shouldn’t trade Mike Leake because he’s going to get better, then you were right.

          If a few years ago, you said the Reds shouldn’t trade Mike Leake because he’s going to continue to outperform his advanced metrics, then you’d have been wrong. For example, see 2012.

          So if people can give me some reason to believe that Simon is better now, or will get better in the future, then I might buy the comparison between the two.

      • They may have been wrong about 2012, but then correct again in 2013 and so far in 2014. Sure, you can cite his increased velocity this year as reasons to be optimistic and that is a fair point but Simon is learning (from Cueto?) to save some velocity for high pressure points and really just learning to pitch as a starter. Confidence, comfortability with staff/D, financial motivations and a whole gamut of psychological factors come into play as well that would fall outside of statistical analysis. So, maybe Simon can keep this up to offset his luck returning to ‘normal’? Here’s to hoping.

        • Eh. See, there’s where you lose me.

          At some point it does just come down to hard facts. If you aren’t striking guys out you have to get them out on balls in play. For pitchers with 1000IP or more since 1990, not a single one has a BABIP lower than .260, and only 7 have a BABIP lower than .270. That’s just the cold hard truth.

          Also, the best percent of batters left on base (or strand rate) is 78.1%

          RIght now SImon’s BABIP is .232 and his strand rate is 85.1%. If you think that he has somehow figured out how to sustain those numbers, you are essentially saying that Alfredo Simon is a unique pitcher in modern history. He is better at stranding runners and getting weak contact than Clayton Kershaw.

          Now, we all know that that is just not true. So that’s why people who look at these kinds of things say that eventually he’s probably going to regress. Because the alternative argument doesn’t make any sense.

        • In 2013, there were 15 pitchers with BABiP of .260 or less last year. Okay, Simon is lucky but could that luck account for something like .028? You are comparing pitching a 1000 innings where we are discussing maybe 200IP. Cueto and Simon have the 2nd & 3rd lowest BABiP in baseball this year, I have to believe the defense behind them plays a very large role in this.

          There were 24 pitchers in 2013 with a better strand rate then 78.1%. Again I will look at the Reds amazing defense and sample size. Over 1000IP I can see it, but 200IP? I don’t know. So maybe he regresses to 75 to 80%, who knows.

          Bottom line is, I don’t think you made a very good case. Certainly not a slam dunk. I expect some regression is likely but not as much as most think. ERA of no more than 3.25 sounds about right if his strength holds up.

        • Charlotte, this is a serious question, not meant to be snarky in any way: you pointed out that there were a number of pitchers with better BABIP and better strand rates in 2013 than the .260 and 78.1% noted by Al. And you basically said “sure, I can believe no one can keep that up for 1000 innings, but they can keep it up over 200 innings.” My question is, do you believe that a pitcher can “make that happen” for 200 innings, or that statistically speaking a 200 inning run like that is not out of the question even as, over time, a guy’s BABIP and strand rate will head back to historical norms?

          If the former, then basically “this is Simon’s magical year when he puts it all together, uses his defense, gets weak swings, and achieves incredible BABIP and strand numbers. But it probably won’t happen again next season.” If the latter, then “Simon has pitched solidly, he’s been very fortunate with his BABIP and strand rate, and while he COULD continue to post similar numbers for the rest of the season I wouldn’t bet on it, or bet on him doing it again next season.”

          I love the Reds. I’d like Simon to pitch so well that Price seriously considers starting him in Game 1 of the World Series (after picking up two 1-0 victories over Kershaw in the NLCS). My heart wants him to “make it happen” with his strikeout stuff that for some reason leads to weak batted balls instead of strikeouts; my head says not to count on it, because achieving those kinds of numbers for even 200 innings is not a repeatable skill.

        • The answer is simple:it is far easier to be very ,very good for a season or two. Each additional season it gets harder to maintain that level of success. As great as JC is, he hasn’t strung together 5 “excellent seasons”. Greg Maddux won 4 straight Cy Youngs 1992-1995 and BABiPs were .257. .274, .256, .248. Outside of one season, after those, he never had a number that low expect one where he only started 10 games. Was he just lucky these seasons?? Simon has the benefit of an otherworldly defense, Maddux did not. Simon is not Maddux but he is pitching at a very level high level so far in 2014.

          So I don’t believe all this is accounted for by going back to historical norms. No sir. I believe it is very hard to maintain excellence season after season for long periods of time. I hope this answers your non-snarky question. It was a very good question, in fact..

        • Thanks for the answer, Charlotte. If I read you correctly, you think Simon is “making this happen,” for this year at least. Which then raises the question: how? I don’t expect you to answer that–I’m not positive it’s answerable–but if we could just find something he’s doing differently/exceptionally I’d be more comfortable believing he can keep it up. (Solve The Mystery of the Pitcher With Strikeout Stuff and Decent Control Who Doesn’t Get That Many Strikeouts and you may have our answer. Does he throw more off speed pitches with 2 strikes, somehow turning potential strikeouts into weakly hit balls in play or something like that? I wish the guys writing articles about him were delving into stuff like that to see if there’s anything there; it’s beyond my skill base.)

        • Good conversation here. I’ve enjoyed catching up.

          Something else eye-popping about all this BABIP talk and mention of the Reds’ stellar defense: Homer Bailey has a higher ground ball rate than either Cueto or Simon and Homer’s BABIP against is nearly 100 points higher. Talk about the opposite of good luck.

        • Eric, I’m not going to go deep in the weeds on this thread but suggest next time Simon pitches I will let you know what I see and have been seeing. ~75% percent of my evaluation is seeing. I know that is not the standard here but I like to think I’m fairly effective with my methods. One thing to consider: it is the rule rather than the exception that Simon will throw pitches in the mid 90s, 80s and 70s in the same AB. With control and movement. How many guys can do that?

          Great conversation.

          JCD, luck has very little to do with Baily’s numbers; IMO. When I see an apparent contradiction; I research it because there a very few, if any, true contradictions. We may have to get out of our comfort zones to explore this but to truly understand we may have to. With the exception of one season, his xFIP has been lower than his ERA and in half the cases by a wide margin. Is this just bad luck or are we missing something?

        • Charlotte, you and I are on the same page here. Your question of how many pitchers throw in the 90′s, 80′s, and 70′s, in the same AB is valid. Simon is doing that this season, and he’s doing it with some serious skill. The AB to Cabrera in the All Star game was a great example. Like you, I too would suggest Bailey’s situation has NOTHING to do with bad luck. It has everything to do with him not being able to control tough situations. This was my point to Steve in another comment. These Sabermetric numbers don’t take that sort of thing into consideration. I’m not sure I’ve ever watched a pitcher implode with two outs as much as Bailey does. Tough to measure in basic Sabermetric stats, but easy to measure in a conclusive era number. Again, I also believe that there is a huge drop off defensively between Phillips and Santiago. How many times have we seen BP WIN games with a game saving defensive play? two or three game swings based on a great play alone is a huge difference in defensive drop off.

          I also understand where you are coming from on the 200 innings factor, vs. a career factor. There is a reason guys have career years, or a couple career years in a row. It’s when they put it all together and get it done; it’s not luck. one full season does not allow for luck. A baseball season is too long for that.

        • Homer Bailey throws in the 90s, 80s and 70s. Big deal.

          If Homer “can’t control tough situations” it must have just happened to him this year. His ERA last year was 3.49 and 3.69 the year before. Wait, he must only have not been able to “control tough situations” in April and May, but learned how to in June (3.35) and July (2.77). And that’s using your precious “conclusive” ERA number.

          “It has everything to do with…” What a crackpot theory.

        • As for your other claim: “I’ve never watched a pitcher implode with two outs as much as Bailey does.” You then say that’s tough to measure. Why in the world would it be tough to measure? Here are Bailey’s numbers over his career (including his crappy early years) based on outs in an inning:

          2 outs: .251 batting average
          1 outs: .278 batting average
          0 outs: .252 batting average

          Maybe you should rethink “what you saw” and try this one: “I’ve never seen a pitcher implode with one out as much as Bailey does.”

          Another crackpot idea.

      • Simon throws harder than Leake, though, doesn’t he? I agree that he shouldn’t be called elite at this point, but I’m not sold on the idea that a low strikeout rate is a sign of impending doom. Of course he benefits from the outstanding defense. So does Cueto. He’s pitching for a team with outstanding defense, so should he try to subvert it? And, yes, Leake has improved, but so has Simon. Thus the raging argument here today.

        • Simon as pitched extremely well but this defense is unreal. Hamilton-Cozart – Phillips up the middle is a pitcher’s dream. Without BP, I expect the team’s pitchers BABiP to go up as a whole and not by just a little bit.

        • Ramon Santiago is no Dan Uggla, Charlotte. ;) I think the defensive downgrade at 2B is minimal.

    • Trends and liklihoods aren’t certainties. Selling high on Leake would have been a fine, decent baseball move. Keeping him, turned out to be the “right” move. That doesn’t mean moving him would have been the wrong move.

      This is not directed at you Redgoggles, just at the Nation in general. I get the feeling that most folks who single out the “advanced metric” crowd want to paint us as being white or black, yes or no, 1 or 0. It’s really not that way. It’s the exact opposite, even.

      Any SABR (not Saber, as many want it to be) guys will readily tell you it’s possible the Simon could be EVEN BETTER in the 2nd half. But, even if it’s possible, that doesn’t make it likely. If you go with what is likely over what is possible, you generally arrive closer to the “correct” asnwer a larger percentage of the time.

      • FWIW, I doubt the ‘old schoolers’ would say it’s likely that Simon will be better in the 2nd half either (all the while hoping they are wrong). But, I doubt they would be as consistently pessimistic on the outlier performances that are not easily measured. I do appreciate both camps of thought, and honestly feel that by using information from both provides the best recipe for successful decision making.

      • I can’t argue with your reasonable post, JDX19. I’d go even further and say that it is unlikely that more than a very few guys will be better the second half of the season than they were the first. I’m not a SABR guy(due to laziness, not conviction) but have a general thought on statistics of any kind: Are they designed to measure what it is important to measure? Do they succeed in measuring it? Do they take into account, at all, factors difficult to measure? I’m interested, for example, in the metrics that purport to account for variations in ball parks. How do they do that? If, for example, Fenway is regarded as particularly hitter friendly, is consideration given to the fact that half of the at bats there are taken by a team designed to benefit from its oddities? SABR or old school, the more tools we have for appreciating and evaluating, the better.

        • Or that at Fenway; left, right, and center field play so much differently then the other because of lack of uniformity.

        • Basically you look at the stats that hitters put up in a park and compare them to league averages. Given the number of different players and pitchers that come through each park, theoretically hose numbers will normalize for, say, having a guy like Cabrera or Votto on your home team skewing the numbers.

  14. speaking of offday news …..Meanwhile, the Reds have acquired righty Dylan Axelrod from the White Sox for an as-yet unknown return. The 28-year-old threw 128 1/3 innings last year for Chicago, including 20 starts, but managed only a 5.68 ERA with 5.1 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. He currently sports a 4.50 ERA through 88 frames at Triple-A on the year, logging 7.8 K/9 versus 3.7 BB/9.

    • The strange thing is, he was available for them to trade because they signed Chien-Ming Wang after he opted out of his deal. So the White Sox got the pitcher they actually wanted and a player to be named later. Seems like they won that trade.

  15. As long as we are talking about trading partners, how about looking at Justin Smoak of the M’s? Still young and still has plenty of team control left. His career slash line is unimpressive at .224/.309/.382 but he plays his home games in a very pitcher friendly park. The M’s are down on him and he could be a really nice change of scenery guy that could be had for almost nothing I’d think. He’s a good defender at 1B but is really just a 1B. He doesn’t play anywhere else and therefore could only get in the lineup when Votto was out or as a PH. He could however be turned around again in the off-season as I imagine he would fetch about the same in prospects if the Reds moved him as they would give up in getting him; or at least close. Thoughts?

    • I like it. I’m a big “change of scenery” guy, especially when the guy changing scenery can be had for next to nothing.

      I think the Reds have nothing to lose. Pull the trigger!

      • Well they have whoever they would trade for him to lose, not to mention that if they went for a stop gape measure like that they would probably be out of the running for anyone better. I’m the opposite of a “change of scenery” guy. Seattle isn’e San Diego. This guy isn’t hitting warning track shots out there. Bad hitting numbers are bad hitting numbers and we’re not in the market for a 1B only.

        • Eric, they could probably flip him again in the off-season and get back close to what they gave up to get him. That’s why I feel he costs very little to get. He is hitting some warning track shots out there and he also has enough pop that when he runs into one, it tends to leave the yard. He’s a true MLB 1B too, in that he can field the position. He hits better than Soto or Lutz. And again, he wouldn’t cost much to get and what he does cost the Reds could likely come close to getting in return if they decide to trade him.

          The biggest problem I see is what I mentioned above. He only plays 1B, so if Votto is healthy and in the lineup, Smoak is essentially just a PH. It could also be argued that he’s just Hannahan with a little more pop and an inability to play 3B. Smoak makes more sense if Votto is out for a long time.

      • My only knock on it really is that he only plays 1B. WJ may just say that he’s Jack Hannahan (who’s allegedly coming back) with less defense and more power, and no ability to play 3B. He wouldn’t be too too far off. Still, I like him and I think he’d improve the club.

    • I’d rather trade for Joc Pederson on their AAA team. 22-year-old OF who is blocked by the ridiculous AS stable of OF that the Dodgers have collected. Hitting .324/.445/.572 in AAA this year.

      Also isn’t owed $107m over the next 5 years. Lol

    • Aside from the money question, Kemp supposedly really wants to go back to center field, Out here on the West Coast, I hear some Dodger talk radio occasionally, and it sounds like Mattingly is going to play Kemp pretty much everyday (which would be bad news for Carl Crawford), but in left field, not center. I’m not liking Kemp’s chances of pushing ROY Hamilton out of center field!

      • Kemp never was a particularly good CF. At this point of his career, he’s a well below average CF. There’s no way I’d play him over Hamilton in CF. He’d probably be in LF.

        I don’t think Kemp is someone the Reds should go for. He’s just owed too much money for what I think he’ll be able to produce going forward. He’ll only be 30 next season so I think he may have 1 or 2 really good years left in him if he’s healthy, but that wouldn’t justify taking on the back-end of that expensive contract.

  16. So I think Simon won’t be on the roster next season, pretty sure he’ll be traded before opening day. He’ll be nearly 34 years old, in his third year of arbitration, and coming off an All-Star season. A club like the Reds can’t afford to be paying 34-year-old pitchers coming off career years when they have Leake, Cueto, and Latos all hitting FA at the same time as Simon.

    Wouldn’t be surprised at all if Simon gets traded before the 2015 season stars.

    Sorta the same thing with Chapman. Next year he’s obviously going to turn down his $5m player option. Now I think he’s wasted as a closer, but at $5m it’s not a terrible waste like Cordero’s huge closer contract. That changes once Chapman goes to arbitration though. Craig Kimbrel got paid 4yr/$42m to avoid arbitration. Is Chapman really worth over $10m/yr to pitch 60 innings? Only like 20 of which with a 1 run lead, only like 10 against divisional opponents?

    Now I kind of expect Simon to get traded, and I think Chapman being traded would make sense, but I am not sure if the Reds have joined reality yet that no relief pitcher is worth that much money… so won’t say I expect it, just sorta hope for it.

      • I don’t know Charlotte. I don’t think he’s too old to make the switch, but the innings would be an issue. He threw 71.2 in 2012, 63.2 in 2013, and he’s got only 29.2 innings this year in 95 games.

        Even if you made him a starter in 2015, could you expect more than 120 IP from him? That’d be double his 2013 and probably his 2014 totals. Say you’re able to add on another 40 IP in 2016.

        All you did then was get 160 IP and stretch him out so he could throw 200 IP in 2017, but he’s a FA in 2017. So all you’d be doing is stretching him out for someone else to enjoy the benefits. That’s why I say use him in spring training like a starter next year, let him be hella impressive, and then trade him for a king’s ransom and let someone else stretch him out.

      • Chapman is never going to be a starter anywhere. Why? He doesn’t want to be. The end. Someone’s going to pay him $15 million/year to be a closer. Maybe more. My bets on Miami. And that’s what he wants to do. He knows he can do it at the highest level, he knows it’s going to make him rich. He won’t ever get a $200 million but what are the odds he’d turn into a $200 million starter? There aren’t many of those guys. At this point in his career, he’s making the smart decision. Yes, the closer role is overvalued statistically, but that still means that professional baseball teams give them a lot of money. And there’s no reason for Chapman to think he won’t be the richest closer in history. And maybe the best when it’s all said and done. He’s on his way to the HOF as it stands. Why mess with a good thing?

  17. with all the numbers thrown around here, no one is measuring the intangibility of heart in simon’s case. he has heart. and desire, and looks strong as a bull. i predict he will last, and win 18 games, minimum. some guys take a while to figure out how to pitch, and then need a lucky break, the opportunity to show it. i think he has three or four good years left – though probably not all as a red.

    • You might be right but I’m thinking it’s more about stuff, smarts, and composure. But I do believe he owes a great debt to Price and the fortune of getting the opportunity.

    • He might win 18 games, but that really has nothing to do with how well he’s pitches. If he gives up 5 runs and the Reds’ score 6, WIN for Simon.

  18. The only stat that is important with Simon is that the Reds scored more runs than the opponents 12 times. Once or twice you can quantify as luck but 12 times? That is not luck that is something else. Every win is a team win and the team wins when Simon pitches more so than any other pitcher on the Reds staff. Not luck, that is a statistical fact. Maybe because he doesn’t have Cueto’s ability the team plays better behind him? Just a few thoughts.

    • Cueto gets some of the worst lineups put out there behind him. Has for quite some time now… starting with normally having Mesoraco on the bench. Also poor defensive lineups put up while he’s pitching too.

      The Reds have allowed 7 unearned runs in the 143.2 innings Cueto has pitched.

      The Reds have allowed 13 unearned runs in the other 854.1 innings pitched that every single starter and bullpen pitcher this season combined have pitched. (1 in Simon’s 116.2 IP)

      The Reds have been shut out 10 times this season. 4 of those have been when Cueto pitched. Only 1 when Simon has pitched.

      A lot of position shifting and backups starting when Cueto starts had led to some really poor offensive and defensive support.

      • Maybe the Reds shouldnt match their ace up against other teams ace. I still dont call 12 wins luck. Luck happens once or twice over the period of half a season. Not arguing but whether it is that simon is matching up against poor starters or that simon is getting outs when he needs them. There is a statistical reason as to why he has 12 wins maybe we just dont know it or see it just yet.

        • You completely misunderstand what is meant by “luck” in the Simon discussion.

          “Luck” means that when a ball is hit, Simon is giving up hits 23% of the time. All-time greats (Gibson, Koufax, Johnson, etc) are not anywhere close to that “good.” Hence, “luck.”

          And yes, his 12 wins (which are an utterly worthless stat, no other way to put it) are a byproduct of that luck.

  19. Rumors? Here’s one. Scott Van Slyke for Chris Heisey and Sam LeCure. Hate to see Sam go, but if it brings in Van Slyke, then bon voyage. Good riddance with Heisey!!!

    • Is this an actual rumor or just a suggestion? I don’t know why the Dodgers would make that deal considering LeCure has been pretty bad this year and there are health concerns and Van Slyke is much better and younger than Heisey.

  20. I have a question that I would like to ask of redlegnation. Why do advanced pitching metrics weigh the strikeout so heavily? I must be missing something here that I am just not understanding. A fly ball, a ground ball, or a strikeout are the 3 measured types of outs that can be quantified to a pitcher correct? Wouldn’t a more reliable stat be one that say takes a total number of pitches to get one out? Realistically it takes just one pitch to get a fly ball or ground ball out, however, a strike always requires a minimum of three. So from an endurance perspective I would assume (and I most definitely could be wrong here) that pitchers that rely on strikeouts also have high pitch counts and often times hit the 100 to 120 pitch count window earlier in games than do pitchers that are relying upon ground ball or fly ball outs. Of the three types I would assume without looking at any stats that a pitcher that favored ground ball outs would be the most effective and most successful pitcher.

    • I know some people on here just don’t want to accept it, but it’s BABIP. Plain and simple. Once a ball leaves a pitcher’s hand he has no control over what happens to it. If a hitter puts it in play, the pitcher has no control over where it will go. Before you roll your eyes, clearly a pitcher can influence it with pitch selection, control, etc. Clearly there is a repeatable skill in generating more ground balls than fly balls, more weak fly balls than homeruns, fewer line drives, etc. No one is debating that. But even within those skills we’re still talking about percentages. A GREAT groundball pitcher still has more than 40% of the balls hit off of him put in the air. Once they go in the air there’s a lot of luck involved. Did that linedrive go straight at a fielder? Did that little flare fall between three guys in shallow right field? And a groundball is obviously not an automatic out, either. So no matter what, if a ball is put in play there is a chance that it will become a hit. Statistically, about a 30% chance. If a guy can’t put the ball in play there is a statistically ZERO percent chance it will become a hit. Over 200 innings (or 3000 innings) 30% versus 0% is an awfully big statistical difference.

      • Which is exactly why, although I tend to lean with the more modern thinking on how baseball should be played and how players should be evaluated, I feel that strikeouts do matter for hitters too. Sure and out, is an out, but when you put the bat on the ball, good things at least have a chance of happening and when you strikeout, they don’t. The only really more negative outcome that occurs when a hitter puts the ball in play, is the double-play.

        • Agreed. FG had a neic write-up on Texas minor leaguer Dan Gallo. He has prodigious power; like once in a generation power. But he strikes out 37% of the time so far in the minors. They did some digging and found out the only other player to have that high a strikeout rate and become anything close to a decent major league was Russel Branyan. Not exactly the comp you’d think of when you hear once-in-a-generation power.

          Strikeouts definitely matter!

        • Joey Gallo, Dan didn’t pull up anything… and yeah, he’d have well over 200 Ks in a MLB season. I do have to say though, he’d also have like 60 HRs in a MLB season from his 2013 and 2014 numbers, along with roughly 75 BBs in 2013 and over 100 this year.

          Looks like lighter, but just as powerful Dunn. Stick him in LF, bat him 5th and I would be alright with that. Ks or no if he brings 40+ HRs and 100+ BBs a year.

  21. Here’s some fantastic reading to add fuel to our ongoing pitching saber debate:

    http://grantland.com/features/mark-buehrle-surprising-success/

    In a nutshell, how does a guy who gives up a ton of hits, plenty of walks, an average number of HRs, and doesn’t strike anyone out still end up with a career ERA of 3.79? Defense and controlling the running game. Fascinating stuff, really. Turns out that when all the numbers are crunched, compared to runs saved above average for his position Mark Buehrle is the best defensive player in baseball.

  22. At this point the debate on pitching on this site has started to resemble arguing with someone who says the Earth is 6000 years old. We’re not even really arguing baseball anymore, we’re arguing how numbers work. Now we have a bunch of Coach Taylors talking about heart and grit and composure. Look, I believe in heart. I believe in composure. I believe in the magic of baseball. Honestly, I really really do. I believe that with the right mental and emotional toughness, forged by years of a desire to play the game at the highest level and win above all else, that a guy can perform better than his raw physical ability should logically allow. But that guy still has to go out there and play the games. And at the end of the day, or the week, or the season, or the career ALL we have to judge him on is the numbers. That’s not negating what he DID. It’s just the MEASUREMENT of what he did. It’s not dismissing his heart and intellect. Those things contributed mightily to his performance and, therefore, are reflected in the numbers. I feel like that’s where the impasse is with a lot of people. They think “saber guys” are dismissing the intangibles of the game in exchange for cold, hard numbers that have no human element. Speaking only for myself, that couldn’t be further from the truth. If I just LOVED numbers so much I wanted to marry them then I’d spend my free time balancing checkbooks and scouring business ledgers. Baseball takes this game that involves skill, strategy, intangibles, and a fair bit of unpredictable luck and gives us MOUNTAINS of data to try and figure out how Player A managed to perform better than Player B. For people who enjoy the logic of numbers but also the thrill of the game there really is no better sport for combining the two. And if that’s not your jam, great! Watch the games! Root for your team! Enjoy the wins! But there’s no point in arguing over THE NUMBERS. They simply are what they are.

    • But we are still talking about a small sample size on Simon for this year. Maybe he is “lucky” in that his balls in play are being caught. But his strikeout rate is down, and it is also possible in light of a small sample size that “too many” of his good pitches are dinked into easy outs, instead of being swung at and missed; Or maybe he has had a lot of dinked balls in play early in the count. in other words, he has unluckily not recorded “enough” strikeouts to reflect how well he is throwing.

      I go back to my theory that he has this year likely gotten into better pitcher’s counts, as reflected in a far lower BB rate. That, in turn, has helped him eliminate a lot of extra base hits that had hurt him in the past. (His HBP rate is up, too, which may indicate that he is throwing inside way more, which is probably something he should have been doing all along.)

      But I generally agree. Let’s watch him and hope his luck or skill continues.

      • His one measurable improvement this year has been a drop in BB%, but that has also coincided with an almost identical drop in K%, so they kind of cancel each other out. Really the point is that Simon has been a very good pitcher for the Reds the past 3 years with almost identical numbers. It’s reasonable to believe that if he had been put in a starting role earlier he would have similar results, accounting for a normalized BABIP.

    • Great post! But still, the argument about the numbers isn’t what they are, but what they mean. For my whole life, up to a few years ago, baseball had tons of numbers, and it seems clear that they didn’t mean what we thought they did. Is there any reason to believe that SABR numbers won’t be modified in years to come because they don’t measure what we thought they did? I enjoy they intelligent discussion.

      • I would never suggest that SABR methods are perfect as they are, but at the same time we’re talking about baseball, not quantum physics. There’s a very finite number of things that can happen in any given baseball play and we have millions of plays’ worth of data to mine. As far as offensive metrics go, I don’t think we’re going to see any big breakthroughs in SABR thinking from here on out. There is just so much hitting data and so many players who have had thousands and thousands of AB’s over their careers. Where there is room for advancement is in pitching metrics and especially defensive metrics. I don’t trust most defensive metrics very much at all – I’m not sure how you could improve them without literally watching every single play and trying to put a value on a player’s starting position, break on a ball, actual distance covered, recovery time, transfer time, throw speed, accuracy…My head hurts just thinking about crunching all of that and that ignores how you would get the tools to actually measure it. And even then, I don’t know how you can put a number on, say, BP’s between the legs dish to Votto in 2012. I don’t know if defensive evaluations can ever be purely objective. Similar issue with pitching, but at the moment it seems to be a race to see how closely you can get stats like xFIP and SIERA to end up aligning with a guy’s ERA at the end of the year. The fact that they came up with SIERA somewhat recently shows that they’re still working on it, but you still see the same trends. Read the Grantland article I linked to above about Mark Buehrle. It’s a great piece about just how difficult it is to put a value on pitchers.

    • I agree with the sentiment of your post, even if the pot-shot at religion seems a bit inappropriate for a baseball blog.

        • If not a pot shot, it was at least uncalled for and incorrect. Interpreting a player’s performance using statistical analysis is ever-changing. That is actually more similar to evolution (ever evolving theory) vs. the belief and evidence that the earth was created.

        • I’m not going to dig into this because JD is right, it’s not appropriate for a baseball sire. But it’s not an “incorrect” analogy.

  23. Why even play the games – the numbers guys can tell us who won? There is so much wrong with that thinking I’m no even going to begin. Do you watch baseball? A lot more to it and no amount of numbers are going to get it right.

    • And not even the biggest “number guy” would suggest such a thing. Again, if you just loved numbers that much, there are pursuits which offer much more predictable patterns. Like, you know, math. On a calculator. Everyone here is clearly a baseball fan. The unpredictability of it is what makes it fun. But when you start playing armchair GM and try to make rational arguments about why one player is better than another player, it helps to have facts to back that up. Numbers are the facts. Everything else is just gut intuition and that’s fine – intuition isn’t always a bad thing. If you have a close decision between two players and your gut tells you to go one way there are worse reasons to make that decision. But if an argument comes down to what someone thinks or feels versus what the numbers say, history has shown the numbers are almost always much more accurate.

      • I think I get a little frustraded at the numbers talk as opposed to who made a great play or had a great at bat or who stunck (Steve smith is killing us). We are are lucky to be where we are. What is called a ball or a strike maybe the most important thing in baseball and you have to watch to know how wrong it is called regularly.

      • Another clear and thoughtful post, Eric NYC. Again, though, numbers are facts but the question always must be: are they important facts? Or, at least, the most important facts.? I think that it’s human nature, to some extent, to evaluate data subjectively, based upon personal conviction. Paying attention only to a pitcher’s win total, for example. Or ignoring that runners on base need to score in order for their team to win (I said that badly, I know). I’d guess that all available stats, old and new, and eyeballs, flawed as they are, are useful in concert. The baseball talk here is outstanding and often touches on broader issues.

    • That is a gross oversimplification of what is going on in baseball. It’s a faulty premise to state that following the “numbers” means things are a forgone conclusion. The numbers will still lead to mistake and failures, it’s built into the process. But at the end of the day, using information for evaluation is simply giving teams percentage points of advantage over those who don’t. It’s good business. Show us a business that is wouldn’t take a 8% return instead of 5%.

      • Right – can you talk about players just because you like the way they play the game? Pena, although not very good, I think has been great for this team. This team deserves some good things to be said about them – they’ve played tough although with a incredible amount of missed opportunities. The defensive is something you’ll miss soon enough. I guess numbers are all baseball has to offer, but for some reason I like actually watching the players.

        • “Pena HAS BEEN great for this team.” I whole heartedly agree – He was invaluable when Mes was on the DL and has been a capable enough stop gap for Votto, and halfway through the season that means he has been a terrific piece of the puzzle for us and a great acquisition. But it’s also fair to look at his numbers and recognize that it would be folly to bank on him performing like he did in April-May. And if you look at the numbers they bear that out precisely: In April-May he had a wRC+ of about 110. In June-July that dropped to 76. What’s his career average? 73. So we just witnessed the very predictable drop in his offensive value down to where we should expect it to be the rest of the way. That doesn’t mean the games he helped us win with his hot bat in April and May suddenly don’t count, it just means that if we want to keep winning games in August and September (and beyond) then we have to rationally consider what we can expect from him. And the same can be said of any other player. If you make baseball decisions based solely on what a guy has done lately and don’t examine what other factors might be contributing to a hot or cold streak then you’re not going to have a very consistently good team. The numbers are just tools for making those decisions if you’re Walt and talking about how all of us obviously much smarter people would make them if we were in his shoes. They’re what we talk about in between games, not why we watch the games in the first place.

        • Aggreed, I like the eye test more than the numbers – I’m an optimist probably to my wrong thinking.. I love following the Reds and feel like the numbers work out less than the cohesiveness – otherwise the Yanks would win every year.

  24. I’m very interested in what the NL Central rivals will do… Milwaukee has pulled CC and Grienke out of their hats in past years. I wouldn’t put it past them to pull a Price or Hamels, something big. I know Hamels has a “no-trade” to 20 teams, but anything is workable.

    I think getting a high end starter would be ideal for them. Yet, not unlike the Reds, people are freaking out about their offense though… but seriously, who would you take off that team? They were hitting lights out and due for a regression, but they’re going to hit.

  25. You know, there are a few of us who consider ourselves more “numbers guys” and we actually do watch a TON of baseball. A few of us, myself included have also played at a fairly high level. The way I look at numbers is that sometimes they confirm what my observations tell me and sometimes they contradict. When they contradict, I like to try to figure out why. Is it a problem with the metric or metrics I’m using? Are my observations skewed in some way and the numbers see it and I don’t? Is there a different or better set of metrics I should be using? Am I missing something important on the statistical side and/or something important in my observations?

    More often than not, I find that it is a problem with my observations rather than an issue with the metrics. It seems like the deeper I go, the more this is generally confirmed. This isn’t always the case however, which is why I don’t tend to judge players simply by looking at various WAR measures and also why I am not at all sold on defensive metrics; which I feel are particularly useless over anything less than a couple seasons’ worth of data. Other stats like RC+, OPS+, and to a lesser extent FIP and SIERA, I put a lot more stock in and I find their evaluations are sometimes a better indicator of performance than my eyes or traditional metrics. Are there exceptions, even with FIP and SIERA? Yes, but those exceptions seem pretty rare and tend to be specific on a player-by-player basis. For example, Johnny Cueto always seems to outperform his FIP and SIERA numbers. Homer Bailey seems to underperform them when looking at ERA. This is a trend and something that when you look deeper, you can generally see as to why it is happening. In the case of Simon this year, it’s a half-season sample size. It’s been a magical year and peripherals suggest that he won’t keep it up but I’m sure enjoying it while it’s happening and it’s certainly not impossible that his second half might be better. It’s rare that it’s happened but it has happened.

    The arguments do get old when it comes to “my eyes say” vs “the numbers say”. Sometimes, it’s great just to enjoy what’s happening with no debate. Sometimes though, the debate is part of what makes baseball great.

  26. No doubt great response. Having followed this blog for awhile, and really like following it, my biggest complaint is that there isn’t enought discussion about the individual plays of the game. Again Smith has been awfull – I would think that this guy’s head would have been called for over and over. Watch hamilton’s eye tonight and tell me it’s not as good as Votto – look at alll the balls we swing at and tell me we can’t improve? Just saying the game is played on field not a spreadsheet.

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