Thinking Inside the Box

Swing and a Miss

“Pinch hitting for Jason Linden… Chris Garber. Garber”

What a week to get to write about the Reds offense. In their first five games after the All-Star break, the Reds have “hit” .186/.238/.342. Five games, 11 runs scored, and five ugly losses. As we say too often around here, TOS.

What can you say about an offense that died? (Hat tip to our Baby Boomer readers.)

Of all the awful numbers in that five game stretch, the worst are probably these: 48 strikeouts, 6 walks. That’s a 8:1 ratio, and a 28% K rate. Basically, the Reds are turning every pitcher they face into Clayton Kershaw.

We know that’s horrible, but how horrible? Does it matter? For the season, the Reds strikeout to walk ratio is a much more reasonable 2.9:1. They’ve struck out 21% of the time.

In April, their numbers were 2.5:1 and 20%. They averaged 3.78 runs/game, and went 12-15.

In May, their K/BB ratio jumped to 3.2:1 and the K-rate was 21%. Their R/G dropped to 3.19, but their record was a little better 13-14.

In June, the K/BB was 3.0:1 and the K-rate was 20%. They scored 4.82 R/G, and improved to 18-10. (June proves that this look at strikeouts is primarily for novelty purposes. The small improvement in contact was outweighed by a 50 point jump in SLG.)

And in July, counting the lousy post-ASG stretch (but not Tuesday’s game), the Reds are at 3.1:1 and 22%; averaging 3.65 R/G and going 8-9.

Overall, the Reds season numbers (2.9:1 and 21%) are very near the NL averages of 2.7:1 and 21%.

What do we know? The obvious. The Reds have been a total mess since the ASG. Absent Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, this team is going to be overmatched pretty frequently. They may not strike out all that much more, but they won’t command the strike zone as much. Ramon Santiago, Chris Heisey, and Skip Shumaker may make almost as much contact as Votto and BP, but they won’t walk or hit for nearly as much power. That’s where the money is, and that’s why this team is going to be in a lot of trouble if they don’t add a bat before the trade deadline.

12 thoughts on “Swing and a Miss

  1. I truly believe that the Reds should be “sellers” in the coming 8 days. 1) this team is going to continue to slip, 2) very few are sellers, putting them in a good position to be demanding, and 3) their minor league talent pool is pretty thin right now.

    • Agreed that Jocketty needs to get something done, and fast. But that’s a bit of an unfair accusation; a year ago, people accused Jocketty of selling out the farm system and leaving it too weak. We’re talking about the guy who traded Alonso and Grandal to get Mat Latos; the guy who traded Didi Gregorious to get Shin-Soo Choo. That doesn’t sound like someone who covets prospects more than proven major leaguers.

      • Agreed, it’s clear he isn’t obsessed with prospects. If he were, they’d have depth for injuries.

    • The Yankees follow the philosophy you advocate and they have not been to the WS for awhile. So have the Dodgers, Rangers and Angels. How many of those teams has a WS championship recently. You trade prospects only when it is worthwhile to do so. This does not mean he should stand pat, just that you have to get the right deal that helps your ballclub.

  2. They went on a winning stretch for awhile there, but in the end, this team just doesn’t have the talent or the health to win it all this year. I really wouldn’t mind seeing the Reds be sellers this year. Cueto, Latos, Leake, and Simon are all FAs after 2015. They’re probably only going to be able to sign Latos and Leake to contracts, so why not trade the other two? Simon will never be worth more than he is right now.

    Broxton also will never be more valuable than he is right now. Chapman will turn down his player option next year and go from making $5m to pitch 60 innings to $12m to pitch 60 innings, which means he probably should be traded too.

    It’d probably mean a rough 2015.. but in this market, they could get enough prospects to have a farm overflowing with talent that could keep the Reds in inexpensive production and contention for years to come. Or who knows, maybe next year’s offseason rolls around and they use some of the prospects they get to trade for a great established bat.

    Either way, trading people who are nearing the end of team control/reasonable cost for boatloads of prospects is probably a good deal. Maybe then the Reds won’t have a situation where they simply don’t have infield prospects in their farm.

  3. Lord have mercy. You know the wheels have fallen off when you look up and Ryan Ludwick is your #4 clean up hitter. I need some re-assurance. The sun will come up tomorrow, won’t it???

  4. The thing is, most of the backups are hitting well enough during the losing streak.

    The black holes in the lineup the past week are Frazier, Mesoraco, Ludwick, and Bruce. They all unfortunately picked the same time to go into a funk. Once they get it going, the Reds will be able to play some solid ball.

    Any pick-ups will be replacing the guys who are still hitting okay.

    • The article implies that the backups simply aren’t up to snuff to replace Votto and Phillips, but they’ve actually been the only thing on this team worth watching since the break. It’s the everyday players that aren’t putting up everyday numbers.

  5. After todays game there will be 61 games left on the schedule or about 32% left of the 2014 season. To get some perspective I went back 60 games (5-16-14). The record in the last 60 games is 32-28. That includes injuries, DL stints. and all the other misfortunes that have followed the Reds. At no time before Brandon’s recent DL did the Reds have both Votto and Phillps out of the line at the same time. So with a superior line up compared to the current one they were only 4 games over .500. (includes the current 5 game losing streak without both of them) Over the next 61 games at least 30 will be without JV and BP, if not more. Granted JV was having a sub par year but if you combine the results of what they produced is there one bat that replaces their combined contribution in a 40 game span.
    Joey V in 62 games with 272 PAs contributed a wRC+ 127, BABIP .299, WAR .09
    B, Phillips in 86 games with 362 PAs contributed a wRC+ 91, BABIP .309, WAR 1.1
    (Fangraphs batter WAR)

    Is Ben Zobrist is the short term answer for the “BAT”?
    2014 remaining salary about 2.4 M
    2015 Team Option: $7.5M ($0.5M buyout) he will be 34 years old next May,

    B. Zobrist in 87 games with 386 PAs contributed a wRC+ 115,
    BABIP .287, WAR 2.8

    Fangraphs writer Scott Strandberg wrote this on June 23, 2014;

    “The other big problem with Zobrist is that his power decline from last season has continued. Coming into the year, it wasn’t unreasonable to point at 2010, when Zobrist had an isolated power of .115 in a season sandwiched between four years of plus-.200 ISO, and make the argument that 2013′s .127 ISO was another such single-season aberration. His .122 ISO this season indicates otherwise.
    His batted-ball profile isn’t offering much promise either. His 17.1% line-drive rate is his worst since 2008. His 47.2% ground-ball rate is his highest since his rookie year, back in 2006. His infield fly-ball rate is a career-worst at 14.1%. I can’t find anything to be optimistic about. He’s even legging out infield hits at a career-worst rate (5.3%).
    Another major issue is the fact that Tampa’s offense is terrible. They’re currently ranked 27th in MLB in runs scored, with just 279 through 76 games (3.67 runs per game). For Zobrist, a player whose power is in decline, the effect has been crippling, as he has just 15 RBI through 62 games so far. He’s driven in at least 70 runs in each of the last five seasons, but this year it’s questionable whether he’ll reach 50.”
    (As of 7/22/14 Zobrist has added 12 RBI in 30 days for a total of 27 YTD)

    What would it cost? Is he worth a prospect? Who gets cut off the 40 man to make room?

    • Dunno if he’s worth a prospect, but cutting Jack Hannahan or some of the other bums at the bottom of the 40 makes sense no matter who the Reds sign

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