Walking by a mirror down in Florida this weekend the Reds Offense paused and stopped to take a long look at themselves, not pleased with the reflection (and the 3.8 runs a game they were averaging) the Reds turned their attention to the Marlins and experienced a bad case of Judy Ball Envy.
Judy Ball Envy is a fixation on Small Ball (and its bang bang way) that slugging teams have when they experience batting lulls.
Currently the Reds can boast (or worry) that 31 of 69 runs scored have come via the long ball (that’s 45%) then you either have what you deem as a good thing (slugging) or a bad thing (Station to Station baseball). The envy is illustrated in this discourse in Sundays Sports Propaganda Piece in the Enquirer.
Concerning the inability to play “small ball”
He’d like to be more aggressive on the base paths.
“But we don’t have a lot of guys who run,” he said.
He’d like to hit-and-run more.
“But we have a lot of guys who swing and miss,” he said.
So beyond putting the right players in the right places, there isn’t a lot Miley can do with this Reds team.
So Dave Miley, who succeeded Bob Boone the “Hands on Manager”, has a problem… HE can’t participate more in the flow of the game by pulling as many strings as he would like.
Now I ponder if this is actually a good thing?
I say yes.
Currently Miley is proving to be a manager that is more attuned to being a butt patter and a gut decision guy than a numbers cruncher, even on the lowest level.
It’s true that slow starts by Kearns, Casey, Jimenez and Griffey have hampered the Reds, as has the sudden onslaught of quality starters that seems to be never-ending so early on. Warts and all the Reds are lucky once again as they taunt the Pythagorean Gods. For his managing career Dave has been pretty hands on, he has used the Intentional Walk more than Boone, Double switched more than Boone and sacrificed only 26% less than Boone did.
Trust me Dave Miley is getting his fingerprints on the game; even without making the indicator sign from the top steps of the dugout his presence is felt. Take his recent insistence on batting Randa 4th. I see no reason why Randa is still batting 4th and think that it is only explained by Randas opening week as a Red, not prior accomplishments, not projections… just what happened that week in early April.
Looking at the lineup to see where disarray dwells, you can see Dunn producing (.288/. 422/. 692 8th in MLB in OPS) in the 5th slot and at the top of the order Griffey and Casey clog up the bases night after night, with a unique combination of grounders to the right side highlighted by the lead man being a man running with legs that seem to be made out of balsa wood and spit.
If you have nine hitters and nine batting order slots to put them in there are 362,880 ways to do it, and only one of them is right.
Everyone knows that lineup construction is a different thing for everyone; it’s the music of baseball, a different groove for everyone. There’s pop, rock, jazz, soul, reggae, hip hop, rap, classical and on and on an on.
Some focus on situations that might arise (hence splitting up those lefties) others might go all Omar Moreno and place fast guys at top just because they are fast, not because they can get on base. Others want on base skills over bat control skills, some want power in the 4th slot others want contact. It’s then rolled in to one ball and thrown against the wall in hope that it sticks.
There are some simple facts that I think all managers should ponder when they go to write that order down.
The higher the place in the order the more times that batter comes to the plate during the season.
Lineup PA PA/G PA/162 1 8995 4.63 749.58 2 8809 4.53 734.08 3 8616 4.43 718.00 4 8413 4.33 701.08 5 8205 4.22 683.75 6 7996 4.11 666.33 7 7766 3.99 647.17 8 7536 3.88 628.00 9 7322 3.77 610.17
Pretty simple eh?
Here’s another one.
One of the best ways to determine a players worth as a hitter is to consider the percentage of outs he makes when he comes to the plate. Example, Adam Dunn in 2004 made an out 62% of the time and Joe Randa 68% of the time. That essentially means if they each came to bat 539 times a season Adam Dunn would get on base 31 more times than Randa. But if they continue to bat 4th and 5th the Randa will get 17 more ab’s over the season than Dunn. And that’s not even talking about the TYPE of hits they get compared to one another.
Of course that’s just a thumbnail example, however the logic involved in building a batting order should be based on logic.
With this team, in that park Judy Ball Envy is useless, it reeks of excuses for not being inventive, not thinking outside of the box that you were given.
In short it’s an attempt to try and make a Penguin fly and go against the team that was built by the Reds front office this winter.
You can’t tell me that if Dave Miley wants to introduce team speed into the game that he needs to be able to play Gene Mauch inspired baseball. A little lineup construction can move some slower guys down, faster, younger guys up… if basepath speed is an issue than flip flop Jimenez for Freel.
Just do something opposed to longing for Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo inspired baseball, the Reds don’t play in a football stadium with a park factor in the 90’s, they are loaded with free swingers with prodigious power and several BA driven slow white guys from middle America… not many Willie Mays Hayes’ on this squad. Small Ball will take the bats out of the hands of sluggers and give away outs in a hitting era. It’s the Tiger and his stripes tale wrapped in tobacco spit and horsehide.
IMO it’s more important for Miley and his coaches to figure out how to make the offense work BEFORE it gets on the field, not while it’s on the field.
Brian first met the greatest game in Detroit in 1968, that team played in a league called the “American League”…. but I digress.
Later after a family move he started a dalliance with the Cincinnati Reds, who perchance were in the midst of their greatest era. It was a romance that was greater than many could hope to be.
After barely stomaching the strike of 1981 Brian headed West but never forgot the Reds, and even despite being surrounded by Giants and A’s fans who tried to entice him with things both Green and Orange he found himself wondering what was up with Kal Daniels and was that kid from Moeller ever going to make us forget Davey.
A long time member of SABR and a baseball history junkie he currently lives in Portland and can be followed at @baseballminutia