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”

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050424/COL09/504240376/1082/spt
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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.

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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.

Bill James

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.

Right?

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.

About The Author

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

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12 Responses

  1. Joel

    Well said, Brian! The biggest problem that the Reds have right now is that too many of their bats are cold and Miley is limitting the at bats of those that are hot by keeping them down in the order. If the only thing you can do before the game starts is to maximize the opportunities that your best hitters will get, then that seems to be the most logical reasoning for setting up a lineup. Perhaps there will be a point during the season when Griffey and Casey will be the best hitters in the lineup, but that time is not right now. If he doesn’t feel like he can sit them on the bench, then at least move them down in the lineup and give guys like Dunn and Pena a chance to get more at bats.

    One other thing, didn’t Miley say before the season that he didn’t want to bat Casey and Randa one after the other since they were both good contact hitters? Why has every lineup in the last 2 weeks featured them as the 3 and 4 hitters then? It’s amazing how things that seemed logical to start the season get over-ruled by the gut once the games mean something.

  2. Mike

    your comment:
    “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.”

    Is alot of gobbledy gook. That 33 times means nothing compared to the IF for the other 500+ times Joe Randa would have an at bat more situation-driven than the all or nothing same at bat regardless of situation done.

    Granted Randa is struggling right now and certainly makes sense to put someone else fourth but that someone else is NOT Dunn. Dunn has shown over 4 years that he does not drive in teammates. Move Dunn to 2nd hole to see IF (yes IF) he can still get his BBs. If he can great. If not 2 hole though he is destined for a career of 5, 6 or 7 hole hitting.

  3. Brian Erts

    “Gobbly gook”

    Yeah I hate Jazz, I think that’s “Gobbly Gook” In a season based on 620 PA’s Dunn will make 36 less outs than Randa and slug over 100 points above Randa’s career average. Last year alone he had 125 more Total Bases than Randa

    By all means limit his AB’s in the 6th and 7th slot.

    Enjoy your jazz.

  4. Joel

    Has BadFundamentals made his way onto the Redleg Nation site? 🙄

  5. Chad

    Once again, brilliant post, Brian. Keep up the great work.

  6. Greg

    “Dunn has shown over 4 years that he does not drive in teammates.” Is this a true statement?? Let’s look at his 2004 numbers.
    With no one on base Dunn hits .266/.354/.605
    With runners on base .265/.423/.527 and 73 of his 102 RBIs.
    Interesting in this split is that he walked MORE with runners on than with the bases empty. Why? Well, would you want to pitch to a man who can put a ball in the Ohio River when he can do more damage (ie with runners on base)? So, they seemingly aren’t giving him anything to hit…kind of hard to drive in runs when they are always pitching around you.

    “Wait though. How about the stress situations? You know runners in scoring position with 2 outs. You HAVE to come up big in those situations.” Adam Dunn again is fairly consistent in that situation in 2004: .264/.459/.556.

    “But, it seems like he is always whiffing with runners on base. Why can’t he get more productive outs and put the ball in play when runners are on base? ”
    Well, his strikeout rate (k/ab) actually decreases with runners on base:
    none on: 35.2%
    runners on: 33.3%
    in scoring position: 32.4%
    in scoring position w/2 outs: 30.6%

  7. Brian B.

    I disagree Brian. there was an error when I clicked he “Say It” button below and I lost everything. But in sum, I think you mischaracterize the Reds use of small ball. And I think you inappropriately compare Miley to Boone. Miley does not make more double switches than Boone. Boone not only made them, but he made poor double switches. He’d bring two defensive replacements in during the 7th inning of close games and then have no offense. I have a log of Boone’s decisions from the 2002 season to prove it.

    Miley may have some lineup issues, but they aren’t the issues Boone had. Boone changed the lineup everyday regardless of player performance. players had no idea where they were hitting in the order, and they never knew their role. Miley understands the importance of allowing his players to learn their role. Maybe he puts guys in the wrong order, but he’s certainly not Bob Booning it.

    Speed, the Reds do not have. Hitting and running, the Reds rarely try. So the answer to your runs created via slugging riddle is that the Reds don’t try to create runs in other ways. Despite what you say, there is a time for sacrificing. In Sunday’s game for example, LaRue was up in the 8th inning with a runner on second and no outs and a 2 run lead. would you like to play for a big inning and win the game 10-0? Or would you like to move the runner over and take your (good) chances at getting the insurance run in? The fact that Jimenez and Freel failed to get the runner in yesterday was an execution problem, not a a Dave Miley decision-problem.

  8. Brian Erts

    I agree that the LaRue sacrifice was the proper thing to do, too bad Jimenez is a GB hitter. I don’t eschew the use of the sacrifice on all levels. It is a useful tool. But also don’t condone using a screwdriver to drive in a nail either.

    As for the Miley/Boone comparison that is not the crux of the post, the batting order issue is a greater concern to me.

    But the double switch fact is a real one.

    Miley made 50 DS last year and 17 in his 57 games in 2003. Boone’s totals as a Reds manager was a high of 37 in 2002 after 19 in 2001 (14 in 2003) Miley’s current average is 50 double switches per year, Boone’s is 24 (including KC)

  9. Dave Charles

    Nice work.

    The Reds roster doesn’t match a small ball team. Miley is a traditionalist, get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in.

    Smart managers adapt to their personnel. Dumb managers try to get players to do things they aren’t suited for, just to play a particular style they like.

    Great piece, Brian.

  10. Greg

    The Reds have scored 2 runs or less in 9 of their 19 games, including 5 of their last 7 games.

    Last night was the first time this season that the Reds scored 5 runs or more and lost. It happened 27 times last year (that’s 17% of the games played or once a week on average.)

  11. Tom

    I ran across somewhere, that someone did study on lineup construction and determined that a lineup ordered by OBP produced the most runs. Not very surprising, given that it puts the bat into the hands of the players who get on base the most more often. So I was curious what this lineup would look like for the Red’s this season based on USA Today player projections for this season:

    OF AdamDunn 0.392
    2B DAngeloJimenez 0.368
    1B SeanCasey 0.368
    OF KenGriffeyJr 0.364
    OF AustinKearns 0.359
    3B JoeRanda 0.336
    SS FelipeLopez 0.327
    C JasonLaRue 0.303

    Other than Dunn leading off, so we could get an additional 65 PA for him over what he’d normally get in the 5th spot, it doesn’t appear to be a bad lineup even from the traditional sense. Freel was at .358, Aurilia .303 and Pena at .301 by the way, so this was our best lineup.

    Later,
    Tom