I was thinking today that Ryan Freel looks tired. I was also thinking that he’s played a heck of a lot lately, and the conventional wisdom (and my gut feeling) is that his play declines with over-exposure.

Let’s take a quick look. He’s started 27 of the past 30 games, and he pinch hit in one of the other three. This month, playing in all but 1 game, he has a .239, .370, .284(!) 654 line. He’s getting walks, but that’s about it. He’s 5 of 8 in steal attempts (well below his 79% success rate going into the month). So we know Freel’s been playing a lot, but not playing particularly well.

Has this been going on all season? I look at all the stretches where Freel starts more than 5 games in a row. The number is totally arbitrary, but was my best guess for what would be a fatigue point for the scrappy little fellow.

I found five instances where he started more than 5 consecutive games. I decided to only look at the games after game 5, when he would be expected to be feeling the fatigue. (I also ignored scheduled off days, though I probably shouldn’t have, now that I think of it. A day off is a day off, though not if travel is concerned.)

Read on…

Freel He started 10 games in a row from April 13-22, after Junior got hurt in Chicago. In games 6-10, he went 5 for 19, with 4 BB, 5 K, 2/3 steals, and 0 extra-base hits. Okay AVG, good OBP, terrible SLG.

Nine in a row from 4/24 to 5/3: In games 6-9, 3 for 13, 1 2b, 0 BB, 0 K, 0/0 SB.

Seven in a row from 6/19 to 6/25: In games 6-7, 1 for 7, 1 2b, 1 BB, 1 K, 0/0 SB.

Nine in a row from 7/19 to 7/28 (after Denorfia flopped): In games 6-9, 6 for 17, 2 2b, 1 3b, 1 BB, 4 K, 1/1 SB

Fourteen in a row (8/7 to current): In games 6-14: 9 for 38, 1 2b, 5 BB, 10 K, 3/5 SB.

So, after “extended play,” Freel is a combined: 24 for 94 (.255 AVG), with 11 BB (.333 OBP), 20 K, 5 2b, 1 3b (.330 SLG), and 6/9 SB. I don’t know if this is a fair survey, but the same size isn’t tiny, and it shows that Freel IS pretty lousy when he doesn’t get his rest. He also strikes out a ton.

Let’s compare those numbers to the rest of the season:

“Tired” .255 .333 .330 663 OPS 1.8 K per BB; 1 K per 5.25 PAs, 67% Steal rate. (105 PAs)
“Rested” .296 .377 .467 844 OPS 1.4 K per BB; 1 K per 6.10 PAs, 79% Steal rate. (305 PAs)

Wow. Anyone want to pass this on to Jerry Narron? Makes a pretty strong argument for resting the little fellow once a week, no? I don’t know enough about the numbers to be sure that the sample size is sufficient – though it’s a solid 1/4 of his season. (I may well have screwed up some of the math, for that matter).
And of course, even “Tired Ryan Freel” is probably more effective than than Todd Hollandsworth, so I’m not sure what Narron can do about this.

[Note: All stats ignore Sac Flies and HBP, since those aren’t on the main espn.com Game Log page They shouldn’t affect the numbers much, if at all.]

11 Responses

  1. Daedalus

    I agree with you. I think Hopper should get the start in place of Freel for tonight’s game before Michalak gets back and Hopper gets sent down again. He could bat leadoff for one night. (Yeah, I know he doesn’t walk, but he does hit, and it’s just one night, and Hollandsworth is useless.)

  2. Jay

    Could be that Freel’s not used to being in the lineup so much … I mean, he’s been Mr. Utility for the Reds for as long as I can remember and just plugged in here and there.

  3. Shawn

    This is what we have been saying for some time. Freel can’t play every day, he wears himself out.

  4. preach

    Junior’s been looking a little tired as well. Perhaps they could each play center on a short rotation?

  5. Gapper

    Yesterday at the ballgame, the thought occurred to me…”Gee, I should be wearing a Redlegnation.com shirt right now, to promote the site!” I’m no MBA, but you guys should get a banner ad or two, even Reds-related ones like Kahn’s Big Red Smokeys, and use the proceeds to pay for some promotional material.

  6. Chad

    Great post, Chris. Very interesting…I think I’ll bump it to the top of the front page.

    And Gapper…stay tuned. Lots of big things coming here at Redleg Nation over the next few months.

  7. Justin Anderson

    I am completely with Gapper here… We are a Nation and need our “Army” to be supplied with “BDUs”!!!

  8. Jim McCullough

    Maybe Freel needs a few more drinks for Farney to make an appearance!

  9. EricTW

    That’s right…

    Freel can play 5 days a week and Farney can play the other two!


  10. al

    The lineup tonight is back to the one used over the weekend with aurilia at ss and freel in right. i agree that giving norris a start wouldn’t be a bad idea right now, but i’d lead off with hatty:


  11. Glenn

    When was the last time Freel had a day off? He’s made some great catches in the outfield, but he’s tore himself up pretty good in the process. Today might be a good day to sit on the bench and recharge his batteries.