2010 Reds

Drew Stubbs is Streaking Through the Quad

Drew Stubbs is one of the streakiest Reds hitters this year. He seems to get a lot of negative attention when he’s in an offensive slump, but very little press when he is hitting well. If you hadn’t noticed, he’s been hitting very well lately.

With his 1 for 4 performance on Thursday afternoon:
–He has now reached base in 18 consecutive games
–During that streak, he’s hit .318/.403/.515 (avg/obp/slg)
–During a streak dating back to August 1, he’s hit .304/.373/.512 in 36 games

For the season, Stubbs is batting .249 AVG with a .741 OPS, which is better than the league average (.732) of all NL centerfielders. You also can’t forget that he’s the third best centerfielder in the NL (as measured by total zone rating on baseball-reference.com.)

The Reds have a very good, all-around centerfielder, who is doing this at age 25 in his first full major league season.

The chart below shows how his OPS has progressed over the course of the season. The horizontal black line represents the current league average of NL centerfielders for reference. The blue line below shows his OPS “streaks” over his last 30 games throughout the course of the season. Because he got off to such a slow start in April, you can see his red line (2010 season OPS) has been below average for most of the season, even though he’s had multiple streaks with an OPS above .800.

I didn’t look at this for all Reds players, but I thought it would be interesting to compare his chart to that of Jonny Gomes. The direction of Gomes OPS has been coming down gradually all season. Thanks to a hot start, his 2010 OPS has spent most of the season above that of the league average (.770) left fielder. But he has been in a slump since the end of June and hasn’t had a 30-day period of play better than league average. Gomes has been stuck in the .600-.700 OPS range for most of the second half of the season.

54 thoughts on “Drew Stubbs is Streaking Through the Quad

  1. I’m sure I’ll be criticized, but I just don’t see Stubbs as a good major
    league hitter. It’s hard for me to get past the .713 OPS in a full year at AAA at age 24.

    I hope he’s one of the unusual cases of a guy playing great at the major league level compared to what you’d expect.

  2. I’ve certainly noticed that Stubbs has been hitting, including hitting for power. It’s hard not to notice, as hardly anyone else has been.

  3. @Dave Lowenthal: Thing is, Stubbs only needs to be an average ML hitter to be a ‘stud’ centerfielder. His defense is superb, his speed is superb, and he has a very powerfull bat that should only get better with time. There are very few true Center Fielders that I take over Stubbs right now, and only one other in the NL (C. Gonzalez).

    Fact is, 20+ HR, 30+ SB, gold-glove center-fielders are a rare breed. The Reds are in good hands in CF for years to come.

  4. @Dave Lowenthal: This is his 5th professional season, and you’re selectively looking at part of 1 year to make this opinion.

    You can’t get past 1 season at AAA when he’s put up better numbers than that in every other season at every other level, including the 177 games in the majors?

    That “full year” in AAA wasn’t a full season. He also had 196 plate appearances in the majors where he put up a .762 OPS.

    His overall #’s at AAA are better than that (731 ops) if you include his partial season in AAA the year before.

    • @Doug Gray:

      He’s quoting the movie “Old School”, which is also where I’m assuming the headline for this particular blog entry came from.

  5. @Greg Dafler: OK, which year in the minors do you want to trumpet? A high .700 OPS in rookie ball at age 21?
    Yes, he had a reasonable year at age 23, but still didn’t really control the strike zone.

    In any case, let’s look at his .765 OPS in his minor league career then. He didn’t do those
    things at a young age. When one looks at major league equivalencies, you don’t just say, well, he did X in the minors, so he’ll do X in the majors. Stubbs’ OPS as of right now is about at Baseball Prospectus’ 80th percentile of their projection. Their prediction for him was a .670 OPS.

    That’s basically what I was trying to say. He’s outperforming, by a good margin, what one would expect based on what he did in the minors. More power to him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he drops off. Maybe he’ll get better…if he does, he’s a good to very good player given that he can hold down CF.

    • @Greg Dafler: OK, which year in the minors do you want to trumpet?A high .700 OPS in rookie ball at age 21?
      Yes, he had a reasonable year at age 23, but still didn’t really control the strike zone.In any case, let’s look at his .765 OPS in his minor league career then.He didn’t do those
      things at a young age.When one looks at major league equivalencies, you don’t just say, well, he did X in the minors, so he’ll do X in the majors.Stubbs’ OPS as of right now is about at Baseball Prospectus’ 80th percentile of their projection.Their prediction for him was a .670 OPS.That’s basically what I was trying to say.He’s outperforming, by a good margin, what one would expect based on what he did in the minors.More power to him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he drops off.Maybe he’ll get better…if he does, he’s a good to very good player given that he can hold down CF.

      The thing you are overlooking though is the scouting reports. They all touted his power to be much better than what he showed it to be in the minors and if it came, then his numbers were going to get better. The scouts all said “don’t worry, its there and its going to show up, just give it some time”. Sure enough, its showing up and sure enough, his numbers are improving. Guys don’t always follow the exact same bell curve in terms of their growth. When Drew Stubbs was drafted, he was incredibly raw offensively despite being a college player. That draft was really weak that year in terms of hitters (to the point that Stubbs, even 4 years later is one of the three or four best hitters from that draft and you can argue no one taken behind him has an advantage on him from the position player side of things). The Reds and Drew spent multiple seasons working on his swing to get it to the point where it is now.

      And while BP said he was going to be a .670 OPS guy, that was all based on numbers. I projected him at a .345 OBP/.425 SLG based on what I saw from him. I saw the power and figured he was a 20 HR guy instead of a 5 HR guy like his AAA season may have suggested if you solely looked at the numbers. That makes a large difference in ones stat line and scouting plays a large role in things like that and they often get overlooked when projecting guys solely from stats instead of watching guys play, especially young guys who are still learning to use their physical abilities.

  6. The comparisons I hear are of Stubbs to Mike Cameron and those may be valid; after all, Stubbs just recently broke Cameron’s Reds record of strikeouts in a season by a right handed batter.

    Low batting averages, good power, good speed, OBPs of around .330, and good defense.

    If there’s a good leftfielder and a good rightfielder, I think Stubbs is a great fit. We need to upgrade leftfield for Stubbs’s inconsistencies to be minimized.

    • If there’s a good leftfielder and a good rightfielder, I think Stubbs is a great fit. We need to upgrade leftfield for Stubbs’s inconsistencies to be minimized.

      Well said. Between Stubbs’ defense and adequate to somtimes above averge hitting, the Reds can absolutley tolerate him in CF by upgrading LF. The only way I’d want them to upgrade CF right now is if there was somebody even cheaper and better than Stubbs. Not likely. So, spend the money/prospects on the LF corner this off season.

  7. @Matt WI: I agree, I wasn’t advocating getting rid of Stubbs, even at a .670 OPS he’s probably only a tad bit below an average CF overall. But LF, man they need someone.

    • But LF, man they need someone.

      Amen, amen. We’ll have to wait until the winter on that one.

  8. I savaged the guy pretty hard back in July for his cluelessness at the dish. While it’s true he needs to improve in a good many areas (going back on balls, bunting, hitting w/ 2 strikes), I believe some of his crappy play was a direct result of overuse. You’ll remember both he and Bruce were rode really hard the first 3 months of the season and it caught up to both of them at the same time. Dusty loves to rest his veterans, but the young guys don’t get the same treatment. I would assert Stubbs average might look even better had he been used properly.

  9. To echo what’s been said:

    CF is actually one of those positions that’s hard to fill. Most year there are a few great ones and then everyone else “seems” mediocre. Here’s an exercise: sit down and rank all NL CFers. You’ll be surprised how quickly you get to players that don’t seem all that impressive.

    So, a league average OPS, with good speed, and an A or A- glove? That’s actually quite good. Especially when you’re paying him 400K.

  10. I’ve liked the way Stubbs has developed this year. After that terrible slump and sitting out 5 days, he’s come back strong.

    I like Steve’s Mike Cameron comparison. But he’s faster than Cameron and can steal a lot of bases when he’s learned the pitcher’s moves. He can also get more infield hits than Cameron. He’s been learning to bunt (why didn’t he learn that in the minors) and that will add a lot to his arsenal.

    He just glides out there, it’s beautiful to watch. His defense can and will get better. Right now he’s not as reliable as Jay Bruce at hauling in a difficult catch, not sure why. He misjudges balls sometimes and he’s not as aggressive as a CFer should be.

    One defensive flaw was pointed out by a blogger here and then I noticed it was true. After catching a ball, he pauses to set himself before throwing. So even though he has a strong arm, he doesn’t have a quick release and runners advance on him more often than they should.

    • He’s been learning to bunt (why didn’t he learn that in the minors)

      Because you don’t often try to teach guys who can hit the ball 450 feet how to bunt.

  11. @Dave Lowenthal:

    I believe if he can learn to bunt he will become a good enough hitter to warrent being the starting CF on this team.

    What expectations do you have of your CF David?

    • @Doug Gray:
      Why not?Given his speed it should be one of the tools he brings to the plate every single time.

      Because a HR is a lot better than a bunt and given how much work they needed to do with his swing, they went with the swing instead of the bunt.

  12. @Doug Gray: But with his speed you should teach him to bunt early on. Mickey Mantle could hit the ball 550 feet and he learned to bunt, and would beat one out now and then, as the situation dictated.

    Also Stubbs has and will be asked to sac bunt. He’s getting better at it but still learning.

    • @Doug Gray: But with his speed you should teach him to bunt early on.Mickey Mantle could hit the ball 550 feet and he learned to bunt, and would beat one out now and then, as the situation dictated.Also Stubbs has and will be asked to sac bunt. He’s getting better at it but still learning.

      Well the fact that someone actually asked Mickey Mantle to bunt makes my head want to explode, but the game was played an entirely different way back then. Even post ‘juiced’ era, scoring is pretty high and all of the hitters in the line up can hurt you. Bunting before the 8th/9th inning is usually a terrible idea unless you are Norris Hopper good at bunting and hardly anyone is.

  13. @Doug Gray: Fair enough. But you do admit, were Stubbs to be an .850 OPS guy yearly, say, that that would be unusual.

    Scouts do serve an important purpose, of course.

    • @Doug Gray: Fair enough.But you do admit, were Stubbs to be an .850 OPS guy yearly, say, that that would be unusual.Scouts do serve an important purpose, of course.

      Sure, if he turns into an .850 OPS guy it would be a little strange, but if he turned into an .800 OPS guy, not so much. The strikeouts are going to hold him back, because he strikes out like a 35+ HR guy, but only has 25-30 HR power at his peak. So it will be tough to be an elite offensive player like that. Fortunately, to be an elite offensive center fielder in terms of hitting, he needs to be around an 800 OPS. And him being an .800 OPS guy isn’t really a far stretch moving forward and it really wasn’t when he was in the minors either if you knew what to look for.

  14. @rayman5000: OK, thanks. Yes, it’s from Old School, and I’ve seen Old School many times. I’m embarassed to say that I don’t remember that green hat quote.

    @Dave Lowenthal: I’m not trumpeting anything. Stubbs has put up an OPS in the upper 700’s each year except 1. Why is a not-quite-a-rookie .741 OPS performance surprising? Using BP’s 2010 projection isn’t an additional source if they are projecting based on his 100 games at AAA.

    The thing that is kind of missing in the majors so far for Stubbs is his OBP. His worst year in the minors was .353.

  15. Noone ever would ask Mickey Mantle to bunt, he would bunt on his won.
    He would lay down a bunt for a single when a baserunner was needed. He had great speed and a lot of success with this. And this is not just old school stuff, Ken Griffey Jr. would lay down a bunt now and then to beat the shift.

    I’m talking about bunting for a hit here, not giving up an out.

    Stubbs in the meantime is not Mantle or Griffey. Forget about sac bunts if you don’t like those. His learning to bunt will help his average. With his speed he can beat out a well-placed bunt . Then the 3rd baseman has to play him in a little further. That gives a ground ball he hits toward 3rd a better chance to get through.

    As said above, it should be part of Subbs’ arsenal, something that is in the other team’s head even if he only does it occasionally.

  16. @pinson343: In theory it would help him, but its also going to hurt his slugging percentage. It just all depends on how often he can turn a bunt into a single as to whether or not it can actually help his game or not. Right now, it would just hurt his game because he isn’t all that good at it. All the time while learning to be good at it is also going to hurt his game because he isn’t going to be getting it done at a high rate.

  17. @Doug Gray:

    But the chances of getting a hit are greater if he can bunt. Also players can multi task, so why can’t he bunt and hit homeruns?

    • @Doug Gray:
      But the chances of getting a hit are greater if he can bunt.Also players can multi task, so why can’t he bunt and hit homeruns?

      Most players don’t do both. Granted most players aren’t of the skillset of Drew Stubbs either.

      And do we know that the chances of him getting a hit are greater? Stubbs is 2-8 this year on bunts. That is 1 point more than he is hitting this year. Except all bunts are singles at best. Now, lets look at another real fast guy, Michael Bourn. He has only bunted 20 times this year, for 8 hits. How about Juan Pierre? He has 37 bunts this year, but only 10 hits on them. Bunts aren’t really going to make a large difference for Stubbs at all unless he becomes a GREAT bunter. I would rather him just swing for the fences.

    • @Doug Gray:
      What do you have against bunting?

      It is generally a stupid idea. Bunts are only going to be singles, so unless you are Juan Pierre and can’t hit the ball to the wall off of a tee, you are essentially giving in. Sac bunts are the worst ever unless its after the 7th inning and even then its a bad idea at times.

  18. @Doug Gray:

    If Stubbs can bunt and get on base isn’t that a good thing? If he is to be the leadoff man then I would think we would look at whatever options we could to increase his chances to get on base and with his speed, bunting is a no brainer…

    • @Doug Gray:
      If Stubbs can bunt and get on base isn’t that a good thing?If he is to be the leadoff man then I would think we would look at whatever options we could to increase his chances to get on base and with his speed, bunting is a no brainer…

      He shouldn’t be the leadoff man. Guys with 20 HR power shouldn’t ever bat leadoff because you are wasting their power. Top if off with Stubbs not likely getting on base at a .350 clip and its doubly stupid to bat him leadoff.

      As I have shown, even other real fast guys aren’t bunting for hits enough for it to make any real difference in their offensive value.

  19. @Doug Gray:

    That’s why his butt needs to be down at winter ball in AZ doing nothing but working on his bunting skills, then spending the offseason in AZ continuing to work on it and through spring training. Bunting while not easy, can be learned with time and the right teacher.

  20. @Greg Dafler: Where did you get that BP was using 100 AAA games to project? I mean, I don’t know how they project, but does it really ignore age and all minor league performance? Are you just saying this because I quoted BP, and you disagree with basically everything I post (which is fine with me, really!). In any case, on this issue I’m not that far out there, Steve Price doesn’t think he’s going to have plate discipline either. Again, it doesn’t mean he can’t be a useful player. One thing’s for sure, the Reds offensive woes, when they have them, aren’t due to Stubbs…he IS playing CF, after all.

    But anyways, Nate Silver invented Pecota, and I’d be shocked if Silver included only AAA performance. But I honestly don’t know.

    Are you really saying, though, that if a guy puts up a .765 OPS in the minors, and is 25 years old in the majors, that a .740 OPS isn’t surprising? Doug’s comments make sense to me, I didn’t think about the power angle.

    • @Greg Dafler: Where did you get that BP was using 100 AAA games to project?I mean, I don’t know how they project, but does it really ignore age and all minor league performance?

      PECOTA is based on age, stats and comparable players. It takes a players stats, weighs them for most recent to less recent, then finds players who did very similar to that, then figures out a range of outcomes that those players did the next year to give you the ‘% outcomes’. The thing is, as I noted, with young players still learning to use their physical abilities, one year can make all the difference. PECOTA and other projection systems are very good at predicting what veteran established major leaguers will do. It isn’t close to being good at predicting what young players will do because they learn and change so quickly.

  21. The bunt is (a la Junior) an excellent way for a guy with good power and speed to beat the shift. Anything you can do to change the way the defense wants to play you is a positive.

    Having the ability to hit it 500 ft and lay down a bunt sure would make a corner infielder a wee bit hesitant to charge the plate.

    Bunts can also help bring about the end of slumps.

  22. @Doug Gray: Personally, I’d prefer Stubbs work on his hitting, that is plate discipline. Bunting isn’t going to make him an elite player. If in the end he’s really a .670 OPS guy, THEN work on bunting!

  23. @Dave Lowenthal: His .740 OPS in the majors is not surprising. I’m more surprised that his OBP is down and his power seemed to click for him when he hit the majors, than I am that his OPS is .740.

    I thought he’d be .700 or better, but I thought his OBP would be around .350.

    Fangraphs has multiple projection sources on their site:

    Bill James: 726
    CHONE: 708
    Marcel: 778
    ZiPs: 653
    Fans: 728

  24. @Doug Gray: I do understand that it’s not so good at young players, and that’s the large range, I suppose. Anyways, thanks for all the pointers and info…it does make me more optimistic on Stubbs.

  25. @Doug Gray:

    Doug, a hit is a hit, the objective is to get on base. A great man once said..

    Get on, get over and get in and that’s how you win.

  26. @Doug Gray:

    Stubbs is great leadoff option if he can get his obp up and via adding the ability to lay down good bunts will do that. With his basestealing skill if he can get on then the odds of the Reds scoring goes way up. He bunts on, steals second, gets advanced by the no. 2 hitter and droven in by Votto and there you have a run. If he swings away he knocks one out we get a run and the pitcher gets shaken. It’s a win – win situation, Stubbs is the perfect leadoff man if he can perfect his bunting skills.

  27. Doug, Ricky Henderson was a great leadoff hitter who had 297 homeruns over his career.

  28. @dn4192:
    A hit isn’t a hit. Homers are better than triples are better than doubles are better than singles are better than walks/HBP. A single is better than an out, absolutely. But I don’t want guys who can hit 20-25 bombs bunting and making it so they have 5 extra singles and 5 less HR’s because you took the bat out of their hands an additional 20 times during the season.

    As for the second part…. you don’t hit guys with power in the leadoff spot. It is just bad baseball. Let him use his power to drive guys in who can’t hit for power. You want guys to leadoff who hit singles and need someone with power to drive them in. Stubbs hitting 15 solo HR’s isn’t helping us nearly as much as if he hit 6th in the lineup while hitting some HR’s with people on base for him. A guy like Cabrera if he knew how to get on base would fit that mold because he doesn’t have much power. Guys like Stubbs shouldn’t bat up there because you simply waste their power that could be uses to drive in other guys.

    Slap hitters should bat 1-2 (assuming they slap enough hits and have enough walks of course). Power hitters 3-6. The rest 7-9.

    • Doug, outside of the first inning, isn’t there a chance there will be people on base later in the game? I also don’t see Stubbs being a 20-25 HR guy consistantly through out his career, i see more of a 13-18 type of guy who can have incedible runs scored numbers and high stolen base numbers. Personally if he can master the art of bunting for a hit he is my leadoff man for the next 6-8 years.

      @dn4192:A hit isn’t a hit. Homers are better than triples are better than doubles are better than singles are better than walks/HBP. A single is better than an out, absolutely. But I don’t want guys who can hit 20-25 bombs bunting and making it so they have 5 extra singles and 5 less HR’s because you took the bat out of their hands an additional 20 times during the season.As for the second part…. you don’t hit guys with power in the leadoff spot. It is just bad baseball. Let him use his power to drive guys in who can’t hit for power. You want guys to leadoff who hit singles and need someone with power to drive them in. Stubbs hitting 15 solo HR’s isn’t helping us nearly as much as if he hit 6th in the lineup while hitting some HR’s with people on base for him. A guy like Cabrera if he knew how to get on base would fit that mold because he doesn’t have much power. Guys like Stubbs shouldn’t bat up there because you simply waste their power that could be uses to drive in other guys.Slap hitters should bat 1-2 (assuming they slap enough hits and have enough walks of course). Power hitters 3-6. The rest 7-9.

      • Doug, outside of the first inning, isn’t there a chance there will be people on base later in the game?I also don’t see Stubbs being a 20-25 HR guy consistantly through out his career, i see more of a 13-18 type of guy who can have incedible runs scored numbers and high stolen base numbers.Personally if he can master the art of bunting for a hit he is my leadoff man for the next 6-8 years.

        So you think Drew Stubbs has peaked out his power at age 25 and will likely see a decline in his power moving forward from here? That goes against everything we know about a player.

        As for mastering the bunt, how many guys in baseball have it mastered? How long did it take them to master it? Can those guys hit 20+ HR’s?

        You want to make Drew Stubbs into something he isn’t rather than accept what he is. You want to take away his biggest offensive tool to try and give him a few extra bunt singles a season. It simply isn’t worth is.

        As for guys being on for him later in the game, yes, they might be, but not nearly as much as if he hit behind the 3-4-5 guys instead of behind the 7-8-9 guys. Its wasting his best offensive tool in order to scrape out a few extra singles.

        If the guy bunts 50 times in a season and gets 20 hits out of them (thats a .400 average), it is only 7 or so more hits than he would have gotten without those extra 50 bunts, but you also took the potential HR out of his hands 50 times in order to do it. Personally, I will take 2-3 HR’s instead of 7-8 singles and that is likely what we are talking about with Stubbs.

  29. @dn4192:

    Rickey Henderson played in a totally different era too. His managers were stupid to bat him leadoff. That guy had a well above average slugging rate nearly every year of his career. He should have been batting in the middle of the lineup.

    Rickey Henderson’s CAREER OPS+ (weighted for the league, stadium and year played in) would be 3rd best on the team, falling between Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce if he played on this years team. From his age 20-34 years, his OPS+ would ranked 2nd on the team behind only Joey Votto.

    Speed shouldn’t relegate a player to batting leadoff. Ones skillset should. Rickey and Stubbs both possess a skillset that should be nowhere near the leadoff spot, but for very different reasons.

  30. @dn4192: That’s pretty silly, Drew. No one really thinks a hit is a hit, maybe besides you, I guess.

  31. @Dave Lowenthal:

    the objective of the hitter in baseball is to get a hit and get on base. It can’t be anymore simple and basic then that. if stubbs can increase the number of base hits he gets by learning to bunt his way on then he helps himself and the team.

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