Rob beat us to the punch, but I’ve been meaning to write up something highlighting the contributions of this year’s bench* to the success of the 2010 Reds:

The real key for the Reds, though? Their bench. Aside from the regulars, five Reds have more than 100 plate appearances this season. Actually, all five of them have at least 174 plate appearances. Led by catcher Ryan Hanigan, all five have been above-average National League hitters.

Hanigan, Ramon Hernandez, and (in limited action) Corky Miller have combined for 88 RBI, second only to Atlanta’s catchers in the National League. Cincinnati’s catchers rank third in on-base percentage and third in OPS.

The Reds’ other super-subs have been outfielders Chris Heisey and Laynce Nix, and infielders Miguel Cairo and Paul Janish.

Neyer goes on to say that the performance of these guys is an argument for Dusty Baker as Manager of the Year, and it’s hard to argue with that. A couple of things: Hanigan isn’t really a backup, as he’s really been sharing time behind the plate pretty equally with Hernandez when he’s been healthy. That doesn’t detract from Rob’s point one bit. Those guys have been just fantastic when compared with other catchers around the league. They also lead the league in best facial hair, though that’s primarily due to the elite contributions of Corky Miller.

The other guys on the bench have more than done their job. Miguel Cairo is the best example, of course. Though no one on the interwebs wanted him around, Cairo has done his job well every time he’s been called upon, putting up numbers that are far above anything he’s been able to do in recent years. Paul Janish is another example, although I can’t give Dusty much credit in that regard. Over the last two seasons, Dusty has steadfastly refused to give Janish — his 25th man — any playing time except in the event of injury. When called upon, however, Janish has been brilliant defensively, and pretty darn good with the bat, as well.

I’m reminded of the 1990 squad, whose bench executed seemingly every time they were called upon. Think about the names: Hal Morris — who should’ve been the primary starter at 1B, and did spend a good bit of time in the starting lineup. Luis Quinones**. Jeff Reed. Glenn Braggs, Herm Winningham, Ron Oester, Glenn Sutko.

Back to the 2010 club, Rob’s conclusion is also spot-on:

Unfortunately, it’s also an argument against the Reds’ postseason chances. Even if Baker finds playing time for them, it’s far from clear that they’ll continue to perform as well as they have. Generally speaking, if bench players could really hit like regulars, they would be regulars.

That’s true, though I’m much more concerned with how the regulars perform in the playoffs. Think back to 1990, and I guess there are a few instances where backups affected what happened. Glenn Braggs in Game 6 of the NLCS. Billy Bates in Game 2 of the World Series. Herm Winningham in Game 4 of the World Series.

One final thought: Reds pinch-hitters have performed better than almost anyone else in the league, with the fourth-best OPS in the league. And since we’re talking about the playoffs, note that Philadelphia comes in 13th in that column. Just something to think about.

Whatever happens next, it’s clear that we will remember this group of backups fondly in the years to come for their contributions to this special team. By and large, they have all contributed.

*Believe me, I know a thing or two about sitting on the bench.
**Where’s Quinones?

15 Responses

  1. per14

    “Where’s Quinones?” Great reference. That Billy Bates decision turned out to be a great button-push from Pinella. Turned the whole series. Bates’ had to have had the weirdest career of about any Red ever.

  2. bho52

    I still think Bates’ best contribution was winning the cheetah race

  3. Greg Dafler

    The Reds catchers continue to perform very well. I think they are 2nd or 3rd in most offensive categories this year with only Atlanta (McCann) and Minnesota (Mauer) hitting better than the Reds catchers.

    Baker has done a great job with their playing time this year. I think about the only time either Hanigan or Hernandez slumped was when one of the two was on the DL and the other was forced to play nearly every day.

  4. Python Curtus

    Glenn Sutko only appeared in 1 game in ’90, the last game of the year. He went 0-for-1. The next year he played 10 games.
    He is most famous, however, for falling for a practical joke not once, but twice, as reported in both Tom Browning and Eric Davis’s books (Davis didn’t mention him by name but described the incident.)

  5. Chris Garber

    @per14: I love that the producers of Wire to Wire forced Lou to answer the old lady’s question.

  6. Chris Garber

    I’m going to start saying that during the post-season: “I don’t know about that, Dustyyyy. Baker.”

  7. John

    One of the best moves I ever made was making personal copies of my Wire to Wire and 1990 World Series VHS tapes to DVD-Rs. The day my VCR conks out, I’ll still be able to watch them, and the day my DVD players all conk out, I’ll have them ripped to my computers already. Gotta plan ahead for these things.

    • jdarts

      One of the best moves I ever made was making personal copies of my Wire to Wire and 1990 World Series VHS tapes to DVD-Rs.The day my VCR conks out, I’ll still be able to watch them, and the day my DVD players all conk out, I’ll have them ripped to my computers already.Gotta plan ahead for these things.

      I like the way you think.

  8. dn4192

    I wonder, how many of us here really thought the bench players would offer so much this season and figured they would be a downfall of this team. ❓

  9. icee82

    I will be glad when MLB releases the 1990 World Series on DVD.

  10. jdarts

    Tonights lineup

    Stubbs
    Phillips
    Votto
    Rolen
    Bruce
    Gomes
    Hernandez
    Janish
    Wood

  11. renbutler

    @Python Curtus: I actually had to look up Sutko because I didn’t recognize his name. That’s when I realized his inclusion in this post was probably a joke!

    I was just a kid when the Reds won in 1990, but I still have pretty vivid memories of the series — including Billy Bates. But I didn’t realize until today how short of a career he actually had.

  12. BJ Ruble

    The bench has been way better than I thought. My opinion is that Janish should have been the starter anyways, Hanigan & Hernandez did about as expected (Ramon a little better than I expected), Nix was as expected, and Heisey was a bit of a surprise.

    Cairo was the lone huge surprise for the season. He looked dreadful in spring training and hasn’t been all that useful to a team in a while. He is of course very mediocre most of the time (especially defensively), but when he filled in for Votto at any time this year, he absolutely raked. I thought Cairo had no value to the team at the beginning of the year, but he turned out to be a real gem to this season.

  13. mchapman

    That video was truly awesome and those ladies were always one of my favorite parts. Too bad that youtube clip cuts off right before they say, “OOOOOh, BATES!”

    I was at a long rain delay this year, and they showed the Wire to Wire video from start to finish. Everyone was so absorbed in it! I’ve never seen something on the big screen hold everyone’s attention so well; it was fun to react all together. When the video ended, almost everyone left the park, as if they had forgotten their purpose was the game, but just wanted to finish out the film.