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.