2012 Reds / Believe

The Coming Offensive Explosion

Disclaimer: This post uses lots of fancy stats. If fancy stats hurt your eyes, you may want to go look at a list of league leaders in ribbies or dubyas, which, as we all know, are not stats so much as truth.

First, let’s start with a fun little exercise. I am going to give you two batting orders. One is a standard Reds lineup. The other is for a mystery team.

[table id=29 /]

So which lineup do you take? You have to take the second one right? I mean, their masher isn’t quite as good as Votto’s been this year, but it’s much stronger top to bottom. There’s just no way you can justify taking Votto’s production when basically every other spot is significantly better.

Now comes the fun surprise: It’s the same lineup.

Okay, it’s not the same “Mystery 8” is Devin Mesoraco. Otherwise, yeah, totally the same.

What’s the difference? Luck.

I tripped over a recent Fangraphs article that allows you to calculate what a player’s BABIP should be. Basically, it looks at how many line drives a player hits, how many groundballs, etc. It looks at how this player has done on those type of hits in the past, and at how the league does on them and then it figures out what BABIP should be if luck had not factored into that player’s season.

I took those numbers and figured out what each of the 11 players who will see most of the at bats for the rest of the season should be hitting and, well, there you go. Let’s take a look at the full data set now:

[table id=30 /]

Let me take a moment to explain. The first four columns are self explanatory. You get the OBP, SLG, and OPS of each player as they stood Tuesday afternoon. Then, in the middle, you get the difference between the players xBABIP (expected batting average on balls in play) and their current BABIP (again, as of Tuesday afternoon). A negative number means they’ve been unlucky, a positive number means they’ve been lucky. As you can see, only two Reds (Votto and Frazier) have been lucky and only two (Heisey and Hanigan) are more or less where they should be. Everyone else has been unlucky. Often, very unlucky.

After that, you see the adjustments I made. Adjusting the OBP to where it should be is relatively simple. For the slugging, I had to make judgement calls on how to add or subtract hits. Generally, I did this as evenly as possible. If, for instance, a player “should” have 6 more hits and 2/3 of his in-play hits were singles and 1/3 were doubles, I gave him 4 additional singles and 2 additional doubles.

Also, we are, basically, talking about adding singles and doubles here (I took a triple away from Frazier). Triples are rare and homers are almost always NOT in play.

Of course, this is not a perfect analysis. It doesn’t take into account outlandish home run rates (I don’t buy Ludwick with a .900 OPS). It doesn’t look at how likely a player is to sustain his current walk rate. So no, this is not perfect. It’s pretty interesting though, isn’t it?

The Reds have been overwhelmingly unlucky this year. Sure Stubbs and Rolen have still not been good, but they haven’t been so terrible. And boy, Cozart and Mesoraco sure look a lot better, don’t they?

When I started doing this, I didn’t know what I’d find. I figured Stubbs and Rolen had been unlucky while Votto and Frazier had been lucky, but other than that, I didn’t have any idea. I figured it would probably all balance out.

But it didn’t. And what that tells us is that this team is better than we’ve seen. They really should hit better going forward, especially given the light schedule they have for the remainder of the year. Hopefully, what should happen is what actually happens.

81 thoughts on “The Coming Offensive Explosion

  1. @Jason Linden:

    I was in no way implying any kind of “Gotcha!” in my questions.

    I am an autodidact and love the ways words can change their meanings. Some, like moot, decimate,, and peruse have changed their meaning 180 degrees.

    Not, of course, to be confused with the hyperbolic use of bad, or sick.

  2. Wow, I typed that last thing and the compute froze up solid. Who did I offend, God or Todd?? Whoever, please, I was just kiddin’. Really. Sort of. Newton, Mass. ??

  3. BP gets the day off

    Zack Cozart 6
    Drew Stubbs 8
    Jay Bruce 9
    Ryan Ludwick 7
    Scott Rolen 5
    Todd Frazier 3
    Wilson Valdez 4
    Devin Mesoraco 2
    Homer Bailey 1

  4. The get-away game lineups are like little early Christmas presents Dusty leaves for us.

  5. @groujo: You can crunch all the numbers you want, but this offense would be much more effective just by doing the little things. When a guy hits a lead-off double, get him to third with a ground ball. If Dusty calls a bunt, get the freaking ball on the ground. Hit a sac fly every once in a while.

    Sure this team may be unlucky to a certain extent, but these are all things that are in the players control if they are just smart and willing to do them.

    The Reds are 17-16 in one run games. The Pirates are 21-16. The Pirates offense isn’t better than the Reds, but they make smart baseball plays.

  6. I think Paul McCartney can summarize this entire discussion for us:

    With a little luck, we can help it out.
    We can make this whole damn thing work out.

    Can’t you feel the (offense) exploding?

  7. @nelly33: I don’t suppose you want to hear about how all the evidence shows that one run games are almost entirely determined by luck/chance or that giving up outs almost always reduces you chances of scoring.

  8. Another general comment here: One of the things that I think is getting missed is that we are just talking about a handful or two of hits for each player. I’d have to rerun my data to say for sure, but as I recall, the most hits a player had added to his total was 9. At this point in the season, that equates to about one extra hit every two weeks. It doesn’t seem like much, but it really adds up.

  9. Reds have also knocked out a bunch of games with the really good pitching clubs like the Nationals, Braves, Giants, Dodgers etc. I think you are already seeing a bit of this difference in the hitting in this last good run.

  10. First, I have to say that I love the fact that the words “Higgs” and “boson” appeared here today.

    Second, Jason: How much of these BABIP numbers can be attributed to the fact that the Reds have played the toughest part of their schedule already? Better teams have better pitchers who produce more ground balls to better defensive infielders? Or am I missing something?

  11. @Richard Fitch: No, I think you’re onto something. I’d thought about that and meant to mention it in the post but forgot.

    Though, now that I look at it, ESPN has their strength of schedule at .500, so that’ shouldn’t really do it. Playing in the Central will make for an easier schedule, it seems.

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