2013 Reds

It’s Not That Bad

People are panicking a little bit about Ryan Ludwick, and I’m not sure why. Correspondingly, I want to run down some basic facts:

1. Ryan Ludwick was not going to repeat last year’s performance. I had him projected to be worth 2.0 WAR, making him the “worst” of the Reds starters. That is, if you were going to pick someone to lose for the season, you’d pick Ludwick. Or at least, I would.

2. Chris Heisey, over his career, has rated out as about an average (2.0 WAR) player when you adjust for playing time.

3. Ryan Ludwick’s career line is: .263/.334/.466. Chris Heisey’s career line is: .258/.314/.436. Ryan Ludwick provides very little value on the bases or on defense. This is not true of Chris Heisey (especially where defense is concerned).

4. There is likely to be something of a platoon situation with Heisey/Paul. This should further mitigate the drop-off from Ludwick.

Basically, what has happened is the Reds will now have a less potent bat on the bench than they would have. And I don’t want to hear about Heisey blowing it when he was given the chance to start. Two words, kids: Sample size.

Last week, I projected the Reds to win 95 games. Now, I’d probably call it 94, maybe 93 if I’m feeling really cranky.

34 thoughts on “It’s Not That Bad

  1. I agree with you Jason. I was disappointed that Ludwick was the best option available for left field, and don’t think the sky is falling with him out of the lineup. I would LOVE to see Mark Trumbo in left, and the Reds do have enough pitching that the Angels might be interested. Until then I don’t see a big drop off with Heisey as a short term alternative, but my big concern about all of this is the potential impact on the batting order. PLEASE Dusty if Heisey is in the starting lineup bat him in the 2 hole. Move Frazier up to 4 and drop BP to 6th. Please? Sadly, I don’t see it happening and that’s what worries me. I’m not on the “We have to make a trade now” bandwagon, but I’d say I lean slightly toward the Steve Mancuso side of things with my recommendations on this one. The Reds should platoon Heisey / Paul in left, leave Choo in center, and explore trade options.

    Now on perhaps a more urgent note, Mr. Baker, say this with me one more time “I will not bunt and take the bat out of the hands of Brandon Phillips and the best hitter on the team (the planet?)”. Please repeat.

  2. I hear ya, Jason, but the worst part of this for me is the inevitable lineup mixup. I would’ve really liked to see BP hit ahead of Joey in the 2 hole every game, and would’ve really liked to see what Cozart can do out of the 7th spot all year. BP is not a cleanup hitter. Cozart is not a good 2 hole hitter (neither is Heisey). I agree that there’s no need to panic, but gosh dang it! This injury to Ludwick is just….annoying. For no other reason, it sucks simply because we won’t see the lineup we had hoped to see all year…

  3. Yeah, panic is the word, Jason. But the only reason there is panic is because we didn’t have to worry about the lineups. They were set. Now, we’re back to the same old worries about Dusty putting the worst hitters in the front of the lineup. The only reason I was elated to have Luddy back was because it set the lineup.

    • @Jason Linden: That’s true. I went to a lineup calculator last year when everyone was howling about the lineups. I ran every possibility and the run difference was less than 1 run per game.

      But there is something to say about two things regarding lineups. Some people just hit better in different places. There is also something to say about having people on base in front of Votto. Finally, who do you want to get ~162 more PAs a year: Choo or Cozart?

  4. The not panicking goes both ways. Dusty needs to not panic and just bat Frazier cleanup. Then there wouldn’t be a big issue. It’s the ensuing lineup debacle that we are all anticipating that is the main cause for concern.

  5. Since we’re wishing, I’d love to see Hanigan / Mesoraco in the 2-hole. Hanigan is best bat handler we have and Meso would see a steady diet of fastballs ahead of Votto.

    • @DK in Erie Pa: Starting my count of “Hanigan batting 2” comments for the season…Over/Under is 300.

      Never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever going to happen, and it shouldn’t. I’ve said it before, I bet Hanigan’s OBP dips to Zack Cozart levels if he bats 2nd. But we’ll never know because it will NEVER happen.

      • @eric nyc: Hanigan walked at an above average rate in the minors, too. His OBP would fall some, but it’s silly to imagine he’d be under .300. He’d probably sit in the .340-.350 range.

        • @Jason Linden: I agree with you… wouldn’t you just subtract a few IBB’s (both the truly intentional and the “pitch around”) and still add in a few base hits? When this came up before, I looked it up and Hanigan CRUSHES the league average OBP for an 8th hole hitter. CRUSHES I say. It’s not just the spot that magically endows him with a high OBP.

        • @Jason Linden: I’m probably being harsh with the number, but I think his OBP would drop much more than you think. It’s not about the obvious IBB and pitch arounds. Batting in front of Joey he’s just NOT going to get nearly as many balls. He’s going to have to rely on contact hitting. His sky high BB rate is what drives his OBP and those balls he gets contribute an awful lot to his BA as well. When suddenly he’s forced to start hitting pitchers’ best stuff every AB I think we’d all be in for a reality check. Not to mention just forget about him in the running game. He probably needs damn near a triple to score from first base. It’s just never going to happen so there’s no point in theorizing about it. We had this conversation ALLLLLL last year and he never once batted anywhere but 8th as far as I can remember. Never even 7th.

  6. Not that it’s time to go changing more than is necessary, but if Heisey is going to be an every day guy now, would you want to put him in CF over Choo?

    • @TC: Doubtful. I hope he becomes that kind of hitter, but as long as Hanigan is on the roster he will be catching at LEAST Cueto and Arroyo and likely at least one other. That means that at minimum 20-30% of the games would not have your main cleanup hitter in them and the entire lineup would have to be reshuffled on a daily basis. No chance Dusty does that. Maybe next year we can talk about it, but Frazier has a MUCH better chance of becoming the everyday #4 hitter than Mes does in 2013.

    • @TC: I think that’d be sweet. I know I was hoping Dusty was going to use him as PH on Opening Day. If somebody is going to run into one and knock it out to end a game, it’s probably him (on the bench). I hate that he’s hamstrung by being a catcher.

  7. The bigger issue is that, barring a trade, we won’t have a legitimate power hitting righty to bat cleanup all year. Even if Ludwick comes back, I doubt his power will be where it was last year (which wasn’t THAT great most of the year anyway) and he’ll probably only play half the games he’s back for for the rest of the season.

    That being said, Choo doing his thing at the top of the lineup and everyone else just hitting their numbers should make it a moot point. We’ll still score plenty of runs and win plenty of games. But there is going to be some hooting and hollering about lineup cards from now until October.

  8. My big fear is that this lineup shuffle and Dusty Baker’s propensity to give up outs and DECREASE the odds of scoring, particularly by taking the bat out of Votto’s hands (Steve Mancuso – best hitter in the GALAXY (and probably the Universe)) will have an effect on runs scored and therefore games won. Especially so when Baker seems to make the worst moves at the most important times. Don’t you think Scioscia was sitting in the third base dugout thinking “Please let Phillips bunt so we can walk Votto and face Heisey and an out-of-sorts looking Bruce”? You know he was. That’s where the combination of undesirable lineup construction and poor managerial strategy will cost more than one or two games all year. So far the Reds are 1 for 1 in that sad department.

  9. The more I think about that, the more I’d be happy about a trade for Trumbo, involving Leake, Cingrani, or even Chapman.

  10. I know there’s merit to posting the career numbers for Ludwick and Heisey as a way to compare them. That said, including Ludwick’s seasons in the wilderness of PETCO seems a bit misleading. Just for another set of numbers for comparison, here are the slash lines for those two hitters from last season:

    Ludwick: .275/.346/.531

    Heisey: .265/.315/.401

    While it may be optimistic to think Ludwick could have repeated his numbers from 2012, it’s equally questionable to assert he’d have reverted to his numbers from San Diego.

    It’s also relevant to compare Heisey’s numbers coming off the bench to those of whomever ends up replacing him as a pinch hitter or occasional substitute.

    • I was looking at the Dayton dragons roster as it was announced today. Wow, I wished I lived near Dayton. Looks like it could be 2011 all over again in Dayton.
      Stephenson, Guillon, and the #30 prospect in the starting rotation and top prospects all over the field. Its going to be a good year in Dayton in 2013. The Blaze and Pennsacola rosters look pretty good too.

      Sorry, that sends you to a registration page. I hate those. Just google the rosters for each minor affiliate. Good reading and catching up on the minors. Or go to redsminorleagues.com

  11. Heisey didn’t hit much last year. His OPS was 30 points lower than Mike Leake’s. Is he really our starting corner outfielder all season? People would shudder at the thought of bringing Scott Rolen back, but Rolen’s OPS was identical to Chris Heisey’s last season.

    • @Steve Mancuso: There is the upside factor that people optimistically cling to with Heisey. Rolen was on the fast decline, while Heisey is still fairly young. The sample size is small for him– people are excited giving him a look. Give it a few months and we’ll be calling for someone new.

    • @Steve Mancuso: Steve, that’s not a good comp and you know it. Heisey was only slightly below average last year as an offensive player. Leake was exactly average. Few pitchers manage that, but a lot of good major leaguers hit worse than Mike Leake last year.

  12. Speaking of Rolen, if you want to see how a shoulder injury can usurp a players power, look no further than Rolen. His shoulder injuries devasted his power.

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