Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….

Cincinnati 5
Atlanta 6

W: T. Hudson (6-7)
L: M. Latos (8-3)
S: C. Kimbrel (25)

–Shin-Soo Choo reached base three times from the leadoff spot, again. Choo was 2-4 with a double and a walk, and he scored three of Cincinnati’s five runs.

–Brandon Phillips was 2-4 with a double, and he drove in two more runs. That’s 69 RBI on the season for BP.

–Cincinnati got some outstanding relief work from Logan Ondrusek and Alfredo Simon, if you can believe it. Four innings of shutout baseball.

—Corky Miller is back with the Reds. That’s a positive development.

–A rare poor start for Mat Latos, who only survived four innings. Latos gave up six runs on nine hits and two walks, though he struck out seven. Mama said there’d be days like this.

–The Reds scored two in the first, but one wonders if they could have scored more, if not for a classic Brandon Phillips TOOTBLAN. After BP drove in a run, Jay Bruce came to the plate, with BP on first and Joey Votto on third. Bruce delivered a single that scored Votto, but Phillips was thrown out trying to advance to third, for the second out of the inning. The play wasn’t even close, and I’m not sure why Phillips thought he could make it.

We’ll never know if the Reds could have scored more, but they would have had runners at the corners with one out. Doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility that they could have gotten one more run…and they only lost the game by one.


–You know, you score five runs for Mat Latos, and you’re gonna have a pretty good chance on most nights. Not tonight, because, you know, that’s the way things seem to be going for the Reds right now.

–That was Latos’ shortest start of the season.

–No one in their right mind thinks Zack Cozart should be hitting second. We’re not going to debate that any longer. But it really irritates me when Joey Votto is left standing in the on-deck circle as the final out is made in a one-run game.

Source: FanGraphs

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Join the conversation! 124 Comments

  1. I really can’t understand this notion that the Reds are so bad on offense because they leave lots of runners on. If you put guys on base more than any other team, then unless there are really strange things that go on, you will leave lots of guys on base.

    Think about it this way: when you get guys on base, if you drive them in, generally the guys that drove them in are now on base. Unless you’re leaving the yard or hitting into lots and lots of double plays per opportunity (which the Reds are not), then eventually, the inning ends, and eventually you’ve left guys on base–whether you scored or not! That’s why the BRM had so many LOB. And if you want to throw the I must be an idiot sabermetric/moneyball/blah blah at me, the above has no math, no analysis, nothing like that.

    Again: the Reds put tons of guys on and hit at .250 with RISP. That’s about right. So they lead the league in LOB. So what?

    Then there’s the notion that it’s so different hitting with RISP, because the pitcher does things differently, etc. I’d love to hear then, why Phillips hits like Babe Ruth with RISP, and like Zack Cozart on a bad day with no RISP. If it’s harder to hit with RISP, how does that fit?

    • HAT: Then there’s the notion that it’s so different hitting with RISP, because the pitcher does things differently, etc. I’d love to hear then, why Phillips hits like Babe Ruth with RISP, and like Zack Cozart on a bad day with no RISP.If it’s harder to hit with RISP, how does that fit?

      I agree with your logic about LOB, I think just about everyone here does.

      But BP’s hitting better with runners in scoring position doesn’t contradict people who say it’s different. Different doesn’t necessarily mean the hitter will be worse.
      This year with a runner in scoring position, BP is focused on making contact, going the other way, etc., essentially trying to drop in a single. With no one on, he’s swinging for the long ball. He also changes his swing and approach once he has 2 strikes.

      I don’t doubt the well-studied claim that over time a hitter’s BARISP is usually about the same as his BA.

      • Situational training can be done. It’s just a matter of if you are going to do it or not. It was always one reason why Michael Jordan attributed to his game ending shots. He trained to take those shots.

        Granted, there is no substitute than actual playing, whether pickup or whatever. But, past that, players have to be able to imagine themselves in those circumstances when they train.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Interesting and persuasive analysis. I suspect that BP (and other guys down through history)provide anecdotal evidence of “clutchiness,” a concept difficult to really quantify, but logical. I expect that we all know people who perform better under pressure; why should it be different for a guy with a bat in his hands?

  2. Again: please remember that the Reds could not have gotten Choo for Cozart. Also, I still believe by the end of the season, Didi will be hitting around Cozart’s numbers. Better, but not by much. He’s been free falling ever since his hot start. Didi Gregorious is a bad hitter.

  3. I feel bad for Cozart, after reading John Fay’s article. He knows what a liability he is in the 2-spot, but Dusty keeps sending him out there…to learn, “how to hit at the big league level”…in front of an MVP player…on a team that is in a titanic playoff fight…in the best division in baseball. No pressure, kid.

    • @wildwestLV: Almost no one ever learns how to hit at the big league level. And as Al said, the idea that Cozart will make an excellent #2 hitter while not being an excellent hitter is ridiculous on its face. Cozart is a terrible hitter, and he will very, very likely always be a terrible hitter. This idea from Dusty that all he has to do is stop hitting the ball in the air is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. The one thing Cozart gives you is, when he hits the ball, some power. Yeah, sure, let’s take that away from him, so instead of a line like 230/261/358, we can get something like 235/280/300. Brilliant!

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate: The thing to remember is, Cozart got up here because of his bat. Before, we had Janish putting up low numbers. And, the scouting report on Cozart then was he was no better than Janish with a bit more power and speed. Well, under Bakerman, any speed isn’t a factor. When Janish started floundering and Cozart was in the zone at AAA back then, he finally got called up and was hitting great, until trying to field a bad throw from Votto. Since then, Cozart has regressed back to his “Janish with a bit more power” style. And, our two wondering hitting coaches, Bakerman and Joke-oby, can’t bring it back out from him.

    • I feel bad for Cozart, after reading John Fay’s article. He knows what a liability he is in the 2-spot, but Dusty keeps sending him out there…to learn, “how to hit at the big league level”…in front of an MVP player…on a team that is in a titanic playoff fight…in the best division in baseball. No pressure, kid.

      For those that haven’t seen the article. It’s Dusty in all his glory. He said “I’ve already had him down in the order. I had him down in the 7th hole probably half the time.” Fay points out he’s hit in the 7th hold 17 times, 8th twice, 9th once..2nd, 63 times. This is the second time in about a week that Dusty tried to blow something by the beat guys and they’ve told or shown him wrong (the first pitch swinging and now this). He makes it sound like his job to “teach” Cozart over winning games.

      Also, on Phillips getting thrown out at 3rd, the Enquirer said he held up going around second, I didn’t see it.

      • @Bill Lack: Yeah, the tv guys acutally said “Phillips holds at second, no wait he is going for third” but the camera was on Heyward at the time.

        We don’t know if Speier was waving him and Phillips followed the order but I doubt it.

  4. I want to repeat that it seems incredibly likely to me that Todd Frazier simply cannot recognize pitches quickly enough to lay off the hooks in the dirt. He’s still doing acceptably. But there’s not to my knowledge some kind of training for this. You either have it or you don’t, like Posnaski said re: Frenchy.

    Also, Al posted this on the game thread, from SI:

    “The Reds’ offense continues to be propped up by Joey Votto, Shin-Soo Choo and Jay Bruce, with minimal help from the rest of the lineup. Those three are Cincinnati’s only players whose adjusted OPS+ is above league average among the 11 Reds with at least 100 PAs — only the Marlins and Yankees have fewer players with an above-average OPS+ this year.”

    I think this is really misleading. The Reds have guys with OPS+ of 152, 136, 117 (those are the three mentioned), but then they have three guys with OPS+ of 95, 97, 98 (Phillips, Paul, Frazier). The quote above is misleading because it makes is sound like the have a bunch of completely horrible hitters outside of the big three.

    • HAT: I want to repeat that it seems incredibly likely to me that Todd Frazier simply cannot recognize pitches quickly enough to lay off the hooks in the dirt.

      That’s what they were saying on the mlbnetwork broadcast. Frazier cannot recognize the pitch in time, so he starts his swing assuming a fastball and then lunges to adjust to a breaking pitch. As mentioned in the game thread, they showed how strong his stats are against fastballs and how weak against breaking pitches.

      I’ve also heard (and seen) that even when out in front he has a lot of bat speed, which is how he manages to hit off speed pitches at all.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Frazier has definitely regressed. Or, spinning it another way, the league has the book on Frazier and how to get him out, making the adjustments. And, our two wonderful hitting coaches have again failed to get the batter to make corresponding adjustments to make the batter a better batter.

      It simply amazes me that, with two hitting coaches on this team in Bakerman and Joke-oby, the strength of this team is pitching and defense.

      • @steveschoen: A certain, probably large amount of hitting well is innate ability: great eyesight, great reflexes, fast-twitch muscle strength, etc. Hitting coaches cannot coach that: they can make adjustments to mechanics, they can suggest different strategic approaches, but they can’t make a guy with good reflexes become a guy with great reflexes. Dusty is the manager, not the hitting coach.

        • @greenmtred: Don’t forget, Dusty’s background is as hitting instructor. He even took over Gomes instruction personally to try to get him on the right track. As well as, he can tell Joke-oby how to instruct, what to concentrate on. If he isn’t, then he needs to be.

          As with everything else, definitely agree. But, are the players using those great reflexes properly? Are they using the fast twitch muscles properly? Hitting coaches can definitely teach that. You are talking physiological. I am talking mechanics, teaching technique.

  5. Dusty can’t move Cozart out of the two spot until he’s completely crushed every ounce of confidence from him. I thought one important aspect of managing was putting your players in the best position to succeed.

    • @Elio Chacon: It is. That’s why Dusty is, and has been, a bad manager.

      • @redskaph: Agreed. Players manager? I just don’t see it. Players enjoy playing for him? Really, they enjoy playing like this?

      • @redskaph: His record is not that of a bad manager. Knowing that somebody will say that he owes his record entirely to the good luck of having good players, I will ask how many managers win with bad players? Anybody?

        • @greenmtred: It is a classic “chicken or the egg” situation if you agree with the assumption that good management can affect the outcome of baseball games. Also, if you agree that putting players in a position to succeed will lead to better performance. Maybe players are perceived as “bad” because a manager put them in an untenable sitation. (See: Cozart batting 2, when most people would have no problem with him as a player if he hit 7 or 8)

          Look at Baltimore for a decent example. Very bad for a long time and then started turning it around and made the playoffs last year w/o any real superstars. They DID have an unsustainably good bullpen, but I think the point stands. Baltimmore’s manager (Showalter?) constructed good lineups and put his players in a position to succeed. Look at what he’s doing this year with Chris Davis. Bats him 5th. You think if Votto all of a sudden started hitting homers Dusty would drop him in the lineup to let him hit with more runners on? Probably not. (And I’m not advocating this, by the way.) If Davis hit 3rd, he’d likely have 35 less RBIs than he currently does, even though as the “best hitter on the team” Dusty would bat him 3rd. Dusty would also likely bat Machado 7th instead of 2nd (Maybe not, but hey!)

        • @greenmtred: Correction. His regular season record is that not of a bad manager, even though for as many games as he has won and as many years as he has managed, he sure hasn’t been to the playoffs that much.

          How would he have managed that long? Bakerman is the ultimate “utility fielder” of managers. Every team looks to have one and will actively seek the market for one. Once when they find one, as long as the price is right, they will keep that utility fielder for as long as possible. But, ultimately to the success of the team, he has little to do with the success of the team. As a matter of fact, as a utility fielder, if they are called on to play a lot, the team is probably struggling.

          His post season record is that of an absolute loser.

          • @steveschoen: Only one team wins it all. I don’t know how good/bad Dusty or any other manager is, but suspect that managers whom we revere are managers with good players–players who would be good playing for almost anybody. I disagree with specific decisions Dusty makes, of course, but I don’t think that this team would do much better with another manager. Too many guys who don’t hit well for that.

    • @Elio Chacon:

      I also see it as Dusty’s ego. He will NOT make a move that the fans/media deem intelligent, appropriate, etc. It’s ego, it has to be HIS idea. Like dropping him in the order…sure, if you look at Robinson/Paul/Heisey’s numbers in the 2 hole, they’re not great either (actually, Paul are good), but it’s such a small sample size that you can’t make any decisions. But Dusty tries it for a game or so, and then basically decides, “well that didn’t work”..and puts Cozart back up there, which had proven over a much larger percentage of chances to have proven that it is not going to work.

  6. Mat Latos seemed to be upset by some awful calls from the home plate umpire.
    The worst was in the 4th inning, a called strike 3 on Reed Johnson that was so obvious that Johnson started to walk back to the dugout. It was called a ball, and 3 line drives resulting in 3 runs immediately ensued.

    Latos didn’t use the umpire as an excuse at all, just said he was throwing right over the plate and couldn’t adjust. But while the Braves were running around the bases, Latos was talking with the umpire about the call rather than backing up home plate and playing his position. He’s got to stop doing crap like that.

  7. The interpretation of the Brave broadcasters was that Phillips was trying to deke Heyward, and make a delayed advance to 3rd base, hoping that Heyward would throw behind him. Heyward wasn’t fooled at all.

    That worked on Thursday for a delayed tag up on a fly ball to Logan Schafer of the Brewers, but Heyward is much more experienced and has a strong throwing arm.

    BP makes too many outs running the bases.

    • @pinson343: That’s one of the things wrong with BP. I am a fan of his, but I don’t think the Reds should have extended him, at least not for 5 years for that much money. BP is losing a little bit more each year. His base-stealing speed is essentially gone. His first-to-third speed is essentially gone. But, he fails to see it, fails to accept it, thus fails to make the adjustments necessary, thus only hurts the team in that respect.

      The thing is, you would think a coach would kick him in the rear and tell him to wake up sometime, that he just doesn’t have it anymore and to make the adjustments.

  8. “The bullpen extended its overall scoreless streak to 31 2/3 innings.” This is remarkable. With that kind of relief pitching, the Reds should be winning more.

  9. The Braves broadcasters were going crazy over Freeman’s hits and his split on BP’s GIDP. Actually he took his foot off the base and BP was safe anyway.

    But the headline: “Jeter sparks Yankee win” is even worse. He went 1 for 4 with an infield single, then had to leave with a leg cramp.

  10. All the focus seems to be on Cozart and rightfully so but has anyone watched Frazier swing away lately? If it isn’t a fastball or hanging breaking pitch, he’s wailing at pitches in the dirt. Definite red flag. Per Reds: the ‘right-before-All-Star-break implosion is right on que. Man, this team is tough to watch right now.

  11. Votto’s defense was a negative. He is excellent at digging out throws in the dirt; good enough on range; and pretty bad throwing. He doesn’t use proper footwork for his throws, looking sometimes like Tim Tebow on mushrooms. That misplay turned out to be big.

    Andy Fletcher was squeezing Latos last night.

    • @Big Ed: I know others have, but I have never been impressed with Votto’s fielding. Especially on throwing the ball, I rarely see him make a good throw. There was the other night. I was pleasantly surprised then.

  12. I’m sorry, but I will say this. I am and always will be a Reds fan. This team is barely treading water right now for the playoffs, I believe. But, they are on the verge of going under any day now with how this is going. Something/Someone better light a fire under them and soon, or the Reds will be going under. And, I just don’t think Bakerman is the guy to do the job. I don’t think he could light a fire with a year’s supply of toothpicks and a flamethrower.

    If the Reds do drop out of the pennant race, at least there could be one thing to look forward to, the end to Bakerman’s reign in Cincinnati. For, if he does come back again, it will be real hard for me to care about the Reds. I will still be a Reds fan. I just couldn’t care to go to their games much anymore, watch them on TV at home, go to B-dubs to watch them with friends, etc., if we don’t make the playoffs “and” Bakerman is still around (you can include Joke-oby in there, also).

    • @steveschoen: No, this team’s main problem is that it just doesn’t have a good right-handed hitter. None of the righties can really hit right-handed pitichers very well. Phillips and Frazier are OK overall, but a Tony Perez or Eric Davis sure would look good in that lineup.

      If they fired Dusty, which they aren’t going to do, then they still wouldn’t have a right-handed hitter. If they hire Earl Weaver or John McGraw or Joe Maddon, they still won’t have a right-handed hitter. Granted, they wouldn’t have Cozart hitting second, but given their talent, they are going to have a hole somewhere in the lineup. (Most of us would suggest the hole be the #8 hitter.)

      Price and Baker have done a fabulous job with the pitching this year, now that a miscast Broxton has flamed out.

      • @Big Ed: Oh, I never said Bakerman was the team’s main problem. I was only refering to how if the playoffs aren’t the reward, then maybe the end of Bakerman is something we could look forward to.

        As for the batting, left or right handed, I always thought we were one more bat short. I believe first priority for Uncle Walt was a 4 hole hitter. When he couldn’t find that, he went after Choo for the leadoff hitter. I don’t blame Uncle Walt one bit for that. But, I will blame Bakerman and Joke-oby when most every batter here doesn’t improve, even gets worse, when they both suppose to be hitting instructors.

  13. I did not like last night. Not at all. While the Reds are sitting at 10 games over, the Cardinals are sitting at 20 games over. It is time for this team to go.

    • @TC: I won’t say go. But, I will say they need to do something.

      Or, maybe, something I believe Steve M has talked about before with Bakerman’s managing style, there is no accountability. How about some accountability? Even if the one held accountable would be the incorrect one experiencing the consequences, at least it would show the players they need to wake up or they will lose their job.

    • @TC: I hope the WC isn’t creeping into the player’s heads

  14. Now I would never say that I would rather have Cozart at bat in the clutch over Votto but if we look at the numbers Votto’s not getting it done either. Lets not put all of the blame on Cozart.

    Runners On 2 Outs – Avg
    Cozart .215
    Votto .136

    Scoring Position 2 Outs – Avg
    Cozart .200
    Votto .125

    Those numbers are horrendous either way you slice it. Votto is not just hitting in the clutch this year.

    • @beetle3211: Incorrect. Votto this year with RISP is 26 for 83 for a .313 batting average. He is 3 for 24 with RISP and 2 outs for a .132 batting average, which means that he is 23 for 62 for a .370 batting average with RISP and less than 2 outs. But I guess for some reason around here, many people think that BA with RISP and 2 outs is all that matters.

      I wonder if people would be happy if Votto were 3 for 24 with BA with RISP and 2 outs and 62 for 62 with RISP and less than 2 outs, or if the 3 for 24 would be all that mattered.

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate:
        Like I said at the beginning I am not saying I would rather have Cozart over Votto. I understand that Votto is batting .313 with runners in scoring postition but with two he is not hitting. For a comparision below are his stats from last year. So again Votto is not hitting Votto like in the clutch. He is getting on base when the bases are empty.

        Runners On – .353
        Runners On 2 Outs – .341
        Scoring Position – .370
        Scoring Position 2 Outs – .300
        Bases Empty – .326

        Runners On – .287
        Runners On 2 Outs – .136
        Scoring Position – .313
        Scoring Position 2 Outs – .125
        Bases Empty – .342

        • @beetle3211:
          He has also stuck out 79 times this year. Any guesses how many times he struck out last year….. 85. But I still would rather have him on my team than not. Just pointing out stats as to why the Reds are struggling scoring runs this year. Its not just the #2 hole that is the problem.

        • @beetle3211: You conveniently left out RISP and 0 or 1 out. He is hitting 40 points lower with RISP than last year, overall. Unless you want to focus on 24 ABs.

    • @beetle3211: You can’t measure “clutch” performance by RISP. It doesn’t account for runs driven in by outs, like sacrifice flies and ground balls. It doesn’t account for runs driven in from first base. It doesn’t account for runs scored on home runs, which could be extremely important hits. It also doesn’t account for runners advanced, which is much more important.

      Example from the other day: Shin-Soo Choo walks. Cozart makes an out. Votto doubles down the left-field line, moving Choo to third base. Brandon Phillips hits the ball two feet, right into the ground. It bounces so high that the third baseman has no play on Choo and he scores.

      BP gets the RBI in that situation, but Votto’s the one who played the most important role in that run scoring.

      Saying Votto isn’t clutch based on a single, terrible, meaningless statistic is weak sauce.

      • @beetle3211: Saying Votto isn’t clutch based on a single, terrible, meaningless statistic is weak sauce.

        Votto hasn’t been clutch this year. He’s a good player, and our best hitter and most likely set the bar for himself ridiculously high during the last couple of years, but I have to agree with beetle3211. In the (too few) AB’s where it comes down to him with 2 outs, he has struggled to perform. I’m hoping he has a sick second half! As much as Cozart gets the blame for being miscast/misused as a #2 hitter, I feel that Votto should be held more accountable for the struggling/inconsistent offense due to the money and expectations for him.

  15. From the UNREAL department: Has anyone checked out Matt Carpenter’s stats this year? OMG! he’s slashing .322/.394/.503 !!! Eerily similar to Votto’s slash line .319/.431/.506. How do the Cards find these guys at will?

    • @zab1983: I can’t help thinking it’s called coaching. I mean, seriously, look what Dave Duncan did with so many pitchers. Kyle Lohse was here. He was nothing like the Kyle Lohse who was with the Cards.

      • @steveschoen: what about edwin encarnacion? dude hits 40 hr/year now with blue jays, man he was soooo bad here. probably my least favorite red ever

        • @zab1983: Exactly. Edwin’s glove was bad here. But, his hitting wasn’t anywhere near it has been with the Jays.

      • @steveschoen: Matt Carpenter has hit at every single level he’s played at, with really good peripherals. It’s called drafting well.

        Edwin is a good example of a young hitter that was probably rushed to the majors too fast, then played at a position that he couldn’t handle and whose defensive struggles seemed to impact his offense. Then EE was given up on right before he was about to hit his prime to grab an aging veteran. Reds apparently needed to learn that you don’t give up on high upside hitters entering their prime age 26/27 years.

        If only they had moved EE to 1B, and JV to LF.

        • @CP: I would tend to agree, and what you say can still be true, but EE did spend 5 years in the minors, and Carp spent 3 years in the minors. If anyone was rushed through the minors, it would very possibly be Carp.

          One more time, EE was let go because of his glove at 3rd, the position he played most of the time throughout the minors. For the last 2 seasons, he’s been mostly DH and 1st for the Jays.

          • @steveschoen: Did you happen to look at their ages? 😀

            Yeah, I have no idea why the Reds felt so compelled to play at EE at 3B. He was a good athlete with a cannon for an arm (which fans in the 1B stands often found out the hard way). He was dreadful in the field every stop through the minors. Move him somewhere else.

    • @zab1983: Uhh, yeah. I keep wondering how people think this guy is inferior to Phillips. Carpenter is one of the 10 best hitters in the NL, any way you slice it.

      He is a strange case, I think he was hurt a good bit in college and got a medical redshirt, so he was 23 when drafted. At 23, Jay Bruce was starting his 3rd year with the *Reds*. It’s really unusual to find a great hitter who does not break in to the bigs until 26, like Carpenter. Carpenter also has a career OBP of .408 in the minors. Looking at his major league numbers, he’s nearly the same hitter he’s been his whole career, just with a touch more power.

      I don’t know what the Cardinals are doing at the personnel level, but I’m surprised there haven’t been major defections. I’d think other teams would hire some of their personnel guys to higher positions to figure out whatever they are doing.

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate: He’s also playing OOP. I can’t say what his defense is like, but you move a 3B/corner OF to 2B, and their numbers will look a lot better. Tbh, with the current crop of terrible hitting SS around the league, I wonder if teams should play more good hitters OOP.

        • @CP: I can’t say either, but his dWAR is positive, and from that I conclude only that he isn’t terrible. If he’s merely a bit below average, he’s way more valuable than Phillips. Overall, my point is that it’s not just looking a lot better, even if he was an OF he’s a top 10 hitter.

  16. Brandon PHillips is borderline out of control with his baserunning and his lack of thinking IMO. Did anyone see BP almost break something Flashing the safe sign while passing 1b at the UMP? I first guessed the BP contract at the time and it’s obvious Reds paid for past production and not future.

  17. Speaking of E5:

    Frazier reminds me a bit of EE when he was here, offensively. Flashes of brillaince, but overmatched by breaking stuff.

    Thing is, EE finally figured it out and has become the masher the Reds thought they drafted. I know it’s too much to hope Frazier goes through a similar transition, but people CAN learn to lay off balls in the dirt.

    • @CI3J: EE could only dream of having Frazier’s defense and overall intangibles……really pulling for the guy but man frazier looks bad

    • @CI3J: I feel that Encarnacion was a much different hitter. He did not have the single huge blind spot that Frazier has for breaking balls. Maybe I’m not remembering correctly.

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate:

        EE was a very streaky hitter, and like most young hitters he had trouble with breaking pitches. Maybe not to the extent of Frazier, but you can see he didn’t really “figure it out” until his age 29 season. I think that’s about the grace period I’d give Frazier to “figure it out” before I conclude he’s never going to hit the breaking ball.

        Cozart, on the other hand, is so bad at so many facets of offense, and has been in the bigs for so long, that to me his grace period has already ended.

        • @CI3J: That’s fair. I’m certainly not advocating getting rid of him, he’s still somewhat valuable. I just believe (no proof) that he has a physical limitation.

  18. Just came across this article via Lance McAlister’s website, on why Cozart shouldn’t be hitting second.

  19. I’m not sure how Corky Miller being back with the Reds is a positive, unless he was back as a coach.

  20. Thanks so much to everybody who responded to my query about the definitiveness of advanced metrics. Another question: is there a particular book that would serve as a primer?

    • @greenmtred: I don’t know about any books, but fangraphs.com has nice write-ups about all the different advanced metrics that is a good starting point. I’d head there and see how you like it.

  21. Some positives since Baker will never change his mind on batting Cozart 2nd:
    His BABIP is only .252, so we should see some regression to the mean.
    His K% is second on the team behind BP and near Miguel Cabrera’s at 15.3%
    Also, his War is +0.6

    Also, what is wrong with what Frazier is doing? He’s been great this season.
    Playing above average defense (already saved 8.1 runs)
    Career high BB% and OBP
    2.4 WAR right now
    LD% and BABIP are both below his career averages, so both should rise resulting in more hits

    • @justafish2002: Players who hit a lot of fly-balls like Cozart tend to have low BABIP and it’s not the kind that will “regress to the mean.” Votto’s BABIP when I checked yesterday before the game was .371, so i assume is a bit lower now. That was good for Top 5 and I don’t think he’ll be regressing any. It will likely increase if anything since Votto hits more line drives and grounders.

      BABIP is really only useful as a stat when tempered by FB/LD/GB numbers, as well as strikeouts, in my humble opinion.

  22. I’ve been saying all year that I’d love to see Frazier bat 2nd. That would put our 3 best OBP guys at the top, isn’t that optimal? His average, while having a down year, is still 10 points better Cozart but he walks a TON more. I’m just sick of Votto batting in the 1st with the bases open.

    • @RedManifesto: The other reason it would be worth trying Frazier there is that he so obviously hits fastballs better than other pitches. Batting ahead of Votto would help him see more strikes and more fastballs.

      • @Steve Mancuso: Exactly, not to mention he’s quick on the bases and is a heady-type of player that you love to have in late-game situations.

  23. Bandon Phillips is a clutch hitter, just because he’s had three above average months in RISP? If he’s so “clutch” (as if there is such a thing), please explain why his RISP has varied so much over his career:

    2013: .400
    2012: .305
    2011: .311
    2010: .246
    2009: .291
    2008: .261

    And why his career RISP (.286) is so much higher than his career RISP with two outs (.235)?

    • @Steve Mancuso:
      Brandon has commented multiple times this year he has changed his approch with RISP. And you can see this when you watch him play. With nobody he swings for power. With RISP he just trys to get the ball in play. If you look at the number you posted it has went up for the most part which is what it should do.

      • @beetle3211: Baseball players say lots of things that aren’t actually true.

        If he really has changed his approach with RISP, why doesn’t he change his approach to that approach in every at bat? Since this year, he sucks with no RISP.

      • @beetle3211: If it’s something so easily controlled, why isn’t his RISP higher with two outs, when the situation is really high leverage?

        • @Steve Mancuso:
          I dont know why he chooses to change his approch but what you said leads to my point when there are no runners on he tries to hit for power and when there are RISP he tries to hit for avg.

          • @beetle3211: So you are saying Phillips is stupid? Phillips makes some boneheaded plays, but he appears to be quite intelligent to me. Some of the plays he’s made in the field have been really heady. Phillips surely realizes he’s not as good without RISP and could change.

            Or, a coach could say wow, you hit 200 points higher with RISP; how about doing what you are doing every at bat?

            Or, maybe it’s statistical noise. Without any doubt in my mind, this is the most likely reason for Phillips’ high BA with RISP.

          • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Agreed 100%. If a player thought he had the skill to hit .400 in any situation, he would.

            The one thing I might agree with it it were mentioned is the fact that Bruce has been less streaky this year (observation, of course) and perhaps is helping BP get better pitches to hit, because if BP gets on via walk (however unlikely that is with his 52.6% swing rate), Bruce will likely be hitting with 2 on or, sometimes, the bases loaded. Maybe BP knows that he’s going ot get something to hit with RISP because of Bruce’s protection? I’ve never really bought the whole protection thing, but someitmes it seem slike there may be something to it.

          • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Votto changes his approach with 2 strikes. Presumably to increase his chances of succeeding. Why doesn’t he use that approach all of the time? Probably because it reduces his chances of hitting for power. I expect that a lot of smart players use different approaches situationaly.

    • @Steve Mancuso:

      I’d take his 2011-2013 averages. That’s a pretty decent sample size to be considered.

      I do enjoy the data you present. For me, the RISP stats are interesting to cross-reference what I feel about certain players coming up in high leverage situations**. I feel about as good with BP up there as anyone this year. (Votto has struggled.) As far as them being “predictive”, I’m not so sure. Are regular batting averages, ERA predictive? Why would RISP averages be any different?

      **It does seem like certain players (BP/Votto) do change their approach depending on the count, game situation while others don’t (Cozart/pre-13 Bruce). I would agree there likely would be no statistical difference between regular/clutchy stats in those who don’t.

      Perhaps, I’m the Dusty Baker of RLN. 😯

  24. The Cozart bashing has reached a zenith now. With the Blue Jays in last place of their division, would/could/should the Reds explore a deal and take on the mega-contract of Jose Reyes?? Reyes and Choo at the top of the lineup sure would cure alot of what is ailing everyone. Cozart could be included in the deal or moved to 3B or LF.

  25. Here is a shock (to me). The Reds are actually right around the league average at running into outs on the bases. They’ve run into 29 outs outside of caught stealing. I could not find individual stats, I was wondering how that breaks down (it sure seems like Phillips 20, rest of team 9, but obviously that’s not true).

    It sure seems like they lead the planet. They are, along with the DBacks, the worst team in SB%.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: My guess is that’s because the Reds try to steal so few bases. I bet that CS is included in the “running into outs” stats. Excluding CS, you may find what you’re expecting.

      • @Steve Mancuso: No, the BR stats have “running into outs excluding CS”. The Reds are at 29, league average is 30. In CS, the Reds are at 20, which is league average, but of course they’ve only attempted 47 steals, which is the worst percentage in the league.

        I found the individuals. Excluding CS, Phillips leads with 5, Votto 4, Choo/Robinson 3.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Running into an out isn’t necessarily a base running blunder. Sometimes being aggressive is the smart thing, depending on outs, who’s on deck, how the pitcher is doing, etc. I don’t have a problem with a good gamble that doesn’t work out. TOOTBLANs are another issue, and it does seem the Reds (BP) make their share.

          A corollary to Steve’s idea is that because the team is slow, it doesn’t try for the extra base that often.

          Barry Larkin and Pokey Reese were the best 2 base runners I ever saw. Pokey just couldn’t get on base enough after the league figured him out.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I think what leads to your surprise is how the Reds run into outs. I haven’t reviewed the numbers or circumstances, but the Reds have been absurdly conservative when running the bases this season. The Reds do not have base stealing speed on the team but they have good baserunning speed, but are not using it to aggresively (not stupidly) advance bases when the opportunity exists. We have seen numerous complaints regrading the 3rd base caoch and his ultra conservative approach to sending baserunners. While the Reds are league average, there baserunning outs have been more errors than aggression. The better baserunning teams will run into outs due to aggression rather than errors.

      • @Shchi Cossack:

        I also think this has been hurt by ultraconservative Chris Spier coaching 3rd…he’s simply terrible and might it be possible that he’s so conservative that it might effect them on decisions on other bases? I don’t know…

      • @Shchi Cossack: Where is the “good” base running speed? I don’t see it and believe me, I’d like to see it.

  26. It’s one thing to say that Brandon Phillips HAS BEEN clutch this year. He has been by several measures. It’s another thing to say Brandon Phillips IS clutch, meaning that he’ll continue to perform this way because of some innate characteristic (that he apparently doesn’t have every year).

    The clutch stats, like RISP, are backward looking. They describe what has happened. They have no predictive value for the future.

  27. The argument that Reynolds made that middle infielders need to bat high to get them into the game defensively is the most preposterous thing I’ve ever heard out of his mouth, which is really saying something.

    The article linked to by Lack had another interesting thing, that Cozart is a bad bunter (67% success), but also that successful sacrifice rate is 69%. And, that surely does not include when someone bunts and misses twice, has an 0-2 count, and is more likely to make an out. The bunt is an exceedingly stupid play quite often.

  28. The Reds are now 4 games behind the Pirates and 4 games up on the Nats for the second wildcard. I think this team has gone through this season just assuming that they were going to waltz into the playoffs, but to me, they’re 50/50 for the wildcard right now.

    They lost most of the games during Jay Bruce’s hot streak. They lost most of the games during a run of great starting. They’re losing most of the games during a hot streak for the bullpen. They just can’t bring hot elements together to get wins.

    It’s time to shake thing sup. In fact it’s been time for a while. Will they make a change when they’re out of the wild card spot?

    • @al: Without a healthy Cueto, I give the Reds a less than 10% chance for even a WC slot. He is the only “stopper” in the rotation. Hopefully Mat will get there but he is not there yet. I’m afraid Homer will never be that guy. Is he valuable? Yes, but probably as a very good #3 and nothing more.

      • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: 10%? Man, you’re really a pessimist. Take last night as an example: the Reds did a lot terribly wrong, got every call against them, and lost by a run to a first place team on the road. I’m pretty sure they’ll at least get a wildcard.

      • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: I feel like you’re really just pulling that number out of thin air. The computer models have them at about 70%. I said 50% because right now they are 4 up on one team and 4 behind another, and I could see them going either way. 10%? Based on what?

        • @al: Their actual play for about 45 games. Nothing else – my eyeballs. I said <10% without Cueto probably 70-85% chance with. Heck that could change but with the way things look right now, that's it. If DB would bat Votto 2nd and drop ZC to the 8th or 7th spot that percentage rises but quite a bit.

          By the way, a lot of you guys tell me that where a guy hits in the order does not really matter much. What gives on Zack hitting second then?

          Would not an order like this provide more horsepower or does it not make any difference?

    • @al: The wildcard race goes beyond just the Nats at 4.0 games behind the Reds. The Phanatics are 5.5 games behind the Reds and playing good ball (this is why the Nats are still just 4.0 games behind the Reds). The Dodgers are just 4.5 games behind the Reds and are getting ready to catch and pass the Diamondbacks, who are just 3.0 games behind the Reds, for the NLWD lead. The wildcard race in the NL has become a 5 team contest (6 if you include the Bucos) and will probably get tighter before the all star break.

  29. So,the Reds are 1st in LOB. Is that NL or MLB? Reds are #9 in scoring runs in the NL and #17 in MLB. This is not good. A lot of times RISP stats don’t apply to our slow-footed friends. How many guys on this team are a good bet to score from 2nd base on a single with less than 2-outs? Is that “really a RISP opportunity?

    I don’t care how you phrase it the Reds are lousy in producing runs, other than with the long ball. Those of us that watch every game, how can we even seriously argue this?

    • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: The Reds are fourth in the NL in runs scored.

    • @CharlotteNCRedsFan:

      How many guys on this team are a good bet to score from 2nd base on a single with less than 2-outs?

      How about 7 of the 8 starting position players and 2 of the 5 starting pitchers? The Reds are not a slow-footed team. Not have base-stealing speed does not create a slow team. Even the best base-stealing teams have just 1 or 2 players responsible for the bulk of the stolen bases. That doesn’t make the entire team fast of slow. The Reds have two significant problems regarding scoring runs from 2B on a single.

      One problem is Hanigan (who is slow) batting 8th and getting on base in front of the pitcher. With less than 2 outs, the pitcher is going to attempt a sac bunt with Hanigan on 1B. With 1 out, a successful sac bunt puts Hanigan on 2B and requires a base hit in order to score, but Hanigan will not score on any infield single, a short outfield single or an outfield single hit too hard, so he usually requires an extra base hit to score or 2 base hits to score. With 0 outs, a sac bunt by the pitcher is as likely to fail as succeed and the Reds are really no better off. Unfortunately, Dusty must hit the catcher 8th and Hanigan plays most of the games, so this situation does become a frequent problem.

      Another problem is the lack of aggression and decisiveness by the 3B coach, resulting in many attempts to score from 2B being thwarted by the 3B coach or confusion at 3B causing indecisiveness and delays by the baserunner and failed attempts to score.

      • @Shchi Cossack:

        How about 7 of the 8 starting position players and 2 of the 5 starting pitchers? The Reds are not a slow-footed team.

        After seeing the games this year: no and yes. The Reds are a horribly slow team, the slowest in 45 years of watching Reds’ baseball. I really can’t see how this a point that can be argued. Yes, this is my team to but it does no good to ignore the facts. Just plain slow! God-awful, too.

        You can call a spade a spade by any other name but it is what it is. IMO, the Reds have less than average speed for every position on the field except P. Arroyo and Leake have very good speed for pitchers.

        • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: Votto is probably faster than most 1st basemen. Phillips isn’t as fast as he used to be, but he isn’t slow. Cozart and Frazier are not slow. Choo is not slow, and neither is Bruce, for a power-hitting corner outfielder. Robinson is fast, and Paul is not slow.

    • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: The Reds are 8th in the NL in OPS (.716) against right-handed pitching, and first (.727) against lefties. (The Rockies at .778 lead against righties; the league’s OPS against righties is .712, versus .697 against lefties.) Votto and Choo are destroying righties, and Bruce is good, so that pretty much means the rest of the team is awful against right-handers.

      They need a right-handed hitter to start hitting righties. My guess is that it won’t be Frazier or Cozart this year, nor either of the catchers (although Mesoraco is at least possible), so they need to get Heisey on fire, or make a trade in a thin market. Heisey had a .865 in 2011 v. righthanders, including 17 homers, and over the last 3 years has a .794 OPS v. RH.

      And keep pitching. Some speed would help.

    • @CharlotteNCRedsFan:

      I don’t care how you phrase it the Reds are lousy in producing runs, other than with the long ball.

      The Reds do a good job of scoring runs, but they could do better and that has nothing to do with BARISP. The problem with their efficiency in scoring is giving away outs from the #2 hole, between their two best hitters. If the Reds quit giving away outs from the #2 hole, just watch their scoring efficiency increase.

      • @Shchi Cossack: It does seem kind of like having Votto bat behind Choo would help a lot. Cozart rarely does anything productive when Choo is on base. (Does Steve or anyone have numbers to back that up? Some sort of “runners advanced” stat?) So if Choo gets on, and then Votto bats with no outs, pitchers would have to pitch to him since they don’t want two guys on base. Then Votto gets a hit, Phillips bats with RISP, etc….. Plus, in games like last night’s Votto would get that all-important late-inning at bat.

      • @Shchi Cossack: 100% percent agree with this but how likely is this to occur. Didn’t mean to infer we can’t score more runs but it is hard to see how the status quo will. Yep, bat your 5-6 best hitters at the top and we will score more. Let Mes have more opportunity and give the LF spot to Heisey until he cools, all this makes great sense. I just don’t see it happening under the current regime. Got to stick with the formula because the offense is just fine and a lot folks here seem to agree with it because they want to argue how really great and under-appreciated it really is. I’m not a buyer and it can be explained to me a 100-ways to Sunday.

  30. That’s three games in a row for Brandon doing something idiotic on the bases and getting thrown out. That’s simply too many. I don’t know if he suddenly decided he would try to do more to help out a struggling offense or if someone (coach? Teammate? Agent? Girlfriend?) suggested it. In any case, it has to stop.

    • @Eric the Red: There are many times when running the bases looks foreign to BP. But he is not alone. Combine no team speed with marginal base running skills and you have the Reds’ offense – 2013 version. Honestly, marginal is being generous.

      • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: His mistakes haven’t been because he’s slow. Three games in a row he’s pressed and gotten picked off/thrown out (plus once where he was successful although even then there were two outs so it was probably a bad risk/reward). He can’t keep pressing like that.

        • @Eric the Red: Buy he is. When have you seen BP actually tear around the bases. He is probably an average speed player in general but for a 2B he is below average. Hey, these are just my opinions. You watch them every night so if you think differently, fine.

          • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: I’m not saying he’s not slow. I just think he’s gotten more reckless in the last few days, rather than he’s gotten slower in the last few days 🙂

          • @Eric the Red: He is getting slower, Eric. It happens to all of us. Now, is he slow? That’s something else. He probably isn’t a 30 base stealer anymore. He is probably going to get caught some trying to go from first to third more. BP’s getting to the point that he can’t rely on just ability anymore. He’s getting to the point he’s got to rely on his intelligence more, think more, use his head more. There’s no reason why he should have been picked off 2nd by the Phillies a couple of years ago. There was no reason for him to have that big a lead off 1st the other night. If he commits to first-to-third, he’s got to go all out for it. I don’t believe he did to that the other night. Not as much as his turn around second, but coming into 3rd, he even touched the grassy area of the infield, being close to the 3rd baseman. He needed to use his head and consider getting away from the other player. I’m not sure what the 3rd base coach was doing. But, is the 3rd base coach sure of what he himself is doing?

          • @Eric the Red: True that. Maybe no one has told him he has lost a few steps and his body in unable to do what his mind desires.

  31. Somebody talked about Baker’s lack of knee-jerk reaction to making changes just because a player does bad one game. I can only agree with that partially. While that person talked about how Baker’s reaction is just too long with players like Stubbs and Gomes, it is also way too short with others. Like with Heisey, I want to say that before last season (his third season) when he finally got a “real chance” to start, taking his turn first starting in LF before Ludwick took his turn, the best chance Heisey got to prove himself as a starter was no more than starting 3 consecutive games, and that had to have been only a couple of times. Baker’s reaction to taking Heisey right back out seemed to be quicker than a knee jerk reaction. Similar with Devin. Similar with Todd last season.

    It’s more like, if Baker gets it into his mind, for whatever reason he will make up who knows, that a player is a starter, he will keep that guy out there till doomsday. If Baker believes the guy is a bench player, again for whatever reason he will make up who knows, he will have that guy in and out of there quicker than he can tie his shoes. It’s like he doesn’t understand that some players actually play better when they can get into a routine of actually playing in a game, prepping for a game, etc. And, starting for a 1-2 game stretch doesn’t make a routine.

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About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.


2013 Reds, Titanic Struggle Recap


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