Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….

Cincinnati 2
Chicago (NL) 0

W: M. Latos (12-3)
L: T. Wood (7-9)
S: A. Chapman (28)

–A brilliant outing by Mat Latos: eight shutout innings, allowing four hits. Latos struck out nine and didn’t walk a single Cub. You aren’t likely to see very many performances as good as the one we saw tonight.

–Aroldis Chapman’s ninth inning was as dominant an outing as I’ve seen from him. The fastball was fast, and the slider was filthy. Chapman really needs to throw that slider more often. He’s nearly unhittable when he throws it.

–Brandon Phillips hit a two run homer that represented all the runs scored on the evening.

–The offense was awful again.

–Always fun to beat the Cubs. Cincinnati is now 46-18 vs. Chicago since 2010.

–After eight innings, Mat Latos had only thrown 94 pitches (and hadn’t yet allowed a run). Many, including me, were surprised that Dusty Baker took him out of the game, bringing on Chapman to finish things up. After all, it’s unlike Dusty not to give one of his players a chance to pick up a stat (complete game shutout, in this instance).

As was pointed out to me, however, this decision just gave another of Dusty’s players an opportunity to pick up a different meaningless stat (a save).

On its own terms, however, I can’t say that Dusty’s decision was incorrect. I probably would have let Latos start the ninth (and this was the first time Dusty pulled a pitcher earlier than I thought he should), but no complaints about using Chapman there.* Chapman certainly closed the game in style.

*I may complain if Chapman isn’t available tomorrow or the next day because he was used today. Mostly, I just like complaining, okay?

As Chris noted over on Twitter, the Reds need to back up a U-Haul truck and give Bryan Price all the money. The performance of his pitching staff is the only thing standing between the Reds and irrelevance, given the lousy hitting.

–Reds pitchers struck out twelve, and didn’t walk anyone. That’ll do.

–Aroldis has now struck out the last seven hitters he’s faced.

–Gotta give Latos credit. The Reds really needed their starter to go deep into the game today, after yesterday’s extra-innings affair.

–Reds picked up a half-game on the Bucs and Cards. Homer Bailey will keep this playoff charge going tomorrow, right?

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.

Join the conversation! 94 Comments

  1. Got to tip my cap to ya for getting the recap posted so quickly. Can’t be easy. Thank You.

  2. “I’d rather have you overeager than out there taking.” -Dusty Baker, explaining why it was so good for Ludwick to be swinging at everything.

    • @Baseclogger: Is that an actual quote? I turned it off when the game finished.

      • @ToddAlmighty: Actual word-for-word quote. And when he said the word “taking,” his facial expression was more or less saying “taking pitches is SO pointless.”

      • @ToddAlmighty: The full quote, in answer to a question about Ludkwick perhaps being a bit overeager at the plate:

        “No, not really. I mean, you know, he hadn’t played in four months. You know, I mean, I’d rather have you overeager than, you know, out there taking.”

        • @Baseclogger: It just leaves a person dumfounded to hear Dusty say something like that. Dumbfounded, dumbfounded, dumbfounded.

          • @Sergeant2:

            I can certainly understand why Dusty would say that.

          • @JMac1984: Maybe you found the Rubics Cube easy to solve, but I never could.

          • @Sergeant2: The cube is very easy to solve if you don’t pay any attention to the colors. Dusty can solve it in a matter of seconds.

          • @Sergeant2:

            That one has always perplexed me. The most literal of outside the box thinking.

          • @Sergeant2: Dusty’s statements like this are to be expected – he’s only been doing it as the Red’s skipper for 6 years now. Started with a starting CF who hit .205 (and Reds fans thought Stubbs was bad) and has gone steadily downhill from there.

          • @Sergeant2: Again, any wonder why we have effectively 2 hitting coaches on the field everyday for this team, and the strength of this team is defense and pitching?

          • @steveschoen: The Reds have one hitting coach; the manager is not effectively a hitting coach, even if he was a good mlb hitter. And, a hitting coach cannot often make a poor hitter be a good hitter. The Reds emphasized pitching, probably wisely, but only have a few excellent hitters as a result.

          • @greenmtred: Look again. The Bakerman was the batting coach for 4 seasons with the Giants before taking the managerial reigns. One would think that, having essentially two hitting instructors on the field at the same time, our hitting would be better than this. All-Star caliber across the board? Never. But, better than this? Of course.

          • @steveschoen: He was a hitting coach, yes, but now he’s the manager, and I doubt that he has the time to do much individual coaching. Comment about what a coach can do stands, too.

        • @Baseclogger: And people wonder why Cozart/Frazier/Heisey hack away and why the Reds overall have terrible plate discipline. (Though at least Frazier has proven he CAN take walks, he just seems to choose not to. Maybe a little manager whispering in his ear to swing out of his slump?)

        • @Baseclogger: I can only shake my head as I read Dusty’s response. If he were simply defending Ludwick, then that would be fine, but he also demonstrated part of his flawed philosophy at the plate.

          Ludwick saw 6 pitches in 3 ABs and managed to GIDP too. It’s hard to get your timing down if you are seeing the pitcher’s stuff for more than a throw or two.

  3. Is it wrong to say that the Reds have the best pitching staff? I don’t even care if it is.

  4. Watched Moneyball again last night, wonder if Dusty has seen it?

  5. Too bad we blew that 2nd game of the SD series, we’d be riding a 6 game winning streak with a very favorable schedule the next 13 games. A move must be made NOW. Hopefully Luddy is the spark plug we need, something must wake this offense up.

    • @Josh: Considering how miserable the West Coast trip ended, let’s just be happy that our Reds have won 7 of the last 10. Also, a 66-59 record is pretty good and only 3 games off last year’s record on 8/12/12, particularly in light of all of our injuries.

  6. I agree completely regarding Price. Is it completely unheard of to sign a pitching coach to a 5-7 year contract when the manager is only under contract for next year? . . . If it is, it shouldn’t be after this year. He is solid.

  7. Yesterday’s win was a steal, and today’s was a nail-biter. I’ll take ’em both, but it’d be great for the bats to wake up one of these days.

    What’s the latest chatter about a potential playoff roster? All signs point to Cueto and Marshall coming back after Sept. 1, but if you consider today’s roster the 25-man baseline, Ondrusek seems to be the only obvious cut. Add in Dusty’s comment yesterday about D-Rob being on the playoff roster, and it seems two additional pitchers will be on the outside looking in if they make it that far. Cingrani deserves better, but I fear he’ll draw Leake’s 2012 short straw. Who else doesn’t make the cut? Is Cueto too fragile?

    • @Davis Stuns Goliath:

      Good questions. If Cueto can go at all, he’ll be there, especially since they do allow to you replace injured players on the roster mid-series, if I’m not mistaken.

    • @Davis Stuns Goliath: I can’t imagine that the Reds would completely leave Cingrani off the playoff roster, like they did last year with Leake (before Cueto’s injury). Cingrani can pitch out of the bullpen. I’d like to see him start, but I doubt it.

      I imagine the Reds playoff starting rotation would be Latos-Bailey-Arroyo-Leake.
      (Dusty would probably put Arroyo between Latos and Bailey.)
      It would be nice if Dusty used Cingrani the way Bochy used Lincecum last year. As soon as it’s apparent a starter doesn’t have it, lift him for Cingrani.
      Doubtful Dusty would do that.

      As a reliever, it will be easier for Marshall to return soon than Cueto. Looking forward to his replacing Ondrusek. But then there’s a difficult decision to cut the pitching staff down to 11 for the playoffs.

      At best Cueto will get about 3 starts. Unless he’s very sharp and healthy, I don’t see him being on the playoff roster, too risky for him and the team.

  8. Was at a friend’s house playing cards and saw Votto pop up on baseball tonight and they were talking about NL MVP. Did anyone catch that segment, by the time I saw it on the screen it was gone. What did they say about him?

    • @Latos_intollerant:
      Each analyst was throwing out a name for MVP…Molina…Mcutch…Kershaw…One of them said Votto, and a comment was made about his OBP and how important it is but its not the be all end all of an MVP

  9. I think Homer will pitch well tomorrow, it is against a mediocre/bad team and he usually does well against that! Latos was really good tonight…I really see something like 10-3 over the next 13 games with all of them being winnable. Hopefully the Cards-Bucs beat up on each other.

  10. How about Choo nailing Lake at 3rd? What a pinpoint throw. I know he’s probably gone after this year, but you have to love him.

    • @JMac1984: That was an amazing throw from Choo! Got to re-sign him at all costs next yr!!! With Dusty’s contract hopefully gone let’s make it happen!!! One can dream can’t he??

    • @JMac1984:

      I’m actually thinking the Reds may be leaning more and more towards resigning Choo as it becomes readily apparant that BHam is not ready to take over in CF yet.

      I think the smart move would be to resign Choo, then once BHam is ready, trade Choo for a prospect or two.

      • @CI3J: @666wolverine:
        Sign choo even if its at the cost of not be able to sign 2 of Bailey, Latos or Leake? Choo has been a good pickup, plays hard, but he struggles vs LHP, has a high K volume(surprisingly given his OB%), his D range is ave at best in CF, and he is going to cost big $$$ given Boras his agent(5-6 years, $70M+), making it likely difficult to trade in your scenario. Also, Bham has hit much better after his terrible 1st month. Not saying Bham is ready but he has improved as the season gone on.

        • @doctor: I guess the point is, who cares about the K volume if all of those other things are so stellar? Cozart doesn’t strike out nearly as much . . .

  11. Another great time at the ol’ ball yard. There was a bit of rain, so batting practice took place under the bleachers. Truly unbelievable how crappy a setup the Cubs have. They went to the expense of putting up a glass wall which you could watch them hit, but they only gave them 50 feet by about 15 feet of space (yes, this is the MAJOR leagues). It was so cramped the hitters follow thru would get caught in the netting. So professional. There probably isn’t a high school team with a worse setup.
    Latos and Chapman looked real solid. Wood did just enough to keep the hitters off balance, but most of the guys hat good at bats versus him……Ludwick’s first pitch swinging notwithstanding. Frazier especially looked like his swing is coming around.
    By about the sixth inning the drunk frat guys in the bleachers we’re eating their own, starting the wave, the right field vs. left field suck chant, and chanting Ludwick’s name (who graciously tugged on his crotch for them). To add insult to injury, the significant number of Reds fans in the house stood up and cheered the final out. Priceless.

    If there’s a more out of touch, clueless fan base, I have yet to see them.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: Yeah, Wrigley is a dump. Especially for the players. I’ve been there 2 or 3 times and I hate the place. On a beautiful afternoon it is OK for watching a game but all the other stuff sucks, parking, food, restrooms, etc.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: Listening to the radio call in the 9th last night, the stadium got real loud for Aroldis. Marty says something to the effect of: “I don’t know what the Cubs fans are getting excited about.” Kelch politely points out: “I think those are Reds fans!” Nice to return the favor.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: I love going to games at Wrigley. Living up here in Indy, I prefer watching the Reds at Wrigley and Miller Park before GABP. GABP is a fine park, but it doesn’t have the atmosphere of the other two.

      I know the players are cramped in outdated facilities, but that’s changing over the next few years.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: Sultan, I love the Right field, Left field sucks chants. When I lived there, I love to sit in Center field.

      Is Sammy Woo still alive? Maybe he is doing Rizzo Woo these days

  12. Plate discipline is very important too bad Dusty thinks of it as the plague! At least a few players Choo,Votto donot pay attetion to Dusty when it comes to this. Great game pitched by Latos! I’m so happy to see him not have a mental breakdown due to his temper like he usually seems to have. It was nice too see him keep it together and win this game for his team alone!!! Forget the BP hr that is luck in my book! I will take great starting pitching anyday!! Time to make our run!!! No excuses go out there and take care of business!!

  13. Hypothetical should the Reds come back and win the central….Curious to which choice those esteemed RLN memebers would pick.

    Scenario #1 : Reds win division, have best record in NL, play the winner of STL/PIT.

    Scenario #2 : Reds win division, have 2nd best record to ATL, play LAD in division series

    • @abox03: I’ll go with scenario #3: Reds get second in Division. PIT wins Division. Reds play STL in wildcard game at home. Homer Bailey starts game 1 and game 5 against PIT. 🙂

    • @abox03: I’ll go with scenario #3: Reds get second in Division. PIT wins Division. Reds play STL in wildcard game at home. Homer Bailey starts game 1 and game 5 against PIT. 🙂

    • @abox03: I’d go with scenario 1. And I do want the Reds to win the division, don’t want to have to win a play-in game. As for that game, I’d like to see the Pirates finish ahead of the Cardinals, and beat them at home.

  14. Reds win and most still complain about Dusty. He finally gets Ludwick back which allows him to roll out the Reds opening day lineup. Sometimes you have give credit to the opposing pitcher for shutting hitters down too. TW was pretty good last night.

    Yes, the pitching has been stellar and Bryan Price deserves a huge raise but Dusty’s also had to deal without Cueto most of the year, Marshall and he just got Broxton back. Take those four players, including Ludwick, out of any Managers lineup and there’s going to be a difference. We’re 14 games over .500, only a game and half behind the Cards and only 4.5 behind, as George Grande would say: the Buccos! I’ll take that anytime. Lots of baseball left to play. The pressure’s not on us, it’s on Pittsburgh. We’ve been there, they haven’t.

    • @sezwhom1:
      So you agree with Dusty’s comments regarding Ludwick swinging at the 1st 2 pitches he gets?

    • @sezwhom1: Like others have, it seems like you are seeing something that just isn’t there. “Most still complain about Dusty”? In fact, most of these posts haven’t been complaints about Dusty. Second, as doctor said, you agree with Dusty’s comments about he would rather see you swinging at everything than taking any pitches? It’s called plate discipline. And, with that statement, the Bakerman showed he doesn’t give it much credit.

      Now, the Bakerman has been on record saying he wants his players to swing at the pitches that are in the K-zone; if outside that zone, then don’t swing. But then, that would come as to what are the 2 hitting coaches we have doing? Are they working on just making the players’ swings look good? Or, are they actually attacking what they should want, good plate discipline, pitch recognition, etc. It would be something like, not exactly like, a golf instructor teaching you how to swing the golf club. “Oh, your swing looks great. Mechanics look great.” “But, I still hit the ball horribly.”

      • @steveschoen: By percentage, perhaps, most of the posts haven’t attacked Dusty. But it is disingenuous to claim that attacking Dusty is not a recurring theme here, from you, among others. And that’s fine, we all gripe about stuff and some people gripe about Dusty. There seems to be a division: some people feel that the manager largely determines the outcome of most games. Others feel that the players do, and the manager has at best a peripheral role. It seems odd, though, that the vitriol seems to remain unchanged, win or lose. This team is 14 games over .500, playing at least as well as their roster would lead one to expect, and starting to look relevant again. I’d rather be excited than complain, but that’s just me.

        • @greenmtred:

          You throw the word “any” into Dusty’s quote, which he certainly did not say, to add to your cause.

          I really think Dusty was just responding to a question about Ludwick’s aggressiveness by supporting his player in saying “at least he’s not tentative right out of the gate coming back from injury.”

          Don’t get me wrong, I do wish many of the Reds took a much more measured approach at the plate. I think a lot of the guys put pressure on themselves to make something happen, rather than letting the game come to them, as so many say. I hope our offense can get going before the playoffs, but there is time, and our pitching has still been excellent.

          • @JMac1984:

            That was supposed to be in reply to steveschoen.

          • @JMac1984: I do agree with using “any”. Sorry.

          • @JMac1984: So, then, Heisey, Frazier, and even BP have all been coming back from injuries for the last 3 seasons?

            I can agree with Ludwick, good to see him swinging out there, rather than being tentative with his swing, to make sure the shoulder can hack it. But, then, that doesn’t work so many others. Like the Bakerman has said, he would rather see us swinging at more first pitches, then the announcer told him the Reds already lead the league at swinging at first pitches. Baker has been on record wanting Votto to swing at more first pitches. Now, the Bakerman is also on record to have said he wants the players to swing when the ball is in the K-zone, not when it’s out of the zone. Well, that’s obvious. And, if they are having trouble with that, then it seems like they need work on plate discipline, pitch recognition, not as much as their swing. Where it would lead one to inquire, just what are they working on, and how are they working on it. For, it simply doesn’t seem to be working. Just consider, who has become a better hitter on the Reds the past 3 seasons? Votto? He’s been this good. BP? His RISP yes, but not overall BA. Bruce? He’s improved his production, but he’s also on pace to break his own high K record (I wouldn’t be surprised he’s taken some tips from Votto). Cozart and Frazier has regressed.

        • @greenmtred: Of course. That’s more than obvious. That’s life. Of course there will be a group of people to see something one way and another to see the same situation another way. You shouldn’t let it bug you so much.

    • @sezwhom1: I think we need to give Ludwick a pass on swinging early in the count after a lay-off. It’s just natural to be anxious in the first ABs in 4 months. And he hit his DP grounder pretty sharply, which is about all you can ask of him.

      Dusty Derangement Syndrome explains the obsession with Dusty’s saying that he’d prefer Ludwick to swing instead of keeping his bat on his shoulder. Ludwick isn’t likely to be any good for a week or so, until he gets his timing back; he isn’t going to get his timing back without swinging. Ludwick is smart enough to recognize when the situation calls for him to try to coax a walk, but in the short run and in most ABs, he needs to get his cuts in.

      • @sezwhom1: I think we need to give Ludwick a pass on swinging early in the count after a lay-off.It’s just natural to be anxious in the first ABs in 4 months.And he hit his DP grounder pretty sharply, which is about all you can ask of him.

        Dusty Derangement Syndrome explains the obsession…


      • @Big Ed: Ludwick has always swung a lot early in the count. Historically, he swings at the first pitch 36% of the time, 40% of the time in 2011 & 2012.

        As usual, Dusty means well, he just doesn’t do himself any favors.

  15. More positives:

    1. Choo’s throw to third base (and tag by Frazier).

    2. Frazier drawing a walk ahead the home run – that is getting the job done batting second.

    3. Hearing Reds fans take over the stadium for the final out of the game.

    • More positives:

      1. Choo’s throw to third base (and tag by Frazier).

      2. Frazier drawing a walk ahead the home run – that is getting the job done batting second.

      3. Hearing Reds fans take over the stadium for the final out of the game.

      Frazier is actually 3rd on the team in walks. With him in the 2 hole, the Reds actually have their top 3 at getting walks in the top 3 positions in the batting order.

    • @Steve Mancuso: Whatever Choo’s defensive deficiencies are, his arm isn’t one of them. That was a borderline TOOTBLAN by the Cubs, though, because Choo had time to add an extra crow-hop making an absolute perfect peg on a relatively throw. Frazier just had to catch it and let the guy slide into the glove. (Mesoraco’s being thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit to a double, I thought, was a gamble worth taking, with the 8 and 9 hitters due up; the outfielder made an excellent throw and just got him.)

      I would have used Latos in the 9th, for the simple reason that he was throwing his best game as a Red. Why take a guy out who you know is throwing well, and replace him with a guy who may or may not throw well? But Chapman threw even better. The good news is that Dusty had two excellent options. Chapman has now fanned at least 6 in a row.

      • @Big Ed:

        I thought as soon as Devin saw that ball get cut off, rather than going to the wall, he should have stopped and retreated to first base, the play was in front of him. Bad decision…

        I also would have at least let him come out in the 9th, if anyone gets on, you go to Chapman. But who knows, maybe he told Dusty he was gassed..?

    • More positives:1. Choo’s throw to third base (and tag by Frazier).2. Frazier drawing a walk ahead the home run – that is getting the job done batting second. 3. Hearing Reds fans take over the stadium for the final out of the game.

      I like your add-ins. One more I’d like to add. I really like Latos and Bailey going back-to-back now. That sets up nicely for the stretch run. Can’t wait for Bailey’s start tonight.

    • @Steve Mancuso: I was shocked, SHOCKED I tell you at all the Red in the stands. The Reds fans were nearly as loud as Cub fans. Used to be we joked that GABP was Wrigley South. Now Wrigley is GABP North.

  16. Here is a neat little story on former Red INF Adam Rosales. He has been DFA’ed 3 times in 10 days. And picked up 3 times.


    • @WVRedlegs: I saw that too! Shoot, I remember when there were “Free Adam Rosales” calls on Redleg Nation a few years back. Sadly, those calls were not off base at the time.

  17. To the guys complaining Ludwick and/or blaming Dusty (whose comment was again, foolish, but I believe was a Dustyism for “He looks like same ol’ Ludwick!”:

    Ludwick historically swings at the first pitch a lot. Ludwick swung at the first pitch 40% of the time in both 2011 and 2012. No Reds’ regular has swung at that rate in 2013. Mesoraco is the closest at 37%, Jay Bruce @ 34%, Todd Frazier @ 34%, BP @ 33%.

    Nothing to me indicates he’s gonna suddenly start swinging at 60% of pitches. We’re just talking about the smallest of small sample sizes. Chill bros, chill.

    Ludwick has a career .319/.325/.634 on the first pitch. The Reds could use that.

    • @CP: .319/.325./.634 putting the first pitch in play? Where did the extra .006 come from? You can’t walk or be HBP if you put the first pitch in play. And reaching on an error or FC doesn’t count towards OBP. I think you may be looking at an incorrect stat.

    • @CP: Pitchers like to get ahead of the batter on the first pitch which often makes it a good one to swing at.

    • @CP: Looked at those count situation splits. A fun one for Ludwick: On 3-0, he slashes .000/.987/.987. That’s a man that knows a take sign when he sees one.

      • @Matt WI: But wouldn’t that be .000/.987/.000? It would be hard to get a SLG% without a base hit. 😉

        • @Shchi Cossack: Err, sorry, that was meant to be OPS, not slugging. Made the slash line incorrectly… but when I first saw that for OPS, I had the same thought… how would one have a SLG w/o a hit?

  18. Cuba’s best hitter is coming to MLB. The article compares him with Cespedes and Puig.
    He’s a 6’3″ 240 1B. Wonder if he can play LF??


  19. I heart Joe Maddon:
    “I’m not a big believer [of the sacrifice bunt],” said Rays manager Joe Maddon, whose club is 25th in the majors with 19 sacrifice hits. “It’s just a rote way of bunting just because you’re supposed to move the runner because if you don’t do that and it doesn’t work you’re going to be questioned about it — that is so ridiculous.
    “We only bunt because we believe the guy on deck has a legitimate chance to drive in the run and, furthermore, the guy in the hole does because if you bunt up and they don’t pitch to the guy on deck because you bunted, then that’s really a shame. Bunting does not ensure anything, so I’m not into it.”

    Especially love the part about not doing something just to avoid the questions. Ahem, oh Toothpicked One.

  20. I find it simply astonishing that anyone would want to defend a manager saying he would rather have a player be “overeager” than “taking.” Taking pitches is something that every good hitter is willing to do, while being “overeager” is something every good hitter tries to avoid. Since nobody on the planet is suggesting anyone should be taking every single pitch, the choice is between taking at least ONE pitch or being “overeager,” and Dusty came down on the side of “overeager.” Why anyone would ever want a manager to say this is beyond me, but apparently some people are determined to defend Dusty Baker no matter how stupid he sounds. If Baker said he wanted Ludwick to start swinging before the ball left the pitcher’s hand, I’m sure the Baker apologists would find some way to defend it. “Well, Ludwick hasn’t hit for a while, so it’s important for him to start his swing a little early.” Whatever this man says, the apologists will find some way to insist he was right. And if the Reds happen to have won that day, then he can say literally anything he wants and nobody is allowed to question it. The fact that this team has scored 6 runs in the last 33 innings isn’t allowed to bother anyone because the pitching has been good enough to win two consecutive games.

    • @Baseclogger: I will even take it a step further. I’ve always said, “You have to play with your head.” Like what Baker has said before, about swinging at balls in the zone, take balls out of the zone. I could understand that. But, then, as a coach, you have to make sure the players can recognize the zone and where the pitch is going. In essence, the player has to be able to make a correction during the pitch.

      As well as, taking a strike isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can have some good effects. It can help tell the batter how the ump is calling the zone (tight or loose?). It can give the batter some better timing (another opportunity to see it) with the pitcher’s delivery, to time when to swing. The only thing, like I said with Votto, that I don’t like about it is it takes you closer to striking out.

      I still like how Bonds talked of hitting. Steriods or not, it made it fairly simple I believe. In essence, “I just pretend the bat is a glove, and I try to catch the ball with the glove, just like a catcher does.”

    • @Baseclogger: Are people really defending Dusty Baker? No one would ever consider me a Dusty Baker fan, though I don’t consider myself a hater, either. I, probably to some people’s annoyance on here, constantly harp on OBP & BB%. I just don’t think Dusty actually has much effect on player approaches. Certainly not a 35 year old like Ryan Ludwick. I just happen to agree with Billy Beane that MLB approaches are locked in stone by the time they reach the majors.

      I find some comfort in this. Because even if you disagree with Beane, I think it’s a stretch to find players whose approach radically shifted once they hit the MLB. I guess some of the true elites like Bonds & McGwire had walks explode, but they’re oddities at best. The only modern guys I can think of is Jose Bautista & Joey Votto. Sometimes you see a player’s BB% rate radically decline, but that effect is typically tied to aging.

      Dusty certainly doesn’t value patience very highly, and he’ll make his silly comments, but thankfully he just doesn’t seem to have much impact on the Reds’ approaches. In fact, I think the real culprit for the Reds’ impatience at the plate is Walt Jocketty and his predecessors at GM who drafted or traded for toolsy, impatient hitters. A team can tolerate some impatient hitters, but the Reds have such a large percentage of them that’s it is difficult to overcome. Asking that these guys change their approach doesn’t appear effective.

      • @CP: So what we’re left with is that Dusty affects player approaches at the margins. Perhaps there are situations where some managers would require players to take a pitch but Dusty does not. I vaguely remember Izturis being at the plate with a 3-1 count with runners on base in a late inning and Dusty letting him hit away. Never a good idea.

        Perhaps someone like Devin Mesoraco who is young, and fighting for playing time is affected by Dusty’s mind numbing rhetoric. It’s difficult to determine why Devin is swinging early so often. Historically, he has pretty good on base skills, so is he swinging at the first pitch so often because of Dusty’s hitting philosophy? Or maybe because Dusty plays him inconsistently and doesn’t allow to get into a hitting groove? Or is it simply because he’s young and hasn’t seen many MLB pitchers? Who knows?

        • @CP: It’s interesting to think about the young hitters who have “developed” under Baker’s tutelage. The record has not been good. Without checking all the stats to confirm my recollections, it seems to me that Stubbs, Cozart, Frazier, and Heisey were better hitters when they first broke into the majors than after a year or two with Baker. Certainly it’s fair to say Cozart and Frazier have regressed a bit, and neither Heisey or Stubbs showed any real improvement. Bruce was expected to be a superstar and was always able to hit righties well, and maybe it’s fair to say he’s slightly better now than he was when he first came up, but only slightly, and only in the last year or so. Votto was great from Day One and has gotten even better, and Hanigan has (or had) clearly improved, but both of them seem to be ignoring Baker’s philosophy. BP improved for a while and now seems to be regressing somewhat, but I believe his significant improvement predates Baker. Mes has been good for the last few weeks, but I think it’s too small a sample size to make any assumptions about what kind of hitter he’ll end up being, and until a few weeks ago he certainly didn’t seem to be setting the world on fire. So, overall, I can’t think of a single young player who’s clearly improved by adopting Baker’s “be aggressive” approach. At best it doesn’t seem to help anyone, and at worst it’s ruining players who came to the Reds with a lot of potential. Not every hitter is going to improve, of course, but hitting is supposed to be Baker’s forte, and I just don’t see how he’s helped any of the young players develop into something more than what everyone already assumed they would be.

    • @Baseclogger: I do like to see Ludwick swinging, only in the sense that apparently the injury is healed. The thing is, Ludwick has always been a swinger. I remember seeing him one time swing so hard at a ball, it almost looked like a right handed Juan Francisco getting twisted up in himself, aka overswinging. Even being a swinger, you still have to use your head.

  21. Let’s dial down the worry about a generic Dustyism. Long term, most here have a problem with Dusty’s attitude toward hitting philosophy. Present term: Doesn’t it really just matter what Ludwick needs to do for himself to feel comfortable? Some guys might take pitches just to see them again after not having seen MLB pitches in awhile. Another guy might help himself more by swinging away and measuring his swing against what’s coming at him until he gets the “feel” right. Whatever works. Ludwick has held down a slightly better than average BB% over a long career. I’m sure nothing dramatic has changed. Much like Votto coming off the knee injury, I think we all just want Ludwick not worrying about anything other than just who he is as a batter.

    • @Matt WI: What I’m concerned about is maximizing the number of Reds victories. Period. And no matter what Ludwick feels he needs, or what he prefers, or what he’d like, or what would make him happy, what the team needed yesterday was to force Wood to throw as many pitches as possible, work the counts, and try to force him to throw a get-me-over fastball. That should be the approach in almost every game, but especially against good pitchers who always seem to be extra good against the Reds. Nobody was having any success swinging at first pitches (which is usually the case), so what was to be gained from it? It obviously didn’t help Ludwick whatsoever (or anyone else, for that matter), so why do it? Why make Wood’s job easier? Baker should be preaching patience from everyone, including people (ESPECIALLY people) who haven’t hit major league pitching in a while. I’m going to assume Ludwick isn’t going to start off by hitting three home runs on the first three pitches, so I want him at least forcing Wood to throw a few pitches, and, ideally, I want him getting a 3-1 fastball down the middle.

    • @Matt WI: For Ludwick, I do agree. Good post, Matt. As long as Ludwick learns, though.

  22. I had watched some of the Pirates games vs. Col. this past weekend as they came on after the Reds games. The Pirates had just come of going 15-4 in their last 19 games before going to Denver. But the way the Pirates offense played in a 3 game sweep to the Rox had their announcers crying the blues. Sounded like the Reds.
    They just kept bellyaching about lack of offense, an inconsistent offense, lack of timely hitting, lack of hitting with RISP. The 1st place team is having those sorts of issues too.
    Right now, I give an edge to the Reds starting pitching. The Pirates have the very slightest of edges with the bullpen. That could change by Oct. 1. The Reds have a slight edge on offense. Defense is even, with the way the Reds have been booting the ball around lately. On the base paths, the Pirates get a big edge. They don’t run the base paths as hap-hazardly as the Reds do. Fundamentals could decide this race.
    The Pirates are in the sights or crosshairs, are within distance, torpedoes away. Sink those scallywags.

  23. Lineups are posted. Hanigan is catching Bailey, Frazier is in the #2 hole. XP is in LF with Ludwick out of the lineup. Hmmmmmm…

  24. I’m at a loss to explain why Ludwick wouldn’t be starting tonight, but maybe it just has something to do with XP slashing .250/.455/.750 against Samardzija.

    LF Choo
    3B Frazier
    1B Votto
    2B Phillips
    RF Bruce
    LF Paul
    SS Cozart
    C Hanigan
    P Bailey

  25. “Reds picked up a half-game on the Bucs and Cards. Homer Bailey will keep this playoff charge going tomorrow, right?”

    Charge? It’s a surge!

  26. Just because I was curious, here’s some first pitch balls-in-play (BIP) data:

    Name BIP AVG/SLG Zone% F-Strike% O-Swing%
    Votto 59 .475/.831 44.1 51.3 20.8
    Choo 43 .326/.628 43.6 57.6 22.5
    Bruce 55 .400/.727 44.8 60.3 29.6
    Paul 22 .273/.545 43.4 53.7 30.2
    Cozart 48 .333/.500 48.6 65.6 30.5
    Robinson 28 .500/.714 46.5 67.2 31.0
    Frazier 50 .280/.460 42.0 59.1 32.0
    Mesoraco 36 .250/.528 44.0 58.3 36.3
    Phillips 49 .204/.347 43.3 65.1 38.9

    I sorted by O-Swing% (how often they swing at pitches that are not strikes).

    Notice that the Zone% (how often a pitcher throws them a strike) is largely constant between players, with Cozart getting the most strikes and BP and Frazier getting the fewest strikes.

    Then notice the correlation between all three of the stats. F-Strike% is how often you end up with an 0-1 count. Either swinging and missing, fouling it off, or taking a strike.

    Seems like a correlation between swinging at good pitches (a low O-Swing%) and putting the ball in play successfully for a hit. Hmmm! I’d be fine if Dusty would preach “Swing at first pitches if they are good.” I think a lot of times he expects people to swing at balls, which is precisely what Phillips and Frazier have been doing (also Paul and Meso in a smaller sample size). This is precisely why they are batting below .300 on first pitches in play, I think.

    • @prjeter: Sorry. I guess having it lined up in the reply box and having it line up while posted are not the same thing 🙁

      I guess the big takeaway… there is a perception that Votto doesn’t swing enough early in the count, yet he’s put more balls in play on first pitches than any other player on the team, to the tune of .475/.475/.831. I guess the real mantra of all good hitters (or hitters who want to be good) should be “swing at pitches that you can handle, no matter when they occur. Try to never swing at pitches you can’t handle unless there are two strikes and it’s in the zone.” My two cents.

      • guess the big takeaway… there is a perception that Votto doesn’t swing enough early in the count, yet he’s put more balls in play on first pitches than any other player on the team, to the tune of .475/.475/.831.

        Great find. Put that in the “Dear Marty…” file to send.

    • @prjeter: I noticed the Zone% for Cozart a couple weeks ago and wondered if that was evidence that hitting before Votto/between Choo and Votto makes the pitcher throw you strikes.

    • @prjeter: I think BP’s first-pitch problem is very obvious. With no strikes, he almost always takes a huge cut. Once he has a strike (and especially with two strikes), he often takes a more controlled/level swing. I’ve been pointing it out for a few weeks now. So he does swing at a lot of first-pitch balls because he’s starting his swing before he can recognize the pitch, and when he does make contact he’s usually either fouling it off or not hitting it very well. I’m not sure why BP and/or someone with access to BP hasn’t noticed this fact, but apparently nobody has. Or nobody cares.

  27. “After all, it’s unlike Dusty not to give one of his players a chance to pick up a stat.”

    I guess you all forgot about the time Dusty removed Choo early from a blowout, ending his hit streak (and in a contract year!).

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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.


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