With the Reds out of post-season contention, our attention has turned primarily to individual achievements — Johnny Cueto’s pursuit of the Cy Young, Billy Hamilton competing for Rookie of the Year and Aroldis Chapman setting various all-time records.

One of the most positive developments for the Reds in 2014 has been Devin Mesoraco’s breakout season at the plate. Several of us have written about the batting exploits of the Reds’ young catcher. A month ago, Jason Linden pointed to many of these numbers. Also in early August, Nick Kirby compared Mesoraco’s season to previous Reds catchers. In mid-July, happier times, I wrote that Mesoraco was having an MVP-caliber year.

But the question lurking in all those pieces was whether Mesoraco could sustain his numbers through the season’s conclusion. A strong September would cement his role to bat in the heart of the 2015 lineup. Last night, Mesoraco blasted a two-run homer and an RBI double, and he walked twice in five plate appearances, raising his season totals to .287/.370/.557.

Silver Slugger Award? 

The 26-year-old Pennsylvania native should receive serious consideration for hardware of his own, namely the NL Silver Slugger award, which is given to the best offensive player at each position in his league. The Silver Sluggers are voted on by managers and coaches. Jay Bruce won the Silver Slugger award the last two years and Brandon Phillips won in 2011.

Mesoraco leads all National League catchers in home runs (23), slugging percentage (.557), isolated power (.270), OPS (.927) and wRC+ (156). He is second to Buster Posey in RBI (a stat that depends mostly on opportunity produced by teammates), trailing the Giants catcher 73 to 79. But keep in mind Posey has more than 140 plate appearances than the Reds’ catcher.

Hitting it Hard

The key to Mesoraco’s success in 2014 is obvious to anyone who watches him swing the bat.

He’s hitting the ball harder.

Mark Simon of ESPN leads a group of trackers that conducts video review of every major league at bat, measuring trajectory and velocity. They categorize hit-balls as hard, medium and soft. The average major league position player hits the ball hard 16 percent of the time.

For the season, Mesoraco ranks #3 in the major leagues for hard hit balls (23.8 percent). Here’s the rest of the top ten: Carlos Santana, Troy Tulowitzki, Paul Goldschmidt, Andrew McCutchen, David Ortiz, Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Adrian Beltre and Lucas Duda. That’s fast company. Hard and fast, I guess.

Even better from the standpoint of the question of his ability to sustain the batting surge, since the All-Star break, the major league hitter who has the highest percentage of hard hit balls — by far — is Devin Mesoraco. His hit-balls have been judged hard 26 percent of the time. The difference between first place and second (Santana at 24 percent) is the same as between second and fourteenth.

Mesoraco’s success at hitting balls hard is probably a product of, among other factors, being more selective at the plate. He has drastically reduced his swings at pitches out of the strike zone – down to 32.4 percent from 36.6 percent.

Going the Distance

It’s common sense that Devin Mesoraco’s ability to hit balls hard has resulted in more line drives and greater distance on his fly balls. Line drives mean hits, distance means power.

Mesoraco’s line-drive rate has risen to 23.6 percent, which is twelfth best in the NL. That’s up from 21.1 percent (2013) and 16.7 percent (2012).

His average fly-ball distance has increased from 275.70 ft. in 2013 to 297.12 ft — an enormous increase. To put that in context, in 2013, he was the #192 longest hitter in the majors. In 2014, he’s #29. How important is average fly-ball distance? Names in the top ten include: Goldschmidt, George Springer, Cabrera, Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Abreu.

As a result, Mesoraco has doubled his HR/FB from about 10 percent to 20 percent. Blamo.

[How long would you have had to guess before you’d hit on the answer of Joey Votto as #4 in fly-ball distance in MLB this year?]

Sending a Mes-sage

Mesoraco’s performance has been balanced in ways that suggest it’s sustainable. He has shown a relatively even platoon split, with a 146 wRC+ vs. left-handed pitchers and 152 wRC+ vs. righties. Similarly, his wRC+ at home (144) is similar to that on the road (152). (Those numbers don’t include last night.)

Yes, swinging harder has brought more swinging strikes, less overall contact and more strikeouts. And Mesoraco is to be sure a dead pull hitter. None of his home runs have been right of dead center and only two have been to center field. So he may start to see more defensive shifts which could affect his batting average.

But there’s plenty of data now that indicates his breakthrough is legitimate and something Reds fans can look forward to watching for years to come.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 57 Comments

  1. Roco is my boy!!! Said that since the beginning of the season. Did not expect him to be hitting the way he is, a very pleasant surprise. I venture to go out on a limb here, but he is one of the top 3-4 NL catchers already. Barring injury, he reminds me of a future Molina. With more work on his defensive skills, he stands to only get better, and I am betting that he will. I see more future AS games for him. In spite of a dismal season, the Reds show some hope with several young players. Fraz, Billyball, Leake, and a couple of rookies getting a chance to play now that they are out of contention. But my money’s on the Rock. He just looks like a catcher, any other position would be out of his nature. Just keep posting those numbers and calling those games, a good career is ahead of you.

  2. I’ve been on this for a while, but here goes again. The Reds need to consider moving him to left field this spring, and allow him to play left on some of the days he does not catch. He will get about 435 PAs this year, whereas a full-time left fielder would get more than 600. The Reds offense can’t afford to lost 175 PAs from their best right-handed hitter.

    I am fully aware that Mesoraco probably wants to catch. But I liken him to Dale Murphy, a very promising hitter but nondescript as a catcher defensively, and the Braves made the right choice by moving him. And the Astros similarly decided that Craig Biggio was too good offensively to play the physically brutal catching position. Injuries are inevitable. Mes was on the DL twice this year, and yes, one was due to a hamstring pull running the bases; but crouching permanently can’t be good for keeping hamstrings loose.

    By moving Mesoraco, the Reds would solve their age-old problem with lousy production from leftfiled, and would give themselves a power RH bat in the middle of the lineup every day. The downside is that instead of having Mesoraco and the leftfielder du jour on offense, the Reds would have Mesoraco and probably Barnhart/Pena on offense. But that would be countered by having Mesoraco every day, not 75% of the time, plus Mesoraco’s offense could be expected to improve overall, not having to bear the mental and physical strain of catching.

    Mesoraco is defensively passable at catcher, but only that, and it is pretty clear that Cueto, Bailey and Chapman prefer to throw to other catchers. Barnhart, on the other hand, is already elite as a catcher.

    • Hey BIG5ED,

      I have been saying since last year when Ludwick went down that Meso needs to be in LF. The Dodger platooned Yeager and Joe Ferguson between catcher and RF.

      Also, Dale Murphy was a very good catcher until he ripped his knee up. I got to watch him play in high school and the guy went yard easily the other way.

      The fact that Dale was 2 time MVP in Center Field after coming up as a catcher shows what kind of athlete he was, again playing CF very well on a rehabed knee.

      Mesoraco runs very well and there is no reason that he cannot be successful in LF

      unless you like shumaker….

    • I have considered this point of view, but I keep coming up with this: If you take Devin and move him to lf, you weaken yourself at C. Yes, Barnhart can catch better, but he does not hit yet. Pena can hit some, but he is worse defensively than Devin is. Plus, his average and power would not solve the problem of power that appears to be what people are complaining about with the current OF. I also have seen no evidence of other pitchers not wanting to throw to Devin. I have seen Devin have Pena come over and translate when Mesoraco is speaking to one of the Hispanic pitchers.

      PS: Both Murphy and Biggio had the ability to run, Devin Mesoraco does not.

    • I’m not sure that moving Mes to Lf, even if he wasn’t horrible out there which is not guaranteed, would add value to the reds. In theory, it should be much easier to find a good hitting LF than a good hitting Catcher. Plus, the reds have Winker, Yorman, Ervin, and Waldrop who could all be ready in the next year or two, along with Hamilton and Bruce in the outfield. Blocking one of those guys just to get Mes in LF and Pena or Barnhart behind the plate seems like a net loss. I think the better idea right now is to have Devin work at 1b and become Joey’s backup. He could give Votto one day off per week to try to keep him fresh. Meso would get 4-5 games per week behind the plate, one game at first, and 1-2 days off.

      • Joey doesn’t take days off when he is healthy. Look, if Devin plays in LF 30 games a year, rookies can be brought up, catching can be platooned and you get 550-600 abs out of Devin versus 400ish.

        Devin can move from 1st to second. I am not saying he will steal 20 bases, he is not far off Frazier with his speed and you do not want to be the 2nd baseman turning a double play with him bearing down.

        and compared to Ryan Ludwick, he is Devin Bolt

        • But Joey isn’t in his twenties anymore and the reds have 200 million reasons to try to keep him as healthy and productive as possible throughout his 30’s. He had major surgery in 2012, then comes back last year and plays 162 games. He looked entirely exhausted in September and then he gets injured again the very next year. Maybe things would have gone differently had he got some days off last year and maybe not. But I know that in 2010 and 2011 there were a couple instances where he was starting to slump a little and he got a day off. When he came back he started hitting again. That may not mean anything, but it seems like a good idea to get Joey some regular off days when he comes back.

        • TCT, I hear you but we are not going to sit Joey for 40 games. We can afford to sit the starter in LF, the guy named PTBNL for 40 games.

          But I hear you that we require a healthy Joey.

    • I feel moving Mes to LF and Barnhart to C isn’t the answer. Sure Mes needs to learn another position to get an extra 20-30 starts a year, but he still needs to stay at catcher outside of those starts.

      A good offensive LF is much much easier to find than a good offensive catcher. Not to mention that OF is the only position that the Reds have anyone truly promising in the minors.

      The Reds can’t afford an offensive black hole at C, which is what Barnhart almost assuredly would be. Their problem is already not enough offense.

      • Todd, I totally agree, but even if he only caught 81 games per year and played LF 70 games, that would not bother me.

        His 550 abs is the key

  3. I’m so glad that Mes is still a Red, and that Grandal is not. I imagine that decision was not easy, and maybe it was purely dumb luck by our GM– but it looks like he got that one correct when deciding which catcher the Reds would part with. Great piece, love watching Mesoraco play and wish he was out there all the time!

    • A lot of Reds fans were ripping Jocketty to shreds a while back for not trading Mes and keeping Grandal. I wonder where are all those critics now?

  4. It may not be completely fair, but Mes’ 2014 is one reason why I’m glad Baker was relieved last year. (My optimism has been dampened by Price this year, but for most of the year he was playing Russian roulette with a fully loaded gun.) I disagreed with how they handled him in 2012 (left off playoff roster I believe), and felt he needed a larger role last year especially with the need of RH power and Hanigan struggling. He has been the single best thing to happen to the Reds this year, imo.

  5. Props to the Reds for seeing through the small sample sizes and lack of opportunity in the past two years in green lighting Mes for the future. He’s been an absolute highlight of the season.

  6. I was actually thinking last night that the Reds may well have two silver slugger winners this year, both starters in last night’s battery. Do they give a pitcher award for that? One more reason to sign Leake now. And I do like the idea of moving Mesoraco out into the field. But here are the two relevant questions there. First, which is better? Mesoraco and Pena/Barnhart in the lineup every day, or a stud left fielder plus Mesoraco for 120 games, and the same stud plus Pena/Barnhart for 40? I say the latter IF they can find that stud. Second, how much longer does Mesoraco hit really well as a left fielder than as a catcher? You can always move him later too… I don’t know the answers with certainty but my bottom line is move Mes if you can’t find a good bat for left, leave him at catcher if you do.

    • They do, but Leake shouldn’t have a chance. His .177/.190/.339 with a 40 wRC+ doesn’t really belong in the conversation.

      The only two that really deserve consideration are Madison Bumgarner and Travis Wood, 107 and 104 wRC+.

      • Fair enough, and thanks for the hard data. For now I’ll just say it’s nice that Leake is not an automatic out and does help the offense from time to time. He’s just a solid baseball player and I hope he gets extended rather than traded.

        • Still got the two Silver Slugger winner bit right though. Just it’ll be Mesoraco and Frazier. Arenado might win it, but he shouldn’t. Hitting in Colorado should be considered cheating, and Frazier has about 150 PA or so more.

  7. Great read. I would think Joey Votto and Mesoraco are pretty close now on the % of pitches they swing at outside the strike zone. I bet they differ by a wider margin on the hard hit ball %, with Mesoraco leading by a fair amount.

    I can’t find the data on how they compare. Help!

    • In each of the past 3 years, Votto has swung at only 21% of pitches out of the zone. Meosraco has swung at 33% of pitches outside the zone, down from 37% last year, per fangraphs. Devin has improved in that regard, but he is still nowhere close to Joey Votto when it comes to plate discipline.

      Votto has had a line drive rate of 27% in each of the past two years, per fangraphs, and a 30% ld rate in 2012. Devin has a 23% line drive rate this year, up from 21% last year. Don’t know if that was the info you were looking for or not, but I did my best.

      • Mesoraco is a completely different hitter than Votto. Mesoraco has been and always will be more aggressive at the plate than Votto, much more aggressive, but has somewhat tempered his aggression. A lot of people want to see more of that aggression from Votto, but actually Votto and Mesoraco complement each other superbly. Mesoraco simply represents the type of hitter the Reds have been missing, desperately. With the combination of Votto and Mesoraco in the lineup, the Reds offense will demonstrate a solid example of the whole being more valuable and effective than the individual parts.

        • Would love to see what they could do both healthy and hitting back-to-back.

        • I’m not sure I agree that Meso is actually more aggressive than (a healthy) Votto. When he was healthy, Votto would go after any pitch he was looking for and wanted to hit regardless of the count. He take any pitch he wasn’t looking for and didn’t really want to hit unless he was at 2 strikes which in itself is a very aggressive posture of a different sort.Maybe the way to put it was that Votto was very effectively aggressive; and hopefully that is a direction Meso will grow in as he continues to progress.

        • I would love to see a whole season of a healthy Frazier – Votto – Mesoraco as our 2-3-4 hitters. That should be the core of a solid offense. If Hamilton can learn to improve his OBP as he matures, and if a healthy Bruce can turn back into the pre-2014 version of himself, we have an excelent 1-5 of the order. Finally, we need to sign some free agent slugging OF to a 2-year contract (to hold down LF until one of the prospects is ready).

          Hamilton
          Frazier
          Votto
          Mesoraco
          Bruce
          LF (free agent)
          Phillips
          Cozart

          Now THAT looks like a lineup that can score some runs.

  8. Mesoraco has had a fine season. Just listening to him in interviews now, he is a totally different catcher than two years ago. He has an air of confidence around him he didn’t have before.
    But the real impressive thing in his hitting is he isn’t just a fastball hitter. If he is sitting on a curveball and gets one, he crushes it.
    Mesoraco is a pillar and cornerstone to build this team around.
    BHam turned 25 yesterday and Joey Votto turns 31 today.

    • Hamilton turned 24 yesterday, but your point is valid. Hamilton is not nor will not be a cornerstone to build around. Hamilton will have limited peak performance seasons since his game is entirely based on speed. If he learns to manage his basestealing (and it appears he will likely do that), adapts better plate discipline and quits hitting fly balls, he will be a tremendous asset, but not a cornerstone.

      • Yes he is. My finger slid off the 4 and hit the 5 and I didn’t proofread first. Two B-days in two days. Cake for everybody.
        Look around the field at the starting 8, and this is still a young team. BHam 24, Fraz 28, Bruce 27, Mes 26, Cozart 29, Votto 31, and grandpa BP 33. They aren’t the Geritol Yankees. Now if they can get a younger than Ludwick LF that can hit. If they go younger at 2B without BP, then the upgrade in LF has to be a serious one.

      • I’m harder on Hamilton than most, but if he learns how to get on base, Hamilton will be a 4-5 win player. His lack of power prevents him from being a superstar, but a cheap player who earns 3+ WAR is a cornerstone to me.

        Hamilton is unusual. His lack of power effectively puts a cap on his ceiling lower than former elite prospects. But his defense puts a higher floor than most.

        Part of the problem I guess with Hamilton, is you wonder how he’ll age. Speed supposedly peaks early and it’s possible Hamilton is faster now than he’ll ever be again. If Hamilton gets hurt or ages (pretty sure aging is 100% likely 🙂 ), Hamilton’s primary skills go away and that floor starts lowering.

        • Agreed that OBP for Hamilton is crucial and that means walks. His batting average could well improve, but if he doesn’t walk more, that still doesn’t translate into enough OBP to make it worth taking on the lack of power. But if he could double his walk rate (which I think he can) or more, then even if he hits .265/.270, he would provide enough OBP to justify his bat at the top of the lineup. (See Christian Yelich as the perfect example.)

          Regardless of whether Hamilton is called a cornerstone, a player with his range in CF is valuable even if he’s a below-average hitter. But that doesn’t mean he should bat leadoff. Speed plays better with the singles hitters lower in the lineup. He’s young enough that his speed should stay valuable through his team-control years. After that, wouldn’t want to take a gamble right now.

        • Yeah, I agree completely about B-Ham not leading off, but speed=leadoff hitter seems unlikely to change unless the Reds can bring in some significant talent on offense. I think it’s unlikely Hamilton’s BB% doubles, but let’s hope it does.

  9. Best read around here in a while (uplifting). Cueto & Mes have no doubt been the big +’s this year. Very good article.

    Only complaint: how do we get him in more games?

  10. This winter for the Reds may be the year of multi-year contract. Mesoraco to a 3-4 year deal, Frazier to a 2-3 year deal, Leake to a 3-4 year deal, and the big one a 4-5 year deal for Cueto. Bruce has to rebound before extending him past 2017.
    The Reds will also have to eat a couple of contracts too possibly if they can’t trade them. Ludwick, Schumaker, Hannahan, Parra, and Marshall.
    And maybe find a taker for BP.

    • Mes and Frazier are arb eligible after this year, so the reds have them for the next 3 years regardless. The only reason to offer them three year contracts would be to lock in the prices instead of going year to year. But the thing about Mes is that this is his first good season so his career numbers aren’t that impressive. This means that his arb price wouldn’t be that expensive at first. Now, if the reds wanted to try to buy out a couple of Mes or Frazier’s free agent years, they could offer them 5 year extensions. But Frazier is already 28, and the Reds control his age 29-31 seasons. His free agent seasons would start at 32, when he is likely to start declining. I think the reds should just take their 3 more years of Frazier and then let him walk. They do have some interesting third base prospects in the farm.

      Mes is a tough call. It’s always a risk to extend a guy after a huge, career year, especially his first good year. But, the fact that this is his first good year may keep the price down. He is 26, the reds have his 27-29 years, and free agency would start at 30. A five year deal that kept his arb prices down and got two free agent years, age 30 and 31, May be a decent option, but I’d have to look more at the catching market to get an idea of the numbers. On the other hand, if the reds wanted to break it down and rebuild with the goal of competing again in 2017, then Mes would be their best trade candidate because he probably has the highest trade value on the team. I’m not advocating that, and the reds definitely won’t do that. But it is interesting that Mes has become their best trade chip when you think of where his value was last year.

      • I agree TCT.

        I was suggesting that we extend Cueto last year because of his down year, and do believe he is still a priority. This year the extension is for Jay Bruce. The guy is clearly hurt and that has impacted his year.

        He may not want an extension now, but he was willing to before. The guy is a 30/100 machine with a great pure swing. He even showed signs of know where LF is this year at the plate.

        He like Cueto this year, will come back with a monster year next year when healthy and we will all be saying, wow we should have extended Jay when we had the chance.

        Jay Bruce can hit 50 HR’s multiple times. He is an easier player to project than Edwin Encarnacion

      • Agree particularly on Frazier. His rep has been made on 6 good weeks in 2012 and 6 more this season; he is currently showing signs of fading even as Meso catches a second (or third) wind. As you said, Frazier was late to the party; and, likely is what he is and more likely to decline than grow or even maintain by the end of his FA years.

  11. The emergence and establishment of both Mesoraco and Frazier as middle-of-the-order, RH power hitters this season to meld with Votto and Bruce has answered 2 huge questions and concerns going into the disastrous 2014 season. With those two lineup positions filled for 2015, the black hole in LF remains as the only absolute requirement to fill out the lineup, but multiple options for filling that black hole during the off season are now available, thank you very much Mes!

    The Reds have obviously decided that no internal options for LF are available for 2015 and the FA options are questionable at best and almost certainly over-priced. Externally, The Reds can now look to add a speedy, defensive stalwart with a superb on base capability (i.e. Adam Eaton or Christian Yelich) to hit in front of Votto (#3) and Mesoraco (#4) for 2015 or another RH pounder with good on base capability (i.e. Matt Kemp or Jose Bautista) to hit between Votto (#2) and Mesoraco (#4). Without the emergence of Mesoraco, LF would have to be filled with a RH power hitter, which would be the more difficult (availability and cost) of the 2 options to fill. Obtaining either of the 2 options for LF could produce an offensive juggernaut in 2015, creating a phoenix rising from the ashes of the 2014 season.

    Filling the black hole in LF will also create 2 additional benefits. Phillips will move down in the lineup, behind Bruce and Frazier, where he can drive in runs to his hearts content without his GIDP and lack of effective auxiliary batting skills will not handcuff the offense. Cozart can also continue as a defensive stalwart at SS and hit in the #8 hole without crippling the offense.

    Of course, in order to get talent, the Reds will have to give up talent. That will mean starting pitching, the most valuable commodity in MLB.

    • I might add ATL’s OF Jason Heyward, too. If the Reds could pull off a trade for Eaton or Yelich, I’d bat either of them leadoff and have BHam bat second.
      Jose Bautista is the one to go after. But he is as hot as a Darryl Strawberry crack pipe right now. You can’t help but think the Reds and Jays match up perfectly for a big trade.

      • The 4 players i mentioned were purely examples, but possible, trade options. Heyward is another possibility. I agree that Hamilton moves to the #2 hole with Yelich or Eaton leading off. Double plays in the heart of the lineup would be effectively eliminated with Hamilton hitting #2 and Hamilton on base in front of Votto is a situation worth salivating over. Votto could have a .500+ OBP or a .600+ SLG depending on the poison the pitchers pick.

    • Is starting pitcher still the most valuable commodity in MLB? Tonight, there are 18 pitchers starting that have sub-0.400 ERAs. I’m thinking the most valuable commodity is now actually young hitters.

      • Errr…I mean sub-4.00 ERAs. Sub 0.400 would be like, really good or something.

        • I’ve said the same thing about the balance between pitching and hitting right now and agree completely. The game is filled with good young pitchers, and even the mediocre guys are good enough to win with. Look at the rotation the pirates are winning with. Good young hitting has become scarce. The question is whether GM’s are thinking this way. Epstein and Hoyer of the cubs seem to feel this way as they have been stockpiling hitting prospects. On the other hand, Billy Beane traded two good young hitting prospects for starting pitching.

        • TCT
          Would you trade Latos to the Dodgers for OF Joc Pedersen and SS Corey Seager??
          I would.

        • In a heartbeat. But Pederson has had a monster year and I don’t think they will get rid of him. More than likely they try to get rid of Kemp, who’s actually hit pretty well lately. He’s owed a bunch of money though, and you could probably get him for very little if you just agreed to pay him. They will probably have to kick in some money to trade him or Ethier.

          But honestly, I would give up any pitcher in the organization for that package, because Latos, Cueto, and Leake only have one year left before FA and Chapman, I believe has 2, but the reds hardly use him. Heck, I would be tempted to give up any 2 pitchers in the org for those two prospects.

    • I agree you old Cossack you.

      If the ideal candidate does not present with regard to power for the LF position, I want the best hitter available. I really do not even care about power or SB’s. I want a good idea of the strike zone. I want Adam Dunn more that I want the 72 other guys we have had since him.

      We need a Matt Carpenter in our lineup. His first at bat last night was 9 pitches before he lined a double over Billy’s head.

      276 BA with a 375 OBP. I could care less that he has only stolen 5 bases. The guy knows the strike zone.

      That is what I want in front of Votto in our 2 hole

      • Cross posted. We think alike…..I totally agree, we need more base cloggers.

    • I largely agree with this and it makes me more optimistic than most regarding 2015. Surely they can find a suitable LF, right? (Christian Yelich, please.)

      But I think the jury is still out a bit on Frazier. He’s been more up and down this year than Mesoraco and I don’t think it’s safe to lump the two of them together. Mesoraco’s OPS is .927 and Frazier’s is just .792 now. Frazier has shown he isn’t likely as bad as he was last year (OPS .721, 100 wRC+), but he hasn’t sustained the promise of the first half of the season. So far. That’s something to watch the rest of this month.

      • I completely agree about Frazier. As a #5 or #6 hole hitter (with Bruce), Frazier fits the bill more than satisfactorily. I did not intend to promote Frazier as the equivalent of Mesoraco, just as a satisfactory RH fill for the middle of the order. That moves Phillips to the #7 hole.

  12. We need a high OBP guy in LF to help balance our lineup, rather than another “slugger”. I could care less if he hits 1 HR or 10, just get on base 40% of the time and let’s take our chances. Someone pitchers hate to face…..like Matt Carpenter.

    • In response to Jumbo’s struggles last night (since Carpenter was mentioned…twice…

      If the home plate umpire had called a strike anywhere in the strike zone, rather than a pitch brovved down the middle of the plate, then Carpenter would have road the pine as a strike out victim rather than fouling off good pitches or taking marginal pitches and Jumbo’s outing has a completely different result.

      Yes, I want another solid batter who understands the strike zone, can recogonize pitches and work the pitcher to death. The Reds don’t need another big HR bat or another 50 steals, just a professional hitter. I hate that Carpenter plays for the Birds, but those are the types of players the Birds draft and develop. That’s simply not an approach promoted by WJ and his baseball operations.

      • Good point. The bullpen struggled last night (again), but they were also victims of horrible ball/strike calls and errors by the defense.

    • Yes REDGOGGLES we are thinking a like.

      but Winker could be both things. that guy seems to have a great strike zone

  13. Nice write-up Steve! Mes has been an absolute joy to watch this season. A young, talented player under team control is a good thing. I know the snake-bit 2014 campaign is winding down, so dreaming for 2015 seems appropriate about now.

    And I agree with getting Mes some 1B work offseason and using that spot as his relief option. I’m not convinced he could be good enough in LF to make all those changes worth it.

  14. I love Mes just wish that he had more defensive game. The Reds just cant find complete players. They get a stud on offensive they get a dud on defense and vice versa.

  15. My view on Mesoraco’s playing time is that he should just catch more. Focus his defense on improving at catcher. Ditch the idea that he has to sit once every time through the rotation. The elite catchers (Bench, Molina) didn’t do that. If Price has Mesoraco catch and/or DH 155 games instead of 130, this really isn’t an issue, is it? Get a LF who can hit, darn it.

    • Yeah I am agreeing with that as well Steve. I have been non biased against Price all year but now that the season is winding down there are many things that we can categorize as failures and just a few that we can attribute to management as a success. So many glaring questions involving Price: Mesoraco usage, Schumaker usage, Ludwick usage, Batting Phillips #3 and #4, not trying Hamilton out in different spots in the order, staying with Hoover to long, Staying with Ondrusek to long, playing “proven” starters over “call ups”, bullpen usage. This list could go on indefinitely.

      No doubt that whoever manages a team, even if they win a World Series you look back and question a few things. Overall though I think that Price is looking at a low grade of a D- for his rookie management season. Then again how much of what he did was he told to do his first season? Will Price be given more influence on the team next year?

      The biggest question I have on Price is if we fire him what do we lose with our current and future pitching development? How much of the success of Cueto, Latos, Bailey, Leake, Simon, Cingrani, and even Chapman do we quantify as top tier coaching from Bryan Price?

  16. I don’t believe at all that Mes’s improvement has been simply to hitting the ball harder but as to why is he hitting the ball harder? I believe that’s because he’s getting more regular playing time, what he wasn’t going to get with Baker since Baker already had him labelled that “The game is too fast for him up here.” Many of us saw it, that Mes was a player who needed regular playing time. You can do all the practicing you want, which can and is still good. However, there is never a substitute for in-game situations, one reason why some players get sent to the minors, to stay in in-game shape and sharp, rather than being a bench player.

    The additional playing time allowed him to see more pitches, thus time the pitches better, and thus, hit the pitches better, which for him would also mean harder.

    Mes and Hamilton I have been impressed with this season. I just hope that impression isn’t short-lived next season. There still need to keep improving.

    Oh, something from Mes in the Enquirer article recently, he talked of how hitters at that level need to be able to adjust to the adjustments that pitchers make on them. That is the name of the game for hitters at this level, from Votto on down. If you don’t adjust, the other teams are going to learn how to minimize your effectiveness and stick with it, until you do decide to adjust. The dude impresses me with his smarts. Let’s see what he does next season.

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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Thinking Inside the Box