Marlon Byrd is on a serious roll. Byrd hit his sixth home run in the month of May in the 8th inning, which broke a 3-3 tie. Byrd finished the game with 3 RBI’s.

Johnny Cueto pitched well once again for the Reds, as he allowed just two runs in seven innings. After Tony Cingrani gave up the Reds 3-2 lead in the 8th inning, Aroldis Chapman didn’t allow the Reds new-found lead in the 9th inning to get away. He finished off the Giants 1-2-3 in the 9th inning, striking out two, as the Reds beat the Giants 4-3 on Thursday night. The Reds are now above .500 at 18-17.


Final R H E
Cincinnati Reds (18-17) 4 7 0
San Francisco Giants (17-18) 3 7 0
W: Diaz (2-0) L: Romo (0-2) S: Chapman (7)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score | Game Thread

Biggest Play of the Game

According to Fangraphs WPA statistic (winning percentage added), the most important play of the game was Marlon Byrd’s solo home run in the 8th inning, giving the Reds a 4-3 lead. That play increased the Reds chances of winning by 32.0% (from 55.3% to 87.3%)

Other important plays (+/- indicates how much each play increased or decreased the Reds chances of winning):

  • +30.1% – 5th inning: Byrd’s 2 RBI single with 2 outs. Runners on 1st & 2nd. Reds lead 3-2.
  • +16.9% – 7th inning: Cueto got Aoki to ground into an inning ending double play. Reds lead 3-2.
  • +14.1% – 8th inning: Cingrani picked Susac off first base. 1 out, bases empty. Reds lead 3-2.
  • +12.9% – 4th inning: Pena RBI single with 1 out. Runners on 1st & 2nd. Giants lead 2-1.
  • -18.3% – 8th inning: Cingrani allows a triple to Panik. Runner on 3rd, 1 out. Reds lead 3-2.
  • -14.8% – 8th inning: Cingrani allowed an RBI single to Pagan. Runner on 1st, 1 out. 3-3.
  • -11.9% – 4th inning: Schumaker flies out with a runner on 2nd base. 2 outs. Giants lead 2-1.
  • -9.9% – 3rd inning: Cueto balks in a run (Blanco). Runner on 2nd base, 2 outs. Giants lead 2-0.
  • -9.0% – 8th inning: Cingrani walked Susac to lead off the inning. Reds lead 3-2.
  • -8.2% – 1st inning: Cueto allows an RBI single to Posey. Runners on 1st & 3rd, 1 out. Giants lead 1-0.
  • -8.0% – 1st inning: Bruce flies out to deep center with the bases loaded to end the inning. Giants lead 1-0.

Player of the Game

Marlon Byrd: 2 for 2, 2 BB, 1 HR, 3 RBI, .688 WPA

Byrd has suddenly become a patient hitter. Get this: Byrd didn’t walk once in his first 20 games of the season. Since then, Byrd has walked 14 times in his last 13 games. It is easy to see how being more patient has lead to success for Byrd. He is now hitting .342/.500/.895 with 6 HR and 14 RBI in 12 games in May.


Patient AB’s will go a long way for a team. The Reds got Tim Lincecum up to 99 pitches in just 4.2 innings, and chased him out of the game. The Reds forcing the Giants to go to their bullpen in the 5th inning of the first game of a four game series is huge.

Johnny Cueto got off to a tough start in the first inning, but boy did he ever recover. Cueto allowed a run in the first inning, after giving up two hits and a walk. Cueto balked in another run in the third inning, as the Reds fell behind 2-0. Cueto then struck out 7 of the next 10 Giants batters, and gave the Reds a chance to come back. His line on the evening: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 9 K.


Zack Cozart hit two rockets tonight. One was a loud out on an incredible play by Angel Pagan. The other one was a single in the 5th inning. I am still skeptical on Cozart now being a decent hitter (his BABIP is 57 points higher than his career), but everyday I start to believe a little bit more. If Cozart could put up an OPS north of .700, he would easily be one of the top five SS in the MLB with his incredible defense. Cozart currently has a OPS of .908, after posting a .568 OPS last season.


Poor Jay Bruce. The guy just can’t have anything go right for him. Nick Carrington did an excellent job covering Bruce’s poor luck here and here. It looked like Jay Bruce had a grand slam in the first inning, which would have done wonders for Bruce’s confidence, and probably given him some good will from Thom Brennaman for at least an inning. However, Bruce missed a grand slam by a few feet, despite hitting an absolute bomb to straight away CF. The poor guy got booed after two strikeouts later in the game too. Five more feet, and he is the hero of the night.


Billy Hamilton continues to struggle hitting leadoff. Hamilton went 0 for 4, and is now hitting .205/.259/.311 with a 55 wRC+. That just doesn’t cut it in the leadoff spot.

Not so random thoughts…………….

Tim Lincecum kept falling over on the mound all night. It was really weird. This literally happened three or four times. Bizarre.


The new commissioner should give the Reds some sort of award for this. Or a draft pick. I’ll take a draft pick. I must say, I love baseball as much as anyone, but I have really liked the quicker games. I definitely think this helps the casual fan.

Pace of play

Around the NL Central

Cardinals beat the Indians 2-1 this afternoon in Cleveland. Yours truly was in attendance for this one. Trevor Bauer pitched brilliantly for the Indians, holding the Cardinals scoreless into the 8th inning, while striking out 10. Bauer left in the 8th with a 1-0 lead, and with a runner on first base. Matt Carpenter then hit a cheap home run (literally out of the ballpark by a foot) off former teammate Marc Rzepczynski. The Cardinals won 2 of 3 against the Indians despite striking out 40 (!) times in the series.

Cubs beat the Mets 6-5. The Cubs trailed 5-1 entering the bottom of the 5th, but were able to rally to complete an impressive four game sweep of the Mets. Dexter Fowler homered, and then scored the go ahead run on a passed ball in the 7th inning for the Cubs.

Pirates lost to the Phillies 4-2. Aaron Harang pitched 8.0 scoreless innings against the Pirates today (5 H, 1 BB, 6 K). After taking the first two games of the four game series in the Philadelphia, the Pirates had to settle for a series split after they dropped the final two games. The Pirates fell below .500 at 17-18.

Brewers were off. They begin a three game series in New York against the Mets tomorrow.

Up Next:

Giants at Reds
Friday, 7:10 PM
Madison Bumgarner (3-2, 3.30 ERA) vs Jason Marquis (3-2, 5.66 ERA)

All statistics are used courtesy of Fangraphs, ESPN Stats and Info, and Baseball-Reference (including Baseball-Reference Play Index). All photos are used courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, and are used by permission.

129 Responses

  1. mtkal

    Well the Red’s have a three game winning streak going, but their stopper is on the mound tomorrow.

    • Whoa Bundy!

      But the ball travels fast off his bat. When he makes contact.

    • wkuchad

      Never once heard “poor Brandon Phillips”

      • Pooter

        Poor Brandon Phillips. There, it has been said 🙂

    • Robby20

      What’s the deal with this site and Jay Bruce. He is awful right now, period. An out is an out. What truly is the relevance of the fact the ball was hit hard?

      • HerpyDerp

        Hitting the ball hard means you made solid contact, squared it up correctly… It statistically trends well with getting actual hits.

      • Whoa Bundy!

        Unless you are always striking out.

      • MrRed

        But how can you be striking out if you are hitting the ball squarely? It’s interesting to watch a lot of you guys contorting yourselves to try and make an argument.

      • Andrewpky

        He has a swing flaw. Even Chris was talking about his hips flying open instead of going towards the plate. The fact he hits the ball hard is a product of his physical strength. however, any golfer will tell you that flying your hips open will lead to either a dead pull (Foul ball/grounder) or a weak slice.

      • Robby20

        But then again in Jay Bruce’s case maybe it doesn’t. The out in center was a routine out to the warning track. That doesn’t statistically mean the next time he hits it hard it will be a hit and frankly if a guy hits the ball hard once a game that doesn’t seem worth getting overly excited about.

      • docmike

        A hard-hit ball to the warning track probably wouldn’t be considered “routine”, especially since if the ball traveled another five feet it would have been a home run.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Until I see raw data of a breakdown of his batted ball speed, I’m not buying that. I have become a batted ball speed junkie and especially where JB is concerned. Attended the Bats game, in Charlotte last night, so couldn’t follow the Reds game, first I’ve missed Maybe he hit the cork out of the ball last night, maybe someone has that info. Since flowing the ball speeds, Jay has hit one ball over a 100+ and it was a hit, of course. You don’t hit .160 if you are consistently hitting the ball hard, it’s physics.

      • charlottencredsfan

        “following” the ball speeds……

      • jdx19

        I think with the limited amount of data we have, perhaps you (and I both) have put too much weight in that single article from FG that had a lot of MPH demarcations. There isn’t much fundamentally different between 98 and 100, or 100 and 102.

        Bruce, from just about any measure you want to use (eye test, FG hard-hit %, or single ball speeds) is hitting the ball harder than an average major leaguer would.

        On Baseball Savant, when I looked a few nights ago, Bruce was tops on the Reds at 91mph average. Votto was 2nd at 90mph. First in the majors was Joc Pederson at 97mph (boy that kid can hit).

        I’m not trying to defend Bruce here, just trying to say we don’t know all there is to know about the hard-hit stuff, so in this regard, I almost feel the more imprecise measures (like FG hard-hit%) are going to mean more than if we had every single ball’s MPH.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Agree 100%, that is why I want to raw stuff. I like to perform my own interpretations. Trust you like a brother JDX, but having said that, I’m verifying.

        My instinct since I have been following the batted ball speed, is that a few mph makes a huge difference – especially on grounders or line drives in the infield. All anecdotal at the moment, but I have the nose of a bloodhound (insert smiley here). Wherever it leads, I’ll follow. If you ever run across hard data to suggest otherwise or confirm, please let me be the first to know.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Clarification: huge difference has it’s own meaning in baseball parlance. I would expect in a large enough sample, each additional mph adds to a hitters success rate with exception of real slow LD’s that just clear the infielders. Maybe the only time, I would be tempted to use the word “luck”.

  2. mtkal

    Living as I do in eastern PA and having seen a lot of Marlon Byrd last season, I was not part of the “get rid of Byrd” chorus earlier on. I thought he would come around sooner than later and start to swing the bat better, but I can’t claim to have expected him to wipe out his dreadful early numbers in less than a month.

    • Wallyum

      I was pretty pumped when they picked him up in the trade, but I thought he might be done after his hideous start. I expected a higher average, about this kind of power, and a little less in the field. In April I was starting to think that the Reds had seen another carriage turned back into a pumpkin, but May has me thinking he might be the best pickup since Choo. Now if we could just get some of this Mojo to rub off on Bruce.

  3. Vanessa Galagnara

    Byrd is practically carrying our offense. If we could get either a couple of other Redlegs to step up or get deported back to AAA I think we could possibly take off on a nice long win streak.

  4. mtkal

    When healthy, I would really like to see Phillips and Cozart at the top of the order, with Hamilton at the bottom while all three are hitting the way they currently are.

    May have to figure out a way to get Pena further from the bottom of the order as well if he keeps hitting over .350.

  5. earmbrister

    Byrd has been bashed here all off season and into the year. Nice to see him doing the bashing this month.

    As for the re-posted tweet: “Why is Skip in the lineup at 2nd base if his defense stinks and his bat is only good enough to hit 8th?”

    Answer: because he’s hitting about 90 points higher than Negron (who doesn’t get 1 % of the flak that Schumaker gets).

    Reds are starting to show signs of life. Go Reds.

    • MrRed

      All due respect, but that’s not really an answer. Do you really mean to tell us that you think Schumaker is a better defender than Negron? Because neither of them can hit so that can’t really be the comparison point.

      Also, it’s fair to give more criticism to the guy making $2.5 million vs. a guy making the minimum who also happens to be more useful to the team. That’s just the way it goes.

      • earmbrister

        You might not agree with the answer, but it’s an answer. Schumaker is a better hitter than Negron (I’m a better hitter than Negron), so choosing him to play on a particular night ahead of Negron is very defensible. It doesn’t bother you that Negron is hitting .111, and with no power?

        Schumaker is making $ 2.5 M because he’s an 11 year vet who has a career slash of .280/.338/.365. Negron is making a league minimum because he is a 29 year old “rookie”. That’s the way MLB payroll goes.

      • jdx19

        As soon as you said “I’m a better hitter than Negron” your argument lost all validity.

        Given a sufficient sample size of PAs at this point in there career, there is ZERO evidence to support that Schumaker would be a better hitter than Negron. Now, in Skip’s defense, that isn’t really fair since he’s old and Negron isn’t. But here we are.

      • jdx19

        And your monetary analysis is terrible, too. Schumaker is a career REPLACEMENT LEVEL PLAYER. He’s got 0.8 fWAR in 11 seasons. That’s terrible. He’s terrible. To put it in perspective, Adrian Gonzalez generated more than 0.8 fWAR in his first 10 games of this season. Let that sink in. A-Gon provided more value above replacement in 10 games than Schumaker has in a career.

      • earmbrister

        The: “I’m a better hitter than Negron” is obviously tongue in cheek, and wasn’t the basis of my argument.

        The evidence of hitting ability is over the course of their careers. Schumaker has an 11 year career in the major leagues. Negron spent the better part of 9 years in the minors. There’s a reason that it took him that long to get to the bigs. His MINOR LEAGUE #’s aren’t all that impressive (across all levels of the minors):


        I’ll give the nod offensively to the guy who put up his career numbers in MLB, not in Lancaster, PA.

        You and I both know that his 0.8 WAR is a function of his poor defense. His oWAR is 7.6 and his dWAR is -6.4. That’s why he’s a bench player for the Reds. That’s where replacement level players are throughout the league: on the bench. He’s not the “terrible player” that you label him, he’s just a “replacement level” player, who get’s way too much criticism for his role on the team.

      • lwblogger2

        @EARMBRISTER – Or Lancaster, OH? (Sorry for the Frontier League 1993/1994 reference).

  6. Tom Gray

    I read many criticize Byrd (here and elsewhere) over the winter. He’s doing well now.

    • whereruklu

      I am willing to eat crow at this point. For now. Two things, one is that BigBryd is being more Votto-like at the plate by being patient in the count, and two, that the Reds will need him to continue if they are to remotely contend this year. I see the frustration in Votto and Bruces’ faces at this time, but I think Votto will right himself. I’m not convinced about JB. Is it possible that Bruce has already peaked in his playing career? As a postscript- sign Pena up for another 2 years. You can tell how much he means to the team. I am reminded of how Perez was considered the glue in the clubhouse, and Pena appears to be that guy this year. Include the fact that he is a good defensive catcher that will be forced to work with the up and coming young pitching corps. As much as I love Messo, Pena is probably better suited behind the plate at this time. But you’ve go the find a place for Messo somewhere…too big of a bat to be warming the pines. Maybe a break for Bruce.
      Something has to be done with Billy. Speed kills, but you gotta get on base to use it. Lastly, find a replacement for Marquis as a starter. Not a prime time pitcher. Cuetto, Leake, Igasias, Lorenzen are a pretty good quartet, but another #5 is needed. Think we can get Simon back??? lol

      • whereruklu

        With all that being said, I am pleasantly surprised that the Reds are where they are at this point. The Cards have to eventually have troubles maintaining such a surge, so any team anywhere near the .500 mark may give someone at the top a good run. GO REDS!!!!!!! WE’RE ALL BATTY FOR CINCINNATI….

      • whereruklu

        i forgot about DeSlafani.Me bad. Cuetto, Leake, Iglasias, DeSclafani, and Lorenzen..Time will tell if this all works out, but for sure it will certainly be fun to watch. Keep in mind that the Reds still have a couple of hot pitching prospects fine tuning their craft back in the minors.

      • VaRedsFan

        Billy had 2 hits on Wed. He’s fine. Every time someone has an 0- fer, this whole place blows up.

      • charlottencredsfan

        VA, sorry he isn”t. Wednesday was the exception, not the rule.

        Billy is suffering from the “terrible twos”. Like a two-year old, he can’t stop moving around but where the two-year old can’t period, Hamilton’s suffering is limited to the batter’s box. Yup, every now and then he runs into a pitch because he feet are planted at the exact right moment. Let’s not kid ourselves: Billy is horrible at the plate right now and it isn’t helpful to sugarcoat it.

      • reaganspad

        agreed Charlotte,

        He did it again last night, the bluff the bunt on the first pitch which was a fastball down the middle.

        On Wednesday night, his hits came early in the counts when he was focused in on his swing and not trying the fake bunt thing.

        He would be better to just look at the strike because his fake bunt is like the 3rd to 1st pitcher move with runners on base. NOBODY BUYS IT.

        They will buy that you bunt when you bunt. If you are not bunting. FOCUS on swinging the bat.

        Wednesday night he ripped on for power to the LF gap, and went the other way for a single. I would like to see him do a lot more of the latter

      • wdwrolen2713

        Totally agree with signing Pena back, he looks like a clubhouse leader thst no one talks about. Assuming that Mes comes back strong next year and still catches, the backup catcher might not be that important in case Pena does badly.

      • tct

        Pena has been really solid so far. But that doesn’t mean you sign him for more years. He is a 33 year old catcher with a career .299 OBP and has been below replacement level for his career. Signing a guy based on what he just did instead of what is likely to do is how the Reds ended up with multi year contracts for guys like Ludwick, Cairo, Broxton, and Ondrusek and rewarding guys for career years was a factor in the Bailey and Phillips contracts.

        As for having a backup I think Tucker is as good as Pena overall right now, and being almost ten years younger and a bit cheaper, Barnhart should be the better option next year

      • docmike

        Great post, TCT. Giving out contracts based on past performance is a mistake the Reds have got to stop doing.

      • jdx19

        Signing Pena as a backup is fine, since you need a backup. But giving him any more than around $1M a year would be folly.

      • tct

        The problem though, JD, is when they sign guys like this they usually give them two year, or more, contracts. And then their spots are guaranteed for those years, as they will not cut bait on a veteran. See Skip, Hannahan, Ludwick, Cairo in 2012, etc… So it’s not just the money. These kinds of deals, and the Reds stubbornness to not give up on them, have been one of the main factors in the pitiful bench and depth situations they have had for the last couple years, as well as the left field situation in 2013-2014.

      • jdx19

        I agree with you, TCT. But Catcher is a completely different animal. If we didn’t have Tucker (which we do), I’d say paying a backup catcher that you know plays at least average defense and has a good rapport with the staff (the 1 unquantifiable thing I actually put weight in) is a fine investment of an extra $485,000 over league minimum (or whatever the numbers are). Now, with that said, if they gave him 2yr/$5M liek they did Skip, it would be an absolute disaster. But, 1yr/$1.5M or 2yr/$2M wouldn’t be the end of the world.

        NOW… since we have Tucker (which I had forgotten about when I made the first reply) who will make league minimum, I think all this is moot. We shouldn’t sign Pena to extra money when we have a comparable replacement making league minimum.

      • greenmtred

        I’m not sure that Marquis should be discarded yet–he could certainly turn into a serviceable no. 5 starter (somebody has to be no. 5). I base this on the eyeball test which tells me that most of his pitches sink. He gets hit hard when he’s up in the zone, but a lot of pitchers do. Since we were mostly all tarring Byrd and Marquis with the same brush–the projection brush–perhaps Byrd’s recent emergence will give us pause where Marquis is concerned. Byrd’s increased patience at the plate seems largely responsible for his improvement, and perhaps Marquis can similarly locate his pitches better. Maybe not, of course.

      • Jeremy Conley

        The problem with this is that Byrd has a track record of being good. He’s old, and so people were rightly worried that he might have declined too far to be good anymore, but clearly that isn’t the case.

        With Marquis, he has a track record of being bad and he’s old. There is no reason to think that he will be good.

        You say he can be a serviceable #5 as if those games don’t count as much. They do, and Iglesias will win more of them. Who cares if Marquis could be a #5 on a different team? If we have someone better, we should use them.l

      • Mike W.

        I don’t disagree that Iglesias would be a better #5 option, but let’s not forget about both his and Lorenzen’s “strict” innings limits that they are on. If we keep both him and Lorenzen in the starting rotation, then we will need to replace 2 starters in our rotation by mid August if not sooner. I would rather they start Lorenzen until he hits his limit, and then slide Iglesias into his spot without missing a beat. Not to mention, keeping Iglesias and then Lorenzen in the bullpen to help clean up the “mess” that everyone thinks Marquis leaves every time out. Someone has to pitch those innings now. Every game counts. I would rather roll the dice with Marquis in the 5th spot in this instance and take my chances.

  7. JMO

    Byrd was a great signing, period. This is the new Cozart. Larkin helped him this offseason.

  8. charlottencredsfan

    Prince Fielder leads the AL in batting average. Something to chew on, BA & wRC+:
    Pull: .317, 104
    Center: ..447, 202
    Opposite: .424,176

    Prince has always been an “all fields” hitter but this is insane. How about Mike Moustakas?:
    Pull: .268, 99 Career: .273, 132
    Center: .343, 130 Career: .255, 57
    Opposite: .439, 183 Career: .205, 18

    Mike Moustakas wasn’t born this way. He wasn’t satisfied with his pedestrian numbers and did something about it over the offseason. Some here have claimed not everyone can do this and that is probably right but how hard have these players tried? What kind of attitude did they have when taking on the mission? Was it deemed, just to hard? Not my style? I’ve always done it this why, so why bother? Anyone that has the back-story on MM, please share.

    • VaRedsFan

      I love this! Seeing Jay Bruce fail with the same approach for 2 years makes you wonder right?

      • greenmtred

        Is it his approach, or a flaw in his execution? I’d say the latter–the flying open to which others have alluded. When he is on a roll, he’s got a great, compact and focused swing.

      • jdx19

        Jay Bruce failed for 2/3 of 2013? That’s news to me.

    • earmbrister

      The Moustakas story is interesting, but it’s a stretch to malign Bruce by inference. If everyone could do it, everyone would (except for the laziest amongst them).

      When I was a around 13 yrs old I had a major crush on a 17 yr old lifeguard. She was the coach of the diving team, so I quickly signed on. Problem is there is much demand for a diver who couldn’t execute a simple flip. Try as I might, with all my might, I could not do a flip. I’d rotate 3/4 of the way around and land flat on my back with a mighty slap on the water. The lifeguard coach would eventually intervene and we’d go over to the snack stand for ice for my reddened back. I spent a good deal of time with her, but not quite how I envisioned it. After much effort, both during practice, and every chance I had outside practice, I withdrew from the team. Still can’t do a flip to this very day.

      I haven’t heard rumors of a lack of work ethic about Bruce, which I’m sure would be rampant after his recent struggles were it so.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Not a lack of work but a lack of something. Working smart is the key to true success and I’m starting to doubt if Jay is.

        Steve posted a great link to an article about Bruce’s current approach and it is not encouraging. Maybe he will post it again and you can read it for yourself. Jay did just fine hitting to all fields in 2013. You can look it up. He can do it. Appears to me he is doubling down and the results just keep getting worse.

      • WVRedlegs

        Lack of a committment to making yourself a more polished and all-round hitter. He is content with the Slugger role.

      • charlottencredsfan

        EA, if I came off as maligning him, that was not the intent. I pull equally as hard for every player that wears a Reds uniform, I have no favorites. Cetian guys have more capability than others, and are more important to the team’ success.

        I think JB has been a high-end producer for a long time, but he hasn’t been last or this year. Maybe it’s bad luck or he is ailing, who knows. Just about like everyone else at RLN, I’m reaching for answers. You know as much as I do, and I know that.

      • earmbrister

        It was just the reference to effort, attitude, and style that I protested. No worries.

        Bruce’s 2014 was a function of playing hurt, much like Votto was robbed of his power with his lower body inury.

        I truly believe that Bruce’s 2015 is a function of a slow start, and him pressing way too hard. Of course, I use to believe in the Easter Bunny, so that my belief is subject to change.

    • WVRedlegs

      This is a quote from Mike Moustakas, “Last year, I was really stubborn,” Moustakas said. “I didn’t think I could get beat by the shift. I felt like I could hit through it. I realized I can’t.”

      “This offseason I made it a point,” he said. “I’d rather hit around .300 with less home runs than hit .212 with 15. It wasn’t so much about changing my swing as much as changing the thought process behind my swing and where I wanted to hit the ball. You’ve got to swallow your pride and realize that if there are going to be five guys on one side of the field, you probably should just take your hits the other way.”
      It is from this article from a couple of days ago.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Thanks. Very interesting.

        See if anyone else finds a contrast:

        JB – “I don’t think about it as a count thing. My true swing is more to right center. You probably know good and well that they do put the shift on, which is a little frustrating. But you hear people talk all the time, ‘I don’t know why he doesn’t just hit the ball to left field, or bunt.’ Well, the shifts are getting more sophisticated, where the third baseman is playing in. And the other guys are over. How many guys do you really know that hit for power that hit ground-balls to the opposite side of the field? In the air? Absolutely. In the air is totally different.”

      • tct

        Moustakas is in his fifth year and has never had a wRC+ over 90. He’s never even been a league average hitter, while Bruce had 4 straight years in the 120 wRC+ range. Let’s not get too carried away over a few good weeks for Moustakas.

      • charlottencredsfan

        All good and well but two points:
        – Try to find the opportunity to watch some of MM’s AB’s and compare to JB. At least at this very moment, it is not smoke and mirrors. Obviously things can change, one way or the “other”.
        – We probably, at some point, should refer to recent Jay Bruce (2014-2015) than vintage Jay Bruce. 800 PA’s, not a small sample and the bad thing is, he is trending in the wrong direction.

      • charlottencredsfan

        13 doubles in 111 AB’s as well and an ISO of .297.

    • tct

      And Mesoraco’s big breakout last year came when he decided to swing even harder and start pulling everything. Marlon Byrd talked about his breakout and what he changed was that he decided to stop staying back on the ball and instead try to hit it while it’s out in front of the plate.

      Point is, there is no one perfect approach that will work for everybody. Jay Bruce just does not have much opposite field power. When he hits the ball to left, it is usually a lazy fly ball. I’ve always though that he slows his bat down a fraction when he is trying to go the other way and loses power, but that is just a theory. I think he should forget about being shifted and do what he is good at. Any pitch that he can pull, he should be pulling.

      • charlottencredsfan

        ‘Jay Bruce just does not have much opposite field power. ”

        Go to Jay’s 2013 spray chart and isolate HR’s.

      • tct

        He had 6 oppo homers out of 30 in 2013. And two of them were extreme cheapies, traveling between 350-365 feet and coming off the bat at 95 mph via hit tracker. All of his other 28 homers were hit over 100 mph. One of them was a walk off against the brewers that landed in the first row and didn’t look like it had a chance to go out at first. The other was in Houston where lazy fly balls can turn into homers in left.

        I don’t think the fact that he had 4 well struck, opposite field homers in 2013 proves that he has good oppo power. He just doesn’t. He has power to center, and occasionally he can hit one to left. But for the most part he is a pull hitter.

      • charlottencredsfan

        TCT, good stuff. Can I ask where you picked Jay’s batted ball speeds on those HR’s? You can pretty much look up any stats from 2013 that you’d like, Jay was extremely effective going to the opposite field:
        SLG: 694
        BABIP: .362
        wRC+: 204
        BA: .396

        Pick your poison, he was great across the board. I’m just going to lay out the data and each person can make up their own mind what it means.

      • tct

        Charlotte: ESPN hit tracker online. They have batted ball data on all the homeruns hit. I just went to the full listing of NL home runs, clicked on Bruce’s name, and if will show all his homers from this year. Then you can change the years.

      • charlottencredsfan

        TCT, that tracker is sweet. Love the categories too. Thanks for the lead, I bookmarked.

      • sultanofswaff

        Exactly. One approach doesn’t work for everybody. Body type has a lot to do with it.

      • hof13

        I think there is a difference between a shift for a lefty vs a shift for a right hander. For a lefty, the 2nd baseman can be 20 feet beyond the infield dirt and still be able to throw the hitter out. A shortstop can’t do that. Right handed pull hitters have a much easier time hitting through the shift than leftys. Comparing Mesoraco to Bruce is somewhat like comparing apples to oranges.

      • lwblogger2

        That’s what I did. Get that bat-head out there and yank it!

    • jdx19

      Moustakas is the Royals’ version of Cozart his year. Both with BABIP around 60-points higher than career average.

      Now, certainly they both could have made adjustments and are now Silver Slugger / MVP level players. But, both could also come back down to earth. Until I see more than 6 weeks of good play, I will 100 times out of 100 assume a guy is just overachieving and will come back to the player he’s proven himself to be.

      Now, if these guys in September have similar numbers, then I’ll start getting behind the transformation

    • Jeremy Conley

      People have different swings. Jay Bruce is never going to be able to go the other way effectively because of his swing. That means he will never be Votto, but he’s been very good. All he has to do is get back to where he was.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Jeremy, he was fabulous going to the opposite field in 2013 and not great, but also not a disaster in 2009, 2010, 2012. What accounts for this?

  9. Vanessa Galagnara

    Byrd is making me eat crow as well. Still not happy with losing Ben Lively to a 38 year old player but what he is doing right now almost makes up for that…. almost.

    • lwblogger2

      Lively is a nice little pitcher. I think he’s probably a #4 or #5 starter, but his floor assuming decent health is he’d be a fair bullpen arm. It was a lot to give up. I think the reason the Reds had to give up a nice chip like Lively was the $4-million coming back from the Phillies.

  10. Eric the Red

    Um….is it maybe time for us to talk about Votto? He seems to have completely stopped driving the ball. It makes me wonder if he’s having some trouble with his leg again.

    • docmike

      I thought about that too. Joey has not had an extra-base hit since April 30. That’s 2 weeks straight of nothing but singles.

      I’m worries about the leg.

    • Matt WI

      Boy do I hope you’re wrong, but I can’t say the thought didn’t cross my mind.

    • jdx19

      I don’t know if it has anything to do with his leg, because he seems to be running well and still taking big cuts. Remember when his back leg looked wobbly last year? i don’t think it looks wobbly, However, yes, I’m starting to worry. He’s been dowright bad (by Votto’s standards) since the 16-10 win in Milwaukee. Here are his numbers since then:

      PA: 81
      AVG/OBP/SLG: .239/.333/.272
      BB%: 12.3%
      K%: 25.9%
      BABIP: .347
      1 HR, 2 doubles, 14 singles

      So what is to be made of these numbers? Hard to say. Given the fact that his BABIP is still around his career norms, I’ll take luck out of the equation.

      First, he’s striking out a lot. 26.9% is 8.4% above his career average.

      Second, given then BABIP/SLG relationship, we can surmise he isn’t hitting the ball with much authority. Medium-hit line drives and ground ball singles is mostly what he’s bene doing the last 3 weeks. That passes the eye test, as well.

      Ultimately, because he looks fine running and in the field, I think he’s OK physically, just in a funk Everyone goes into funks, and it’s nice that Joey in a major funk still is a ..333 OBP guy.

      • jdx19

        Edit: 25.9% is 7.4% above his career average.

      • jdx19

        So if his Ks were at career levels, he’d have about 6 more balls in play, and about 2 more hits. Even if those hits were singles, that would make his numbers over this period: .268/.358/.296. Still pretty bad, but any slump that includes a .358 OBP is not the end of the world.

        Sooo, my conclusion is that Joey needs to strike out less! (Ground-breaking, I know).

      • Matt WI

        I’ll take a funk any time. He’s allowed.

      • Eric the Red

        I’d be fine with a funk. My worry is that he’s pulling everything; my sense is that when he’s putting the ball in play it’s always a grounder to 2nd or a lined single to right/right center. He’s not driving the ball to left or left center at all. I hope it’s just a slump, but my “uh oh” alarm has finally gone up so I thought I’d float the idea to everyone else.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Joey is so critical to this teams’ fortunes, that if he coughs, I catch a cold.

      • greenmtred

        He looks to be swinging at more first pitches than usual, by the eyeball test. Any truth to that?

      • jdx19

        Votto at 34%. Career is 33.1%. His max was 2010 at 38.8%, min was 23.3% in 2012.

  11. sultanofswaff

    The Reds are currently 3rd in all of baseball in taking walks, and yet we’re only 16th in OBP. Reason is, we can’t hit for average (21st)! As for strikeouts, we’re middle of the pack (Cubs are 1st—-who knew?).

    So, are we due for some luck because of BABIP? We’re currently 27th at .272 (the Cubs and Cards are 5th and 6th at ~.319). I’m not so sure. Bruce and Hamilton will probably come up some, but you’d have to think Cozart and Pena will come down as well.

    To me all this data speaks to a team that is one hitter shy of being pretty darn good. Too bad that one hitter is about to go under the knife to get his hip fixed.

    • jdx19

      Count me surprised! Third in walks. Wow.

  12. dradg

    I am happy to eat an appetizer of crow re the Reds signing Byrd. Whether I’ll need to save room for a main course and dessert is still up for debate.

  13. IndyRedMan

    No on Marquis….nooooooo!! 5.66 wasn’t any good in the steroid era and it hasn’t even warmed up at GABP yet. Cingrani or Moscot….or even go back and find where Paul Maholm went (4.14 last 3 years).

    Price also needs to give poor Jay 3 days off…this is getting painful to watch?

  14. CJ22

    I hate to be a downer after a win, but again I pose the question of why is Skip Schumaker on this team? At one time he was a good serviceable player, but his time has passed. I’d rather just take an automatic out than let him bat.

    • jdx19

      Former Cardinal. Grit.

      There’s really no logical, defensible position anyone can take that makes Skip a $2yr, $5M player.

  15. Eric the Red

    1) Cueto didn’t have his best stuff, he wasn’t getting many close calls, but he battled through and gave us 7 innings of 2 run baseball. He’s really very good. (And he had a hit that started a rally.)

    2) Price seems to never pull a struggling reliever, yet he yanked Cingrani quickly in the 8th. Because he wasn’t getting his secondary pitches over so they were sitting on his fastball? Because Price really dislikes Cingrani for some reason? Whatever the reason, it was out of character…but it worked.

    3) Billy went back to fake bunting again, and contributed nothing offensively. In the 1st inning, he fake bunted at a pitch that was an 85 MPH fastball in the center of the plate. Maybe if he had his feet set and was thinking about hitting, he’d have driven that ball. Please, please, please: stop with the bunting, fake or otherwise. He’s not good at it (yet), and he’s got a lot of fundamentals to fix, so focus on batting not bunting will help him.

    4) I’ve warned in the past that keeping Byrd in the game late would eventually come back to haunt us. A better defensive outfielder catches that ball that went for a triple, we win 3-2 and Cueto gets his win. As long as I’m doing historical counter-factuals: if we had Heisey instead of Skip, Negron starts at 2nd, he gets to the ball at the start of the game that Skip couldn’t reach, the Giants don’t score, Cueto doesn’t run up his pitch count, he goes 8 innings and we win 2-0 with Heisey the defensive replacement catching a slicing liner in the 8th. Anyone who questions the extent of how our defense helps our pitching staff should imagine if BP (or Negron) was in there instead of Skip, or consider the runs Byrd has cost us in the field the past 2 games.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Byrd has been great at the plate lately, but his defensive range has been bad all year and his defensive liabilities are starting to glare. I didn’t see the play last night, but he cost the Reds two runs on Tuesday night misplaying a ball. They ended up winning (walk-off) but Price needs to start doing defensive substitutions if possible in later innings. The problem with that is they don’t have an above average defensive outfielder on the bench (Negron?).

      • Eric the Red

        I was pleased he at least pulled Schumaker in the 8th. Right now we may have a problem since Negron can’t play everywhere, but even before when Cozart and BP were healthy Price was routinely leaving Byrd out there instead of putting Negron in LF, even in parks with big outfields. It’s a recipe for disaster; at least last night Byrd made up for it so the only damage was to Cueto’s W-L record.

      • Kevin Michell

        Agreed. I think Boesch becomes the liability here as a zero-contribution bench player. Really could use a Brock Holt type of player in his place. WV mentioned below about the Sox shopping JBJ, who would be close to ideal in my mind.

    • Andrewpky

      Unless Billy was playing LF at that time, NOBODY was getting that ball. It was a cue shot off the end of the bat from a LH hitter that was slicing foul. It just stayed fair. Byrd only missed it by a couple of inches I wouldn’t call it a defensive miscue.

      • Kevin Michell

        Well, it’s more that Byrd took the route that only Billy could take to catch the ball. He should have shaded back to concede the hit and cut it off before the wall. Don’t get me wrong, great effort from Byrd on that play and amazingly, he nearly got there. But that play doesn’t go for a triple if Byrd takes a more conservative path to the ball.

      • lwblogger2

        Funny you say that Kevin. That’s exactly what I told my dad. I was saying “No, no, no, no.” … It was almost a terrific play but one that with the lead, you don’t really want to take that much of a chance on. Play it safe there and you hold him to a double or perhaps even a single.

      • Eric the Red

        If Byrd missed it by a couple of inches, Heisey gets to it no problem. Negron might have had to dive. Schumaker would have broken towards center….

      • lwblogger2

        A very good LF would have had it. It would have been a tough play but they probably would have gotten there. An average LF probably would have played it safe and conceded the hit.

  16. jdx19

    To all the people who want to start eating crow:

    I’m happy Byrd is hitting recently. But, he’s still at .226/.311/.478. The slugging is nice, but is propped up by a HR/FB% that is more than double his career rate. Guys his age don’t all of a sudden double their power.

    And as Steve mentioned above, Byrd’s defense hasn’t been all that good.

    He’s a fine player, and the signing wasn’t bad since we aren’t paying his whole salary (I think), but I think all signs still point towards Byrd being something like a .250/.320/.440 guys, which is right around league average, with below average defense. Certainly better than Ludwick.

    • charlottencredsfan

      A lot better than I ever thought he’d be. Honestly, I thought the guy was cooked – happy, happy to be wrong. All good points!

    • Kevin Michell

      I actually just posted an article on this very topic.

      In sum, fly balls are up (and are due to dip), line drives are due to go up. HRs will recede but likely replaced by some more doubles. .250 AVG is reasonable, I think .005-.010 points higher is plausible with a similarly slight increase to SLG as well.

  17. WVRedlegs

    The Red Sox are actively shopping OF/CF Jackie Bradley, Jr. and the Mariners turned them down on one trade offer. JBJ could spell BHam some and be that late inning defensive replacement for Marlon Byrd. And a pinch runner so not to run out a starting pitcher to PR and risk injury.
    Wake up Walt!!!

    • lwblogger2

      Wonder what the Reds would have to give up?

      • WVRedlegs

        The report has changed a little. First report was that Mariners turned down RedSox offer of JBJ for lefty reliever Charlie Furbush. Then it was supposed to have happened back during spring training. And now RedSox officials deny it even happened.
        I can see why the RedSox would be tripping over themselves to deny it, because that might set the market for JBJ. And since spring training he has had a very good start. He was raking it at AAA (.343/.393/.465) while Mookie Betts struggled early. Betts seems to have gotten out of his rut. JBJ is now up with the Sawks, 0-8 since being recalled.
        Hard to say what it would take to complete a deal. They need pitching, both starting and relieving, and both for this year and long term.

      • lwblogger2

        Come on now. For JBJ? If they even asked for Cueto it would mostly be tongue in cheek. I think the Sox may be serious in asking for Cueto if the Reds asked for Betts but not for JBJ.

  18. Jeremy Conley

    I am definitely starting to worry about Votto. I would look for a day off for him this series. Maybe start Boesch at first against Vogelsong?

    • IndyRedMan

      Boesch needs to be in RF for about 3 games. They’ll prob play shorthanded and wait another week to retroactively DL BP but I’d like to see DeJesus or Falu play several at 2B. Neither Negron or Schumaker can hit and we need offense

      • charlottencredsfan

        Went to the Bats game in Charlotte last night, both Falu and DeJesus were smacking it very nicely. Wouldn’t have a problem bringing one or both up for a look.

      • Jeremy Conley

        I don’t think Boesch needs to be anywhere. My main concern is Votto. In may he has zero extra base hits. He’s hitting around .250. He looks more or less exactly like he did last year before he went on the DL. If he is hurt, not just slumping, then the Reds are cooked.

    • docmike

      I mentioned this earlier, but Votto’s last extra-base hit was April 30. That’s 2 solid weeks of nothing but singles.

      I have to admit I’m a little worried.

  19. Jeremy Conley

    Now we have Iglesias in the pen, and hopefully Price will use him better than he’s used other pitchers. That means letting him pitch 2 or 3 innings and then giving him a day off.

    We also activated Mattheus yesterday, so there’s another new arm for the pen. That’s two steps towards fixing our biggest problem.

      • IndyRedMan

        Except for Marquis is now 25% of the rotation instead of 20%? He needs to be Gregg’d immediately although I’ll root for one of his premium starts of 6 ip…3 or 4 earned and a lot of Reds offense

      • Jeremy Conley

        They are skipping Lorenzen once because of his innings. He’s still the 5th starter, and 5th starters get skipped sometimes.

        Of Lorenzen, Iglesias, and Marquis, Marquis is clearly the least talented. But with the innings limits on the other two, they can’t afford to get rid of him yet, sadly.

      • lwblogger2

        It’s rather scary that Marquis is still in the rotation and scarier still that he probably will stay in the rotation even if his ERA goes upward. If I thought Marquis could legitimately give me 6 and 3, then I’d be for keeping him. I just think it’s tough to take when 6 and 3 is the upside of what to expect.

  20. Redsfan48

    I have been saying Mesoraco should start in left field so Byrd can shift to right and bench Bruce for a while now, but after being at the game yesterday I see a potential issue. Mesoraco was practicing the outfield in batting practice, and looked absolutely awful in trying to field, unless the ball was hit close to him. He obviously needs a week or two minimum, probably longer, to learn the outfield, before he’s at least serviceable there. But once that happens, Bruce should become very worried unless his offense steps up.

    • IndyRedMan

      So you’re saying Mesoraco was a little better than Adam Dunn out there?

    • Eric the Red

      You guys are being a little over optimistic, IMHO. Even Byrd–a professional outfielder who at least seems to read the ball well–has cost us 3 runs in the last two games, playing in our small home ballpark. Our defense is a key part of us staying competitive, so there is no way Mesoraco will suddenly be OK out there after a week or two.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Understand but when the other two OF’ers are offering very little on offense, I have no problem with Byrd’s D. We need his bat right now. Hopefully Billy and Jay getting it going soon, so we don’t have to rely on the other guys so much to score.

      • Redsfan48

        At some point, offense has to outweigh defense, especially in the outfield. At first base, or shortstop or key positions like that, sure, you need defense. But in a lineup struggling to produce runs, you need your best hitters (Votto, Frazier, Mesoraco, Byrd) in the lineup at the same time.

        Mesoraco did give us some hope yesterday though, saying that he’s feeling better and will attempt to catch in the next week or 2. If he is able to catch, that’s great and maybe we don’t have to have this discussion, but the truth is, you really want to keep Peña in the lineup too after how well he has hit.

        Man, a DH in the NL would solve so many problems right now. (Not saying I’m a fan of the DH, I actually want to see it removed completely, but that’s a discussion for another time, I’m just saying it would solve so many problems right now.)

      • lwblogger2

        I’m with you about Mesoraco in the OF. I think given time he could learn to be a pretty good corner OF. Trying to do something with him now though, mid-season? Yeah, I think he’d be pretty brutal. Perhaps if he’d played some in the OF more recently than when he was a little kid I’d be willing to say ‘go for it’.

      • jdx19

        I think I might have just talked myself into Meso not being a good near-term option in left.

        In 2014, the difference in defense runs above average from the best LFer (Alex Gordon) to the worst (Matt Kemp) was about 44.

        If we are to take Mesoraco’s 2014 offensive runs above average (22) and apply the same declination, you get to Adeinny Hechavaria.

        So, defense seems to matter quite a but. Basically, if Mesoraco were as bad as Matt Kemp, then he’d need to hit like Mike Trout to break even.

      • jdx19

        Re-reading this, I think it makes absolutely no sense. I’ll re-think and re-post later! 😉