2016 Reds

A mid-season look at the Reds offense

The bottom line for a baseball offense is scoring runs and the Reds are averaging 4.35 per game. League average is 4.32 r/g. The Reds are smack in the middle of the NL, ranking 8th out of 15 teams. They aren’t in last place because of hitting.

Here are individual statistics for the regular starters. The categories are batting average (AVG), walk-rate (BB%), power (ISO) and run creation (wRC+). Reminders: Power measured by ISO looks exclusively at extra-base hits. Slugging percentage includes singles. wRC+ is pegged to an average of 100. So a wRC+ of 117 means the player has produced runs at 17% above average.

Chart

Adam Duvall and Jay Bruce rank #1 and #2 in the NL in power. The Reds, overall, rank seventh in the NL in power. Duvall is #2 in the NL in home runs.

Joey Votto is the only Reds player walking at above league average rates and as you can see, he’s well above average. Because of the team deficiency, the Reds are second-from-last in OBP (.297). Votto’s wRC+ for June is 168. Top eleven highest BB% in MLB: Harper, Goldschmidt, Bautista, Carpenter, Zobrist, Belt, Votto, Donaldson, Trout, Davis and Rizzo.

If you judge hitting by batting average, you would believe the third best hitter on the team has been Brandon Phillips and that Phillips is a better-than-average hitter. In fact, Phillips has produced runs at a rate 21 percent below average. He’s having the worst offensive year of his career – continued decline since 2011 other than slight blip in 2015.

Tucker Barnhart, Billy Hamilton and Brandon Phillips are all producing runs at well below average rates. Barnhart is about as much below average as Jay Bruce is above average. He has been a worse hitter than Billy Hamilton. Meanwhile, Hamilton’s offensive contribution is better than his terrible 2015 but worse than his 2014 season. Still too few hard-hit balls. Premature to say he’s turned a corner.

As a non-regular, Jose Peraza isn’t included in the chart. Meaningless early returns: In 32 plate appearances, Peraza is hitting .226 with no extra-base hits. His walk-rate is 3.1%. His wRC+ is 24.

FWIW, Todd Frazier has 20 home runs but his batting average is just .200. He’s walking at a career-high rate (12.2%). His wRC+ is 102. Surprisingly, many defensive metrics rank him as worse than Eugenio Suarez (both strongly negative).

64 thoughts on “A mid-season look at the Reds offense

  1. The Reds aren’t in last place ONLY because of their hitting, but saying their middle of the pack because they 8th in runs is slightly misleading. The Reds have a team wRC+ of 84, good for 13th/15 in the NL. They aren’t buried at the bottom of the league in total runs scored for two reasons:

    1) They are hitting an insane .283/.360/.507 with runner’s in scoring position. They have a 4.25 offensive CLUTCH score according to Fangraphs. The 2nd highest CLUTCH score is .82

    2) GABP inflates scoring.

    The Reds are still a very bad offensive team, and while the historically inept bullpen has overshadowed it, if the Reds want to compete again any time soon, the offense absolutely needs fixing.

  2. If I were a pitcher and Billy Hamilton had a 0 OBP I think I would still want him in center field on days I pitched.

      • I might be wrong… but technically an AL team could do that if they wanted to.

      • Never mind, I am wrong. Should have looked it up first. Rule states it does have to be for the pitcher. Dumb rule though.

  3. Regarding #1: You’re right. The Reds have benefitted from sequencing luck this year. But Steve wasn’t saying this is an averagely-skilled offense. He said it’s an offense that has scored an average amount of runs, which is true.

    Regarding #2: GABP doesn’t increase offense very much… around 2%. That’s the park factor used in the calculation for FG WAR. This is because singles, doubles, and triples are all suppressed because of the small size of the outfield. Homers are increased, of course.

    • Yeah, that is true. I think if you’re talking about the offense through the first half (or almost) the sequencing issue has been by far the biggest story line, maybe even more so than Duvall or Bruce. The team has scored an averagish number of runs (nothing to right home about) and have been almost historically luckily in the process. Their Clutch score through 70 games is almost exactly what it was when they had the improbably 2012 run.
      Or, put another way, the Reds 15 games under .500 and are incredibly lucky they aren’t even worse.

      • Yeah, for sure.

        There are 4 Reds in the Top 15 in “Clutch” in the NL. Bruce (2nd), Votto (7th), Suarez (8th, weird), Duvall (15th).

        Because of that, both Bruce and Votto are Top 10 in WPA, which some MVP voters have started including in their criteria.

      • What is even more amazing is if it wasn’t for the bullpen losing so many games they could be hovering around 500.

  4. If the Reds just had 2014 Devin Mesoraco to plug into this offense.
    BA: .273
    BB%: 9.3
    ISO: .260
    wRC+: 146

    That chart just goes to show that an upgrade over BP is sorely needed. This kind of offense can hide a BHam in CF. Gamble on a Suarez resurgence. Move Geno over to 2B. And maybe look for a 3B for a 2 year stint until Senzel is ready. As I posted in the post-game thread, Arizona’s 3B Jake Lamb might be a huge pick up. It would upgrade the 3B offense and defense. And Suarez’s bat is an upgrade over BP as is now. If he has a resurgence it is a huge upgrade.

    • I think 2B is likely Suárez’s long-term position when Senzel is ready to take over 3B. Suárez at 2B and Peraza at SS, or the other way around.

  5. Lorenzen has been activated from the 60-Day DL and Alfredo Simon has been placed on the 15-day DL for right trapezius. The 40 man roster move came in Pacheco refusing his outright and becoming a free agent.

    Good moves by the Reds today, they all actually make sense. This makes me wonder if Pacheco (I mean Peraza 🙂 ) might be up for good. I feel like he still will hit Super 2 but maybe the Reds don’t care or mind with him? Good transactions all the same.

    • Why did it take the Reds front office 3 months to make this move…

      6/21/16 Cincinnati Reds sent C Jordan Pacheco outright to Louisville Bats.

      As Sheldon reports, “Pacheco refused the assignment and has elected free agency.”

      • I hope that choice works out for Pacheco but I’d be pretty shocked if he signed an MLB deal with anyone.

        I have no idea why it took the Reds 3 months. If I had to guess, I’d say it has something to do with not wanting replacements to accrue MLB service time.

        • I can’t believe Pacheco walked away from 3+ months of MLB minimum salary (~$255K for 3 months plus the fractional).

          I wonder if the Reds told him this was coming when they simultaneously DLed him and sent him out on rehab. That would have given his agent time to start shopping him around; and perhaps they have something lined up that will pay him as well.

  6. Phillips is 22 of 23 qualified 2B in wRC+. One of the 2 with negative WAR.

    Clearly deserves to hit in the middle of the order

    • My Friday post is about how many runs this is costing the Reds. Get ready for lots of charts and spreadsheet snap shots.

        • “Matter” is a relative term, right? It matters some… not a ton.

          This is more a post about a framework that could be used by, oh I don’t know, a professional baseball team, to make smart decisions.

          As easy as it is to calculate some of this stuff, the fact that a lot of teams still completely ignore it baffles me.

  7. 8th out of 15 isn’t cutting it in GABP? Not with our current stable of #3 starters or guys they projected to be front of the rotation but now they’re in the pen? They’re 25th in batting average and don’t walk much so its pretty much HR or nothing like always? Hopefully sub out BP and Cozart for OBP hitters down the road and the mentality will slowly change! The Reds have hit 51 HRs at home and 32 on the road with only 1 additional home game to this point.

  8. Jay Bruce: So, what exactly are the Reds waiting for? Why not trade him now?

    • Whats the rush? 8th of 15 offensively in one of the top 5-6 hitters parks in mlb and they’re considering trading one of their top 2-3 offensive pieces. They need to be careful. Why not work on Cozart first and test the waters?

      • Personally, I think Cozart would be better to move in the off season for when teams are rebuilding around trade pieces. He’d be a nice center piece for a team wanting to retool their infield.

  9. That list of BB% leaders features is made up of guys who all can hit. Go figure.

    I have no idea why the Reds were so hot on Peraza. The fact that they are hot after Rodriguez (International) also baffles me. I just don’t see particularly high upsides in either of these guys. Granted, I’ve never actually seen Rodriguez play.

    • Peraza is so young….give him a chance. Peraza/Hamilton 1-9 or 9-1 is kind of interesting to me with Votto batting 2nd! That way (in theory) they can play some small ball on the road and not have to rely on the long ball so much.

    • It’s the front office view that speed and defense are the future of baseball.

      • BOOM. That might be the most sarcastic comment I’ve ever read. Nice work. 🙂

      • It is in theory plausible they see speed and defense tools as more easily evaluated and translated and therefore the margin of error is smaller compared to hit and power tools. This would of course only be the case in initial talent evaluation because everyone knows we have much, much better tools (stats) to measure hit and power’s influence on games vs speed and defense once the games begin.

        • Has anyone ever built a dream team of defenders in simulation and found just how many runs the best 8 of all time would save? It would be totally hypothetical of course because BHam in center and Ichiro (age 27) in right would snag a lot of the same balls if on the field at the same time, therefore negating value (redundancy)…

        • Streamer88… just looking at last year’s leaders at each position for UZR, the best at each position (not counting catcher/pitcher) would have saved 112 runs above average.

          It would be fairly significant, but perhaps the effect of each would be lessened, especially in the outfield.

          For reference, the best single offensive player was Harper at 77.5 runs above aveage. So making each player the best player at each position would be like adding 1.5 2015 Harpers to your lineup.

        • Wow – very interesting stuff. Taken together, it would appear that drafting, internationally and trading for hit & power would then be the plan. And sign on the open market veterans who play great defense (presumably undervalued)… Ha why are they doing the opposite?

      • Big ring….give me Sugar Ray over Duran
        Small ring…..give me Duran’s power over Sugar Ray’s speed and dancing around

        GABP is a small ring

        • Word. Safeco and GABP are quite different ‘rings’ as it were. Also there are no redundancies in mashing gappers and getting on base.

      • Maybe so but if you can’t get on base you aren’t winning many games. OBP is needed as well.

        • Its a definite balance. I’ve paid much more attention to other teams this year due to a little more investment in fbb and its just the obp. I don’t have the numbers on this stuff but even teams like KC that don’t necessarily walk more end up fouling off so many pitches that they run the starters pitch count up. Look at Lamb the other day in Houston! He was pumping strikes but they fouled off so many pitches that he didn’t even get thru 6? Arrieta only got thru 5 today. BP & Cozart are dinosaurs with their determination to resolve the atbat as quick as possible. Cozart atleast holds up his end w/defense and power. That will prob be the next stat to become popular….the hitters PPAB…pitches per atbat

      • I am probably wrong, but I like to think they got Peraza for the likely 1.5-2.0 WAR that won’t cost them much money in arbitration, essentially opening up money for a splashy free agent…

        Yeah… I’m probably wrong.

        • Frazier is far away from the MVP candidate of a year ago. At age 30, the Reds made the right decision.. but the wrong trade at the wrong time. That would have been a terrible second contract.

      • Steve…Please that is a very broad statement. You don’t know that. I feel your pain, but please don’t make statements off the cuff.

        • It isn’t off the cuff. I’m pretty careful with my words. That’s exactly what the Reds front office saw in Peraza. Speed and defense. And they pursued those qualities because they see that as where baseball is headed. I’m not speculating.

  10. Very good information. Phillips mediocre batting average tells you nothing. But, juxtaposed with a poor walk rate/OBP and no power identifies him for who he is…..an aging overpaid under-producing veteran. Suarez batting average is extremely telling…..at .225- he better have a high walk rate…which he doesn’t….or prodigious power…..which is ok,,,but not good enough to overcome his poor BA and OBP……. his poor defense makes this a disappointing sophomore year and raises serious questions about his role on the next great Reds team. I love Votto but I don’t get his atypically low power numbers….he has always hit for average and walked and hit for power….I still think he returns to normal the second half. Bruce and Cozart and Duvall are the offensive stories of the year…..good for them!

    • Votto had a bad first 7 weeks, but in the last month he’s basically been normal Votto. Nothing to really worry about other than the unavoidable age-related decline. He hit 29 homers last year, which surprised me, but I honestly don’t think he ever gets back to 29. With his approach its just so hard to hit a bunch of homers.

      • So after a stellar 2015, why is Votto changing his approach? Crouching more, extreme choke ups, the unexplainable check swings?

        • Because pitchers have changed how they are pitching him. Much more inside than ever before. He hasn’t hit inside pitches (as a grouping) with authority since 2011. He’s trying to be as good as he can, and that naturally will cause his stats to ebb and flow until he finds the adjustment he likes. Couple the adjustments with poor BABIP variance in April/May and that’s why he was so bad statistically.

  11. It certainly appears to me that the offense is average, but that could improve if their OBP improves, and the underperformers pick it up in the second half there could be a significant improvement in the offense. The biggest area of deficiency to me is the bullpen. I know most are inexperienced or retreads, but there definitely needs to be an upgrade there. I like the young SPs that are on the roster and in the minors, which certainly appears to be deep. It appears to me that one of those prospects could be dealt to address this issue to bring in a couple of relievers to resolve this situation. There are some decent relievers on the roster right now (Wood, Cingrani, Ohlendorf maybe Hoover maybe) but not much more for the time being. Rotating some of the young relievers, as they’ve already done, might work, but probably not for the short term.
    As far as trades are concerned it will be very tough to move Phillips due to his age and contract, and his underperformance has definitely lowered his trade value. Bruce’s trade value is now high, but the team should demand top dollar since they can pick up his option for next year, but the risk is that he doesn’t perform as well offensively next year compared to this year. Cozart could bring a decent haul as he’s a solid defender, now a solid average player, and has solid power, so he could fit into any lineup in baseball in several spots up and down the lineup. It would be nice if the team could rid itself of the terrible contract they gave Bailey, but that won’t be possible until he gets back and starts to perform. I wonder if Iglesias could be a closer? Just a thought.

    • I know this is a nit-pick and open for interpretation, but the Bailey contract really wasn’t terrible. It TURNED OUT terrible, perhaps, but that is because of injury. Anyone can get injured, especially pitchers. Can’t judge a contract on injury.

      I think many folks (not you specifically) have trouble decoupling the contract from the point in time in which it was signed and the current view of the contract.

      After 2013, contract was fine. In 2016, contract looks bad.

      • Bingo PJ….there is so much 20/20 hindsight vision when it comes to Homer’s contract.

        • Agreed. I also think the fact that it went over $100M triggers something in people’s brains. If it were $99M I think it would cause much less consternation.

      • I don’t think everyone is saying what they are saying in hindsight. There were a lot of people that didn’t like the deal at the time it was given. I was one of them. It was however market value, so that’s never an argument I’ve made against it. I do think a lot of people don’t understand that the deal was basically market value for a #2 starter at the time. There are still a lot of people out there who somehow think he got “ace money” when he didn’t.

        • The issue then, as it is now, remains the efficacy and wisdom of paying FA salaries to a starting pitcher for a small to medium size market like the Reds. The fact that WJ had backed the team into a position where they felt they had to make such a decision (this applies to the Phillips situation also) just speaks to the poor roster management during WJ’s tenure. Both contracts for Bailey and Phillips were good contracts, just not good contracts for the Reds.

        • As the Old Cossack says, WJ had backed the Reds into a corner on the starting pitching situation after that 2013 season. Dusty is fired and Price is hired as manager. The Reds were facing all five rotation spots having their contracts all end after the 2014 season. So going into 2014, the Reds made the right decision with Bailey. Latos had elbow injuries and questions. Simon wasn’t a long-term solution. Cueto was coming off minor injuries in 2013 and 2011. Leake apparently wasn’t content in Cincinnati. Going into 2014 they needed to lock up one of those starters and at that time Bailey was the best bet. With 20/20 hindsight, maybe Cueto would have been the better choice.
          I’m not too hip on defending the Walt Jocketty led front office, but they made the right decision with the info on hand at the time.

  12. Based on his walk rate it makes Bottom look like he is having an all star season of which he most definitely is not. I can only drW from this stat line and his WRC score that the walk is being overvalued.

    • Regarding walks being overvalued… here is the value being used (along with others):

      BB: 0.688 runs
      1B: 0.878 runs
      2B: 1.245 runs
      3B: 1.576 runs
      HR: 2.029 runs

      So, if you think a single is about 28% more valuable than a walk, walks are being valued correctly.

  13. Not related to offense, but Billy Hamilton has made as many “remote” plays (1-10% chance) as the rest of MLB combined.

    Billy has 6 (of 8). The rest of MLB has 6, with no player having more than 1.

    Astounding.

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